Sacro Egoismo or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Neutrality

Everything is horrible
I reluctantly accepted the idea of restoring order in this God-forgotten corner of Europe while the rest of the continent is fighting to decide who will control its future because it was my duty. I cannot accept wasting precious time and resources looking after a bunch of civilians and soldiers too stupid to understand what we are doing for them.

Every day my men and I waste to ensure order with the refugees is a day that the brigands in the inland can use to regroup and become a threat to my army.

The rapid fall of Serbia at the hands of the Austrians has shown that my proposal for an all-out assault works perfectly and therefore I find myself requesting once again permission to start a general and prolonged offensive towards the hinterland of Albania. I believe that the potential number of victims is within the acceptable limits and in any case I can recruit numerous locals to replace the dead Italians, if I lose too many soldiers in my operation.

I am also puzzled by the rejection of my proposal to reintroduce decimation among Serbian troops under my authority to keep order. I can understand that a civilian is not able to understand the needs of the war but I believe that the Prime Minister is too weak and lacks the will necessary to guarantee the success of our enterprise in Albania.

- Telegram from Luigi Cadorna to the Italian government 25/4/1915


ATHENS - We have received confirmation that Prime Minister Venizelos has been dismissed from his post by King Constantine I. Although rumors have been circulating for some time about the tension between the two men, the Serbian refugee crisis in Albania seems to have caused the final rupture between the king and his prime minister.

Sources close to the government in fact reported that Venizelos had tried to persuade the monarch to open the Greek borders to the Serbian refugees present in Albania and that even in the face of Costantine's refusal he tried to contact the Italian prime minister and the Entente governments in secret to favor a safe passage to the Serbian soldiers and their monarch trapped in Albania.

The king has announced new elections for the creation of a new government, but this does not seem very effective in calming the tensions caused by the sacking of Venizelos. In fact, supporters of the former Prime Minister have protested in front of the Greek parliament in Athens and Vice Admiral Pavlos Kountouriotis has resigned from his position, explicitly citing the episode as motivation.

-Daily News & Reader 14/5/1915

“Prime Minister Orlando seems unable to manage the situation in Albania. Not only his decisions have led to an escalation of the conflict, but he is also unable to assert our sovereignty. Our ships are constantly harassed by the Austrian fleet in the Adriatic Sea, I have news of incursions by Bulgarian and Austrian soldiers along the borders of Albania and according to our soldiers the brigands who oppose us can now show off not only Serbian but also Greek and Bulgarian weapons .

Is this the honorable peace his predecessor promised us? I obviously intend to continue to support the government for the good of our country, but I urge the prime minister to reconsider his strategy if he wants to demonstrate his competence "

-Minister of Finance Sideny Sonnino during an intervention in the Italian Parliament (21/5/1915)

“We cannot blame the Albanians for their fury against the Serbs, even if innocent civilians suffer from it. We have all heard stories of the horrors that Belgrade unleashed on Muslims in its territory no more than two years ago. After careful discussion with his Majesty, my government has decided to investigate in depth the extent of such crimes and to severely punish the country responsible for such barbarity. Austria is only interested in bringing a definitive peace to the Balkans "

- Austrian prime minister Karl von Stürgkh during his press conference following the surrender of the last Serbian defenders near Nis (1/6/1915)

“The Serbs are our enemies from a political and moral point of view. They have brought dishonor and ruin not only to the Balkans but especially to my kingdom. Don't let them dishonor us even more "

- Part of Emperor Joseph's speech to members of the Austrian general staff in preparation of the Bulgarian-Austrian occupation of Serbia (1/6/1915)


Istanbul celebrates the victory and promises that Var's rebels will be soon crushed and punished for their betrayal.

-Der Landstrum (7/6/1915)
I think Italy needs to get out of the balkans before it ends up with their very own Afghanistan debacle. Getting stuck in that mess is a nightmare worse than the Austrians owning the other shore of the Adriatic, let them be the ones that try and keep it from exploding.

Also, Cadorna being himself.
I think Italy needs to get out of the balkans before it ends up with their very own Afghanistan debacle.
Well, the issue is that Orlando put all of his credibility in the pacification of Albania. Who knows what would happen if he just gave up or something else happened...
This is great. It's good to see that Italy will not just watch and eat popcorn, but is still involved in their own failed imperialist operations that may or may not drag them into the Great War anyway. Keep up the good work.
I think Italy needs to get out of the balkans before it ends up with their very own Afghanistan debacle. Getting stuck in that mess is a nightmare worse than the Austrians owning the other shore of the Adriatic, let them be the ones that try and keep it from exploding.

Also, Cadorna being himself.

Well, the fact is that Albania hold an extreme important strategic position for Italy as not only controlling Vlore and Dures mean controlling the access to the Adriatic but Albania is too near the italian coast to let another power have control of it as it can be used as a springboard for an invasion.
Plus initial problem aside, the entire nation had collapsed in various faction with a massive epidemic of cholera so except bandits and the Austrian/Bulgarian/Greeks soldiers at the border of the italian control zone there is hardly any resistance even because (at least OTL) many civilian see the italian presence as a mean too...well survive.
OTL the serious problem happened postwar when the italian government not only burned a lot of previous gained good will but it was too weak and with too much internal stability to use the force to subdue the albanians.

Well Cadorna is Cadorna but without the big war...well he will have a lot less leeway and calling the prime minister weak mean winning a one way ticket to the province of Remotonia Esterna.
Plus the Austrians being their usual worst enemy (unless Sonnino is not telling a lie) doing that mean really pushing Italy on the Entente side...honestly i expect Berlin not very happy with this behaviour
First time commeting this thread, though following since a while ago. So, Italy military apparatus is shamelessly antiquate, specially in the internal functioning and in its commander's mentality (few exceptions are Diaz and the Duke of Aosta, but without the major war, I doubt those two are getting some serious spotlight). The war against the mountains bandits will probably end up just like the war against the italian bandits, with plenty of soldiers and carabinieri combing mountains and valleys untill the majority of the disturbance is uprooted; probably the man doing all the dirty job would be general Andrea Graziani (not related to Rodolfo), direct responsible for many execution in OTL Italian Front. Still, if Cadorna can't get progress fast enough against a "clearly inferior" enemy, it's not hard to see him sacked. Without a great danger to the nation, it isn't a big risk to change commander.

Orlando was a moron (when he thought that the other Powers were unfair toward Italy he openly cried, with Clemenceau quipping some vetriolic comments), while Sonnino had some grabby-hands, doing whatever he wanted if he felt he could get away with it (OTL: diplomatic talks with the Entente with Salandra, without informing anyone else, then at Paris in 1919, contraddicting Orlando's requests for territories) while conceding the least possible to others (also OTL, he had drag talks with Bulgaria so much, that Bulgaria ended with the Central Powers; not only his fault, but still).

In general, Italy's problem is that it lacks a realistic strategic view. OTL, by not joining the Entente right away, England and France froze many italian assets aboard for war's necessities (freightes, bank loans, production licensing, strategic resources like steel, coal, oil, non-ferrous minerals). So, by not joining, Italy will have an hardpressed economy. Maybe they could have a special deal with Germany to trade low-volume, high-value chemical and farmaceutical products for strategic metals and materials, like what the germans did a couple of time with the US through the Deutschland and Bremen merchant submarines (concentrated chemical dyes were worth a fortune per pound and were highly sought). Maritime war laws are strict, but inequivocable. Contraband means vessel and cargo seizure, but if Italy trade with the Central Empires only by land, then it could transport whatever it wants by sea (except weapons), for a premium.

Well Cadorna is Cadorna but without the big war...well he will have a lot less leeway and calling the prime minister weak mean winning a one way ticket to the province of Remotonia Esterna.
Better yet... Molise!
With a bit of luck the next chapter, focused on how Orlando can still fuck everything up and the war in the Ottoman Empire, should be ready in a week or two.
Just finished up and can't wait for more! (Yes I can, I kid lol)

I've found myself without a lot of reading lately so this has caught my attention since I have assurances that there is more to come, good job :D
Poles, Muslims and bullets
"Why didn't you fire Cadorna after his telegram?" is the question I am asked most frequently after the end of my career. Why did I let an incompetent general openly insult me and attack my government's political choices?

Because if I had tried to remove it, I would have been the one losing his position. Do you think it was a coincidence that his telegram had been sent in the same week in which Sonnino's criticisms had begun? Or that the first paragraph literally referred directly to the ongoing war in Europe?

Cadorna was the favorite of my political colleagues who were in favor of our entry into the Great War and I have no doubt that the fall of Serbia prompted them to work together to replace me as Prime Minister with someone willing to go along with their plans.

If I had tried to fire Cadorna (God knows how much I wanted to do it), Sonnino or worse still Gentile would have accused me of sabotaging Italy's work in Albania because I was unable to accept valid criticism of my work. The king would obviously have issued a statement where he expressed concern and wondered if I was actually waging the war in Albania to the best of my ability.

At best my many political opponents would have withdrawn their support of my government and at worst they would have called a no-confidence vote against me. Either way I would have lost my post as Prime Minister and Sonnino would have easily replaced me.

Can you imagine that man leading the country? He did not have the skills necessary to protect our interests and, even worse, he was honestly convinced that Italy should have renounced the treaty with Austria and intervene in the Great War.

Because clearly after the collapse of Serbia what our country needed was to go to war with Vienna, Berlin, Sofia and Istanbul.

Maybe I should have resigned on my own and left my unfortunate successor to manage the situation in Europe.

I mean do you think Austria was the only country apparently unable to accept the fact that Italy was neutral or be suspicious of my policy regarding Serbian refugees in Albania and their prisoners?

When Sonnino had attacked me about the fact that Italian ships were often stopped by the Austrian fleet to check that they were not smuggling Serbian soldiers from Albania, he did not mention the fact that France and England were doing the same on the other part of the Mediterranean, searching for Austrian and German soldiers. My policy in Albania had been viewed by both sides of the Great War as a kind of help to their enemies.

Of course it made no sense but I suspect that the complete victory of the Central Powers in the Balkans had thrown the Entente governments into panic.

How else to explain France's decision to increase the number of troops along our border? Or the sudden number of new tariffs imposed on goods from Italy to England, France and Russia?

Not that the situation was better inside Italy. Somehow Cadorna's telegram had managed to inflame every political party.

Although the Socialists were still willing to support me, an increasing number of their members were becoming opposed to the war in Albania with the belief that our intervention was not producing any results other than increasing the risk of an invasion by France or Austria. . Giacomo Matteotti in particular had quickly become the head of the part of the party asking for an immediate retreat from Albania, arguing that his exclusion from military service gave him the moral duty to oppose the conflict. [1]

On the other hand, the ANI [2] and other nationalist formations saw Cadorna's telegram as irrefutable proof that not only the conflict in Albania could be quickly won but also that the country could be used to open a new front against the Central Powers, in exchange for extensive concessions from the Entente after their victory.

I had in my hands a country that was still divided on the policy to adopt towards the conflict in Europe and where the tension between the different parties resulted in clashes in the streets almost on daily basis.

Pressed by an increasingly complicated foreign and domestic situation, I simply decided to make a decision that would not arouse the ire of both sides. Cadorna was untouchable, but his second in command was not so. I simply ordered that Guglielmo Pecori Giraldi had to be be replaced by Pietro Frugoni, Cadorna's old rival.

Obviously I believed that this would have reminded Cadorna who was really in charge of the army and above all imposed a more cautious figure to contain the worst excesses of the general. I couldn't imagine how much damage these two would have caused.

I doubt Castello could have done better than me.

- Except from Memories of a turbolent time , Victorio Emanuele Orlando


Although German historians tend to promote the successes achieved against the Russian Empire between May and July 1915 as a perfect example of cooperation between the Central Powers and the inofficial birth of MittleEuropa, in reality this war effort was more characterized by divisions. between the various German allies.

In fact, while Berlin had been able to unify the Austrian and German command along the Eastern front, it had not been successful with Bulgaria and the Ottoman Empire. Tsar Ferdinand I, constantly worried that Romania and Greece might have decided to participate in the war on the Entente side, limited himself to sending a tiny force mostly composed of badly armed volunteers, while the Ottomans managed to maintain a more or less autonomous military strategy, exploiting their distance from the German Empire and citing their urgency in repelling the Russians from their territory .

In any case, there is no doubt that the general offensive of the Central Powers against Russia was nevertheless a further demonstration of the ability of the German command to modify its strategies according to the changes in the military situation.

The need to repel Russian troops from the territories of its two main allies had in fact led Berlin to abandon the previous strategy of concentrating its war efforts along the Western front in favor of focusing its troops against Russia.

Between May and July 1915, the Russian army therefore found itself under attack by three well-coordinated and, in the case of Germany, better armed armies.

The policy adopted by the Tsar in this period did not help the war effort of his subjects. Firmly convinced that numerical superiority was the indispensable element in any conflict and ignoring his few ministers who warned him about the disparity in the equipment of the Russian troops compared to the troops of the Central Powers, Nicolas II pushed for the adoption of an extremely aggressive strategy in the belief that Germany and Austria would have run out of bullets before Russia had ran out of soldiers.

Unfortunately for the Russian soldiers, German industries did not seem particularly keen to end their production of bullets.

It is difficult to describe the absolute disaster that Russia faced.

Poorly equipped and with generals who had often never seen a real battlefield before the start of the Great War, the Russian troops were soon overwhelmed and forced to retreat from the Austrian territories they had managed to occupy at the beginning of the Great War. Worse still, their retreat soon began to spread even to territories under Russian rule

On 5 June 1915 the city of Przasnysz was abandoned by Russian troops after weeks of siege by Austrian and German troops. An already serious military defeat was worsened by the repressive policies that the Russian government had adopted towards the local population in the years before the Great War.

Although in fact the Poles had no particular love for the Germans and Austrians, many of them decided that the creation of an autonomous state under the rule of Berlin and Vienna was still a better option than remaining part of the Russian Empire

A little less than two weeks after Przasnysz's capture, the city was proclaimed the temporary capital of the new kingdom of Poland. To give more legitimacy to the new state and above all to ensure more the loyalty of the Austrian government, the Kaiser chose Archduke Charles Stephen, an admiral in the Austrian fleet with excellent connections to the people and the Polish nobility, as the new king.

This news also led to a further worsening of the military situation in Russia as the Tsar, seeing part of his power being taken away from him, fired Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolaevich and assumed the role of Commander-in-Chief of the Russian army.

The attempted Russian counterattack in late June 1915 marked the beginning of the end of Russian rule in Poland. In an attempt to emulate the initial successes his army had achieved in 1914, the Tsar ordered a general attack on Loz, where most of the troops present came from Austria, believing that the recapture of the city would have reinvigorated the Russian troops.

eastern front.jpg

Russian troops on the move to the front line (1915)

Unfortunately for the soldiers who attacked, the Tsar had ignored the detail that compared to 1914 the Austrian troops were less stretched thin and above all better organized.

In front of the protests of his generals and ministers who suggested at least to coordinate the attack with the other members of the Entente to decrease the speed and numbers of reinforcements the Germans could send to the city under attack, the Tsar simply proclaimed that "for each soldier the two Kaisers can send to the city, I will always have at least three more to send against them "

While the Tsar had proclaimed to the departing troops that the city would have been retaken in no more than a week, the siege lasted no less than two and although the Russian troops were able to briefly capture the outskirts of the city the arrival of German reinforcements on July 16, 1915 definitively put an end to the attack.

Not only was the Russian army responsible for the siege nearly eliminated, but the fact that the Polish Legions had been among the main defenders of the city led to the end of any support the Russian Empire had before in Poland. Immediately after the siege ended, many Russian commanders reported that many Polish soldiers were simply starting to abandon their posts and side with the Central Powers.


Col. Józef Piłsudski and his officers of the Polish Legions, 1915

By the end of July 1915, much to St. Petersburg's horror, German and Austrian troops had started pouring into Lithuania.

- Except from The Kaisers against the Tsar: how the Great War changed Eastern Europe forever by Joseph Nowak


While the collapse of Serbia exceeded the best expectations of the Central Powers, the nation that benefited the most from it was the Ottoman Empire.

While in fact Berlin and Vienna had managed to contain and in many cases to repel the attacks of the Russian army, the Turkish army had not had such luck but on the contrary had suffered heavy losses in the Caucasus and failed in an attempt to recapture Shaiba or to invade Egypt through the Sinai

The collapse of Serbia and the entry into the war of Bulgaria alongside the Central Powers finally allowed the arrival in Istanbul of the German reinforcements and resources that the government of Mehmed Talaat Pasha desperately needed to counter the Russian advance and above all added a new fleet to help protect the coasts of Turkey from a potential Russian or British incursion.

Similar to the Austro-Hungarian Empire after the signing of the Trento Agreement by the Italian government, Mehmed Talaat Pasha decided to use this new security to move Turkish troops from areas where their presence was not deemed necessary to concentrate them on a single front, considered particularly important by the Turkish and German strategists.

It will come as no surprise to my readers that the front of choice for most of these troops was the Caucasus. The unexpected Russian successes against its two main allies had in fact convinced the German government of the need to concentrate its efforts on the Eastern front in the hope of eliminating the Tsarist government as a threat to the Central Powers.

The Ottomans could only agree as unlike the slow British advance into Mesopotamia, Russian troops under Nikolai Yudenich's command seemed unwilling to stop after the capture of the city of Van.

Of course, there was a far more terrifying reason behind Mehmed Talaat Pasha's willingness to concentrate so many troops in the Caucasus region: his personal revenge against the Armenians.

His government had indeed begun to blame these Christian people of the Caucasus openly for his numerous military failures, often claiming without evidence that many of them were secretly sabotaging the Ottoman war effort.

Although the Central Powers' counterattack on the Caucasus front proved less successful than the one that was taking place at the same time in Eastern Europe, simply because Yudenich still held a considerable level of autonomy unlike the other Russian generals engaged in Poland, the arrival of new soldiers soon led to a reversal of the Russian fortunes in Anatolia.

Similar to their compatriots in Poland, Russian soldiers soon found themselves under attack by Turkish troops reinvigorated by the arrival of unexpected reinforcements. What had begun as a violent but victorious march towards the recapture of ancient Constantinople, soon became a slow but inexorable retreat from the territories conquered the previous year.

Finding defeat by the hated Turks unacceptable, the Tsarist government simply endorsed the tried and tested technique of sending more troops in support of Yudenich. The problem was that by mid-1915 the Eastern front was already demanding a large number of soldiers from the European part of the Russian Empire. To solve the problem, the government of St. Petersburg simply decided to extend the military service to the inhabitants of Central Asia. Similar to what was happening in Poland during the same time period, this was once again the spark that ignited the tensions in the region caused by the Tsar's repressive policies.

The idea of being sent to fight other Muslims for a monarch who for years had treated them as second-class citizens was unacceptable to the region's Muslims. On June 16, 1915, an angry mob attacked a group of Russian officers in Andijan.

The attempt to send troops present in the area to calm the unrest failed as many of the soldiers themselves came from the region or in any case from the surroundings and preferred to flee or to revolt against their own officers than to kill their compatriots.

By mid-July 1915, all of Uzbekistan was in open revolt and more protests and riots against the Tsar had begun to spread across Kyrgyz and Kazakh territory. [3]

central asia.jpg

A group of anti-Russian rebels phose for a photo (1915)

With an armed uprising within his own borders and horrific losses among the Russian soldiers in the Caucasus and Eastern Europe, Tsar Nicolas II soon discovered that his strategy of simply recruiting more soldiers to defeat his enemies was no longer viable.

Much to the dismay of the soldiers in the Caucasus and the Baltic countries, not only did the promised reinforcements stop arriving but in many cases the troops less tried by the war were taken from the battlefield and sent to Central Asia to manage the revolt.

This was just the first taste of the violence that was going to hit Russia in the following months and years.

-Except from An history of European warfare: from the Hundred Years' War to The Great War, Roland Monsier

[1] Like OTL, he has been excluded from military service for being the only surviving son of a widow. Unlike OTL he hasn’t been confined to Sicily for his protests against the war

[2] The Italian Nationalist Association (Associazione Nazionalista Italiana, ANI), the first nationalist political movement in Italy and one of the precursors of Mussolini’s fascists

[3] In OTL the revolt actually started in 1916 for similar reasons. ITTL the Tsar needs more men and sooner than OTL, resulting in the revolt starting earlier
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I promised myself that the chapter was going to be posted before 2022 and i followed my world.

I hope it is good
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Watching the situation deteriorate without end in sight is pretty interesting.
Yeah, people tend to seriously understimate hoe caotic the political situation in Italy was before WW1

The part about the clashes and ANI? It is basically a downplayed version of what was happening in OTL before Rome joined the Entente.
Changes in the government
Excerpt from The Russian Troubles by Boris Yeltsin
Even after the withdrawal of Russian troops from Lithuania between August and September 1915, Tsar Nicholas II didn't seem worried about the course of the war.
While the Prime Ministers of England and France had been forced to resign due to the German triumphs over Russia, there were initially no changes in Russian politics or in the way the Tsarist generals were handling the conflict.

The Tsar was adamant that the majority of the Russian population still supported him and that his army would have once again triumphed against Berlin and the insurgents in Central Asia simply by the number of soldiers at its disposal. Obviously, this belief of the Tsar was ignoring that many of the new recruits lacked training or the fact that the success of the Polish uprising was rapidly provoking further protests in Finland and Ukraine, other Russian territories victims of his Russification policies.

As George Buchanan, the English ambassador to the Tsar's court, reports in his memoirs, "neither Nicholas II nor his ministers seemed to have noticed the fire raging in their garden and living room".

Military defeats and the constant need to recruit new soldiers were also rapidly causing the collapse of Russian agriculture, as many fields were left without laborers. Worse still, at the end of July, the Russian government announced that much of the grain and other food produced that year would have been requisitioned to ensure the food supply of the Russian troops.
For the first time since 1905 there were small protests in the Russian campaigns against Tsarist policies.

In normal times, the Russian government would have easily suppressed these protests by sending the army or the Okhrana, the Tsar's feared secret police. By the middle of 1915, however, most of the Russian troops were engaged against the central powers and the Okhrana had seen the number of its agents greatly reduced [1].
The Tsar then merely blamed "foreign agents" who were clearly influencing small peasant communities uninformed about the course of the war and ignored the protests, believing that the Russian peasants were too disorganized to pose a threat to his government.

It was in this vacuum that the Russian Revolutionary Socialists began to operate. While there were numerous leftist movements opposed to the Tsar, Viktor Mikhailovich Chernov's party was the only movement that saw in the Russian peasant class rather than the working class the soldiers who were going to bring about the end of the oppressive Tsarist regime. While Nicholas II took pleasure in the now non-existent devotion of the Russian peasantry, the Socialist Revolutionaries were expanding their influence in the Russian countryside to organize a coordinated strategy that would have forced St. Petersburg to grant political reforms.


German Troops parading in Lithuania (August 1915)


Except from An history of European warfare: from the Hundred Years' War to The Great War, by Roland Monsier
How would things have been different in Russia if Bonar Law[2] had not become Prime Minister in 1915? The main flaw of his predecessor, H. H. Asquith, was his indecision. Bonar Law's flaw was his excessive determination.

Having already identified Russia as the weak link in the Entente at the start of the Great War, Law also decided that as Prime Minister he would have no longer allowed St. Petersburg to hurt the Entente's war effort, especially after the deaths of so many British soldiers in France, Africa and the Middle East. No matter how much the Tsar refused to accept reality, or how much the Russian nobility opposed any kind of reform, Law was no longer willing to tolerate the Russian instability and failures.

The opportunity to change the situation in Russia arose towards the end of October 1915, when the Tsarist government asked London to increase its imports of wheat destined for St. Petersburg. The request was not unusual, but the Prime Minister was suspicious that Paris had received a similar demand and that Nicholas II was willing to pay any amount of money requested.

Knowing that he wasn't going to recieve any honest answer from St.Petersburg, Law took steps to inquire about the Russian internal situation by addressing not only the ambassadors of British allies present in St.Petersburg, but also merchants and other British travelers who had had the opportunity to visit Russia in the previous months. .
Eventually the answer Law was looking for came from the Japanese ambassador to Moscow. Russia urgently demanded wheat from its allies simply because it was no longer able to produce it on its own.

Thanks to the work of the Revolutionary Socialists, many Russian peasant communities had simply decided that if they were to go hungry, the same had to happen to the Tsar. The agricultural production of these communities was not completely interrupted, but strongly reduced.
The Tsar could feed either himself and his court or the soldiers he continued to send to the front.

Bonar Law was obviously willing to help an ally in distress, especially if this could force the ally to comply with the demands of the British government.
On October 24, 1915, Russian ambassador Alexander von Benckendorff replied to Moscow that he had received a response from the British government. Law was willing to increase the importations of food to Russia and even offered large discounts.

However, Law had added a condition: the Tsar had to negotiate with the Revolutionary Socialists to resolve the crisis. After all, the Prime Minister argued, England was also in danger of starvation thanks the German blockade and the country could only partially help the Russian war effort. England and France could send food aid that year, but most likely the same wasn't going to happen the following year due to the war.
The Tsar therefore had to try to resolve the situation so that the protests could end before 1916, thus ensuring the triumph against the Central Powers.

Of course, the Tsar could have accused the Prime Minister of bluffing, or simply decided that feeding his troops was not necessary to win the war. However, the intervention of his spiritual advisor Grigori Rasputin [3] persuaded Nicholas II that it was preferable to indulge the popular protests, at least temporarily.

The so-called "October Revolution" had apparently been successful, forcing the Tsar to appoint the moderate Pavel Milyukov as Prime Minister and call for new elections. Unfortunately, like the 1905 revolution, these results were going to be short-lived.


An armed group of Russian paesants. While the protests were initially peaceful, quite a few comunities decided to arm themselves in case of a possible attack by Tsarist forces.

19 November 1915

Avni Rustemi had been fighting for Albania since he was thirteen. His war had started with the Ottomans, continued against the Serbs and the Austrians and now it was the turn of the Italians.

As he walked the streets of Tirana, making sure his package was still in the inside pocket of his jacket, he wondered once again why it seemed his country had to be invaded every couple of months. The Albanians had become independent in 1912, and in less than three years they had fought against not one, not two, but three foreign invaders.

He felt tired. He would have preferred to be a teacher and explain to his students what it meant to be an Albanian rather than continuing to kill other human beings (he was ashamed of the fact that part of himself also considered Serbs human beings, although much more cruel than the norm). Still, he thought as he dodged a patrol of the new invaders, it was necessary.

It didn't matter how he felt. The only thing that mattered (that had mattered long before his birth according to his father) was to protect Albania in one way or another.

It will not help Albania said a small voice in his head, the same one that had tried to convince him to stay in Janina instead of restarting his mission.
Of course his mission would not have helped Albania. Not immediately at least. A dead politician rarely changes the course of a war.

But his plan would have added something that had allowed Albania to triumph against the Ottomans and the Serbs: hatred for the invaders.
It was hatred for the Ottomans that had caused the Albanian uprising in 1912. His people's pure hatred against the Serbs had led to the Albanian revenge against those butchers in the last few months.

Yet it was difficult to hate the Italians. Like the Austrians before them, the Italians were not moved by any hatred against Albania, but saw its inhabitants only as a useful tool for the ambitions of Rome.

Albania had to hate the Italians as they had hated the Serbs. To do this, it was necessary for the Italians to start fighting a new type of war, one motivated by their hatred of the Albanians.
Only then the Albanians were going to hate the Italians enough to fight them without quarter.

As he approached the crowd near the city center, his conviction was strengthened. Maybe part of the crowd was made up of Serbian refugees and Italian travelers, but it was clear that there were also Albanians, cheering for the invaders. Not many, but even a single Albanian who welcomed the Italians was too many traitors for Avni.

Avni's mind lingered on Gavrillo Princip and the war that was being fought in Europe. Yes, Avni thought grimly, a dead politician rarely changes the course of a war.
"But it can start a new one" thought Avni Rustemi, Albanian patriot and assassin of King Vittorio Emanuele III, as he took the craft bomb out of his pocket and threw it at the royal carriage that was passing through.

[1] The Secret Police had been hit by various scandals and failures shortly before WW1 in OTL and by then most of its remaining agents were sent to the front.
[2] In OTL he was offered the position but declined as he believed the Liberals were going to control most of the cabinet. ITTL the war is going worse for the Entente, strengthening his position.
[3] Rasputin was surprisingly simpathetic to the Russian peasants in OTL, probably because he was one of them before becoming a monk. OTL he went so far to protest against the war and ask the Tsar to negotiate wih Germany out of fear the peasants were going to starve.
Albania had to hate the Italians as they had hated the Serbs. To do this, it was necessary for the Italians to start fighting a new type of war, one motivated by their hatred of the Albanians.
Only then the Albanians were going to hate the Italians enough to fight them without quarter.
Isn't this plan stolen from the communist playbook? Escalate the situation until explodes and ride the fury of the people against the enemy?

I hate it so much, this fool wants to provoke a brutal repression of his own people to unify them. It's almost a shame that he will not live enough to see it.
Isn't this plan stolen from the communist playbook? Escalate the situation until explodes and ride the fury of the people against the enemy?
To be fair, you are talking about a guy who had to fight Ottomans, Greeks, Austrians and Serbs in just five years so his country could keep existing . (Btw the guy existed in OTL. He really started fighting the Ottomans when he was barely 13 years old)

Everytime Albania defeats an invader, another one shows up.

Of course his plan is insane. But desperation and insanity often travel together