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Today in Alternate History
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IN HIS OWN RIGHT IV
by Paul MacLeod
Farewell to the Chief
As President Albert Beveridge looked over his capital at the
end of 1920 from the site of the Lincoln Memorial, he recognised that he may be
the last President of the United States. The Cascadians had been bought off by
the British taskforce that had landed on their coast, completely ignoring his
threats of war and daring him to try. What traitors they had turned out to be!
Selling their country for whatever it was Britain had offered them. The former
overlords had returned, formally renounced the 1848 treaty and had invited
Cascadia to join Canada as a province. They had also signed an alliance with the
new Confederate States of America, stating that any invasion of "the newly
independent friend of the Empire" would bring a harsh response from she and
her allies. There were even rumours of involvement by British agents in the
Caribbean states. Undoubtedly, the British and Russians had advanced these
socialists since day one to destroy the rise of a great power to threaten them.
In the south, the treacherous Mexico had reached a ceasefire with the Mayans and
had begun a strategic relocation of her forces to the borders of Arizona and New
Mexico. They were appealing to large numbers of the guest workers that he had
imported into the country in the first place. He had offered the Mexicans
goodness, and they responded by calling upon foreign agents to "restore the
sovereignty and dignity of Mexico by assisting in the return of their
territories". While the violence had not yet broken out, it would
undoubtedly follow, particularly since the Socialist Party, whose lies had won
popular support, had promised "historical restitution of stolen land".
In his own state of Indiana, he had recently visited a meeting where he guessed
that nine out of ten attendees were angry. A good two-fifths of his audience had
been positively hostile and disrespectful. It had all made one thing very clear.
They had bought the propaganda of the socialists. He had been unable to stop the
socialists from infecting their hearts and his country. He had not succeeding in
winning minds of the people. The traitors had, for the meantime, won and they
were tearing apart what it had taken a century and a half to construct. He had
not been the successor of Lincoln, but rather, his pale shadow. He turned on the
steps to look up at the statue of his hero.
Albert Beveridge had failed to measure the forces which he had tackled,
ascribing even now the misfortunes of his country on the work of a malignant
faction. Even now, he was convinced that, if he could make it to the American
heartland, he could raise an army of the American Legion to restore the
supremacy of the Presidency. His own army had betrayed him; these guards with
him had treated him well and protected him, but he was more or less under house
arrest. The Legion, he believed, would save him and save the United States, but
first, he needed to escape.
His wife's secret service protector had planned it all. However, some of the
details needed to be corrected. The agent had suggested a normal car. He
couldn't travel in a normal car - there would be no room for his staff, for
example. They would need at least two cars, maybe more, to store all the
baggage. And the cars would have to be comfortable; it would be a long drive.
On 7 January, a delivery cart left the United States Naval Observatory, where
the President had been staying while repairs to the White House were underway.
Fortunately, unlike the Capitol, it looked as though the building could be
saved. He would ensure that it was fully refurnished and majestically appointed
once the counter-revolution was complete. He left behind a letter, critical of
the treatment he had received and declaring the beginning of the Second American
Revolution, to overthrow the established army and its socialist conspirators and
restore the nation.
The letter had been a mistake. The President and his entourage were quickly
tracked down in Pennsylvania and turned over to local authorities. When he
arrived back in Washington D.C., he was advised by General Leonard Wood that he
was being relieved of office. He would spend the next nineteen months of his
life in prison, before he would agree to go into exile in Paraguay, where he
died in 1926. On his death, his wife, Catherine, returned and offered to the new
Library of Congress her husband's biography of Abraham Lincoln. Albert Beveridge
died believing that he, like his hero, had been cut down in his prime, before
his job had been complete.
Acting President Alfred Smith stated early on that he would
not run for President, but would remain chairman of the new National Unity Party
and perhaps seek election at another date. Upon his return to Washington, he
did, however, nationalise all radio assets to establish the United Broadcasting
Company (UBC), using it as a tool to explain recent events to the American
people. He outlined the provisions of the new Constitution agreed to by the
Convention in Ottawa, pointing out they greatly reduced the power of the
President and made it a much more ceremonial role, while dividing other powers
between a Prime Minister and the Attorney General, both of whom would not be
elected officials as well. He also explained the reasoning behind referenda in
the west and the south to allow the people of the United States to express
whether they wished to secede. "It is a new era and a new amnesty - old
acts in an old era need not apply if the people do not wish it," he said.
Participating in the public education campaign was Irish Prime Minister John
Dillon, who had been on a visit to Canada and had been selected to promote the
views of the British Empire in Cascadia. He explained the way in which the new
monarchy was different to that of 1776 and the greater power Dominions now held
within the Empire as a whole. In early February, he was also able to tell the
Cascadian people of a new deal between Canada and Great Britain. The British
would be making undisclosed payments to Canada for the next sixty years
(rumoured to be $700 million per annum) and in return, Canada had agreed to
allow the Yukon and British Columbia to become part of the new Dominion of
Cascadia if the Cascadians voted to join the British.
On 14 February, 1921, Cascadia and the Confederate States went to the polls
under a US-sponsored referenda, asking them whether they would like to secede
from the Union. In the west, 61.9% of the population voted YES, driven by the
opportunity to create their own future and the expansion of their new homeland.
They also received the support of the British Empire in making a claim on
Alaska, but it would take many years of negotiations between Washington and
Seattle before the transfer of Alaska would come to fruition. In the south, the
vote was a landslide against secession. 77.2% of the population decided to give
the Union one more try under the new conditions. The campaign in the South
against secession had been largely driven by one of the candidates for Attorney
General, a Georgian by the name of Carl Vinson. Vinson had been a youthful
Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives, but had been a judge for the
last decade and had been appointed to the State Supreme Court. He had considered
running for Congress in 1914, but given the potential of the slide against
Clark, had decided against that option.
On 21 February, elections were held across the United States, minus the states
of Jefferson, Oregon and Washington. The National Unity Party, consisting of the
former Democrats and a large percentage of former Republicans, won the election
with ease. For the first time in many years, Congress was controlled by a
majority party. The NUP won 238 seats, compared to the Socialists on 151 and the
New Conservative Party (the rump of the old Republican Party) on 46. In the
Senate, which had experienced a double dissolution, their strength was even
greater. They won 58 of a total 96 positions.
Justice Vinson of Georgia won the position of the first elected Attorney General
of the United States, aged only thirty-eight. He had pledged during his campaign
to immediately fill the long vacancy caused by the death of Justice Moody in
1917 and new vacancy caused by the recent departure of Justice McKenna to become
the new Chief Justice of Cascadia. He had indicated his intention to appoint the
Dean of Columbia University's School of Law, Harlan Fiske Stone of New
Hampshire, and the former head of the US Law Society, Frederick William Lehmann
of Iowa, and would proceed immediately to have them approved.
new, and first, Prime Minister of the United States was Nicholas Longworth of
Ohio, the son-in-law of the late President Theodore Roosevelt. In charge of
domestic policy for the next three years, he had pledged a general reduction in
taxes, an amnesty for those involved in the recent furore, increased support for
agriculture, pursuit of businesses who continued to use child labor illegally,
limited immigration, bans on the use of prison labor, regulations to improve
food quality and to ensure all government information was released in Spanish
translations for recent arrivals from Mexico.
The 29th President of the United States, now in charge solely of defence and
foreign policy, was a former Secretary of Trade under President Clark.
69-year-old Joshua Willis Alexander of Missouri (left), who was guaranteed a six
year term under the new Constitution, had pledged to move the United States out
of its isolation and to seek to join the nation to the Anglo-Japanese alliance.
He promised to recognise the new Republic of Maya, despite Mexican complaints,
and to reinitialise the process toward the creation of a united Central America.
He also pledged to the restoration of the Roosevelt-Rockefeller Compromise,
which had limited the size of US military expansion and to take the United
States into the International Trade Federation.
the Socialists, who had taken one third of the national vote, they met after the
election to replace Eugene Debs as leader. The long-time President of the
Socialist Labor Party had announced that this would be his last term in
Congress. In his place, the party elected Senator Moses Hilkowitz (right) of New
York, former chairman of the United Hebrew Trades Union and a director of the
American Federation of Labor.
Pope Gregory XVII was summering in Castel Gandolfo when news
came through that the American President had been overthrown. For years, the
Church had maintained a steady stance against socialism of all forms, and now a
Catholic American had led a revolution that gave the socialists legitimacy. It
was time to reinforce the message that, as far as the Vatican was concerned,
socialism was not an acceptable option.
Cardinal Giacomo della Chiesa, his Secretary of State (left), had advised that
the Holy See did not want him issuing just another encyclical condemning
socialism. There had been enough of those surely for the Christian world to
understand that message loud and clear. What he wanted was a clear indication
from the Pope as to what he would prefer that Christians support instead. There
had been a general acceptance now, even in the heartland of capitalism, that
there was need for a new economic system. If he wanted to be taken seriously,
His Holiness would need to promote his own concepts of how the world economy
It was with this in mind that he sent out Opus Dei, or as it is known in
the English, The Labour of God. In this, he stated that education was the
primary role to economic development and encouraged priests to establish
community-managed technical schools, to promote skills and employment. He also
called for a return to the age of the guild in a modern form, workers
cooperatives where only the workers could buy shares of ownership, and for
cooperation with trade unions only in the establishment of baseline working
conditions. In short, he stated that God supported small businesses working in
association with each other, and societies working toward mutual benefit, but
despises predatory economic activity. For the first time since the 1880's, he
also reinforced the Church's position on usury: the loaning of money for
interest was declared a mortal sin and access to banking a necessary right that
should be provided by governments for their citizens.
In late 1920 and early 1921, the Empire of Japan began to
investigate a means by which it could improve its access to resources. While the
Australians had been good suppliers and debt levels had substantially improved,
Prime Minister Hara Takashi was being pressured by the more conservative members
of his government to obtain even greater levels of resources to fuel growth. He
looked at China and Russia, and quickly came to the conclusion that war with
either of these two, while likely to be successful in the short term, would
quickly engender the interests of European powers. If Britain decided that it
didn't like the idea, then Australia would quickly cut off her resources.
During a visit by Sun Yat-sen of China in early January, the Chinese Premier put
to his Japanese counterpart a different solution. China was also seeking to
expand, but could not immediately afford to do so. If Japan was willing to
finance Chinese expansion into Mongolia, then China would be prepared to commit
to paying Japan back its loan in cheap resources once Mongolia could be
exploited. After conferral between the two capitals, Tokyo and Beijing struck an
alliance on 22 February, 1921. The following day, China invaded Mongolia and
conquered the country completed within three weeks.
The outrage in Russia was considerable. However, Chancellor Trotsky already had
his hands full. In early February, the Duma had established an inquiry into the
misappropriation of state funds by the Government. It was not certain who had
been responsible, but as head of the Government, Trotsky was wearing a
considerable portion of the blame. In addition, the last harvest had been dismal
and the Opposition was having considerable success in attacking the Government
over its growing intervention in "non-vital" sectors of the economy.
They had clear figures indicating that productivity and profitability in those
sectors were down. This had, in turn, exposed fractures in the long-term
coalition government. When Trotsky suggested military action, the Opposition
suggested that he was driven toward war in order to make the scandal surrounding
his leadership disappear.
27 February, Trotsky announced to the Russian people that he was stepping down
as head of the Socialist International, passing control of the organisation over
to French President Jean Jaures. He stated publicly that the Government had
become distracted and he would now give the nation his full attention. However,
after nine and a half years with Trotsky as leader, the party numbers began to
move away and he was eventually faced down by some of his closest colleagues in
a late-night office meeting. They offered him the chance to depart gracefully,
and, reluctantly, he agreed. Leon Trotsky resigned as Chancellor and a member of
the Duma on 17 March, 1921. He was immediately promoted by Tsar Michael II to
the rank of Boyar (Marquess) of Crimea and was appointed Ambassador to the Court
of St James. His replacement was his Minister of Labour, Alexander Shlyapnikov
would spend the next six years abroad with his wife Natalia, before returning to
settle on the Crimean coast.
An Arabian Kingdom
Just when he thought he had temporarily beaten back the
brushfire, Ramsay MacDonald was faced with a new problem.....the Arabs were at
it again. On 22 February, 1921, Hussein bin Ali announced from his new palace in
Baghdad that, from henceforth, he should be referred to as Hussein I, the Sultan
of Arabia. There were no provisions in the agreement of last year that prevented
him doing so; however, the British Foreign Office had credited him with having
more sense than to deliberately provoke an already delicate situation. Clearly,
they had overestimated the situation.
Once again, the envoys were dispatched to try to patch up relations between
Beirut and Baghdad. However, this time, the cause of the rift finally became
apparent. The money from the sale of the African possessions of the Ottoman
Empire in 1909 had finally run out. The Arabs were demanding that the Sublime
Porte keep up the subsidies to which they had become adjusted and the Ottoman
treasury had not planned for their continuation. Having worked for nearly twenty
years to restore the Empire to some semblance of a modern society, they were not
about to drive themselves back into the financial peril that had endangered the
continuation of the dynasty in the first place. Sultan Mehmed VI was having none
He made quite clear to the British that, if Arabia wanted its independence, it
would be granted its independence. However, there were conditions. Arabia had
benefited enormously from his family's investments. It had received over 40% of
those Tanzimat monies, which, when the costs of the reconstruction of Beirut
were removed, was the lion's share of the resources. The Ottoman Empire wanted
the money to be treated as a development loan, and for a total of 127 million
pounds sterling to be repaid. In addition, the central government had paid for
the war which had brought part of Persia into the domain of the new Arabian
state. Given that the Persians were finding oil, there was a good chance that
the Arabians might at some stage in the future as well. The Ottoman Empire
believed that it was entitled to a share of any potential future oil revenues.
Under the contract they presented, it stipulated that, of all oil revenues
earned by the Arabians in perpetuity, the Ottoman Government was entitled to a
The Arabians regarded the demands of
their central government as unreasonable, but since their potential military was
one half the size, they were forced to the negotiating table rather than
conflict. The newly self-appointed Sultan (right) suggested that, as usury was
forbidden by Islam, any development loans should not accrue interest.
Accordingly, if his people were permitted their freedom, he would agree to pay
92 million pounds sterling if the British and the French were prepared to loan
him the money. Considering the number of Jewish people in Britain, MacDonald was
under extreme pressure to get this right and he agreed to loan the money to
Arabia should it settle all other outstanding issues. The Ottomans agreed to
settle for 35 million pounds less than their initial claim, but they wanted a
new border. The new border would be drawn through the Beqaa Valley through the
Hula Valley, following the Jordan River down to the Dead Sea, then a direct line
to the Wadi Arabah and finally to the Gulf of Aqaba.
The Arabs recognised that they were losing access to the Mediterranean, and
responded by demanding a guaranteed right of transit, including no tariffs on
goods being sent to Ottoman-controlled Mediterranean ports, and a reduction of
the 75% in perpetuity claim on future oil resources to a 30% claim, with the
Ottoman Empire offering the same conditions. They also insisted that Jerusalem
should be separated from the control of any one nation, and should be governed
like the Caliphate, under the control of clerics. The Council would eventually
consist of Patriarch Damianus of the Orthodox, Chief Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook of
the Ashkenazi, Chief Rabbi Jacob Meir of the Shephardic, Archbishop Luigi
Balassina of the Latin Patriachy, Patriarch Yegishe Tourian of the Armenians,
and Grand Mufti Mohammed Amin Al-Husayni, with each religion having one vote.
The negotiations proceeded non-stop, save for religious observance, for 42 days.
On 7 May, 1921, the nation of Arabia was born.
A New Economic Bloc
The wealth of the British had made a substantial impact on
the livelihoods of its citizens. While colonies like Nigeria and those along the
eastern African coast continued to wait for life-changing aid, the Imperial
Grants had raised many of its citizens to first-world standard in only a short
period of time.
The flight of American capital had the same effects in its region, beginning
with the new trade regulations of President Clark in 1913 and with the trend
continuing unabated during the difficult years of the Beveridge Administration.
In the period between 1913 and 1921, nearly $105 billion had made its migration
into Latin and South America, seeking lower wages and less regulation. By
mid-1921, however, the regulations and wages they had sought to escape had
become standard across the entire Americas. In Brazil, the economic inflows had
caused a steady increase in living standards; however, the flow soon became a
torrent, as nearly $26 billion in investment poured into the country. A similar
story occurred in Mexico, where the figures were at about $20 billion. A further
$10.3 billion made its way into Argentina. Other countries to benefit included
Colombia ($8.3 billion), Peru ($7.4 billion), Chile ($6 billion), Venezuela
($5.2 billion) and Uruguay ($1.9 billion).
On 5 March, President Alexander arrived on his first state visit in Caracas,
inviting the heads of state and government from across the region for the first
Summit of the Americas in a very long time. He even warmly greeted the Cascadian
and Canadian Prime Ministers, insisting that this was a time to put aside
disagreements. He proposed to establish a Free Trade Zone of the Americas,
beating the Europeans at their own efforts to speed up the fall of trade
barriers, well ahead of International Trade Federation guidelines. He pledged
that, if the other countries were prepared to follow his lead, he would join the
increasing numbers also signing up to the ITF.
"America has seen a lost decade in terms of growth," he said,
"but it has allowed for the stability and adjustment of Latin and South
America in a way which nobody dreamed possible. By ceasing our intervention, our
protectionism and our introverted vision, the future will be one where we can
grow together." He proposed an immediate 40% cut in tariffs. He further
stated that he believed that the central American states had by-passed an
enormous opportunity to negotiate as a bloc and encouraged them to once again
seek federation, offering all the support of the United States to bring it to
While there were murmurings regarding access to markets and subsidies, there was
the increasingly-powerful influence of the London-based empire, which was coming
to be referred to as the Commonwealth Condominium, and the Council of
Strasbourg, which was moving far beyond military concerns to envelop the
economies of most of western Europe. They would already form substantial blocs
of power within the International Trade Federation; it made sense to form one of
their own. A general consensus was reached in early April, shortly before the
ITF announced that the 1925 deadline for a 20% cut in tariffs would be moved
forward at the instigation of the membership and that the cut would be
implemented during the coming calendar year, to be followed by a further ten
percent cut (to 72% pre-ITF levels) in 1923.
The International Eugenics Conference
They gathered at the American Museum of Natural History in
New York on 18 March, 1921. Under the chairmanship of Dr. Harry Laughlin, it
discussed measures to prevent the "probable parenting of socially and
medically unacceptable offspring". He had been credited by Princeton
University and was backed by the Carnegie Institute, and had successfully
promoted compulsory sterilisations in twelve states. However, each of the pieces
of legislation was weak and the police and health authorities had been most
uncooperative. The new Senate was not likely to back any forced sterilisations
Thus, it was time for the Eugenics Records Office of the United States and its
supporters to try a new tack. America and the world needed two things, they
believed. Firstly, there needed to be a way to gain popular support for
sterilisations and secondly, they had to promote breeding among those who were
"suitable". With a government that was flush with cash, and paying for
large scale reconstruction in some of the cities damaged by social violence, the
meeting concluded that it should lobby the Government for financial incentives.
The submission to Prime Minister Nicholas Longsworth suggested that, when a
person was diagnosed with a hereditary illness, doctors should be required to
advise that person of a new government programme. The program would offer
payments to doctors for referrals of cases for sterilisation and would pay the
individual compensation for their voluntary surrender of their reproductive
rights. In addition, people with the right class and education to become
outstanding members of society should be encouraged to breed. Most believed that
tax credit would perform the necessary functions. However, one of the delegates,
a stock trader, made a more radical suggestion.
It was suggested that all persons should be given a reproductive quota of 1.25
children per person. A married couple could produce two children. Any person who
was voluntarily sterilised could sell their quota, in one quarter child shares,
on the free market to anyone who wished to have more children. Thus, the more
successful people would automatically have more children. The number of
offspring would be a status symbol, indicating the success of the couple
involved, and would ensure that the majority of the future breeding stock was
from the "right type of people". Immigrants would never be able to
afford to buy extra breeding rights, and neither would certain low class people.
Fortunately, the idea was put aside.
Of course, Dr.
Laughlin (left) knew how to present this to the Congress. Firstly, it should be
a temporary measure until the medical technology could be developed to eradicate
these diseases of a hereditary nature. Secondly, selective breeding would lead
to a happier society, as it would raise intelligence and education levels,
eradicate poverty and crime and lead to a greater national efficiency. Thirdly,
it was simply the natural order: the fittest would survive in the end and an
eugenics program was just speeding up the natural destiny of the human race by
eliminating its weaknesses. Those opposed to the agenda of the Eugenics Office
presented a different case: while it must be recognised, they said, that some
groups of humans are superior to others, evolution had provided these inferior
people. Maybe they served a purpose that was, as yet, not understood and a
greater study of evolutionary theory was necessary before radical plans were
In the end, the Congress overruled the state laws allowing for compulsory
sterilisation with their own law that allowed for sterilisation, but with the
consent of the patient, and with incentive payments to both the referring doctor
and the patient. Similar programs were adopted across the world over the next
decade. However, it did nothing to slow global population growth, which passed
the 2 billion mark in 1924 and then 2.5 billion in 1946.
The Decline of a King
In the final days of July, 1919, after the Shah of Persia had
travelled through Germany on his return from the United States, where he had
concluded a historic trade and military agreement with that country, one of his
genial hosts, King Ludwig III, fell ill for the final time. It had been a moment
which most of Europe had been dreading for quite some time and now, according to
his doctors, the King was in terminal decline.
The heir to the throne of Bavaria, King Roberto of Aragon, had already stirred
up trouble in April, when he had declared his wish to "reunify the Italian
people", specifically the Austrian territories of Venetia, Trento and
Trieste. He called for a referendum to determine their future, and quickly found
himself under attack from the Italian-born Vice Chancellor of Austria-Hungary,
Benito Mussolini. Mussolini declared that, if Roberto was so passionate about
reunifying Italians under one rule, he could abdicate and pass his crown over to
Emperor Franz Ferdinand. That earned him a laugh or two in the Reichsrat.
The King of Aragon had also antagonised Germany, making clear through his
supporter, Prime Minister Gustav Ritter von Kahr of Bavaria, that he intended to
separate Bavaria from the German Empire permanently as soon as he became
monarch. The Kaiser had made very clear that political separation was not an
option that he would tolerate, leaving Chancellor Ebert with very little leeway
The Genoese had already contacted the French. Despite their return to Aragon,
they had no desire to get into another war - nor did they want to end up as part
of the Aragon or Austrian empires. If the King dragged them into war, they
planned to revolt, but they wanted French support and assistance. A similar
approach had been made by some of those on the northern Iberian peninsula, who
felt the entire dynasty had been a disaster since the day they separated from
Spain - and they were ready to give republicanism a go.
On 16 August, the Reichstag in Berlin passed a law that required all members of
the Bavarian assembly and all army officers of Bavarian nationality to swear an
oath of allegiance in which they recognised the Kaiser as the supreme lord of
Bavaria and the king, whoever that may be, as his vassal and servant. While a
small number lined up to take the oath, the number of absences from the Assembly
and outright refusals gave a clear indication that the separatists had the upper
hand. Chancellor Ebert asked for a conference in Berlin with Chancellor Seitz of
Austria-Hungary, Chancellor Shlyapnikov of the USSR and President Jaures of
France. The time had come to make some decisions.
The members of the Strasbourg Commission discussed the
developing crisis in Bavaria, some with intense interest, others with complete
detachment. Flanders was opposed to any action at all, not surprising given that
Queen Elisabeth was herself part of the Wittelsbach family. However, her
husband's government was much more neutral on the issue. President Jean Jaures
was keen to assist in dealing with the crisis, arguing that cooperation with the
Austrians in a conflict of this nature may just be the key to ensuring their
future membership of the Commission.
The minutes of the Commission report that the room was then disrupted by the
arrival of a non-member. The 20-year-old man took his seat in the gallery, with
his group of attendants, just as Prime Minister Granjo of Portugal politely
bowed to the French President and opened his mouth to speak. "The
problem that confronts the Commission today is the result of mistakes made years
ago - mistakes made before some of us even had the chance to understand the
nature of those mistakes. And those mistakes changed the future of this
continent and of our peoples. But they are mistakes that we now have the chance
to put right."
"During the War of Italy, the countries of Spain, France and Austria all
lost the will to fight, much of the disillusionment based on the interferences
of a recessive Pope who is long since dead. It is time that we recognise that it
was this loss of will that has created the mess that we see today. It tore apart
the Spanish people and created a base in the Cisalpine for those who wish to
cause damage to the potential for a long era of stability and peace."
"However, mistakes can be corrected. I stand here and pay my respects to
His Majesty, the King of Castile, and the true King of Spain, Alfonso, who has
just joined us here today and who has offered his nation and his people to the
service of the Strasbourg Alliance, to finish the job that was started all those
years ago. The agreements are already in place for the partition of the Italian
peninsula and have been since 1908. It is time that we fulfilled them. Let
Germany deal with the rebels in her south, while her friends take care of her
other problems. The philosophy of the Strasbourg Commission is that, through
unity, we achieve a stronger whole. We have an obligation to stand by the
Germans, and we will do so. And we can be glad at the enlargement of the forces
for good, gained through the friendship and good graces of the Castilian and
Under the old agreements, the French and Austrian holdings on the north of the
Italia peninsula would be expanded. The south of the peninsula and the islands
would be returned to Castile. However, the Great Powers had no desire to be
bound by agreements that were made over a decade earlier. In particular, the
Austrians were quite keen on having the southern Italian peninsula handed over
to them. The French disputed that Austria should be allowed to hold territory in
the north, if she wanted to take the entire south. At least, Russia and Britain
had both declared themselves to have no interest in the matter, thus preventing
any chance of a larger conflict.
lack of agreement was brought to a head on 26 August, 1921, when there was an
assassination attempt on the Prime Minister von Kahr of Bavaria (right).
Chancellor Ebert declared a state of martial law in the southern kingdom. The
army moved in, taking up key positions around the province. The attitude of the
Bavarian people was hostile and that level of hostility was demonstrated on 21
September, when a bomb detonated in a Munich barracks. Over six hundred people,
mostly soldiers, were killed. The following day, Kaiser Wilhelm III announced
that Wittelsbach family had been deposed for conspiracy against their rightful
sovereign. Thus began the Bavarian Succession Crisis.
A Royal Intervention
Two planes left behind their home cities. One was flying from
the Crimea, from the Imperial Palace there to another imperial palace in Vienna.
The other was flying from London and, awaiting it at Strasbourg Airport, would
be the limousine driver to take its passenger straight to the Great Hall of the
Council. On board the first plane was the Marquess of Crimea, Special Emissary
of the Tsar. On board the second, His Imperial Majesty George the Fifth, acting
under instructions from His government.
The meeting between the Marquess of Crimea and Emperor Franz Ferdinand was a
surprise to the Emperor; the Austrians were steadily upgrading their action in
response to the Bavarian situation. Reserves units had been called up, but no
general mobilisation had commenced. However, when Trotsky had presented his
imperial credentials, the Emperor sat up and took notice. The level of
correspondence between the two nations had always been blunt. This one was
different. Apparently, the Russians had decided to be their best friends. What
they wanted was a diplomatic alliance. Russia would agree to back up Austria's
claim to northern and southern Italy, as well as to Bavaria, in the
International Court of Justice. In return, the United States of Austria-Hungary
would agree not to intervene militarily in any conflict between Germany and
Aragon, unless directly and deliberately attacked by one or more parties.
The Tsar was also concerned about the breakdown of the talks over Poland. The
Marquess of Crimea was authorised to ask the price which Russia could pay
Austria for Galicia. To end this Polish nightmare, somebody was going to have to
give way. The Marquess was merely enquiring at what price Russia could purchase
Austria's cooperation with its Polish agenda, not in any way challenging the
right of Austrian sovereignty. After all, the Polish provinces still had not
been incorporated back into states yet. And thus Austria held her guns back, to
both her surprise and the surprise of those around her. And closed all right of
passage requests from those on the German and Aragonese sides. By closing off
this window to the warring parties, it made the French response all the more
Emperor King George V arrived in the Great Hall a few hours after the Vienna
meeting. Britain was only an observer at this time; the Emperor King was not
entitled to walk on to the floor of the Hall. Yet he did and took the lectern.
And delivered the following words:
"It has been said that war is indescribable and unimaginable in our
current age. We would like to agree. It is for this purpose that we bring before
this council this treaty, the assent of our Government to the terms and
conditions of the Strasbourg Commission. We are now one of you, committed to
your cause and your ideals.
However, as a member, we need to make some points to this Commission. All
members of this Commission are committed to settling disputes by peaceful means.
It is Article One of our treaty. We have to refrain from force, the use of force
and refrain from behaviour that threatens peace in Europe. Neither side of this
conflict have done this. From Aragon, nothing less is expected; she has not
joined with us. However, Germany attests to be a nation of peace – and the
behaviour of some members in supporting her in her recent decisions has been
less than honourable. Germany has not been honourable. She has failed to fulfill
Article One of the treaty.
Accordingly, I recommend that both nations submit their dispute to
International Court of Justice to arbitrate this argument. Until Germany has
agreed to do so, she should be suspended from the membership of the Commission
until her behaviour has been corrected. Troops from Germany should not be
permitted to pass to Aragon through France. Our Ambassador is placing this
position before His Excellency as we speak. It is the duty of the membership to
ensure that no government be permitted to violate the law.
Our Ambassador will also pass on a report by our Prime Minister in the
capacity of his duty as Deputy Chairman of the Socialist International. The
Deputy Chairman has, in his final considerations, advised His Excellency, the
President of France, that the Socintern should condemn the action of the
Socialist Party in Germany as inappropriate behaviour. He asked us to express a
view to the members of this meeting that war is the tool of capitalists, not
socialist peoples, and that those of you who are socialists here should oppose
Germany’s action in Bavaria.
We move that the Strasbourg Commission dispatch its contingent to maintain
civil order in Bavaria, so that the German troops can be removed. If Germany
refuses this offer of assistance, she has deliberately broken the terms of her
treaty commitments and should be expelled from the Commission forthwith, so that
the Commission can consider its next action. It is also recommended that, should
that occur, the Commission should investigate offering its protection to the
What the Emperor King (left) was essentially suggesting was that Britain could,
if the members agreed, assume leadership from the Germans and save them all from
war. She was offering them the chance to produce a fundamental shift in the
thinking of the Commission members. Long-term, Britain would be a greater
long-term prospect than Germany. It had stood up to the United States in North
America and succeeded. It was modernising much more quickly than had been
expected. Her Empire was already second to none and not going anywhere, and
Britain would lead the future.
The French Respond
After over a decade of close cooperation, France was, for the
first time in decades, facing an incursion of German troops. They wanted right
of passage only, with no interest in conquering French territory. Germany's
ambition was to strike northern Italy and northern Iberia and to crush those
supporting the resistance movement in Bavaria. On 27 September, five days after
the German forces moved into Bavaria and declared martial law, five days after
the Germans declared their intention to invade Aragon, French President Jean
Jaures announced his support for an attempted resolution before the
International Court of Justice. He stated that there was little point having
established the structures, if, at the first real test, they were allowed to be
bypassed. Until that time, France would not allow German troops to pass.
On 28 September, 1921, France requested and received an injunction from the
International Court of Justice, which stated that Germany should withdraw its
forces from Bavaria as soon as they could reasonably be replaced by the Alsatian
Guard. A demand was sent by the Strasbourg Commission to Berlin, asking their
largest member to comply with the injunction. The response was stony silence.
The anger was not just focused at France, however. Britain, Russia and Austria
all came in for their fair share of abuse within the Stadtschloss. And it was
mostly focused on the Kaiser's own government, despite the best efforts of the
Socialist Democrats to move funding into the south and mainly due to the debate
within the Socialist Democrats themselves. The resulting pressure caused the
party to buckle, as members, more concerned about the Socintern's opinion than
the Kaiser's wrath, walked out of the Government to form the Free Socialist
Party. Chief among them was the Chancellor's former mentor, Rosa Luxemburg.
Ebert had lost his majority in the Reichstag.
With the split, the new Reichstag consisted of:
Conservatives: 52 (Count Westarp)
National Liberals: 49 (Gustav Stresemann)
Centre: 48 (Adam Stegerwald)
Left Liberals: 29 (Walter Ruthenau)
Social Democrats: 139 (Friedrich Ebert)
Free Socialists: 117 (Rosa Luxemburg)
and, of course, the sixteen vacancies, caused by the en masse resignation of the
Bavarian National Party.
Luxemburg was in no
place to mount an opposition, but her actions did force Ebert into a decision.
Either he would agree to the position of the Free Socialists and attempt to
negotiate a position with the Bavarians, or he would be forced into a ramshackle
coalition with those of the centre-right. In the end, the will of the Kaiser won
out and Ebert signed a coalition agreement with Stresemann, Stegerwald and
Ruthenau. By choosing to ally himself against other Social Democrats, it was
inevitable that Luxemburg (right) would have to assume Ebert's place on the
Executive Committee of the Socintern and that her party would also assume the
right to send delegates. She would later describe Ebert's actions as a
"betrayal of the workers".
By 7 October, the attitude of the German Government was clear to all. It would
not abide by the principles of the Strasbourg Commission, nor would it proceed
to the International Court of Justice. While all potential aggression by the
King of Aragon would be prevented indefinitely (he had no land passage to
Germany either), Germany was refusing to allow external interference in her
internal affairs. Bavaria would remain part of Germany, despite the wishes of
the clear majority of the Bavarian population. However, over the years to come,
rebel attacks would account for the death of over two thousand people;
retribution attacks by loyalists would account for just over a thousand. The
activities of German security forces would account for another 350. The majority
of these deaths would be civilian. On the diplomatic front, Germany was expelled
from the Strasbourg Commission.
Without Her Consent
Queen Auguste Marie of Aragon watched as the oppression of
Bavaria began. And she was angry, with the distinct knowledge that the actions
of her own husband had driven her homeland to this point. Time and again, she
had attempted to warn, cajole, insist. She had been perpetually ignored.
However, she was the co-monarch of this realm, and, if her husband felt that he
could act without her consultation or consent, so would she. She would ask the
Holy Father to grant a divorce.
Her anger had undoubtedly turned against her husband, and she had an enthusiasm
for his ruin that was passionate in the extreme. After just two years of
marriage, her bitterness at the match was painfully obvious. As a result, she
began her own process of reformation.
During three weeks of intense communications with some of her communities on the
French border and the President of France himself, she outlined a deal for the
future of her country. She confirmed the creation of a new country, the Kingdom
of Navarre, and invited Prince Pedro de Alcantara of Orleans-Braganza, the son
of the Princess Imperial of Brazil, to assume the throne. In doing so, she
provided a further balance on the Iberian peninsula to the overwhelming power of
Castile and rid herself of one of the nation's most troublesome minorities, the
Basques. Many thought her suggestion that France would agree to contribute part
of its own territory to such a state was madness; however, it soon became clear
that they would do exactly that. It was not until a few days later that the
incentive to do so became clear.
By this time, she declared her intention to defend the Vatican States should
they be threatened by her husband in response to her decision to divorce and had
obtained the support of the mainly Protestant or anti-clerical states of the
Strasbourg Commission. The Alsatian Guard were dispatched to the Vatican States,
to stand guard on their border, much as the Swiss Guard did in the capital
itself. Nobody had suspected that Roberto had any plans to invade Rome, but the
perimeter guard, also established by France, also served as a force by which one
could conduct an effective blockade of trade in and out of northern Italy. Of
course, this intent was denied, but it began to constrict her husband's
authority severely. Even her cousin, Emperor Franz Ferdinand, was sympathetic to
her stories and agreed to cooperate.
From early October, the Queen had based herself in Iberia and had, in her
company, her sixteen year old adopted son, Prince Albert. She confirmed that her
adoption of the Crown Prince Albert as her heir would not be rescinded, despite
the divorce, and it was noted, surprisingly, that the young crown prince chose
not to go to his father's side during this crisis.
After barely two years of marriage, the only things remaining were Her Majesty's
painfully obvious bitterness and anger against her soon-to-be ex-husband, and an
equally obvious affection for her "son".
The master blow against her husband came on 18 October. Under the Aragon
constitution, she was entitled to appoint a Regent to act upon her behalf in
northern Italy, whenever she was required in Iberia. (Her husband, who had
disliked the accommodations and people in Iberia, had declined such an option,
and had only made one trip in two years to her home.) Using this power, she
announced that her choice as Regent was Jean Jaures, President of France, giving
Paris effective veto over all actions on the northern peninsula. She also
declared her intent to remain permanently in Zaragosa.
With threats began to emerge from Milan, the Queen stated that any attempt by
her husband to dethrone or exclude her from sovereignty, or to alter the
constitution to increase his power, would be regarded as an attempt to start a
civil war. She produced a treaty, signed by herself and President Jaures which
promised French intervention in Aragon if there was any attempt to remove or
reduce her authority as Queen. The same treaty specified that, if conflict
developed, France would be entitled to annex the entire territory of the
The Portuguese Coup
With the Bavarians now in resistance mode, the entire
continent, and much of the world was focused on Germany's problems. It made the
Socintern very nervous as well. This was the first socialist government that had
failed spectacularly - were there similar problems within their own empire that
would cause this fracturing? MacDonald had scheduled another Condominium meeting
in January/February 1922; they really need to address the question of socialism
and determine what went wrong in Germany. MacDonald had already conceded that
there were problems; the Irish were demanding a separate Army and the removal of
all British naval bases, starting with Berehaven, Queenstown and Lough Swilly.
However, nervous was nothing
compared to what the people of Bavaria were feeling. There was an element of
their society that was driving itself into violence and there seemed to be
nothing they could do about it. Martial law and the state of emergency remained
in place. There were troops on every corner. And now another country was going
to have a revolt on its streets.
first incident was a speech by Antonio Maria da Silva, an engineer who had
become a prominent member of the Republican Party. He pointed out that the
Government had very nearly taken Portugal to war. He was supported by Liberal
Party elite, such as Manuel Teixeira Gomes (left). Despite their personal and
political disagreements (and they were public knowledge), these two began a
campaign to address the grave divides in Portuguese society. There was every
chance, they said, that the Republic could fail if it went to war. That the
Government was prepared to take the risk was, in their view, surprising.
Besides, they had signed up to the Strasbourg Commission in order to end war,
not start one. They were calling for a United Democratic Party, a united front
to save the revolution. There had been rumours of a military coup and both men
were calling for an uprising to liberate the Government.
The citizens took to the streets of
Portugal to respond. There were citizen arrests within the confines of the
capital, among them Ambassador Sidonio Pais, a renowned Germanophile who had
entered Parliament and risen to the rank of Prime Minister. Being a Germanophile
when Britain controlled the world markets had become too dangerous to Portugal's
future. Portugal needed to seek British assistance and patronage. The removal of
elements of the Government on 19 October, 1921 is today known as the Second
Portuguese historians believe that
one of the most successful elements behind the campaign for change had nothing
to do with politics. It was the work of some Austrian filmmakers to make the
world's first motion picture with sound. Made by Karel Capek and called "R.U.R.",
it is set in a utopian and technologically advanced world, with the story set in
Portugal. While it is today only a buff film, it was a cultural landmark. It
introduced the concept of space radiation to the general public, discussed the
emerging scientific idea that energy was both a wave and a particle, and coined
a word in the universal language "Robot", the surname of all
futuristic artificial intelligences. They were so named because the company who
created them was called "Robot", which, in the native language of the
writer, meant corvee. In the movie, the robots were fighting for human rights
after many years of having been oppressed by the humans. The central demand of
the robots is the right to start choosing their own surname.
Its vision of a scientific future,
however, touched many societies and one that was quickly obvious was Portugal.
What it did was show them how little had been achieved since the Revolution and
how much work was required to begin to achieve its hopes. The new Government
would lay out a 30-year-plan, primarily driven around Anglo-Portuguese
cooperation and alliance.
The Great Powers Conference
The idea of a conference amongst the "Great Powers"
had been promoted by the US President Joshua Alexander at the same time as he
announced the intention of the Americans to cooperate with the Strasbourg
Commission. Thus, the Great Powers were those who supported or were affiliated
with the Alsatian-based organisation. He invited the Prime Ministers of Japan
and Great Britain, the Chancellor of the USSR and the President of France to
attend Philadelphia in mid-November 1921. The reconstruction of the Capitol and
the new Executive Mansion had only recently been contracted to architect Bernard
Maybeck, famous for his work at the 1915 Pacific International Exhibition and
his construction of the First Church of Christ, Scientist, both in San
Minister Hara Takashi was unable to attend, due to ill health (he would die on 4
November, before the commencement of the conference). Thus, representing Japan
was Prince Saionji Kinmochi (right), the former Prime Minister and also the man
who would succeed Takashi upon his death. Ramsay MacDonald gave the excuse of
his business in Europe, but promised to visit the United States during his trip
to Canada in February, 1922. In the interim, Foreign Secretary Arthur Henderson
would represent Great Britain. Chancellor Alexander Shlyapnikov was happy to
attend, making his first trip outside Europe since his succession to the
Marquess of Crimea, and left Vice Chancellor Alexandra Kollontai to act on his
behalf. President Jean Jaures cleared his schedule, keen to see the results of
the Second American Revolution in real terms.
Each came with their own issues for the agenda. The US had respected the wishes
of the Strasbourg Commission in restricting capital access to Germany. However,
President Alexander wanted to be sure that there was a deadline for the lifting
of sanctions. As it turned out, only the British wanted to avoid a deadline
entirely. The Great Powers agreed that sanctions should be lifted partially on 1
March, 1922 and should be lifted completely when the Germans ended martial law
in Bavaria. The President also wanted the International Trade Federation to
adopt new regulations that favoured small business. Furthermore, he wished to
advise attendees of the new advances towards the much-vaunted but repeatedly
unsuccessful federation of Central America. Due to American willingness to deal
with, rather than exclude, President Emiliano Zapata of Maya, it appeared as
though there was a new impetus for the movement. The American position was that,
if Zapata was forced into a larger confederation to protect himself from Mexico,
it would also moderate his demands and expectations.
The French President was primarily here to discuss business and the arts. In
relation to the former, the French Government had sponsored many of its
musicians and soloists to use the new phonograph technology and he had travelled
via Canada to promote the sale of French artists to a French-speaking audience.
However, in business, he announced that in February, Air France would be the
world's first national airline, commercially run but government owned. He wanted
to sponsor and control the development of airports, rather than airfields,
infrastructure that would provide points of entry and transit the same as naval
ports had done. Britain had already agreed to grant the French government the
contract to build their first airport - the French wanted to use this expertise
to build in New York and Washington as well. They also wished to promote
governments to buy a share in the International Airmail Services Company (IASC),
a shell company which would oversee the development of airmail links. Russia was
very interested and agreed to pay for the establishment of the first link
between Vienna and St Petersburg.
Chancellor Shlyapnikov also wanted to advance Russian trade, but he wanted to
pressure the Americans to move toward the establishment of a Global Reserve
Bank. He also wished to advise the meeting that the borders of the USSR
"remain unsettled". In particular, he wanted to advise that he would
be seeking to take control of all Polish-speaking territories and was preparing
a proposal for Germany and Austria. There were complaints amongst attendees that
the proposal outline was in violation of the sanctions agreement. He persisted
in his point, but then changed tack and offered to back down if the other states
were prepared to sponsor branches of his new personal brainchild and pet
project, the Association for Human Progress, a youth organisation for
children aged 10 to 15 that created large camping grounds to promote love of the
natural environment, promoted excellence in sport to build health and character,
and encouraged youth involvement in the fine arts and crafts to maintain
cultural legacies in an increasingly international world. The AHP was the
beginning of the International Youth Movement of today and a direct competition
to the British-based Boy Scouts and Girl Guides, who they eventually absorbed.
By 1972, the fiftieth anniversary of its founding, one third of the world's
population were either members or former members of the Association for Human
Prince Saionji Kinmochi, who bore the sympathies of the attendees at Japan's
recent loss, provided an update on the collapse of the final significant
resistance cells in Mongolia. He also brought into the specially-bound copies of
the bestselling book in the world - Tales from the Middle Kingdom.
Japanese publishers had purchased the rights to a number of traditional folk
tales from Chinese villages, even though most of the signatories were completely
uneducated, had failed to understand the language of the contracts and had sold
their cultural heritage for a pittance. The Japanese had then translated the
stories, added intrigues and side stories to appeal to Western readers and
created a cultural phenomenon. Despite this capitalist plunder, Chinese
officials were actually pleased as a positive promotion of their country and
were offering Japan a seven-year cooperation pact, one which Kinmochi assured
the meeting it was intending to pursue.
major discussion point of the British Government, other than its recent problems
with Ireland and support for the Global Reserve Bank proposal, was the
increasing role of "functionaries" in the maintenance of a socialist
state. The Russians called them "apparatchiks", but the outcome was
the same. Foreign Secretary Henderson (left) said that his government was
concerned about the creation of an entrenched bureaucratic elite, an oligarchy
that would replace the old capitalist oligarchy they were attempting to
moderate. Professor Robert Michels, a German import to Britain, had suggested
that it was entirely possible that every system created its own oligarchy. He
wanted systematic research on the problem to see if could be resolved.
The Great Powers Conference on 12-13 November, 1921, was indicative of a rising
level of trust within the international system. It was the first time since
Metternich that a signal had been made of a willingness to renegotiate the
international architecture. In time to come, it would represent the beginning of
increased interdependence and the beginning of the end of the nation-state.
At the beginning of the year 1922, the Prime Minister of the
Dominion of Ireland, Dr John Dillon, had served in the nation's inaugural
government for almost a decade and nearly four years as its leader. Since the
death of Sir John Redmond, he had struggled to maintain control of the United
Ireland Party and to keep the institution which had brought him to prominence
united. In turn, the UIP had struggled to maintain legitimacy and support. He
had waited as long he could before heading back to a general election, but now
there was one on the horizon, in August, and he needed to win back some support
from the Labour Party if he was to survive.
On 15 January, he travelled to the southwest coast and the township of Bhearra,
the location of one of three British naval bases (the other two were at Loch
Suili, Donegal in the northwest and at Cobh, also in Cork but on the
southeastern coast). He began to strike the nationalist drum, calling for the
Irish to establish their own separate army, rather than remaining part of the
Imperial Forces, as had all the other Dominions. Furthermore, he called for the
removal of all British bases in Ireland.
The Parliament in Westminster responded almost instantly to the demands. During
the establishment of the Dominion, the United Kingdom had allowed the new
Government to seize lands belonging to British landlords and had, as a gesture
of goodwill, paid compensation on Ireland's behalf to those landlords. The costs
to the British budget had exceeded eighty million pounds sterling. It was these
costs that had justified British retention of the naval bases. As far as Prime
Minister MacDonald was concerned, any consideration of Dr. Dillon's demands
would have to include negotiations for the repayment of those expenses.
rhetoric escalated, with Dillon (right) claiming that Ireland would never be
truly free until the bases had been removed. Opposition Leader William O'Brien
went silent on the matter; while there was no guarantee that the position of the
Government would be popular outside the more radical nationalists, there was
every chance that opposing the measure would drive some of his own supporters
into the arms of the UIP. Every time he was confronted with the question of the
bases, O'Brien ignored it and instead attacked the Government for its lack of
finesse. He stated that, with a Condominium meeting just around the corner,
Dillon could have raised the subject in a way that did not deliberately cause an
offence to Ireland's nearest neighbour and closest ally. For those who opposed
the bases, they read O'Brien as being a supporter of base closures, but unhappy
with the method used by Dillon. For those supporting the bases, they interpreted
him as being squarely behind working with the British and therefore, keeping the
As a result, the popular appeal of the Prime Minister, despite an initial bump
in support, continued its downward slide. On 12 August, the United Ireland
Party, the driving force behind Irish independence, was voted out of office in a
landslide defeat. The UIP would fall apart in 1923 after its resounding defeat,
but by that time, Dillon had already retired from his seat, forcing a
by-election which, to his comfort, was taken over by his 21-year-old son, James.
Dillon passed away in 1927.
An Envoy to Germany
His Holiness, Pope Gregory XVII, had used his 1921 Christmas
Message to call for peace and harmony in the disputed Wittelsbach lands. As the
New Year dawned, however, the prospect of ongoing martial law and a continued
state of emergency was as strong as ever. Fortunately, the old Italian retained
a steely determination to prevent bloodshed and was willing to make sacrifices
to achieve that goal.
22 January, 1922, the private secretary of the Pontiff left Rome for Munich. His
commission was to fill in the details of a draft peace plan and to use the
influence of the Roman basilica to convince Catholics to accept terms that the
Holy Father believed would be suitable to Berlin. Archbishop Eugenio Pacelli
(right) had been a long-time friend of the Holy Father, and many suspected that
one day, he would become his successor. Nonetheless, his task at this time was
to visit every synod, every parish, every chapel and tutor the priests on the
position of the Church in relation to the Bavarian crisis. Catholics were to
retain peaceful demonstrations only and to push for a plebiscite as the way to
resolve the issue. Priests were ordered to refuse the sacraments to any Catholic
suspected of involvement in violent activity.
At the same time, papal legates visited many of the crowned heads and presidents
of Europe, determined to wind back the economic sanctions that had been imposed
upon Germany. It is unclear how successful Pacelli and his team would have been
had it not been for the events of 1 March. On that day, an engineering team
working on extensions to the Oder Dam (located just outside Breslau) misjudged
the placement of charges designed to clear a rock wall. The ground beneath the
dam's superstructure gave way and the edifice crumbled. Gigalitres of water went
running down the river valley into the city of Breslau itself, creating a
humanitarian and ecological crisis. France, which had itself been suffering from
raw material shortages, immediately cancelled trade restrictions. Russia sent in
aircraft over the region, dropping supplies to isolated communities. More
importantly, it gave the Roman Catholic Church the opportunity to offer to pay
for the enormous costs of the clean-up.
There were marginal but measurable decreases in violence in Bavaria over the
next five months, especially when the Pope declared the support of the Church
for ongoing German sovereignty until a peaceful and orderly plebiscite could be
held to determine the will of the Bavarian people. The Kaiser was grateful and
was pleased to accept a visit by the Holy Father in June. The two held closed
talks on the matter of Bavaria, and the Bavarian people increasingly began to
look at the Pontiff over the Cisalpine monarch as the representative of their
On 26 June, Kaiser Wilhelm announced that the direct annexation of Bavaria would
be partially held in abeyance until further notice. However, the Rhenish
Palatine would be directly incorporated into Prussia. The remainder of Bavaria
would be granted a plebiscite in twelve weeks, with the offer of three options.
Under terms of an agreement between Rome and Berlin, the plebiscite would not be
binding. However, it would provide a fair indication of the thinking of the
general populace and highlight where sentiment was strongest, thereby offering
solid intelligence on what steps to take next.
The first option was a maintenance of the status quo, with the appointment of a
Catholic monarch by the Kaiser to take over the vacant throne of the Wittelsbach
family. The second option was that the throne would be abolished and that
Bavaria would become an independent and sovereign republic following a
constitutional convention and a referendum overseen by Berlin. The third option
was that the people would prefer to be under the rule of the Hapsburgs, provided
Vienna was prepared to make suitable compensation to Germany for the transfer.
The Birth of a Federation
President Joshua Alexander was glad to be away from
Philadelphia. The blizzards that were afflicting the north-eastern United States
were debilitating, not only holding up the reconstruction work in Washington
D.C., but generally depressing. It was certainly a lot warmer here in San
The arrival of the US President in the city was greeted by spectacular
celebrations. Masses of people in colourful costumes danced through the street
in a carnival atmosphere that took in multiple traditions. Almost spontaneously,
Alexander decided to leave his motor vehicle and walk on foot, shaking hands and
dancing with a number of the party-makers. On both sides there was a lot to
celebrate. The President was here to inaugurate a new era: the birth of the
Federated Provinces of Central America.
On 29 January, 1922, President Emiliano Zapata Salazar of Maya had finally
managed to get the disparate countries of the peninsula to put aside their
differences and agree to a federation. Only Costa Rica and Panama had held out
for more concessions. Now he marched forward to shake the hand of the American
President and to thank him for his support.
The US had a major vested interest in making sure this had been done right. For
well over a decade, US marines had formed the backbone of security, creating an
enormous drain on the budget. With the Liberation Army now prepared to take over
the responsibility for defence and security, President Alexander had already
outlined the advance of air forces and an expansion of the Navy. The Army would
undoubtedly suffer, losing close to a quarter of its funding. However, the cuts
may just be sufficient to weaken the ties that bound the Bolivarian Pact
together, allowing America to divide the bloc which was halting its geopolitical
advance. Already, it had much of the region in its economic grip; by making
nice, Alexander hoped that he would also win their diplomatic loyalties.
In addition, the US budget needed as much money as it could make. The Supreme
Court had recently handed down a decision that the licensing of radio through
broadcasting fees was a violation of the freedom of speech. Radio stations that
had already paid for their licenses were demanding refunds, projecting the money
would be used to boost their signals and to drown out what they suspected would
now become a free-for-all on the airwaves.
The advantages for Zapata were numerous. With the military and the political
system of an enlarged state now under his control, Mexico would be forced to
concede his departure and end the blatant hostility. While the President was
under no illusions that Mexico and Central America would be cooperative
partners, at least it was a step towards normalisation. Secondly, the
disagreements and disputes within the political systems of the other provinces
meant that any chance of their politicians taking a leading role was slim at
best; Maya's united and strong leadership would ensure that it would be a
dominating force in the new federation, despite only holding 23% of the
The Ottawa Conference
leaders of the Condominium gathered on Ottawa’s Parliament Hill (opposite) in
the winter of 1922 to renew acquaintances and to resolve differences. Excepting
their former host, the Earl of Koubah, all of the attendees from Cairo were
still in office and they had begun to become familiar with each other.
Their current host, Sir Robert
Borden, had already indicated this would be his last such conference. He would
be retiring from politics in 1924 to take up a number of lucrative
chairmanships. Nobody begrudged him his quiet years; thirteen years as head of
government would be long enough for anyone. Prime Minister Matthew Charlton of
Australia had no plans for leaving office anytime soon. During his five years in
office, he had brought Papua and New Guinea into statehood, but the lustre of
such an achievement had been somewhat dampened by a number of High Court
decisions that overrode the attempts of the Parliament to keep the
"bois" from entering the mainland. He had also pursued a vigorous
policy of development under the watchful eye of his Treasurer, James Scullin,
who was widely regarded as an economic genius.
Marshal Smuts had established a
superior position in South Africa, using the threat of the exploding population
of German colonies to get the British out to vote and winning the loyalty of
both women and the mixed races by granting them the vote. He had used the
National Party's opposition to the British Empire, and their leader's Jewish
ancestry, to build a strong electoral base over the last three years. Mohammed
Ali Jinnah had few electoral concerns; after all, India remained a virtual
one-party state. However, there were emerging questions about the stability of
his marriage and it was widely expected that he would step down shortly after
this conference. While Jinnah undoubtedly favoured his Minister of Health, Dr.
Hakim Ajmal Khan, it appeared much more likely that he would be followed by a
Kashmiri Brahmin barrister, the wealthy moderate Attorney General Motilal Nehru.
Egypt had experienced a change of
the hierarchy in the last few months. Their new Prime Minister, Adli Yakan, was
the great-grandnephew of Muhammed Ali. Newfoundland was preparing for its own
change. Despite only three years in the top job, Prime Minister Sir Michael
Cashin had indicated that he would step aside half way through his second term
to clear the path for exporter John Chalker Crosbie. John Dillon was
experiencing his last visit to an Imperial Conference; he would be defeated at
the polls in August. Some, however, were much more secure. New Zealand's Prime
Minister Patrick Webb joked that dynamite would be required to move him. (He
would remain Prime Minister into the 1930's). Pashtunistan's Khan Abdul Jabbar
Khan was chief of the Mohammedzais tribe and it was likely only death could
Attending the conference for the
first time were two men. Sergio Osmena had been the Prime Minister of the
Philippines for fifteen years and was about to become Chief Justice, whereupon
he would be succeeded by his political ally, Manuel Quezon. However, Quezon had
agreed to allow him to delay his departure until after the Philippines had been
represented internationally as a British Dominion for the first time. Also
represented for the first time was the Malay Federation; their delegate and
first Prime Minister was Abdullah Jaafar, son of a Johori datuk.
The first matter that came up for
discussion was the lag in economic development by India. While the underlying
economy had grown by nearly 42% since the end of the Mutiny and the British had
invested heavily, the sheer size of India's population, now approaching 270
million, meant that lots of money had minimal impact. What emerged was the
Imperial Development Company of India. The new company, which had an initial
life span of two years, would seek out new businesses willing to invest in India
and would grant subsidies to those willing to do so. To give an impression of
the size of the enterprise initiated, in 1922 alone, the IDIC would direct
investments worth 6.46 billion pounds sterling. However, it was appreciated that
any effort to improve the standard of living in India would require a
coordinated effort over a decade. Of that money, 1.15 billion pounds would come
from Egypt. However, they had a proviso to the spending of their money. They
demanded and received sovereignty over the Sudan at the conference.
A second order of business was the
development of the imperial currency. It had already been discussed ad nauseum
by all parties and general consensus was that the Imperial Reserve Bank should
be established in London. It was agreed that banks should begin to use the new
currency unit, the banc, on 1 January, 1923, at which point all exchange rates
for other currencies would become fixed against each other. The banks would then
be required to begin issuing the new currency on 1 January, 1926, and all other
currencies would cease to be effective on 1 January, 1927. It was also agreed
that decimalisation should proceed, with each banc having one hundred pence.
Coins would be the penny, two pence, five pence, shilling, florin and half banc.
They would retain the old pound glyph (£) for its familiarity.
A general discussion was also held
on recent work by Britain's Institute of Engineers, who, this May, would conduct
the first general television broadcast. They were finally prepared to admit, in
this forum, that the previous year they had transmitted a television signal from
London to Glasgow. They were repeating work done previously in America, of
course, but the Americans were still keeping their technology under wraps and
using it for military transmissions. The British hoped to get colour
transmission within the next year and to develop an all-electronic television
system within five years. (They would miss this target by about eighteen
months.) They also hoped to surprise the Americans by sending the first
transatlantic transmission in short order. Another general discussion was held
regarding the establishment of a single Imperial Airlines to service the world.
As the meeting came to a conclusion,
Prime Minister Dillon of Ireland attempting to get the delegates involved in his
confrontation over sovereign bases in Ireland. With most of the other delegates
heavily dependent upon imperial forces, they were either indifferent or hostile.
Irish newspapers reported that it had been a diplomatic slap to Dillon, raising
the death knell over his administration. He would be voted out of office on 12
Ere I Saw Elba
On 1 June, 1922, Minister President Karl Seitz of
Austria-Hungary announced that the armed forces would be conducting long-term
military exercises in Venetia due north of Bologna. The number of soldiers
involved would initially be fifty thousand, but the numbers may fluctuate due to
rotation. However, the Minister President stated that there was no threat to the
Cisalpine Kingdom. Austrian troops would not enter anyone's territory without an
The express invitation came exactly
two months later, when the Cisalpinian military overthrew King Roberto in a coup
d'etat and asked the Austrians for assistance. Seitz already had his troops
mobilised and seized the opportunity. In hindsight, there can be no doubt that
Austrian intelligence forces had assisted in the organisation and orchestration
of the coup. (There is also considerable circumstantial evidence that Germany
was involved in the financing, which explains her decision to sell her Polish
territories to the USSR early in April. The USSR had financed that deal by
selling some more land to the Finns.) The King fled to Florence, where he hoped
to make a stand with those who remained loyal to his government, but ended up
moving from safe house to safe house.
It was in this climate that the
plebiscite took place in Bavaria on 16 September, 1922. The attitude of the
largest part of electorate was definitely a case of "better the devil you
know", with 41.3% voting in favour of the status quo, Bavaria as a kingdom
of Germany with a new monarch appointed by the Kaiser. The next largest
contingent were from those who were prepared to admit that Bavaria could not
afford to stand alone, but who were not prepared to continue to submit to the
Kaiser's rule. 34.0% of eligible votes were recorded in favour of union with
Austria-Hungary. The remaining 24.7%, led by extremists from the left and the
right, voted for independence.
Two days after the declaration of
the result, Kaiser Wilhelm III stated that the option of an independent Bavaria
was off the table, prompting large protests of the streets of Munich. The Kaiser
and his Chancellor ordered an unprecedented crackdown, in which a number of
revolutionary organisations were utterly crushed. Bavarian nationalist movements
were destroyed and a number of members killed when they attempted to resist. The
Resistance struck back, poisoning Colonel Hans von Seisser, head of the Bavarian
State Police, but he was the only high-profile victim on the side of the
Government. The most high profile victim for the Resistance was journalist
Dietrich Eckart, the son of a royal notary. By 23 October, the German government
felt confident enough that it ended the State of Emergency. France immediately
called for Germany to be re-admitted to the Strasbourg Commission, but Britain
insisted that Ebert must first resolve the Bavarian issue fully. That could not
be achieved with discussions between Germany and Austria and the latter was
somewhat distracted at the moment.
On 27 October, King Roberto was
finally captured in Livorno by pro-Austrians and forced to sign an abdication.
He was then permitted to flee across the sea to Elba, the island that had once
imprisoned the Emperor Napoleon of France. Three days later, when Emperor Franz
Ferdinand heard of his cousin's plight, he announced an immediate ceasefire and
offered to come to Elba for a peace conference. Between 2 November and 4
December, delegates from France, Russia, the Ottoman Empire, Austria and Germany
met on Elba to discuss the future of Eastern and Southern Europe. Only one thing
was immediately clear from the outset: the House of Wittelsbach had played its
cards and had been dealt out of the Great Game.
The End of War
On 2 November, the Great Powers of Europe gathered on the
island of Elba in the western Mediterranean. The continent had been afflicted by
constant small wars for the last half century and, with a new socialist
consciousness, there was a realisation that war could no longer be permitted.
The borders of Europe would need to be redrawn to prevent future conflict and
guarantees provided to prevent further aggression.
The agendas presented at the
conference were multiple and confusing. Each of the Great Powers brought not
only their own concerns, but the concerns of smaller states, and even of
minorities within the borders of other Great Powers. Over a period of five
weeks, numerous debates produced numerous outcomes. They are as follows:
The Republic of Brittany
- When it became clear that France would end up with sovereignty over the
territory previously known as the Cisalpine Kingdom, there was an insistence by
Austria that Paris finally recognise the demands for separatism in Brittany.
The Republic of Poland -
A new attempt was made to establish a small and reliant Polish state, once which
could not threaten other countries, from Austrian and Russian held territories.
German territory would not be given over, meaning that the new state would be
The United States of
Austria-Hungary - The USAH took
control of Bavaria as many had predicted, but was required to cede Germany
control of small portions of northern Bohemia and Moravia. In addition, she was
required to surrender control of the Romanian-speaking areas of the Empire to
the Kingdom of Romania, greatly increasing the size of that state, and to
release Galicia, part of it going to create the new Polish state and the
remainder being absorbed by the USSR.
The Union of Socialist States of
Russia - In return for an
expansion of her western border in Galicia, Germany insisted that Russia
surrender a portion of Karelia to Finland, which had increasingly become a
German client state, and Bulgaria to Austria.
The Republic of France - France
would incorporate the territory previously known as the Cisalpine Kingdom.
Germany, Finland, Navarre, the
Vatican State and Castile were all to be admitted to the Strasbourg Commission,
bringing the total number of members to seventeen.
Poland would not be permitted to
form her own military. Austria, Germany and Russia all agreed that, should one
power attempt to invade, the other two would declare war on the invading power.
Likewise, Britain and France would guarantee the defence of Brittany.
King Roberto would stand trial
before the International Court of Justice, accused of belligerency and
threatening the stability of Europe. He would eventually be sentenced to seven
years imprisonment. Below is the map of Europe as it appeared at the end of the