The Empire of Friedrich III and the rise of Germany (my first TL)

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I've finally decided to do my first TL. I have been toying with the idea of what might have happened if Friedrich had lived longer. The POD is simple: Friedrich III isn't a smoker and doesn't die of cancer after 99 days of rule. Instead I'm gonna let him live to a very old age. Here we go:D.


The Empire of Friedrich III and the rise of Germany



Chapter 1


Germany was a brand new nation on the world theater and had to face many issues. Germany however had found a competent leader in their iron chancellor. His name was Otto von Bismarck. In his years as chancellor he had tried to isolate France from the rest of Europe much to the discontent of the former. He had successfully established the Triple Alliance in 1882. Two of the three member states, Germany and Italy, had land borders with France and could therefore squash it like a bug in a future war. Under pressure of conservative and nationalist elements in the government Bismarck had also established a modest colonial empire. Togoland, Cameroon, Namibia, Tanganyika, the Marshall islands, Samoa, the Bismarck archipelago, the Carolinas and New Guinea became part of the German Empire. He could give himself a pat on the back. He had done well. It seemed like Germany was destined for a glorious future and indeed it was.

March 9, 1888 proved to be sad day for Germany. Germany’s emperor Wilhelm I passed away only two weeks before what would have been his 91st birthday. His place was taken by his son Friedrich III whose first action as emperor was to announce three days of mourning. All over Germany flags were half-staff. There was an elaborate funeral. All the crowned heads of Europe were present. Most prominent was his own son Friedrich III who delivered a solemn speech, one of the most solemn in history until then according to many people present.

After the funeral Friedrich got to work almost immediately. He mostly followed Bismarck’s foreign policy of isolating France. His liberal views however would occasionally lead to clashes between him and the iron chancellor when it came to domestic policy. Friedrich however did agree with Bismarck’s measures against the Socialists who had attempted to assassinate his father on no less than two occasions. Several anti-socialist laws were passed. One of the more extreme anti-socialist measures, the banning of the socialist party, would lead to the first clash between the emperor and his chancellor in 1890. Friedrich explicitly told Bismarck not to attempt to pass this law. Being a liberal he didn't want to persecute the socialist who were on the same side. It was against his liberal views. Moreover he thought that outlawing and suppressing the socialists and workers’ movements would give them more support and sympathy. He didn’t want to stimulate them and confirm their view that the emperor was an evil capitalist. Most of the liberals in the Reichstag supported these views. Bismarck on the other hand thought that the socialists should be eliminated as a threat by force. He saw them as a threat and was supported by the conservatives in the German government who shared these views. There were many heated debates on the subject. Bismarck even threatened to resign which he eventually did after several weeks of bickering. The original idea about banning the socialists was dropped. The social-democrats who were seen as less radical and more reasonable, were allowed to participate in the German government. Marxist groups however were banned. This didn’t stop them from influencing the government. After the Marxist movements were disbanded, many simply joined the social-democrat SPD.

The next few years were relatively quiet in Germany. The economy, which was already booming, continued to grow due to Friedrich’s liberal policies. The social-democrats remained a moderate sized party thanks to several labor laws passed by the emperor and Bismarck prior to Bismarck's resignation. Working hours were limited to 11 hours a day. Child labor was outlawed entirely. No one under the age of 14 was allowed to work in factories. School was made compulsory for every child between the ages of 6 and 12 years old. Manual labor as the apprentice of a craftsman, farm work and such were still legal. Other than that, not much happened except for the occasional comments from notorious loudmouth crown prince Wilhelm, Friedrich’s son. He wanted to give Germany a place under the sun. He wanted to create a war fleet that could challenge the supremacy of the Royal Navy and he wanted to create a colonial empire that would equal that of Britain by force if necessary. He was mostly ignored by Friedrich whenever he tried to raise the subject. The government did the same as nobody wanted to antagonize the British.

As a result the Royal Navy outnumbered the High Seas Fleet 3:1. Another positive consequence was the British view of Germany. The British government and populace saw Germany as the gentle giant of Europe which was probably correct. Friedrich III and Bismarck had tried to avoid conflict whenever possible. The only ones who supported Wilhelm and his aggressive views were the conservative and nationalist elements in the Reichstag. He eventually did get his way after the conservatives and nationalists got a marginal victory in the elections. It was however not in the way Wilhelm wanted. To satisfy the demand for colonies once more, Friedrich looked for options other than war. Eventually the solution was found. Spain at the time was a country in desperate need of cash. The corruption, mismanagement and constant changes of government hadn’t done Spain any good. Spain had been in decline ever since the age of Napoleon. The deal was easy: “We give you cash and you give us the Philippines.” And so it happened. The Philippines officially became part of Germany in 1896. This would be a reason for a conflict in the future with a rising empire in the east…

Edited some stuff.;)
 
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Susano

Banned
Seems rather... vague so far. Wouldnt a non-ill Frederick III fire Bismarck as one of his first acts?

Despite being a liberal he didn’t want to persecute the socialists
That sentence doesnt make sense. Liberals and socialists were no enemies, they were on the same side of the political spectrum against the conservative forces. Indee,d there was a certain fear in liberal circles (the liberal movement was in the Kaiserreich and Weimar always split in too, the more rightist national liberals and the more leftist progressives, so particularily the latter) that the Socialist Laws might be extended against them...

But, good PoD. Often raised, rarely executed. Still, personally, I dont think too highly of Frederick III. He was basically a pishover, who just happened to be dominated by his ratehr liberal wife - who in turn, though, was a rather cold bitch which contributed a very large part to how her son William II ended up...
 
Seems rather... vague so far. Wouldnt a non-ill Frederick III fire Bismarck as one of his first acts?

Wilhelm II didn't do that even though his foreign policy was way different from that of Bismarck.

[/quote]That sentence doesnt make sense. Liberals and socialists were no enemies,[/quote]

Oops. I mixed up 21st century politics with 19th century politics. I always thought that socialists and liberals were opposites.

was a rather cold bitch which contributed a very large part to how her son William II ended up...

IMO Wilhelm II was born a retard. He was born legs first causing his brain to have a lack of oxygen. His arrogance might be to compensate his handicap (his weaker arm).

Interesting. Looking froward to some more.:)

Here's some more;). Because Germany has as mediocre navy instead of OTL's huge one, the army has got about 12 divisions extra compared to OTL. I sense butterflies in France.


Chapter 2


Germany was mostly quiet. France on the other hand was anything but quiet. France had humiliatingly been defeated in the 1870-1871 Franco-Prussian war. The Germans had defeated the French devastatingly and had altered the balance of power by doing so. The Germans had actually besieged Paris. France was left no other choice then surrender. The peace was even more of a humiliation. France had to pay reparations of no less than 5 billion Francs within three years, parts of France would be occupied until all the money had been paid, they had been forced to cede Alsace-Lorraine and Moselle and Germany would have the right to use navigable waterways in connection to Alsace-Lorraine. France was angry and that is an understatement. The public was outraged and the ruling parties consequentially lost the next elections.

To make matters worse the Germans were trying to isolate France. Italy and Austria-Hungary were already in the German camp. Who knew which country would follow. The new French republic immediately set out to do something about their isolation. Another country in Europe which wasn’t too happy with a powerful Germany sitting right in the middle of Europe was Russia. Much to the delight of France the current Czar, Alexander III, was a Germanophobe. In previous years the Russians and the French didn’t have much contact. Russia was an absolutist monarchy whereas France was a republic. Due to the German threat however both countries set aside their differences. The Russians received cheap loans to modernize their army. The French fleet visited Kronstadt in 1891. In 1892 the two countries drafted the Franco-Russian alliance. It was formalized two years later in 1894. Attempts were made to get Britain and Japan in to the alliance. Britain declined politely since it had no beef with Germany. Secondly, Britain wasn’t very fond of either France or Russia. Japan declined as well. Japan had interests in Korea and China which would, in the eyes of the Japanese, inevitably lead to conflict with the Russians. Korea and Manchuria were, for the moment, for more attractive than a bunch of German atolls in the pacific. The only country that the Russians and French managed to woo into their alliance was a minor power, Serbia. They only got in because they had hopes of realizing their plans for a great Slavic kingdom.

On the other side of the world another country had ambitions of its own too. Japan had been modernizing in every way since the 60s of the 19th century. Their army was one of the most modern in Asia as was their fleet. Japan was industrializing and modern means of communications were introduced. As a result Japan didn’t end up being forced to sign unequal treaties, concede territory or give economic privileges to the west like China. Japan was Asia’s new superpower and had dethroned China. The world just didn’t know it yet. They would know soon. Japan had become very nationalistic and the Japanese were eager to test their new armed forces. Their chance would come sooner than one might expect. On August 1, 1894 Japan declared war on China. There were several reasons for this. Tensions between Japan and China had already been rising for some time. In order to protect Japanese interests, Japan wanted to either annex Korea or at least bring it under Japanese suzerainty. Korea was like a dagger pointing at the heart of Japan. Japan felt that a military presence in Korea was vital to national security. Moreover the coal and iron ore deposits would be very useful to Japan. China on the other hand thought that Japan was a little upstart that needed to be put back into its place. The Qing were overly arrogant and thought they could beat Japan. They would be proven horribly wrong.

The first move was made by the Japanese. The Japanese blocked the bay of Asan thereby cutting off Chinese supply lines. The 3500 or so Chinese troops were overrun by the Japanese army. It didn’t end there. The Japanese defeated the Chinese forces in Korea and defeated the Chinese navy in the battle of the Yalu river were the Beiyang fleet was almost completely destroyed. The Japanese were bold enough to invade Manchuria. The war dragged on for about eight months after which the Chinese surrendered. China was forced to cede the Liaodong peninsula, Formosa and the Pescadores Islands. Furthermore the Japanese fleet would be allowed to operate on the Yangtze river. China also had to pay large war reparations. Only the intervention of Germany, France and Russia made Japan give something back. The Liaodong peninsula was returned thereby giving Japan yet another reason to not like Germany. None of the three powers had any interest in seeing Japan becoming the dominant power in the region. Japan’s rise however was unstoppable by now.

A few thousand miles to the west in Berlin both military officers and politicians alike were stunned by the easy Japanese victory. They had clearly underestimated Japan. The fact that Germany had several colonies there, all of which were in reach of the Japanese navy, didn’t help either. Friedrich wasn’t much of a militarist but he saw that German possessions there needed more protection. The garrisons on the many German islands in the pacific were enlarged and several new fortifications were built. Also Germany’s main naval base on the Philippines was strengthened with a garrison of marines. Several battle cruisers and even a battleship were sent there to increase Germany’s naval presence. It was not Japan however that was the main threat. The main threat was much closer to home…
 
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Question, with a Pod in 1888 and a very different Germany, does the Dreyfuss affair still occur?

IMO, I would say no, just because it was linked to spying for the german ministry of war and this has been changed.

OTOH, if that's the case, the social composition of the french officer corp and the doctrines of the french army will be extremely different from OTL.
 
I guess you were unaware that both Kaiser Wilhelm I and Friedrich III supported the expansion of the German Navy. The officer corps also supported it and it was very popular with the middle class and big industry. The idea that Wilhelm II was primarily behind it is perfect to believe if you are simplify history for a five year old. Even Tirpitz was a late convert to the big battleline.
 
The German fleet is not exactly tiny. Not expanding the fleet majorly very fast is just a diplomatically very smart move. And the German fleet will grow eventually to counter the rising threat in the east I have been hinting ;). Anyway, here's chapter three. Chapter 4 will be about the the Russo-Japanese war, the Great War and German fleet expansion;).




Chapter 3


The ‘Great War’ saw its origins in the Balkans. The Ottoman Empire had been declining for decades and many of its minorities had long since rid themselves of Ottoman rule. The Ottoman Empire was a shadow of its former self and many other countries had tried to profit from this decline. Both Austria-Hungary and Russia wanted to exert their influence on the Balkans. This would inevitably lead to conflict between the two since Russia considered the area to be its backyard. Austria-Hungary on the other hand felt threatened by Russia’s ally and Slavic brother, Serbia. The country had achieved independence in 1867. That was recognized by the rest of Europe in 1878 at the Berlin Conference. Serbia had ambitions of its own. They wanted to create a south Slav country, Yugoslavia. That plan was however ruined by the Austro-Hungarian takeover of Bosnia in 1878 and the formal annexation that followed in 1908. It was there that the first major European war since the Napoleonic wars would be sparked.

The German general staff was well aware of this. Bismarck’s greatest fear had been that an incident on the Balkans would lead to Germany’s demise. The German generals also knew that such a war would mainly be fought by Germany since the state of the Austro-Hungarian army was deplorable. Their army would only be useful to Germany as an auxiliary force. Their weak army could never be entrusted with something as important as the defense of Germany’s eastern frontier. As Bismarck put it: “We have shackled ourselves to a corps.” Something had to be done to avoid the two front war that the German general staff was convinced would come despite emperor Friedrich’s confidence that war could be avoided through reason. One marshal, Alfred Graf von Schlieffen, came up with a daring plan that would be known as the Von Schlieffen plan. The plan was to avoid French border fortifications and move through Belgium and the Dutch province of Limburg instead. Von Schlieffen was quite confident that Britain would not intervene to defend Belgian neutrality. The plan was finalized and presented in 1905. It was to be an encircling movement based on one of Von Schlieffen favorite battles, the battle of Cannae. The right wing of the huge offensive would be the most important and would be seven times stronger than the left wing which would operate mostly in Alsace-Lorraine. Von Schlieffen anticipated correctly that the French would concentrate their main force around the Belfort-Sedan area. This force would retake Alsace-Lorraine and would attack in Germany. The left wing was too weak to stop the French forces. This was done intentionally. The attacking French would think they were winning but in reality they would fall into a trap. By the time they would figure out how large the German attack through Belgium was, it would already be too late. The French would be crushed. All of this would be done within six weeks. After the French defeat the bulk of the German army would be transferred to the east with Germany’s extensive railway network. At least that was the plan.

It wasn’t time for war yet though, at least not for Germany. That would have to wait for a few more years. Let us jump back. At the late 19th century an incident between France and Britain would bring the two nations to the brink of war. It would later be known as the Fashoda incident. It was the climax of colonial territorial disputes between France and Britain which were the largest and second largest colonial powers of the time respectively. In 1898 150 French tirailleurs set out from Brazzavile to make Fashoda a French protectorate only to encounter British gunboats and an Anglo-Egyptian force. Both sides insisted on taking Fashoda. The incident was relayed to both Paris and London. The national pride of both nations was inflamed as both sides accused each other of aggression and expansionism. Both countries mobilized for war. Conflict seemed inevitable. Nobody counted on German intervention however. Friedrich III wasn’t about to sit by idly and let a war happen. He called for a peaceful resolution. An advice that French foreign minister Delcassé was eager to take as he wanted Britain for an ally. It didn’t quite have the effect he had hoped for. Instead the British view of Germany only got better. Friedrich III was seen as peacemaker even though he hadn’t done that much and Germany’s appearance as Europe’s gentle giant was confirmed which had been Friedrich’s intention all along. Nationalists in the French government accused Delcassé of weakness and of being a German lackey. Unlike the nationalist elements in the government, Delcassé knew full well that France was unable to defeat Britain. The French fleet was poorly built and was behind in terms of technology. It was very different from the British fleet and the slowly but surely growing German fleet.

Nevertheless the stage was set for a new war. Later it would be known as World War I. A name that is criticized by many modern historians since it was a European conflict. There was hardly any fighting in Africa and none at all in Asia. Many refer to it as the Triple Alliance-Entente war. Others go so far as to say it were two separate conflicts, the second Franco-German war of 1909 and the Russo-German war of 1909-1911 since France surrendered before fighting really started on the eastern front. This opinion is only shared by a very small group of historians since France and Russia were allies.
The Franco-Russian alliance and Serbia would fight the Triple Alliance. War would finally break out in the faithful year of 1909. And the result of that war in turn would lead to the greatest conflict in the history of mankind, a conflict that would make the Triple Alliance-Entente war seem like a walk in the park.
 
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maverick

Banned
Actually, I don't know if the Spanish would just sell the Philippines like that, but they need money and I see no reason why they wouldn't...

I had expected a closer Nippo-German relationship...without Wilhelm's racism and phobia of the Yellow peril, one would have expected more German presence in the Japanese militarization program...

Has the Anglo-Japanese alliance of 1902 been butterflied away ?
 
I had expected a closer Nippo-German relationship...without Wilhelm's racism and phobia of the Yellow peril, one would have expected more German presence in the Japanese militarization program...

Japan and Germany will grow closer but Wilhelm II will screw it up of course when he gets to be Emperor. And that will lead to the conflict I've been hinting.

Has the Anglo-Japanese alliance of 1902 been butterflied away ?

Nope, the Brits still don't want Russia to get a major military presence in the pacific and therefore they support Japan.





Chapter 4


The dawn of the twentieth century saw Europe divided between to major alliances. The first one was the Triple Alliance which consisted of Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy. The other one was the Entente which consisted of France, Russia and Serbia. The stage was set for a war. One that would radically change Europe in many ways. It would also be the first modern war according to many historians. Machineguns, poison gas, planes, armored cars and modern communications would be employed for the first time on a wide scale. It would bare no resemblance whatsoever to the wars of one hundred years before which were quite chivalrous compared to this one. It wasn’t time for that yet however. It was time for the Russo-Japanese war. It would be a preview of what was to come.

There were several causes for the Russo-Japanese war. One was the leasing of Port Arthur to Russia by China which strengthened the Russian naval presence in the area. It was Russia’s only warm water port in the pacific. Another reason was the boxer rebellion. Both Russia and Japan had participated in the war against China. Russia had actually occupied Manchuria. The Russian government promised other powers that the Russian army would leave the area after the crisis had ended. The crisis ended in 1901. The Russians didn’t withdraw. In 1903 they were still there. They had strengthened their positions and had annexed the area in all but name. This caused agitation between Russia an Japan. Japanese statesman Ito Hirobumi tried to negotiate with the Russians because he believed Russia was stronger militarily. His proposal was that Manchuria would remain in Russia’s influence. In return Russia would acknowledge that Korea was firmly within Japan’s sphere of influence. The Japanese waited but received neither a positive nor a negative response. Russia ignored them. The Russian foreign minister was forced to make his leave and Japan severed diplomatic relationships. Things would quickly escalate from that point onward. Germany of course looked at these developments with increasing interest. German-Japanese relations had been cordial at best ever since the end of the Sino-Japanese war. Japan had been looking at the German Philippines with increasing interest. That was about to change. Emperor Friedrich anticipated correctly that war was likely to happen. So he helped Japan in its militarization program. Japanese artillery still needed work and that was were the Germans came in. Japanese artillery was bought from many countries. As a result Japanese artillery corps had many different guns and all kinds of ammunition. This was very ineffective. Germany sold several guns with which Japan could refit their artillery corps. Germany also provided training for Japanese artillery crews. The German standard 77 mm field guns with properly trained crews would prove very effective against Russian forces. The Germans also sold Japan several howitzers and the blueprints for a 12 inch (30.5 cm) siege gun that could be moved by train.

Britain did nothing to interfere with this since they wanted to limit Russian influence in the pacific. Instead the British tacitly approved the German help. For now they considered Russia a larger threat than Germany or Japan. To keep the Russians from becoming to powerful the British and Japanese had actually allied themselves. Germany didn’t do that but German-Japanese relations would remain friendly at least until the rise of Wilhelm II as emperor of Germany. Russia was now isolated. No country could help Russia without involving Britain. Germany was also likely to become involved at some point even though the German government never stated that explicitly.
Russia refused to answer because advisors convinced Nicholas II that Japan wouldn’t fight. They were very wrong. On the 5th of February 1904 the Imperial Japanese Navy attacked Port Arthur. Several Russian ships were destroyed because of the slow Russian response. The Japanese forces got away without losses. Makarov was given command over the Russian fleet in the pacific. He was a better commander than his predecessor. His life would however end because his fleet was lured into a mine field which had remained in place despite his orders to clear mine fields. His place was taken by Vitgeft who was ordered to take a defensive stance. His officers were however incompetent. They kept underestimating their opponent. That coupled with rivalry among Russian officers did a lot of damage to the Russian war effort. Since the Russians were on the defense, admiral Togo decided to take the initiative. The Japanese 2nd army landed about 96 kilometers from Port Arthur near the Yalu river in north Korea. In the meanwhile the Japanese navy blocked the harbor. The resulting battle of the Yalu river proved to be a disaster for the Russians who had done nothing to conceal their positions, troops and artillery. The battle proved one thing. German guns were brutally effective. The Russians found that out when 77 mm and 210 mm shells were raining down on them. Germany would use artillery extensively during their war with Russia and France. The constant bickering among Russian officers also caused an inefficient defense. Russian incompetence, bad intelligence, bad infrastructure and rivalry among officers inevitably lead to Russia’s defeat. Several battles followed such as the battle of the Yellow sea and the battle of Liaoyang which turned into a stalemate due to faulty Russian intelligence. Russian offensives more often than not turned into fiasco’s. Russia was being humiliated. To make matters worse the Russian people were turning against the war especially after the fall of Port Arthur. The final battle was to be at Tsushima. There the Russian fleet met the Japanese fleet. Togo had guessed that the Russian fleet which had been underway for over seven months, would take the shortest route. His guess proved to be correct. The Russian fleet completely lacked a battle plan. The Russian fleet had superior firepower but was much slower. The Japanese easily outmaneuvered the Russians. The Russian fleet was destroyed. Secondly, admiral Togo had a battle plan which was executed precisely. Peace made on the 5th of September 1905. This was a major defeat which would take Russia years to recover from. The Russian juggernaut was broken.

In the western world this came as a shock. Especially America was terrified by the yellow peril. That was why president Theodore Roosevelt intervened in the peace negotiations. Even Friedrich III was surprised. He knew that the Japanese army was good. Germany had helped modernizing it after all. But he had never had expected it to be this good and the Russian army to be so bad. This did make things easier for Germany. Now that they knew how weak Russia really was, they could focus even more on France. Furthermore German equipment had been tested on the battlefield. German military leaders were confident they could win a future conflict with the western powers even if the Von Schlieffen plan wouldn’t work. Germany had a numerical advantage and there was nothing that France could do about it. Secondly, Germany had built a decent sized war fleet. The British Royal Navy still had a numerical advantage of over 2:1 but it had improved a lot. In the early years the British fleet had outnumbered the German fleet over 3:1. The German fleet was still not big enough to challenge the British fleet. This was a result of Friedrich’s shrewd foreign policy. He had spent the first 10-12 years of his rule continuing Bismarck’s policy of isolating France. To do that he had tried to keep Britain friendly. He knew that if Britain and France became allies, he might lose. By the turn of the century he felt confident enough to order the construction of a proper war fleet. It could never challenge the Royal Navy but it was good enough to take on the French navy should it ever set sail.

The war would come sooner than anyone expected. In 1908 Austria-Hungary annexed Bosnia officially. It didn’t matter that much. Bosnia had already been a de facto part of the Empire since 1878. It caused public outrage in Serbia but they couldn’t do anything about it. Russia deemed that the annexation was not a reason for war. Russia’s defeat three years earlier contributed to that. And so Serbia kept quiet. Of course ethnic Serbs in Bosnia resisted the Austrian presence. In the beginning Austria ignored it. They simply left it to the governor and the police to put down the nationalists. All of that changed when the governor, a man named Von Albori, was assassinated with a bomb. He was murdered on the 7th of May 1909 while he was walking his dog. He did have bodyguards with him to protect him from just this. They failed. A dozen or so Serbian nationalists managed to scatter the few bodyguards he had with him. One of them threw the bomb which immediately exploded right in front of him sending shrapnel in every direction which penetrated his body. His last words reportedly were something like “get those bastards.” The Austro-Hungarian army rounded up most of the terrorists. The murder was followed by a brutal crackdown. The Austro-Hungarian army searched virtually every house and arrested thousands of suspected terrorists. Most of them had nothing to do with the murder and were completely innocent. Yet Austro-Hungary paid little attention to the protests. Many were executed and many more were sentenced to a long time in jail. In several cases the Austro-Hungarian army simply started looting and raping. They didn’t bother to ask if the inhabitants of the places they were looting were Serbs, Bosnians or Croats. Austria-Hungary only undertook half hearted attempts to stop it.

It caused an outcry in Serbia. The Russian government was equally outraged by the Austro-Hungarian crimes. The following is a part of a speech made by the Serbian prime minister:

“Slavic brothers of ours are dying at the hands of the vile Austrians every minute that we stand here and do nothing. They are burning houses and stealing everything. No woman in Bosnia is left unspoiled. We must drive the Austrians out of Bosnia and reclaim the land that is rightfully ours. Vengeance will be ours in the end.”

Serbia declared war on the 23rd of May. Russia declared war the very same day. France followed suit two days later. German and Austro-Hungarian forces mobilized. In the meantime both German and Austrian diplomats in Moscow, Belgrade and Paris tried to calm the situation. The attempts weren’t serious though. The Germans knew that if they waited too long, the Russians would be too strong economically. That would probably take them another twenty years or so. The German government decided that it was better this way. But governments of France, Russia and Serbia ignored Friedrich’s pleas for peace. Friedrich wasn’t much of a militarist despite being a war hero. The Entente governments mistook Friedrich’s pleas for weakness. They grew bolder and mobilized their forces. Things spiraled out of control and Germany let it happen. Especially France and Russia were determined to crush Germany before it grew too strong. Eventually Friedrich got tired of it and said: “Fine, if those bastards want a war they can bloody well have one. Germany declares war!” Germany declared war mere hours after France. Austria-Hungary followed suit the next day. Europe was at war once again.
 
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good source

This is a thread that I had been considering for some time ... Its one that has the potential to re-write th 20th century.


Fredrick IIIrd was an Anglophile ... he often traveled to Britain to substitute for his mother-in-law, Victoria Rex, at public events. Because of this, he was shut out of policy issues by the Iron Chancellor, as long as his father Wilhelm I, was alive .

A good source of background material is available at http://www.deutsche-kaiserreich.de/

Unfortunately, the translations provided by Google at terrible! But for those who can read enough Deutsch to get the gist of the conversation, its a treasure trove of the era (so sagt mann - der Zeitgeist!).

BEP
 
Not so sure the activities by the parties are on target

One of the major faux=pas of the August 1914 events was the off handed "full backing" that Wilhelm II gave the Austrians at the time of the Austrian Ultimatum to Serbia. If he had been a bit more astute (a quality apparently not in his make-up), he would have forced the Austrian Prime Minister (who's name escapes me at the moment) to take the Serbian response (which was for 90% of what the Austrian had asked for) and be content. Austria would likely not have gone to war without the explicit backing of the Prussian ( err, excuse me, German) government.

The Russians wouldn't have been happy at the Serb's being forced to 'kow-tow' to the Austrians and Hungarians, but without a 'Causus belli' would probably not have mobilized.

France was looking for revenge (I can't spell the French word) against the Prussians and a tiff in the Balkans probably wouldn't have risen to the level of a go-it-alone declaration against the Austrians, or the real target "le Allemans". They (the French) were still looking for revenge against "Sadowa" (their term for "Koeniggraetz" in the "Deutsche Krieg of 1866") and for Sedan in 1870.

A bit convoluted, but I think accurate.


BEP
 
One of the major faux=pas of the August 1914 events was the off handed "full backing" that Wilhelm II gave the Austrians at the time of the Austrian Ultimatum to Serbia. If he had been a bit more astute (a quality apparently not in his make-up), he would have forced the Austrian Prime Minister (who's name escapes me at the moment) to take the Serbian response (which was for 90% of what the Austrian had asked for) and be content. Austria would likely not have gone to war without the explicit backing of the Prussian ( err, excuse me, German) government.

The Russians wouldn't have been happy at the Serb's being forced to 'kow-tow' to the Austrians and Hungarians, but without a 'Causus belli' would probably not have mobilized.

France was looking for revenge (I can't spell the French word) against the Prussians and a tiff in the Balkans probably wouldn't have risen to the level of a go-it-alone declaration against the Austrians, or the real target "le Allemans". They (the French) were still looking for revenge against "Sadowa" (their term for "Koeniggraetz" in the "Deutsche Krieg of 1866") and for Sedan in 1870.

A bit convoluted, but I think accurate.


BEP


Revanche is the word you are looking for. I think Fromkin is his book 'Europe's Last Summer' adequately demonstrates that Wilhelm was intentionally kept out of the loop in regards to communications between Berlin and Vienna. Wilhelm II certainly did not want war, but there were those in his cabinet and especially the military who did seek a preemptive war against the Triple Entente and purposefully kept the Kaiser out of certain decisions. Another problem is that Vienna never really revealed its full intention to Berlin. Austria set on crushing Serbia.
 
QUite sincerely, without UK, France going to war against Germany, even with Russian ally is extremely unlikely, to say the least, before around 1920.

In OTL, France backed down several times because it was not sure of its alliances or because it thought that it's allies were not ready ( Boulanger, Maroc ... ). This is likely even more true ITTL.

OTOH, unless I'm mistaken and if event follow about OTL, France plans will not be as bad as OTL 1914 ones ( ie french will wait on defensive and go for counter-puch instead of all out elan offensives ) and France will have a marked advantage in field artillery ( m1897 75mm will be in on the french side, while mle 1913 77mm ( which, while not equal to the french model, was a huge improvement on the previous, 1880s or earlier german models ) will not be on the German ), while CP heavy artillery will be weaker than OTL.
 
QUite sincerely, without UK, France going to war against Germany, even with Russian ally is extremely unlikely, to say the least, before around 1920.

Well, war was going to happen. It doesn't really matter when. Germany's numerical advantage will crush France anytime with a little luck. And France has a motive: Revenge. Austria-Hungary has a motive too. They want to crush Serbia and now they have the perfect excuse since they are not the agressor. Russia has a motive too. They want to dismember Austria-Hungary and help create Yugoslavia. Serbia wants pieces of Austria-Hungary. And as was pointed out before French artillery and tactics at the time were better than German artillery. In 1914 that was different. Anyway. I'm not gonna rewrite all of chapter 4. Secondly, weirder things have happened IOTL and Germany is only gonna get stronger, not weaker. The window of opportunity to crush Germany has probably already past by now even ITTL. Now I'm going to write chapter 5. Should I show mercy to France or not?
 
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General Zod

Banned
Should I show mercy to France or not?

The petty little revanchist amphibians will never ever show any mercy to defeated Germany :( so why should they ever get any slack if the positions reverse ? :rolleyes: Crush them under reverse Versailles steel-tipped boots. :p A twice-humiliated France is ripe field for all kinds of interesting totalitarian-revanchist-expansionist political experiments which will merry your TL further down the line ;)
 
Your wish is my command :D. Here's chapter 5. It covers the second humilitation of France by Germany in less than 40 years. I don't know that much about warfare so I don't know how plausible this is. I know there's still a lot of discussion wether or not the Von Schlieffen plan could have worked. IMO it had a reasonable chance of succes unlike a certain unmentionable sea mammal which we all know :rolleyes:. I personally think it could have worked just because of Germany's sheer numerical advantage and the fact that the French never expected the Germans to use massive numbers of reservists IOTL. That isn't much different ITTL. Next chapter will be about the Treaty of Koblenz (see below) and the eastern front among others.



Chapter 5


Germany had mobilized some time before the war broke out. After the declaration of war, German forces immediately moved into little Belgium. The Germans were in for a nasty surprise. Belgians have a long history of resisting foreign occupation. The Austrians, the French and the Dutch had found that out already. Now Germany would figure that out too, the hard way. German forces crossed the Belgian border on the 1st of June 1909. The pathetically small Belgian army did all it could. They were however not fully prepared for a war. They didn’t even have time to blow up the bridges over the river Meuse. If they had known the German war plans, they would have prepared. The German advance was rapid. They reached their first obstacle, the city of Liège, very quickly. The city of Liège proved to be a tough nut to crack. The city’s determined defenders almost screwed up the German war plan. The Belgian city of Liège lies at the confluence of the Meuse and the Outhe rivers, between the ArdennesForest to the south and Maastricht of the Netherlands, and the flat plain of Flanders to the north and west. The Meuse flowed through a deep ravine at Liège, posing a significant barrier to the German advance. It lay on the main rail line leading from Germany to Brussels, and eventually to Paris, the same railway that Von Schlieffen had planned to use as transport into France. There were massive industrial facilities, factories, and other facilities that would assist the modern defense of the city. Therefore the Belgians had built a ring of twelve fortresses around the city in the 1880s to protect the important city. They were strong enough to resist 210 mm shells. The Germans hadn’t brought that sort equipment with them. They fought a fierce battle with the approximately 30.000 defenders who refused to surrender despite overwhelming German numbers. After over a week the first siege howitzers arrived. From this point onward the tide would turn in favor of Germany. The 305 mm howitzers started pounding the Belgian fortresses. The fortresses were strong but they couldn’t resist this kind of punishment. The fortresses had already been made obsolete by the rapidly advancing technology. They were built to resist calibers of 210 mm and smaller. The fortresses were pounded into submission. The city fell nine days after the arrival of the siege guns on the 17th of June. The Germans proceeded hastily to get back on schedule. German soldiers marched at a breakneck speed of 25 to 30 kilometers a day. They reached the Belgian capital of Brussels within four days and routed all Belgian forces in their way.

In the meantime their was quite some commotion in London about the German invasion of Belgium. Britain had signed a treaty which obliged it to defend Belgian neutrality. Several hawks in the British government demanded war. Others were completely against it. Germany and Britain were friends after all. After a long debate the members of parliament voted. The pro-German faction won by a slight margin. War was rejected as an option. Instead Great Britain expressed its disapproval of Germany’s violation of Dutch and Belgian neutrality. The Dutch weren’t much help either. They preferred to let the Germans pass through their territory over war. France had hoped that Germany’s unprovoked attack on Belgium would bring Britain in the war on France’s side.

Italy also didn’t honor its agreement or so it seemed. They didn’t declare war immediately. They still had issues with the Austro-Hungarians and didn’t like fighting on the same side. Besides, France and Russian had offered to give them Istria, Dalmatia and even Slavonia. Italy wasn’t sure what to do. If they accepted the bribe they would invoke Germany’s anger. If they declined and the Entente won then the Italians would be in trouble too. To make things worse, the Italian army was quite weak. Therefore the Italians decided to wait and see who would win. After several weeks it was quite clear that Germany was winning. The Italians finally declared war on France on the 8th of July. And it was about time. Germany and Austria-Hungary had both sent envoys to ask the Italians what was taking them so long. Both were becoming increasingly angry with their southern ally. After the declaration of war Italy attacked southern France. They were hoping that they would get some easy victories. That hope was squashed by the almost fanatical French resistance. Even now the Italian army couldn’t defeat the weakened French army. Several indecisive battles were fought and the war soon turned into a bitter alpine war. Italian gains were minimal and as a result the Italians wouldn’t get much of anything in the peace treaty which would be known as the Treaty of Koblenz. That would cause much resentment towards the Germans and Austro-Hungarians in the future. Nationalist elements in Italian society would take advantage of that.

France in the meantime hadn’t been doing anything really. The newly appointed French supreme commander, Gallieni, stuck with plan XV which was a very defensive plan. The entire plan was screwed up however by the German strategy. The French high command had never expected the Germans to invade Belgium since its neutrality was guaranteed by the treaty of London. Germany however considered it just a piece of paper. The British apparently thought the same. Friedrich’s anglophile attitude had ensured that. And so the Germans continued undeterred. The French high command deemed that sticking with plan XV wouldn’t suffice. German forces would just invade via the sparsely defended northern border. The French high command would now make the biggest mistake in its entire history. Instead of redirecting forces to aid in the defense of Belgium they decided to take a more offensive strategy themselves. The French did send some forces to aid the Belgians but not as much as they could have. It probably wouldn’t have mattered that much since Germany had numbers on its side. French spies in the border area reported that there weren’t very many German soldiers present. The French high command decided to attack Alsace-Lorraine to draw valuable German forces away from Belgium. Germany however wouldn’t fulfill their wishes. They ignored the offensive and continued advancing. French forces attacked the weak German defense force and forced them to retreat fighting. Within three days they reached Strasbourg. They had actually restored France to its pre-1871 borders. It was a great boost for morale and very useful in French war propaganda. After that the French actually advanced into German territory which was an even greater boost for French morale. Several German cities were now being threatened by the French. Within a week the French reached the Boden Lake near the Swiss border. Some were suspicious. This was going to easy. German reinforcements should have arrived by now. Why didn’t the Germans use their vast reserves and extensive railway network? The people who said this were dismissed as defeatists. If only the French leaders had listened, the army could have resisted the German invaders much better. The state of Baden was almost completely in French hands. It was a useless achievement. The French were only running into a trap. Von Schlieffen’s dream was coming true. By now three weeks had passed since the fall of Liège. Belgium had been overrun. Only a small pocket of resistance was still continuing the fight in the west of Belgium behind the river Yser. After the war their heroic resistance would become famous because of the American movie Heroes which was released in 1975 and realistically portrays the valiant efforts of the Belgian and French forces to ward off the German attacks. Only now did it become clear to the French general staff what was really happening. They finally figured out how gigantic the German movement through Belgium really was and were all of Germany’s reserves were. The ultimate disaster scenario was unfolding. The French military leaders were starting to panic. The French immediately recalled all their troops from Germany losing all their gains in the process.

But it was too late. The Germans were already closing in for the kill. Six weeks had passed and the Germans were standing near the outskirts of Paris and they weren’t going to stop. The heavily outnumbered defenders fought a desperate battle to no avail. Paris fell within two days. The German advance was doing that well anymore though. Germany had stuck with the Von Schlieffen plan rigidly since it was their only battle plan. As a result Germany was having problems with overstretched supply lines and fatigue. German soldiers were marching between 20 and 30 kilometers a day. The number of soldiers that collapsed due to sheer exhaustion was rising. Belgian resistance was troubling the already troubled supply lines. Supplying the millions of German soldiers in northern France with food, weapons and ammunition was becoming increasingly difficult as they advanced further and further. France’s defeat was inevitable by now however. France was finally defeated after seven weeks of war somewhere east of Paris. It would later be known as battle of Provins even though the actual battle mostly took place about 30 kilometers east of the town. It was there that the French army was broken. It was crushed between the enormous German right wing and the smaller left wing. The German victory wasn’t a minute too soon. France finally surrendered on the 23rd of July 1909.

Russia had mobilized faster than Von Schlieffen had expected. In East Prussia Russian forces were advancing and had routed the outnumbered defenders several times. The commanders in the area had repeatedly asked for help but their requests were turned down. France had to be defeated first. There would be no deviation from the plan as long as Von Schlieffen was still alive. The Austro-Hungarians weren’t doing very well either. Lemberg had fallen swiftly. Przemysl fell shortly thereafter. Very soon all of Galicia was in Russian hands. Russian forces were already threatening Slovakia when the first German reinforcements from the west arrived. By then the Germans had lost Eastern-Prussia and parts of western Prussia. Pomerania was also being threatened. The German reinforcements arrived just in time and inflicted a large defeat upon the Russians in the battle of Danzig and the Russians were forced to retreat and take up defensive positions along the Vistula River. This was going to take a long time.
 
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Well, war was going to happen. It doesn't really matter when.

Wait, why is the war inevitable?

And my other question is, how could it not matter when? Russia was rapidly industrializing; this was one of the German fears in the 1910s, after all; by 1920, or 1925, the situation may have decisively shifted.
 
That might explain why Germany isn't undertaking serious attempts to prevent the war ;). Germany could stop it by making some concessions (telling Austria-Hungary to give away Bosnia for example.) but they don't. And Russia will get industrialized. In fact Russia will cause Germany a lot of problems further down the line.

Wait, why is the war inevitable?

Oh common. Europe was a powderkeg in those days. And as I've said before: Very weird things have happened even in real history.
 
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hi

the problem is that german nationalism is gonna tie germany to the defence of the archaic austro hungarian empire, which in turn is going 2 end up in war with russia
germanys best option is call a conference with russia and brealk the ah empire up, bohemia moravia and austria join the german confederation
hungary becomes an independent monarchy
serbia italy and russia get territory
germanys tensions with russia and italy are removed
russias concern is to keep poland subjugated and war with germany runs counter to this
further germany doesnt need a useless alliance with turkey
germany is then secure to the east and france is isolated
 
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