Place In The Sun- Or, What if Italy Joined The Central Powers in 1915

Interesting thats a new quote for me should write it down. Though seemingly in character
However i would not say Being Stupidly brutal or more accurately callousness to stupidly brutal actions, i do not believe Would necessitate placing him in either of those categories . It doesn’t really make him a vain person in anyway i can see And well you could make an argument for unaware but too me such a comment is just pure callous rather than oblivious.
He really believed the peasants adored him. Now that is at least one of the two characteristics.
 
The Russian Revolution should be done in two or three days time!

Oh, BTW, today (14 September) is the first day of the Russian Revolution ITTL, and since we're almost at that point in the story... it's an amusing coincidence.

:)
 
I think there'd be at least a chance that the Ukraine would be broken off from Russia; not as a German puppet but as an Austro-Hungarian one with a Hapsburg as a monarch.
 
An interesting permutation here would be regarding the Washington Naval Treaty. Yes, I do think it's still quite possible - if not very probable - for it to not be butterflied away entirely. The war seems like it might end in early 1917, but even so, the major combatants have spent billions on the war, and lost millions on the battlefield. Britain, despite likely facing instability in her colonies and in Ireland as a result of having to come to terms with the Germans, isn't so beaten that they won't hold onto their status as the world's preeminent naval power, something lampshaded by how Germany's terms for a ceasefire were very much a case of quid pro quo, and explicitly mentioned as born of Germany recognizing and respecting Britain's enduring naval and industrial strength. That said, the rise of Germany as a truly global power as a result of the war, plus Tirpitz ironically being vindicated in how Germany's naval weakness allowed Britain to so easily undermine the German economy, will only mean Germany will look upon the Kaiser's naval ambitions with renewed interest.

On the other side of the Atlantic, the USA despite not having been shocked out of its isolationist stance by joining the war ITTL, has nevertheless seen how its ability to trade with foreign nations is very much at risk at war, whether it's Britain's distant blockade or Germany's U-Boat campaign. And there's the growing might of Japan in the Pacific, especially since it's likely Japan will get to keep Qingdao and the Pacific Islands in exchange for a token, face-saving payment to Germany. Similarly, Japan fears American expansion into the Pacific, and will likely still push for their 8-8 Fleet to deter American attempts to directly threaten them.

Elsewhere, the Mediterranean CPs also recognize the value of naval strength. Even as fleets-in-being, the Regia Marina and the Royal and Imperial Navy together managed to secure their home waters in the Adriatic and Tyrrhenian Seas from the British Mediterranean Fleet and Marine Nationale both. Italy is even mentioned as partly able to weather the British blockade thanks to the Entente's inability to project power into their home waters, as it allowed the fishing industry to operate unmolested.

That said, a naval arms race is not exactly anyone would want. Britain, as I mentioned, will be facing instability in its colonies and in Ireland over her preeminent role as the global hegemon shaken and tarnished by Germany forcing her to the bargaining table. Germany will be busy building up its satellites in Eastern Europe, and with the rest of the CP (and including German-leaning neutrals like Denmark, possibly Sweden and the Netherlands, maybe even a defanged - Grand Duchy of Flanders (?) - Belgium) also building up the new Mitteleuropa order to truly engage in an arms race. Japan will still have to face the Great Kanto Earthquake (virtually impossible for it to be butterflied), and the fact that the IJN's naval ambitions are draining IIRC over 20% of Japan's GDP at the time. Similarly, the US Congress will be balk at attempts to build a fleet greater than Britain's, i.e. "a fleet second to none". This leads us back to Britain, who'll find maintaining a two-power standard against the USN and KM backbreaking for their national expenditures.

So yes, I do think a WNT analog is very likely to come into existence. I also think the butterflies with regard to its details to go in one of two directions. Germany is unlikely to accept a place in the treaty system that lumps it in the third category. Also, Germany - well, Tirpitz and the rest of the naval lobby - may also not accept a 60% ratio to the Royal Navy even if they join Japan in the second category, assuming an OTL tonnage allocation of 5-3-1.75. This leads to a) Germany joining Britain and the USA in the first category, which would be unacceptable to Britain, or b) Germany stays in the second category, but with a different tonnage allocation of 3-2-1. This would be more acceptable to Britain, though less so the USA.

With that ratio though, it's likely for Britain and the USA to keep 15 battleships each, plus two of (theoretically) demilitarized training ships. Japan and Germany would each keep 10 battleships, and the other Great Powers 5 battleships each, plus 1 each of a (again, theoretically) demilitarized training ship.

EDIT: The Americans are still likely to pressure Britain into ending the Anglo-Japanese Alliance in 1923, which would lead to Germany snapping Japan up as an ally. If nothing else, the powerful IJN would serve Germany and Mitteleuropa well in a future war against Britain by tying down large elements of the Royal Navy in the Pacific, and limit the amount of help the ANZACs can send to Europe and elsewhere.

This may also have the effect of limiting/moderating Japanese militarism, as Japan wouldn't be diplomatically-isolated the way she was in the decades between WWI and WWII IOTL, and instead have ties with Germany and Mitteleuropa.
 
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I think there'd be at least a chance that the Ukraine would be broken off from Russia; not as a German puppet but as an Austro-Hungarian one with a Hapsburg as a monarch.
Ukrainian nationalism has been given a shot in the arm by the war. Since Ukraine will not be conquered by the Central Powers, the question will be if nationalist insurgents can defeat the Russian government, with the backing of the Central Powers.

An interesting permutation here would be regarding the Washington Naval Treaty. Yes, I do think it's still quite possible - if not very probable - for it to not be butterflied away entirely. The war seems like it might end in early 1917, but even so, the major combatants have spent billions on the war, and lost millions on the battlefield. Britain, despite likely facing instability in her colonies and in Ireland as a result of having to come to terms with the Germans, isn't so beaten that they won't hold onto their status as the world's preeminent naval power, something lampshaded by how Germany's terms for a ceasefire were very much a case of quid pro quo, and explicitly mentioned as born of Germany recognizing and respecting Britain's enduring naval and industrial strength. That said, the rise of Germany as a truly global power as a result of the war, plus Tirpitz ironically being vindicated in how Germany's naval weakness allowed Britain to so easily undermine the German economy, will only mean Germany will look upon the Kaiser's naval ambitions with renewed interest.

On the other side of the Atlantic, the USA despite not having been shocked out of its isolationist stance by joining the war ITTL, has nevertheless seen how its ability to trade with foreign nations is very much at risk at war, whether it's Britain's distant blockade or Germany's U-Boat campaign. And there's the growing might of Japan in the Pacific, especially since it's likely Japan will get to keep Qingdao and the Pacific Islands in exchange for a token, face-saving payment to Germany. Similarly, Japan fears American expansion into the Pacific, and will likely still push for their 8-8 Fleet to deter American attempts to directly threaten them.

Elsewhere, the Mediterranean CPs also recognize the value of naval strength. Even as fleets-in-being, the Regia Marina and the Royal and Imperial Navy together managed to secure their home waters in the Adriatic and Tyrrhenian Seas from the British Mediterranean Fleet and Marine Nationale both. Italy is even mentioned as partly able to weather the British blockade thanks to the Entente's inability to project power into their home waters, as it allowed the fishing industry to operate unmolested.

That said, a naval arms race is not exactly anyone would want. Britain, as I mentioned, will be facing instability in its colonies and in Ireland over her preeminent role as the global hegemon shaken and tarnished by Germany forcing her to the bargaining table. Germany will be busy building up its satellites in Eastern Europe, and with the rest of the CP (and including German-leaning neutrals like Denmark, possibly Sweden and the Netherlands, maybe even a defanged - Grand Duchy of Flanders (?) - Belgium) also building up the new Mitteleuropa order to truly engage in an arms race. Japan will still have to face the Great Kanto Earthquake (virtually impossible for it to be butterflied), and the fact that the IJN's naval ambitions are draining IIRC over 20% of Japan's GDP at the time. Similarly, the US Congress will be balk at attempts to build a fleet greater than Britain's, i.e. "a fleet second to none". This leads us back to Britain, who'll find maintaining a two-power standard against the USN and KM backbreaking for their national expenditures.

So yes, I do think a WNT analog is very likely to come into existence. I also think the butterflies with regard to its details to go in one of two directions. Germany is unlikely to accept a place in the treaty system that lumps it in the third category. Also, Germany - well, Tirpitz and the rest of the naval lobby - may also not accept a 60% ratio to the Royal Navy even if they join Japan in the second category, assuming an OTL tonnage allocation of 5-3-1.75. This leads to a) Germany joining Britain and the USA in the first category, which would be unacceptable to Britain, or b) Germany stays in the second category, but with a different tonnage allocation of 3-2-1. This would be more acceptable to Britain, though less so the USA.

With that ratio though, it's likely for Britain and the USA to keep 15 battleships each, plus two of (theoretically) demilitarized training ships. Japan and Germany would each keep 10 battleships, and the other Great Powers 5 battleships each, plus 1 each of a (again, theoretically) demilitarized training ship.

EDIT: The Americans are still likely to pressure Britain into ending the Anglo-Japanese Alliance in 1923, which would lead to Germany snapping Japan up as an ally. If nothing else, the powerful IJN would serve Germany and Mitteleuropa well in a future war against Britain by tying down large elements of the Royal Navy in the Pacific, and limit the amount of help the ANZACs can send to Europe and elsewhere.

This may also have the effect of limiting/moderating Japanese militarism, as Japan wouldn't be diplomatically-isolated the way she was in the decades between WWI and WWII IOTL, and instead have ties with Germany and Mitteleuropa.
Great insight- very much appreciate it!
The Royal Navy is not measurably worse off than OTL, and the US never joined the Entente. Thus, Washington and London ITTL view each other as... if not enemies, then potential rivals. Right now, the Admiralty in London would love to have naval relations with Germany codified in stone, because a continuation of the prewar arms race is the last thing the UK can afford right now. Meanwhile, the navy-loving Kaiser is still in power, so the German Navy will obviously be much stronger than OTL.

As for Japan, I plan to have an update centre on them soon!

Thanks for commenting!
 
Germany winning WWI means the Japanese militarists have a (relatively-moderate) example (compared to f*ck*ng Nazis) to model themselves after in the Prussian junkers. I imagine the likes of Marshal von Falkenhayn and General von Hutier becoming unofficial folk heroes (?) to the elite of the IJA officer corps.
 

NoMommsen

Donor
I think there'd be at least a chance that the Ukraine would be broken off from Russia; not as a German puppet but as an Austro-Hungarian one with a Hapsburg as a monarch.
Ukrainian nationalism has been given a shot in the arm by the war. Since Ukraine will not be conquered by the Central Powers, the question will be if nationalist insurgents can defeat the Russian government, with the backing of the Central Powers.
...
IMHO an opinion/option not completly to be written off.
We're still lacking a peace treaty or even an armistice in the east.
Also the now starting revolutionary event are likely to have some ... impact on some of the eastern (at least) colonized/occupied peoples :
finns, latvians, estonians, lithunians, poles and not at least​
the ukrainians​
There was also this austrian, habsburgian, 'princly' archduke who already prior to the war had developed some interest in ukrainian culture (aka kinda fanboy of ;-9). And given the rest of his OTL life I would like to assume he wouldn't be the worst 'ruler' of the Ukraine rather likely not being simply an austrian-german pippet.

... but there is still time to develop ... this interesting TL further ... 😁
 
My thoughts on what Germany will be wanting territoriality off Russia.

First off I think this could be worse than OTL Brest-Litovsk as the CP have no Western front incentive to make them need to focus their attention elsewhere.

Baltic Duchies. I think they will be annexed into Germany as planned in OTL. They have a long standing German community and have been part of the Eastern realm of the cultural nation of Germany for centuries. In OTL around the time of German Unification Russia was fearful that Prussia might create another Schleswig-Holstein scenario with the Baltic Duchies. In OTL the Baltic German nobility offered the Crown of the United Baltic Duchy to Duke Adolf Friedrich of Mecklenburg as a constituent (not officially approved of by Germany at the time) part of the empire.

Finland. According to Fritz Fischer's Germanies aims in WW1 there was a general assumption that if they took Estonia, they might as well make Finland independent as well. There were ideas floated of giving it to Sweden to pull the Swedes into the German orbit.

Poland. Firstly, the Polish border strip. There were proposals to annex a strip of land along the border and ethnically cleanse it, resettling it with the almost 2 million Germans who lived in the Russian Empire. (I think there were some ideas to settle some of them in the Baltic duchies as well.) As for the rump Poland there were lots of ideas of what to do including a rump kingdom. Another (I think easier) option was to let it be annexed into Austria Hungary (possibly as an extension of Galicia).

Bessarabia. To Romania.

Ukraine. There was some sentiment in Germany in OTL that taking it went a bit to far. However, I think the economic attraction of the Ukraine would be to much for Germany to resist. I also would venture that it would be firmly in Germany's orbit, not A-H (particularly if it got Poland).

Lithuania. some OTL proposals varied from independence to annexation. An interesting idea that I haven't seen floated before would be a restoration of Lithuania as a Grand Duchy. Given the stronger situation the CP is in it seems a logical way to take more. OTL there was a soviet attempt to restore a form of the GD that failed. But restoring the duchy could give grounds for taking land all the way up to and including Smolensk. This state would be Lithuanian/Polish/Belarusian/Jewish/Russians depending how far its borders went. (Kaiser Wilhelm didn't put to much thought into the Jews of Russia, but did consider them as a potentially useful Germanising force in the East given the widespread use of Yiddish. I could see a GD of Lithuania being a good place for Jews to live. Particularly if you had population exchanges between Lithuania Poles and polish Jews as well as Russian Jews and Lithuanian Russians.)

Don, Kuban, Caucasus. German OTL aims included making Georgia a protectorate and taking the Don and Kuban regions (I think as Cossack state, could be wrong though) to connect Germany to the Caucasus and fully cut Russia off from the Black Sea. (I think this was more far fetched thinking than anything else.)

With this I could envision a German dominated power bloc of Germany-Austria- Lithuania-Ukraine emerging.

----------------

As for Western Europe.

- Extend the Border in Elsass to encompass more of the Vosges mountains and Belfort.
-Longwy-Briey
-Luxemburg
-Belgium up to the Meuse river.
-Independent Flanders and Wallonia. (Flanders possibly including Dunkirk as it was a Flemish speaking area of the French Netherlands and was considered in OTL for annexation.)

----------------
 
I disagree on annexations in the East. Too many minorities in the Empire, already. Some junkers and generals - like Hindenburg and Ludendorff, for starters - might want annexations, but I suspect most of them would agree with the civilian government that Germany would be better off avoiding getting dragged into the same quagmire the Habsburg Empire is in, and just split up Eastern Europe into several client kingdoms under German economic hegemony and military alliances.
 
I disagree on annexations in the East. Too many minorities in the Empire, already. Some junkers and generals - like Hindenburg and Ludendorff, for starters - might want annexations, but I suspect most of them would agree with the civilian government that Germany would be better off avoiding getting dragged into the same quagmire the Habsburg Empire is in, and just split up Eastern Europe into several client kingdoms under German economic hegemony and military alliances.
^ This, now don't get me wrong, Germany would most definitely spin economic hegemony and military alliances, even more so with German Princes in the East, among which includes:

- The aforementioned Adolf Friedrich von Mecklenburg-Schwerin as Duke of the United Baltic Duchy (or Duke of Livonia, Courland & Semigalia)
- Alternatively, if they chose to have Courland & Semigalia seperate from Livonia proper, then they could either restore it to the House of Biron (at the time held by Gustav von Biron since 1882), or as per OTL, place it in personal union with Prussia under Kaiser Wilhelm II.
- Lithuania: there were many candidates IOTL, in addition to a potential PU with Prussia again, there was also Prince Joachim, the youngest son of the Kaiser (whom, in a German victory, may butterfly away the worst of his depression and unfortunate suicide), Friedrich Christian von Wettin, the second son of the Saxon King Friedrich August III, and Wilhelm Karl von Urach (who won the candidacy and would be styled Mindaugas II)
- Poland: Again, Friedrich Christian was the likely candidate, and perhaps had the strongest claim by virtue of the fact that his dynasty was the only one still around after the fall of Poland-Lithuania. The other candidates were Duke Albrecht von Württemberg (which was likely not taken as seriously given he was also heir to the Württemberg throne), Leopold von Wittelsbach (Supreme Commander of Ober Ost), and among the Austrians, Karl Stefan and his son Karl Albrecht von Habsburg-Teschen.
- Finland: Friedrich Karl von Hesse-Kassel was the only known candidate chosen. Assuming that Germany chooses to not give Finland to Sweden (to say nothing of the fact of if Sweden would even want Finland back, granted nothing says a Swedish candidate could be brought in.)
- Georgia: Surprisingly enough there was considerations of having Joachim von Hohenzollern, be a potential King of Georgia. Given that Georgia's succession was contested (between Aleksandre Bagration-Mukhraneli and Petre Bagration-Gruzinsky), I'm sure a third party wouldn't further muddy the waters...
- Ukraine: Could flip between Wilhelm von Habsburg-Teschen, as someone previously mentioned, or Pavlo Skoropadsky, who might make the Hetmanate a hereditary position.
 
I disagree on annexations in the East. Too many minorities in the Empire, already. Some junkers and generals - like Hindenburg and Ludendorff, for starters - might want annexations, but I suspect most of them would agree with the civilian government that Germany would be better off avoiding getting dragged into the same quagmire the Habsburg Empire is in, and just split up Eastern Europe into several client kingdoms under German economic hegemony and military alliances.
The Hungarian nobles seem to have been one of the biggest problems for A-H, with their aggressive insistence on Magyarization antagonizing minorities while really being of no benefit to the authority of the Habsburgs. Admittedly, there were other problems, but the Hungarians seem to have been the biggest obstacle to Austria-Hungary doing anything that might have reduced the ethnic tensions. Germany didn't have any equivalent to Hungary, and already had something of a federal structure; while there are plenty of ways they could screw it up, it seems like they would have at least a reasonable chance of adding more subsidiary kingdoms to the Reich without everything exploding in their faces.
 
Chapter Twelve: The September Revolution New
Chapter Twelve: The September Revolution


The Russian Revolution began with a loaf of bread.

7 September 1916 started off like any other for the inhabitants of Petrograd. Light snow fell from an iron-grey sky while newspapers yelled about an imminent counterstroke to drive the Germans back to their border. Weary labourers ignored the lies in the paper as they trudged off for another grueling day, while women darted off to the ration queues. And it is one of these women who shall be the focus of our story.

Elenya Veroshenka shivered as the wind tugged at her skirt. She held a wicker basket in one hand and a wad of rubles in the other. The queue to get in the shops stretched on and on, and she pulled out a pen and paper to pass the time. Dear Andrei, she wrote, hope you are well, wherever you are. Censorship prevented her brother from giving his location. Things are not as bad as they might be- we still have enough to eat and enough coal. Elenya shook her head at the bare-faced lie. Half a loaf of bread and a little wilted cabbage wasn’t enough, and she had run out of coal last Tuesday. But she didn’t want to worry her younger brother. Mother, Father, and little Pyotr send their love. You do not need to worry at all. I was relieved to hear that you made it out of that battle in one piece. I do hope you are doing all right, not too cold at nights- if only I had a spare coat I could give you! Every day, I light a candle for your sake. Dear Andrei, I look forward to when this war is over, and you can come back home to be with us again. But grumbling will do us no good. Lots of love, Elenya.

Elenya tucked her letter away as she reached the front of the queue. Simeon’s general store was nice and warm, and she wanted to savour the heat for as long as possible.

“Come on in there, come on in. No use letting the heat out.” Simeon, a tall, weedy man too old for the Army, wagged a finger at Elenya. “Now then, let’s see that ration card. Can’t do too much without it, can I?” Chuckling unpleasantly, Simeon handed her a wrapped loaf. It looked like a rock, hardly worth the exorbitant cost- but it was better than starving. “See you again, my girl.” Elenya nibbled a corner of the bread, but spat it out immediately.

“Sawdust! There’s got to be sawdust in this!” Simeon melted under her glare. “Well, well, there is a war on, don’t you know?” He shrugged. “And my overhead is going up- you can’t get things any more. And I had to make things stretch. What would you have done, eh?”

Anger bubbled inside Elenya. “Charging those prices for… for this? You don’t get it, do you? Some of us have to work, not just sit in the shop counting change. It isn’t so easy for us. Perhaps I ought to find another baker.” Elenya furiously drummed her fingers on the counter. She knew that was unlikely, but it might scare the penny-pinching shopkeeper. “You’re a cheat!”

“Come on”, yelled the woman in the queue behind Elenya, “bring out the good things! We know you have them.” Simeon turned red. “I… I don’t know what any of you mean! Really!”

“Don’t you? You mean to say you eat sawdust with your bread? How did you stay so healthy? My brother’s at the front, fighting and suffering for Russia, while you are a war profiteer, nothing else!”

“How dare you?” Simeon pounded the table, red-faced. “I am as loyal a Russian as you- why, I fought in Manchuria in 1904, and…” Elenya hurled her loaf of black bread at him. Simeon howled and fell to the ground, clutching his nose.

“Come on! Let’s see what he’s really got!” She and a few others smashed the door to the stockroom. There were dozens of good, white loaves there, and plenty of good potatoes and cabbage. The warm, silky bread tasted like a slice of heaven, and Elenya joyfully stashed three loaves and pounds of potatoes in her bag. “Help! Help!”, Simeon cried. “Thievery!”

Damn, Elenya thought, making herself scarce. However, a panic-stricken woman running out of a greengrocer with a bag full of good food was deeply suspicious. People scattered in every direction, trying to make way with their ill-gotten gains. Thumping footsteps behind her set her heart racing...

“Hold it right there!” Elenya ignored the policeman and ran even faster, desperately trying to turn a corner and get home. “Hold it, I said, damn you!” She heard a click and looked over her shoulder in fear. An explosive bang, a moment of searing pain and then… nothing.

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"Clearly, the people of our great empire have spoken. I have judged that my presence as Emperor is no longer advantageous to Russia, and in this time of national exertion, we cannot afford even the slightest conflict or deviation if it can be prevented. Therefore, I announce my abdication as Tsar of All the Russias. My brother, the Grand Duke Michael, is to succeed me. May God bless him, and may this be the start of a long and glorious future for the Russian people."
-
Tsar Nicholas II's Act of Abdication, 15 September 1916.

"Down with the oppressive regime of Nicholas! Long live the workers! As leader of the Central Worker's Group, I hereby declare the freedom of the people of Petrograd!"
-
Julius Martov, 15 September 1916.

"Today, we remember Elenya Veroshenka's death as the beginning of a long struggle in Russia, on our path towards a new, more peaceful place in the world. It has been a century since Tsar Nicholas' regime was overthrown, and the Motherland has come a long way since then. And I have every confidence that we will go even further in the next century."
-
Russian president Dimitry Ershonogov in a speech before laying a wreath on the spot where Elenya Veroshenka was killed, on 7 September 2016. He would make a much grander speech on Revolution Day a week later.


Russian police killed four elderly ladies on 7 September. This earned them a mild reprimand from their superiors, and they expected nothing serious to come of it. Elenya Veroshenka’s funeral took place at a local Orthodox church on the ninth, and everyone hoped it would be a low-profile affair.

They were soon to have their hopes dashed.

Elenya’s funeral drew some 200 people, over ten times the number expected. Plenty of Petrograders, unhappy at their conditions, wanted to pay their respects. Her brother Andrei was home on compassionate leave, and after the funeral muttered to a few friends that he’d “like to get the bastard who killed my sister.” He had an Army knife with him and went off searching for the policeman with a few others. That night, they found the man and threw his body in a ditch. The police brutally searched for the murderer, arresting and killing innocents, but Andrei was nowhere to be found. The crackdown brought plenty of grumbling amongst the workers of Petrograd. A second, larger protest took place on the tenth in front of the mayor’s mansion, with almost four thousand people yelling about everything from Elenya’s murder to the economic conditions, while the capital’s factory workers staged strikes in solidarity. As Vladimir Lenin was later to quip, the people of Petrograd were a tinderbox, and Elenya Veroshenka’s murder lit the fuse. The mayor was understandably panicked and called out the town garrison. Clashes began at 11:20 and lasted for the better part of an hour- sixty civilians died and a further 220 were wounded. By now, the Tsar was fully aware of what was going on, but he was unconcerned. The people loved their emperor; this was just the work of a few radicals. In a week’s time, the whole thing would blow over.

Of course, things didn’t play out that way.

When word got out of what had happened in Petrograd, widespread unrest broke out in other Russian cities. Everyone was hungry, tired, grieving for their lost loved ones, and more than a few had sharp questions. If the Army could butcher old ladies and brutally massacre peaceful demonstrators, why couldn’t it win the war? If the Tsar’s government was so bloody wonderful, why were bread and coal so expensive? Seizing upon the moment to demand better conditions, workers in Moscow went on strike, and before too long, a general strike paralysed the Russian Empire’s second city. The Muscovite police and Army garrison had no more political sense than their counterparts in the capital, and attempts to get the workers back by force quickly turned into bloody riots… and the pattern repeated itself in Kiev, Smolensk, and even distant Vladivostok.

Tsar Nicholas’ regime was coming apart.

The Tsar had always lived in his own world, willfully blinding himself to twentieth-century politics. When he looked back on his family’s history, Nicholas saw three hundred years of absolute monarchy, and that it was 1916 was irrelevant. Nicholas believed that his family’s mission from God to rule could never change. Autocracy was nothing new in Russia, but most of Nicholas’ predecessors knew enough to not be too reactionary. But in the Tsar’s golden cocoon, not only was he invincible, so was Russia. The Russo-Japanese War had resulted from Japanese treachery, while he pinned the humiliating peace on the failure of his diplomats. Nicholas honestly believed that the 1905 revolution had come about by accident and despised the fact that the revolutionaries had forced him to establish a parliament- God’s agent needed no one’s approval to rule! Nicholas also believed in the bottom of his heart that the people loved him. He viewed the Russian populace with a kind of affectionate condescension, comparing the relationship to a father’s love for his small children. Thus, when he met with his advisers on 13 September, he scoffed at the idea that Russia was in real trouble. Prime Minister Boris Sturmer (1) told Nicholas that the police and Army couldn’t crush the protests and bring an end to the strikes everywhere, and thus Nicholas would have to make concessions. He advised the Tsar that publicly addressing the protesters would be enough to douse the fire, buying time for anti-corruption measures to be put in place. He should try officers accused of violent suppression of protests and take steps to increase the well-being of the populace. Sturmer knew that the Tsar had a tendency to listen to whichever minister had his ear at the moment, and hoped that if he could persuade his sovereign to address the people, this locking himself into a course of reform. Nicholas was almost convinced… before Sturmer suggested that an armistice might strengthen the Russian state.

Tsar Nicholas blew his stack. He was not, under any circumstances, going to surrender to the Germans! He was Supreme Commander of the Russian army, and for him to conclude a cease-fire would be a betrayal of the millions of his countrymen who died in service to the Motherland. And besides, Sturmer was of German descent! There was only one reason a man with a German surname was telling the Russian tsar to conclude a peace- because he was a traitor! The Tsar flat-out called his Prime Minister an enemy agent, before sacking him on the spot. He retired to his quarters to compose a speech and let it be known that he would address the protestors from a balcony of the Winter Palace at three PM.

He was about to shoot himself in the foot in the worst way imaginable.

Petrograd proletarians: a fraction of the crowd gathered to hear Tsar Nicholas' speech of 14 September.
septemberrevolution.jpeg


A great crowd of Petrograders from all walks of life- some 100,000- gathered to hear their sovereign speak in the mid-afternoon of 14 September. Many of them genuinely revered him and expected him to play the role of the benevolent ruler addressing his people’s grievances. Instead, he arrived sixteen minutes late, with his wife and court favourite Grigori Rasputin on either side. If the people looked up to the Tsar, they hated the people he was literally surrounding himself with. His wife Alexandra Feodorovna was not only a German, she had become infamous for living on the high hog at the people’s expense, diverting much money into balls and banquets… and remaining in communication with her relatives in Hesse, if popular rumour was to be believed. The people whispered that Rasputin was a practitioner of black magic and an enemy agent, who had the emperor under his control through devilish means. In reality, he was a Siberian mystic and con artist whose ability to heal the sickly Crown Prince endeared him to Nicholas… but the people didn’t know that. If the Tsar harmed his cause by keeping poor company, he wrecked it the moment he opened his mouth.

“Loyal subjects of Petrograd!

For two long years, our beloved Motherland has been at war. German and Austrian aggression threatens our very existence, and the imperialists in Berlin and Vienna seek to reduce our glorious state to nothingness. Aided by their puppets in Italy, Bulgaria, Turkey, and Romania, they have caused our allies to seek peace. I harbour no ill-will against the French or British for their decision and wish them the very best. Yet, as God chose my illustrious ancestor Ivan three hundred years ago, so He has called me to lead you, my children. Thus, we shall fight on to victory.

Now, it has been brought to my notice that some of you are imperfectly satisfied with the conditions in our fair city. Let me say this to you: every morsel of bread you do not eat, every lump of coal you do not throw on the fire, is being given to the men at the front, who risk their lives day after day for your Tsar. So, take pride in your sufferings, hold your head up with every privation. Never let your loyalty to orthodoxy, autocracy, and nationality waver! Do not be like the godless warmongers in Berlin or the traitors running rampant in our streets. My courtiers on either side of me stand firm in our commitment to glory, and I expect you to do the same. Never will I concede on the moral nature of my government, nor will I ever toss a scrap to the forces of anarchy and chaos. Together, subjects, we shall hold our heads high and push through to the glorious end, in the name of Orthodoxy, Autocracy, Nationality, God, and the Tsar!”

A brass band struck up ‘God Save the Tsar’, and the people listened in stunned silence for a few seconds. Then they started yelling. They’d hoped for their sovereign to address their woes and promise concrete action, and instead they got a lot of condescending, patronising rubbish. With a hundred thousand men booing him and yelling inflammatory things, the Tsar panicked and ordered his men to break the crowd up… the first bullet flew five seconds later. Once people thought the guards were trying to massacre them, they fought back. Bricks and gunshots pummeled the soldiers, who fought back with bayonets. Just as the Tsar decided it was an opportune moment to flee, his wife let out a shriek. Tsarina Alexandra clutched at her chest, her face pale, blood oozing from her fingers, before falling to the ground. As the horrified Tsar watched, the crowd trampled on her body, leaving it scarcely recognisable. Now, there was a full-scale battle raging just outside the Winter Palace, with the enraged mob hell-bent on breaking in. More workers were streaming in from the city, and the Petrograd garrison was setting up barricades in the streets. Meanwhile, the remnants of the royal family fled with Rasputin to the road leading to the imperial estate at Tsarskoe Selo.

The September Revolution of 1916 was well and truly on.

Nicholas reached Tsarskoe Selo at close to six PM. He correctly gambled that the guards on his estate would be reliable. They let him in and gave him some horrible news: the Petrograd garrison was mutinying. Men were throwing down their arms and siding with the rioters, and it looked as though the insurgents in the city would soon crush the loyalists. Nicholas’ brother Grand Duke Michael was fighting back to little avail. But worst of all, the men added in hushed whispers, no one could guarantee the reliability of the Tsarskoe Selo garrison. Mourning for his lost wife, bitter over the loss of his throne, and fearful for his safety and that of his family… the wonder is not that he didn’t sleep a wink, but that he didn’t commit suicide. His brother Michael reached the estate at five AM, having lost the battle for Petrograd and fled in the night. The two had a heart-to-heart, brotherly chat as soon as they met. Events of the past day had convinced the liberal Grand Duke that the only way this could end well was if Nicholas abdicated. Nicholas loathed hearing this, but the situation was a great deal clearer now than it had been the previous day. Nicholas knew that while his political career was dead in the water, his son might still rule one day… and when that day came, he would naturally lean on his father for advice…. And besides, losing one’s head to the mob wasn’t how Nicholas wanted to go. Thus, on 15 September 1916 at six AM, Nicholas II handwrote an act of abdication while eating a bowl of kasha for breakfast- it’s preserved in the Moscow National Museum to this day, complete with a century-old stain. He went to inform Alexei of what he had done; the boy was receiving treatment from Rasputin and was too ill and too in shock over losing his mother to take much notice. Tsar Michael II (2) then headed back to the capital, naively determined to work out a peaceful ending to this mess now that he was in power.


A photograph of Tsar Michael II taken shortly before the outbreak of the Great War
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He was far too late.

With the help of some mutinous army units, the workers had seized control of most of Petrograd by midday. In the Winter Palace, everyone was trying to figure out what to do next. None of them knew about Nicholas’ abdication, nor of the whereabouts of the royal family. There were also disturbing reports that mutinies were tearing through the Army. Rumours- thankfully ficticious- swirled that the Germans would arrive in days. The Central Worker’s Group, a left-wing labour organisation from before the war, had assumed broad control over the uprising. This left Julius Martov, the CWG’s leader, as the most powerful man in the city. At nine AM, while Tsar Michael was racing to the capital, Martov met with Prince Georgi Lvov, a senior figure in the Duma. The meeting was a frosty one, as Martov held most of the cards, yet couldn’t afford to split with Lvov. As a Menshevik, he believed in a broad, progressive front for change, and genuinely wanted Lvov and the empire’s bourgeois-liberals on board. However, Lvov was a liberal, not a radical, and feared some of Julius Martov’s allies. Thus, the seeds of discord were sewn from the very beginning. However, the two established a modus vivendi, and settled on two key points: the need to seek an armistice with the enemy (3), and the need to strengthen their position and prevent the Tsar- who they still thought was Nicholas, not Michael- from crushing them. They agreed to send one of their number for a cease-fire as soon as possible. No sooner had they agreed on this then a breathless messenger burst in- Grand Duke Michael was on the road to Petrograd! No one knew that he was at the head of but a few men; both Martov and Lvov assumed he was leading a counterrevolutionary army. Trustworthy army units went to beat off what they assumed to be a massive attack… they were pleasantly surprised to find Michael with just a handful of Tsarskoe Selo guards accompanying him. When the two bumped into each other at ten in the morning, the terrified Tsar fled back to Tsarskoe Selo on horseback, his retinue fighting a delaying action.

When he reached the estate a little after lunchtime, the Tsar told Nicholas and his family what had happened. The mad revolutionaries had tried to kill him; surely, they would be here any minute! Tsar Michael announced his intention to flee south to the town of Veliky Novgorod, which had avoided revolutionary action. From there, he hoped to broadcast to the troops that he was alive and in power, and to send envoys to the Central Powers requesting a peace treaty; there, at least, he had more sense than his brother. Nicholas was unhappy about this, but agreed to come, fearful for his life. At a quarter to ten, Tsar Michael, Nicholas, his son Alexei and his four daughters, climbed into the back of a wagon, travelling disguised as peasants; Nicholas reluctantly shaved his beard before setting off. The party was delayed, however. The Tsar wanted to leave a decoy for when the revolutionaries inevitably reached the hunting grounds, and since he didn’t want to condemn his innocent nieces or nephew to the mob, he settled on Rasputin (whom he despised anyhow). Nicholas was furious, telling his brother that “to kill Rasputin is to kill my son!”, but Tsar Michael was adamant. Two guards tied the “healer” to a chair and gagged him. At one PM, the royal party set off for Veliky Novgorod. Twenty minutes later, the small force sent to repel Tsar Michael’s “assault on Petrograd” arrived at the deserted estate. They looted it thoroughly and found Rasputin. He had his gag removed, but was not freed from the chair. It wasn’t every day that the revolutionaries captured one of Nicholas’ right-hand men, and they were going to torture every scrap of information they could out of him. Rasputin, coward that he was, told everything. Nicholas had abdicated, leaving his brother as Tsar, and they were heading off to rally support at Veliky Novgorod. Judging by the number of men they had, Rasputin said, they wouldn’t stand a chance. The revolutionaries thanked Rasputin for his time and blew his brains out. One of them found a telephone in the estate and contacted Julius Martov, telling him everything.

The Tsarist party reached Veliky Novgorod shortly after three. The loyalist commander of the city had imposed martial law, and Tsar Michael safely revealed his identity; the commander didn’t believe him until Nicholas confirmed that it was true. After changing his clothes, Michael strode confidently to the town hall; Nicholas and the children went to the finest hotel room in town. The Tsar stated that he wanted to work with Prince Lvov in reforming Russia and hoped only for peace. He offered an amnesty to anyone willing to lay down their arms and accept him as a constitutional monarch, and promised an end to the war. (4) News of this reached Petrograd by the end of the day, and Lvov was forced to consider. He and the new Tsar were both liberals, and both wanted an end to the war. Tsar Michael hadn’t mentioned Julius Martov in his speech, but it seemed a safe bet that he wasn’t a closet Menshevik. If it were up to him, Prince Lvov would be all too happy to betray Martov and walk down the liberal path, subservient to the Tsar. The trouble was that that would mean getting rid of Julius Martov and the Central Worker’s Group, and that if he tried and failed, they would kill him. Trapped between a rock and a hard place, Lvov chose caution. At six-forty PM, he met with Julius Martov and informed him that he’d received correspondence from Michael… now Tsar Michael. He was going as a “representative of the people” to speak with the Tsarists, hoping to avoid further bloodshed. Martov was deeply suspicious, but eventually gave his consent. Thus, Prince Lvov set off for Veliky Novgorod at eight PM, and arrived two hours later, accompanied by a platoon of bodyguards. When he arrived, soldiers disarmed his guards and led him into an audience with Tsar Michael. The Russian emperor, who twenty-four hours ago had been nothing more than a grand duke watching his brother give an awful speech, seemed sorrowful as he met Prince Lvov. The danger to Russia, he emphasised, was too great for infighting. If Lvov would defect to the government side, the Tsar would happily become a constitutional monarch with Lvov as prime minister. Speaking from his heart, Tsar Michael said that he would be not only willing but eager to make peace and hold a constitutional convention. Lvov accepted after a bit of vacillating. Julius Martov offered Marxist revolution, while Tsar Michael offered a Russia built around liberal, bourgeois values and a cushy job for him personally. Plus, the Tsar’s men with guns were right there, while Martov’s weren’t. It was close to midnight, but the two men got to work drafting a proclamation to the troops, calling on them to remain loyal. Veliky Novgorod’s printers were woken up at two AM and told to produce as many copies as humanly possible within two hours. At four AM, officers woke the- understandably terrified- postmaster, ordering him to send these leaflets to the front as fast as possible.

The September Revolution hadn’t affected the front too much. In the inevitable chaos of retreat, the common foot soldier scarcely knew which town his battalion was coming up on next, let alone the blow-by-blow details of regime change in Petrograd. In the days following the murder of Elenya Veroshenka, some of the men had a vague sense that things were wrong in the capital, but few made much of it. Censorship kept the news of 14 and 15 September well away from the men at the front… not that they would’ve made much sense of it, considering that the principal actors were operating in a confused mess more often than not! (4) As for the generals, they knew well that Nicholas’ regime was on its last legs. Privately, many of them were sympathetic to the goal of modernisation, considering Nicholas an incompetent buffoon. They were informed at their headquarters that Nicholas was fleeing Petrograd a few hours after the fact, but by the end of 15 September, they had no idea that he had abdicated, nor did many of them have the faintest bloody idea who this “Julius Martov” chap was. Thus, when they received orders from a “Tsar Michael II” in Veliky Novgorod to expect a cease-fire in a few days, many generals shook their heads and downed a glass of vodka. Slowly, it became apparent that they weren’t dreaming, and after a few telephone calls, they gradually figured things out piece by piece. Nicholas must’ve abdicated- or worse, been killed- if his brother was now Tsar… but why was the message coming from Veliky Novgorod? And why did it have Prince Lvov’s signature on it? If the new emperor wasn’t sending messages of this importance from the capital, especially considering that there had been major disturbances there… then Petrograd must be out of his control. And of course, they had to figure all this out while trying to push back the Germans. Nevertheless, everyone kept a reasonably cool head. The men were informed that Nicholas had abdicated in favour of his brother, but the generals deliberately left the details vague- there was no mention of a potential armistice, or that the message had come from Veliky Novgorod.

In Petrograd, Julius Martov was furious. He should have known that that bourgeois scum (amongst other epithets) Prince Lvov was no good! Now that he was united with Tsar Michael, he could cause real damage. Martov didn’t know how many men the Tsar had at his disposal, but it was certainly more than the handful of revolutionary troops and armed workers in Petrograd. He couldn’t count of help from insurgents elsewhere- not only were they too far away, they had their own leaders. Thus, it was essential for him to use everything in Petrograd he could. At eleven AM on the 16th, Martov declared that the “treasonous Lvov seeks only to collaborate with the Tsar to crush your freedoms!” He announced the establishment of the Petrograd Worker’s Army and told them to be ready for battle.

Emblem used by the ill-fated, short-lived Petrograd Worker's Army.
Petrograd Worker's Army emblem.png


Sticking a fancy title on the garrison of Petrograd and some armed rabble wouldn’t do anything for their fighting ability; they were as coarse and untrained as men could get. Meanwhile, Tsar Michael and Prince Lvov were cobbling together whatever loyalist units they could find; since nothing could be spared from the front, men were mostly scraped up from garrisons. These were of course Imperial Russian troops, with all the associated supply and command problems, but the enemy was in no better shape. After a week, on 23 September, the march on Petrograd began. While some units of the Petrograd Worker’s Army fought furiously, most saw which way the wind was blowing. Many were disgruntled factory workers who had no problem chucking bricks at Nicholas after… that condescending excuse for a speech, but who would not throw their lives away for Julius Martov’s sake, especially not when the new Tsar looked to be a reasonably liberal man. Martov slipped away for Norway via Finland- itself simmering on the edge of rebellion- and by the end of the 24th, Petrograd was under Tsar Michael’s control, bringing an end to the September Revolution. Elsewhere, the uprisings fizzled out. Escorted by his armed guards, the Tsar entered the Winter Palace first thing in the morning on 25 September. Looters had thoroughly ransacked the place, carrying off priceless artifacts and reducing it to a shell of its former glory. However, just as he was walking into his old bedchamber, the Tsar heard a great crash, then another, then another. That could mean only one thing…

...the Germans were shelling Petrograd.

This only highlighted the emergency facing Michael’s regime. Literally as soon as the shelling stopped, he met with the man he had picked for Foreign Minister during his time in Veliky Novgorod: Pavel Milyukov. Tsar Michael instructed Milyukov to contact the Central Powers and arrange for a cease-fire as soon as possible. Prince Lvov- whose election to the Prime Ministership would come in due course- concurred with his sovereign, and Milyukov was sending cables to the Russian embassy in Sweden by ten AM. By the end of the day, he had received good news: the Germans were amiable to a cease-fire. When he asked how soon they could be there, the ambassador in Stockholm rang back- he could have peace in three days if the Tsar wanted it. An hour later, he was on the express train to Stockholm with his interpreter, briefcase full of diplomatic documents in hand.

None other than Paul von Hindenburg and Erich Ludendorff were waiting for him at the German embassy two days later. Naturally, both were in an arrogant mood, gloating that Michael would inevitably do an even worse job than Nicholas. Consummate diplomat that he was, Milyukov took it all in stride. Hindenburg and Ludendorff naturally did most of the talking, speaking for the Austro-Hungarians and Romanians, who were also present. The Central Powers would keep all the land they’d conquered, and the Russian army would have to demobilise immediately. This would leave them defenceless should the Germans decide they wanted more land. The rest of Bessarabia was to come under immediate Romanian occupation. As for the Russian Navy, the remnants of the Baltic Fleet were to put into Konigsberg, Danzig, and Stettin, while the Black Sea Fleet was to sail to Constantinople. Biting his lip, Miyukov signed the Stockholm Armistice, ending the Great War at eleven-thirty AM on 28 September 1916. The last man to die in the fighting was German private Theodor Krafft, killed in Estonia seven minutes before Milyukov signed.

It had only been three weeks since Elenya Veroshenka’s death.

While the German populace celebrated wildly, Tsar Michael set about trying to consolidate his regime. The events of the past few weeks had shown that he was vulnerable to attacks from the left, but there were also furious nationalists to worry about. If the general in charge of Petrograd tried to get revenge for losing the war, there were plenty of ways he could go about it. Of course, if Michael’s regime couldn’t appease the workers, they could topple him as they had his brother. (5) The new Tsar would also have to appease liberal burgeious elements as personified by Prince Lvov, and that would most likely require a constitutional convention… which the masses might try to get their foot in the door for. Inflation was running rampant and the country was just one poor harvest away from famine. Michael also knew that Russia would remember him as the idiot who signed away Russia’s western provinces, but he much preferred that to being the idiot who saw German boots marching in Petrograd. So, while Tsar Michael II had an abundance of worries as October 1916 came along, he was looking in the wrong places…

...after all, what could the return of an expatriate from Switzerland with a goatee and a newsboy cap have to do with anything?

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Comments?
  1. His being of German descent didn’t endear him to the Tsar.
  2. Henceforth, “the Tsar” refers to Michael. I know that OTL, he refused to take power until a new constitution was established. Here, he agrees to take power, since Russia’s in even more dire straits than OTL’s February 1917. It bends plausibility a little, I know, but I think it’s necessary for the update to flow smoothly.
  3. Right now, the Russian military situation is roughly analogous to what it was following the Kerensky Offensive IOTL, except there haven’t been widespread mutinies. Thus, the need to end the war is a lot more pressing for everyone.
  4. The men are too busy fighting for their lives to set up soldier’s committees right now.
  5. Now living in a much less fancy townhouse in Petrograd under armed protection.
 
Thought I should mention: yes, nationalist uprisings ARE going on in Russia at the time of this update, but I couldn't find a place to mention them properly without destroying the flow of the narrative. I'll mention them when we get around to the Eastern peace treaty... the next update will be the British and French peace treaties with the CPs.
 
Great update.

I disagree on annexations in the East. Too many minorities in the Empire, already. Some junkers and generals - like Hindenburg and Ludendorff, for starters - might want annexations, but I suspect most of them would agree with the civilian government that Germany would be better off avoiding getting dragged into the same quagmire the Habsburg Empire is in, and just split up Eastern Europe into several client kingdoms under German economic hegemony and military alliances.
I get where you are coming form with hind sight. However, annexation of all or part of Livonia was a consistent aim of the German leadership throughout the war. Regardless of what we might think is the best option, we have to see it from the perspective of those at the time. They saw it as a natural historical extension of Germany. it is not just the Junkers and Generals, but the Kaiser and the nationalists. The civilian government favoured annexations in the East. (If you are looking for the crazy ideas of Generals look at Ludendorff's plans for the German settlement of the Crimea. (mental).)

The Baltics had since their conquest and settlement by the Teutonic Knights, been viewed as a part of the greater German realm. Nor is it really fair to compare it to A-H given the relatively small population size of the Baltics compared to Germany proper. Germans in Austria were a minority, whereas in Germany Germans are an overwhelming majority. Further, the German leadership were fairly confident (wrongly) that the national consciousness of Latvians and Estonians was weak and many of them could easily be assimilated. So when viewing it from the position of Germany at the time, not to annex the land doesn't stack up with their priorities at the time.
 
And so, the Weltkrieg ended. A resounding victory to the Triple Alliance! At least the Entente surrendered without excessive damages... Yet the peace terms may not avoid a second great war in the future. But we shall see...
 
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