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Today in Alternate History
Day in Alternate History Blog
The Undecided Peace
By Thomas W
My American History professor told us that in 1918/19, after the Armistice
between Germany and the Entente that Wilson used the American troops in Europe
as a form of blackmail to force his European Allies to adopt the Fourteen
Points. The alternative being that Wilson would withdraw the American troops
from Europe and seek a separate peace with Germany. This basically happened in
OTL anyway because Wilson was an arrogant, stubborn man.
This TL is based on the idea on a more successful (but far costlier) Entente
campaign in 1918 that brings Germany to the negotiating table BEFORE the
revolution and makes Wilson more arrogant.
Midnight, September 25th, 1918: Kaiser Wilhelm II steps down from the throne
of the German Empire, and his son Wilhelm III takes his places. Even before
Wilhelm III is officially coroneted, his representatives approach the Entente
powers seeking an armistice. The Entente Powers will agree to the Armistice at 5
a.m., with the Armistice coming into effect at 9 a.m.
By noon President Woodrow Wilson will loudly claim that American intervention
on the Western Front was THE deciding factor that brought Germany to the
bargaining table. This statement will put a serious damper on American relations
with the other Entente Powers.
The terms are the Armistice require the withdrawal of German troops from
Belgium, France, and Alsace-Lorraine and establish a demilitarized zone along
the border while the Naval Blockade would remain in place around Germany. There
were members of the Entente leadership who greatly pushed for Germany to
surrender her navy and large amounts of military materiel to Entente or neutral
harbors as well as requiring Germany to renounce the Treaties of Brest-Litovsk
and Bucharest but louder voices warned that such drastic demands would undo the
This cautious response came from the rather steep losses along the Front that
had accompanied the equally great advances.
September 29th, 1918: The Coronation of Kaiser Wilhelm III of the German
Empire is easily overshadowed by the halt in the war. Wilhelm III's first acts
as Kaiser are only somewhat his own. Warned of the great potential for
Revolution by numerous advisers, Wilhelm will quickly move to preempt these
forces within German society.
A new Constitution is drafted and quickly approved that gives more power to
the Reichstag and the people from the Kaiser and Junkers class. The announcement
of the New Constitution and the re-distribution of power sparks the uprising of
leftist, socialist, marxist, and communist elements within the Reich to pursue a
full Revolution and overthrow the Monarchy...
October 1st, 1918, Kiel: Semi-organized elements of the Spartakistbund (Spartacist
League) and other Leftist movements approach the long disaffected sailors of the
Kaiserliche Marine stationed in Kiel since the withdrawal of of the Navy from
major combat against the Royal Navy. These Leftists succeed in getting a large
number of the sailors to join their cause, and to march in support of them.
As the night falls on the first of October, these first members of the armed
Revolution make to leave Kiel and spread the Revolution. Outside the city
however, they encounter armed, and loyal, divisions of the Imperial Army sent to
prevent exactly that. The Army commander, freshly transfered from the Western
Front, does not wish to fire on his own countrymen but is also fiercely
patriotic and will not tolerate these people to spread a Revolution that would
tear apart the Reich.
October 2nd, 1918, outside of Kiel: The sailors and revolutionaries have found
themselves both cut off from re-entering the city, and are facing armed soldiers
whose commander is offering surrender or destruction. A number of the sailors
who were convinced to support the Leftists flee when confronted with organized
resistance from the Government; The greater whole of the Revolutionaries believe
that the Army will not fire on them.
With this idea firmly in mind, the group of revolutionaries numbering a couple
thousand, and lightly armed attempt to simply march past the Army units. As the
revolutionaries approach the containment lines set by the Army, they are ordered
to turn back or be fired upon. Few of the revolutionaries attempt to do so, and
moments later the Army units fire upon the advancing group. Most of the rounds
are aimed over their heads or at the ground at their feet, but because this
isn't obvious, the armed members of the Leftists fire back, igniting a much more
serious fire fight that will last for only a few minutes as the Army's superior
skill, numbers, and weapons throw the revolutionaries back in disorganized
chaos. In the aftermath, it will be known that 142 of the Revolutionaries were
killed, and 321 injured while the army only suffered 4 dead and 12 wounded.
This sharp, if unnecessarily violent, response to this early attempt at
revolution reassures moderates and conservatives that the government is securely
in control, while shaking those fence-sitters who were unsure of the
Revolution's ability succeed into remaining silent, leaving only the die-hard
Marxists, socialists, and communists to try and overthrow the government.
October 1st - 21st 1918: At the peace conference in Paris, the leaders and
representatives of the Entente have gathered to hammer out a peace treaty with
Germany. At the conference the three major powers of the Entente (Britain,
France, and the United States) were quickly proven to have conflicting goals
regarding the treaty; especially those of Woodrow Wilson.
At the conference, Wilson quickly (and loudly) made his views and goals known to
both Britain and France, but Germany and the other Central Powers as well. The
German delegation under Foreign Minister Ulrich Graf von Brockdorff-Rantzau was
hopeful to pursue Wilson's plans, but leery of the likelihood of them coming to
October 21st, 1918 - January 2nd, 1919: After several months of arguing,
debating, demanding, haranguing and backroom dealing the Entente falls apart.
Woodrow Wilson has been operating on the idea (perhaps rightly) that it was
American intervention in the war that had defeated Germany, and that America
should be the leader and originator of any treaty presented to Germany. This
attitude, and Wilson's stubborn refusal to accept anything but his proposed 14
Points and League of Nations causes total gridlock in advancing terms against
Germany. Finally, Wilson issues an ultimatum to his erstwhile partners in
Britain and France: Accept the 14 Points and the League of Nations as the terms
for any treaty with Germany or the United States will withdraw all troops and
support from Europe and seek a separate treaty with Germany. Clemenceau
immediately calls Wilson's bluff, while Britain takes only a short while before
January 5th, 1919: Wilson is outraged at the "blind arrogance" of the French and
British and orders the recall of all American soldiers and support from Europe
in a move that he tells papers is "an end to our European adventure." In Europe,
the Entente is stricken that Wilson would follow through with his ultimatum and
now finds themselves in a very serious position.
January 5th - February 27th, 1919: American troops, supplies and assets are
removed from Europe as per President Wilson's orders. They receive a hero's
welcome when they return to the United States, and the papers tout Wilson's
withdrawal from Europe as "washing our hands of the corruption and decadence of
On the other side of the aisle British, French, and Belgian newspapers call the
American withdrawal "cowardly, ill-advised, and dangerous". For the Germans,
this is excellent news, and almost as soon as the Americans had committed to
pulling out, the German negotiation team hardened their limit for treaty terms,
stalling any forward progress of the peace treaty.
The other defeated Central Powers (those still moderately intact) also attempt
such a tactic, with only Bulgaria achieving anything of value, as they still
held a strong defensive position.
As the Armistice showed no sign of collapsing soon, German Army units deployed
along the DMZ with the Entente were cycled off the line for extended periods or
rest and rebuilding. Some of these units will be used to fight the weak and
scattered Revolutionary elements that pop up across the country.
With the outbreak of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia in October of 1917,
Eastern Europe had been thrown into chaos, and with the collapse of the
Austro-Hungarian Empire, that chaos was further enhanced. In the aftermath of
the dissolution of both Empires, several states flared into being, with few
The end of American support for the Entente had more far-reaching effects than
the peace conference in Paris. American supplies had allowed the British and
French to push farther and harder into Southern Europe, the Ottoman Empire, and
now into the Russian Civil War, and now those efforts would be greatly
curtailed. This would be felt in the birth of the Hungarian Soviet Republic in
early March 1919, and the resurgence of Bulgarian hard-lining at the negotiation
table, as well as the Greco-Turkish conflict coinciding the Turkish War of
Independence. Also, German interference in the former dual monarchy's territory
would inflame issues further, as well as their support for almost any new
republic, duchy, or kingdom that appeared in the westernmost sections of the old
March 1st, 1919: Feeling that the Allies lack the strength, willpower, and
morale to restart the war, the German Foreign Minister at the Paris Peace
Conference announces that Germany seeks an ante bellum peace and none other. The
French delegation immediately approaches the British and liberated Belgians
demanding that they rescind the Armistice and renew the war with Germany,
through Belgium and into Germany's heart. The British and Belgians are beyond
reticent to restart the Great War, and Belgium outright refuses to allow a
French army to pass through Belgium to strike Germany as Germany had demanded
Germany had done to France.
The British delegation under Prime Minister David Lloyd George carefully points
out to Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau that the Naval Blockade against Germany
had lost its effectiveness due to Germany's de facto control of the territory
ceded to them by the Brest-Litovsk Treaty, and that any renewed offensive into
Germany would involve proceeding without American soldiers or supplies into a
rested and prepared German defensive line. The French are outraged, but find
they can do little to vent their anger against Germany.
The delegations representing the other former Central Powers took the collapse
of peace talks with Germany as a sign to also pursue a hard line at the
negotiation tables, especially when German support was supplied behind the
scenes. The collapse and dismemberment of the Austro-Hungarian empire posed a
serious complication for the Entente, as they no longer had a single party to
negotiate with, but several. The three biggest players to emerge on the scene
were the Hungarians, Austrians, and Serbians. The Hungarians made up the largest
of the successor states, but disconcertingly, they loudly proclaimed themselves
the Hungarian Soviet Republic. The Austrians declared themselves the Republic of
German Austria, while Serbia claimed Bosnia and a good chunk of disputed
territory between German Austria and the Hungarian Soviet Republic...
March - April 1919: With the virtual collapse of the Entente peace talks with
Germany, a free-for-all attitude has descended upon the lesser allies in seeking
peace treaties and positive gains. Italy is the first to make this move, by
entering into secret talks with Austria and Germany for their own peace treaty
to ensure their promised territorial gains by the British when they switched
sides in the Great War.
As the treaty is being hammered out, the Soviet Republic of Hungary continues to
be a concern for all sides involved, including the British, especially after the
invasion of Slovakia, and the counter-invasion by Romania into Transylvania,
which is quickly blunted by Red Guards of the Soviet Republic.
Britain, through various means, becomes aware of the negotiations between
Austria and Germany and Italy - British agents approach the Italian delegation
and make clear that Britain will support any peace that Italy makes with Austria
and Germany so long as they prevent the spread of communism in their area of
influence, and fight the Soviet Republic of Hungary, now that Romania's invasion
of Hungary has stalled out due to poor planning.
The British realistically believe that the best way to deal with Germany is
through containment, side treaties with other powers to prevent any potential
alliances with Germany, and if necessary, totally ignore France in the process.
April 12th, 1919: The Kingdom of Italy announces the Treaty of Venice between
itself and the Republic of German Austria (which includes all of its claims to
Moravia and Bohemia), with the participation of the German Empire. In the
treaty, Italy was to receive Trentino, South Tyrol, Trieste, Istria, Dalmatia,
Slavonia, the Slovenian section of the former empire as well as Bosnia under a
protectorate. Britain's tacit approval is understood by both sides and any
restrictions on including Austria into the Empire are left out of the agreement.
Both France and Serbia are outraged by this agreement, but Serbia's objections
are quieted within the week when the British and Italians award Serbia union
with Montenegro and the northern half of Albania as well any territory they can
seize if and only if they enter the war against Soviet Hungary.
Within the requirements of the Armistice was the establishment was a
demilitarized zone along the border between Germany and the borders with Belgium
and France 5 miles deep on each side, intended to prevent a surprise attack by
either side. Along the French side, the included the disputed territory of
Alsace-Lorraine while in Germany it officially included the whole area called
"the Rhineland" by the Entente, but in truth only included about 15 miles into
Germany past the Rhine.
This decision would prove to be a major problem for the French on April 19th,
1919 when a sudden uprising broke out pushing for independence from both Germany
and France as a Soviet Republic. The French Army immediately drew up plans to
intervene and crush the nascent Soviet Republic when the civilian government
pointedly stated that entering into Alsace-Lorraine would violate the Armistice
with Germany. Britain communicated serious concerns regarding both the
Revolution, and how to approach it. However, before more serious complications
could be addressed, a communique was relayed to the French government by British
delegation, from the German foreign ministry. The communiqué details that the
Reich would tolerate a British-led intervention into Alsace-Lorraine totally
only 30,000 men and assets for a period of 30 days to crush the Soviet Republic,
but these troops must be totally withdrawn (except for a minimal occupational
force) by the end of the 30 days.
With France entangled in Alsace-Lorraine, chafing under British command, the
German Empire launched a long-planned effort to stabilize its Eastern neighbors
born from the dying Russian Empire: The United Baltic Duchy, The Belarusian
National Republic, The Republic of Lithuania, the Kingdom of Poland, and the
chaotic Ukrainian Hetmanate.
Poland and Lithuania were perhaps the most stable, being physically connected
to the Empire, and having buffer states between themselves and the Russian Civil
War, and already the resources of these states were being utilized by the
Germans. Not only were their physical resources being used by the Germans, but
their manpower too, as young Poles, and Lithuanians were used in the new
factories popping up in the region and in the new "national" armies that were
actually under German control.
Next came the United Baltic Duchy, under control of the local ethnic German
population, their Baltische Landeswehr received the best training and equipment
that the German Empire could distribute to their intended client states. The
Landeswehr had successfully smashed three separate attempts by the Red Army to
take the whole of the Baltic states, and a large shipment of the newest and best
airplanes had been sent via ship along with a "training" group of pilots, led by
the best pilots of Jagdgeschwader 1, also known as the Red Baron’s Flying
The Belarusian National Republic and Ukrainian Hetmanate by comparison were
suffering far worse as de facto civil wars continued in their territories: in
the BNR there was no real state – no government, no constitution, no armed
forces, just a vaguely defined area in open conflict with the Red Army as they
attempt to invade the region. The Ukrainian Hetmanate was almost as weak as the
BNR but not quite; the co-operation by the government with the Germans angered
the peasants, along with the returning of land and property back to the
nobility. However, German firepower managed to keep a lid on the brewing
May 3rd, 1919: The commencement of what will come to be called "The Thunder
in the East". Starting on the 3rd, the Armies of the Empire of Germany, Kingdom
of Poland, Republic of Lithuania, and the United Baltic Duchy, coordinating with
localized non-hostile elements of the White Movement launch a large-scale
offensive to crush and expel Bolshevik forces from within their territory and
the area surrounding it. The areas of focus were the Belarusian National
Republic and the crumbling Ukrainian Hetmanate to firmly establish the "rule of
This event will mark the beginning of an undeclared war between the Bolshevik
forces and the German Empire and client states that will last until April in
1920, ending with extremely heavy damage to Petrograd and the universal
Bolshevik pull back from the German Client States and the recognition of the
claimed borders for Lithuania, United Baltic Duchy, Belarusian National Republic
and Ukrainian Hetmanate.
The defeat of the Red Army by the Germans and their allies provides enough
breathing room for the White movement to rally back and launch a successful
series of battles intended to retake European Russia from the Bolsheviks.
May 1st, 1919: The beginning of the end for the Hungarian Soviet Republic, as
supplies begin to steadily arrive in Romania from Britain and fresh Italian
troops finally begin to slam headlong into Red Guards in Romania and Hungary
proper. Support for the Soviets at home will quickly crumble, prompting a new
Red Terror to be unleashed in Budapest and other larger cities. The marked end
of the Soviet Republic is with the White coup that assassinated Bela Kun on the
15th of May, but instead fails to establish a permanent government until
Romanian and Italian troops occupy Budapest on the 20th. The occupation is
relatively brief, only a month and a half, and will leave behind the Kingdom of
Hungary that is forced to make serious territorial concessions to Italy,
Romania, and German Austria.
Not all is well for the rapidly expanding Italian Empire though, as their
soldiers begin to firmly establish control over the territories that Serbia
covets. As Italian army units encounter Serbian army units along the hazy
southern border of the lands granted to Italy under the Treaty of Venice small
bursts of violence break out over contradicting claims as to the actual border.
Tensions continue to swell as the arguments expand to the diplomatic level,
threatening a new Balkan war, attracting the attention of Bulgaria, Greece, and
With the troubles between Serbia and Italy, Bulgaria finally signs the offered
peace treaty from Britain, ceding their Aegean coast to Greece while making some
smaller reparations to Romania.
Across the Atlantic, all is not fairy tales and fun following the end of the
American "adventure in Europe". Soldiers returning in very large groups from
Europe are demobilized as they arrive en masse, given their last pay and a
ticket home. The sudden influx of men seeking labor sends the American economy
spiraling into a severe recession, threatening to sink into a depression. This
horrible economic problem will be the nail in the coffin of President Wilson's
political career, which he will be horribly bitter about until his death in
1933. Across the country, a brooding resentment accompanies the economic woes
pointed towards the American involvement in the Great War: the dead and wounded
American men lost for European squabbles and now a suffering economy. This
resentment will deepen American Isolationism as time goes on, and many
isolationists will hold up the aftermath of the American involvement in Europe
as a bloody shirt in elections.
The Page Turns in the Russian Civil War:
May 12th, 1920: a little more than a year after the death of the Hungarian
Soviet Republic marks the end of one stage in the Russian Civil War, and the
beginning of another. General Yudenvich, the Commander of the White Russian Army
in the North and West launches a spearhead offensive out of the Northeast aimed
straight for Moscow. The attack coincides with major offensives under the
commands of General Wrangel in the South, and Admiral Kolchak in the East.
General Yudenvich of all the commanders in the White movement enjoys the most
direct support from the British and his thrust aimed at Moscow boasts a large
number of tanks supplied by the British, and a number of aircraft provided by
the United Baltic Duchy, courtesy of the German Empire.
The armored thrust aimed at Moscow will steadily roll up the Red Army units
deployed to stop them. The Red Army commanders under Trotsky will instead hope
to make their stand in Moscow's suburbs, hoping to use the urban terrain to
their advantage and negate the White's armored advantage.
The resulting Battle of Moscow lasts for more than two weeks before a full-blown
retreat by what little is left of the Red Army and the Bolshevik party members.
In the midst of the chaos, a number of Cossack infantry seize one of the first
automobiles attempting to flee Moscow, and gain an unexpected prize: Vladimir
Lenin himself. The Trial that followed was short, and the execution shorter yet.
With Lenin's death, the Bolshevik forces divided into two factions and retreated
in two separate directions: Leon Trotsky's faction fled East into Siberia,
establishing their new capital at Omsk. Josef Stalin's faction fled South into
the Caucasus, establishing their capital at Tbilsi. Though officially united in
the cause of continuing the Revolution, the two men cannot stand one another.
The Bolsheviks will now resort to guerrilla warfare and terror attacks to
continue their Revolution.
With the greater bulk of the Red Army smashed, the White movement re-enters
Moscow and now finds themselves faced with the one-million ruble question: What
sort of government will they establish for Russia? Admiral Kolchak is the
nominal leader for the movement, but there are many internal divisions that
quickly make themselves apparent, fracturing the movement and stopping just
short of violence. An unwieldy and awkward provisional government is established
until a final answer can be hammered out. To make things worse, a number of
White commanders declare themselves independent and become warlords, chief among
them being Baron Roman Ungern von Sternberg.
The end of the first phase of the Russian Civil War eliminates the hope that
Germany might be brought to the negotiating table on more favorable terms
through a strong Russia in the East. This event only adds to the rising public
sentiment in Britain to just sign a peace treaty and leave the French to their
own problems. Finally bowing to public pressure and cost issues for keeping the
Expeditionary Force in Belgium, The Treaty of Antwerp is signed on June 13th,
1920 by Belgium, Britain and Germany. The Treaty limits the size of the German
navy for 15 years and Germany will cede the islands of Micronesia to Japan and
the rest of their colonies to Britain and demilitarize the border with Belgium
until at least 1930.
With the announcement of the Treaty, the French are outraged at this
"betrayal" by the British and Belgians. French papers, politicians and
protesters in the streets scream "Cowards! Traitors! Perfidious Albion!" The
Third Republic wobbles unsteadily with this new blow; they've fought a four year
war that has cost them almost 2 million dead and 5 million wounded and untold
francs to finance it, pushing them to accept heavy loans from the also
traitorous Americans. What have they gained for their losses? Nothing but a
smoldering destroyed chunk of their country and a lingering demilitarized zone
along their border with Germany that covers a large part of the reclaimed, yet
rebellious, Alsace-Lorraine. Prime Minister Clemenceau had been removed from
office in January 1920, for failing to end the war and win the peace. After
retiring from politics Clemenceau began to write his own memoirs, Grandeur et
Misère d'une victoire (The Grandeur and Misery of a Victory). Clemenceau wrote
about the high possibility of further conflict with Germany and predicted that
1940 would be the year of the gravest danger. George Clemenceau died in Paris on
24 November 1929 of natural causes.
The Third Republic now stood upon terribly shaky ground as critics and
opponents from the Left, Right, and Middle hurled abuse upon it - some even
called for its dismantlement and the creation of a stronger, more "French"
government. Some of the political debates and arguments spilled out into the
streets, and some of these spilled blood.
In the middle of the summer of 1920, the White Army has re-occupied Moscow
and controls the better part of Russia. Now, the difficult part begins as the
disparate elements of the White Movement halt their attacks on the much weakened
Bolsheviks to sort out a new government for Russia. The two largest factions are
the Republicans and the Monarchists, each pushing for their own vision of
Russia. Finally, Admiral Kolchak uses his force of personality and sometimes the
threat of violence, to sort the issue out, forming the Russian Federation; an
interesting mix of constitutional monarchy and a republic. Kolchak will become
the first President, and the Archduke Michael will become the new, and very
reluctant, Czar. Though nominally elected democratically, Kolchak is basically a
military dictator, trying to force the government on all that is left of Russia.
Not everyone agrees with his vision, or follows his orders.
The prime example is Baron Roman Ungern von Sternberg, a commander for the Army
in the East. When the command was issued not to pursue further military action
against the Bolsheviks for the duration of the "political restructuring" taking
place in Moscow. He outright refused, and continued his campaign against
Bolsheviks in the Far East. His fervent pursuit of the Bolsheviks even when
ordered to stand down gained the Baron much support from the conservative
elements of the White movement, and many soldiers from neighboring commands
deserted their legal commanders to join Baron Ungern von Sternberg's. The
Baron's growing personal army swept through villages seeking dissidents,
Bolsheviks, anarchists, and Jews (the Baron's personal vendetta). Finally, the
Baron's actions and army grew to the point where Moscow could no longer ignore
This information finally reaches President Kolchak, and he is forced to act.
Unsure of how the rebellious Baron will respond, Kolchak sends an envoy to the
Baron at Novosibirsk, where he is preparing to march on the rumored Bolshevik
center in Omsk. The envoy relays President Kolchak's orders for the Baron's army
to return to their lawful commanders, and for the Baron to resign his command,
effective immediately. Initially Baron Ungern von Sternberg refuses, and
continues with his plans to invade Omsk and stamp out the Bolsheviks, but is
forced to reconsider when his own officers convince him that the soldiers will
not fight against other Whites if President Kolchak brings the rest of the army
to defeat them. Faced with no other alternative, the Baron dismisses his Army,
and announces his resignation over military radio.
After resigning from his position, Baron Ungern von Sternberg gathers a small
handful of his loyal aides and a special personal adviser he had recently
encountered, and begins preparations to enter into voluntary exile. He and his
small group board a train bound eastward along the Trans-Siberian Railway, and
set off without a known destination. Many who know the baron assume he is bound
for Vladivostok, where he will work with the Japanese who have set up their own
competing republic. Others believe he is going there to fight him. However, when
his train emerges from Mongolia and it is boarded by Japanese soldiers looking
for the Baron...they search his personal train car and find nothing. No papers,
no aides, no adviser, and no Baron. After questioning everyone on the train,
they find that many remember the Baron and his small group boarding the train in
Russia, but sometime after entering Mongolia they simply...vanished. Both the
Japanese and President Kolchak will begin major spy hunts from him in Mongolia,
in every major city, to no avail. The Bloody Baron, has for all intents and
purposes, disappeared from the face of the Earth.
"France stands on a razor's edge, teetering between a destructive peace on
one side, and a destructive war on the other!"
"Is it better to go to war again and lose an honorable war, or to maintain a
All across France, debates are raging from private homes all the way to the
Prime Minister's office about what should be done with the lingering Armistice.
France now stands alone against Germany, whose military position is widely
viewed as superior to that of France, especially with Germany's new client
states in the East. The Prime Minister reads reports that the common man will
never see, which is the problem. He knows that the some of the German position
is bluff, but not how much and how far they'll push it.
The fears of the French Government are proven true on August 25th, 1920 - a
month short of 2 years since the beginning of the Armistice - when a communiqué
is passed to the French Government via the Dutch consulate. It declares that the
German Nation and its People cannot continue to live under a never-ending
Armistice, and that the German Empire will not be bullied by France any longer.
The French are given 30 days to agree to an ante bellum peace with Germany, or
face the full might of the rebuilt and stronger Imperial German Army.
This communiqué sends the relatively new French government (leftist Socialist
under Millerand) into outraged chaos that the Germanic bastards would have the
gall to try this. However, within a handful of hours, Prime Minister Millerand
receives emergency updates from spies located in Germany near the possible
front. The spies report that sudden massive preparations have begun along the
front, including several stolen orders either in hard copy or from intercepted
radio signals. The orders are the beginning of preparations to deploy over a
million and a half men from the East, as well as sudden demand to utilize all
local mechanics versed in the repair of heavy machine and tractor engines while
more can be recruited from across Germany.
The immediate interpretation in France is that the German bluff isn't as much
bluff as was thought. The second, more frightening thought comes when a general
points out that the French Army uses tractor mechanics and tractor engines...in
its own tanks. Germany has tanks...this is nothing new, but the numbers of men
being requested are very large, almost in the numbers that the French Army uses.
Prime Minister Millerand runs his hands through his hair wearily - the orders
they currently possess are probably untrue to an extent, but how much? The other
issue is if the Germans do restart the war...how far will they go before they
can be stopped? In the end the Millerand government decides that the cost of
victory for such a war would be too high for France to pay. In the end, they
agree to the German peace demands and return Alsace-Lorraine. This is the
complete and total death knell of Millerand's political career, and he will be
removed from office within a week of the signing of the treaty.
In Germany, there is celebration in the streets while in France there is
mourning and outrage. Riots break out in the street and many scream for
Millerand's head on a pike, but he cannot be found as he and the critical
members of his government have already fled Paris. The chaos and violence
outside of Paris is not as bad, but still dangerous. This will be the last plank
in a growing belief that France was betrayed, stabbed in the back by Socialists
and the cursed British and Americans.
Since the attempted Revolution in 1919, Germany has undergone a whirlwind of
internal political changes with increased democratic rights for the people, and
more power to the Reichstag. Its not perfect, the Kaiser and the Junker class
still hold a large amount of power, but its an improvement.
The largest political party to develop after the war are the Social
Democrats, being a center-left party has given them enough draw among the
leftists while still maintaining strong support among the middle class. The
other large parties are more extreme, being either farther Left, or farther
Right. After the first real elections in 1920, the Social Democrats will control
the most seats in the Reichstag without the need for a coalition as has been
seen in France, Britain, and Italy. The biggest issues being addressed are in
regards to public education and unemployment across Germany.
Perhaps the most effective political opposition to the Social Democrats, and
perhaps to the new system of democracy itself, was former General Erich
Ludendorff, whom many said supported the formation of a military dictatorship
over Germany. It was noted, and largely publicized that a number of the party's
"recruiting" wing were nothing more than thugs, who used violence to break up
rallies held by opposing parties. However, they are far from the only party
using illegal muscle to improve their political standings.
While the political atmosphere within Germany was moving towards a more open
and democratic system, the same could not be said for the new client states of
the German Empire. While officially independent of Germany, each of the new
nations was in fact controlled by Germany through military controls, and
economics. A twisted sort of nationalism is used against the "natives" to
encourage them to join their respective army. This plan is used in conjunction
with an intentional food shortage to push more and more young men into military
service, while also ensuring that with barely enough food to feed themselves,
the populace would be less willing or totally unable to support anti-government
forces. The only client state to escape this bleak reality is the United Baltic
Duchy, which is perceived to be German enough in race and character to be
treated properly - there is even some talk of directly integrating the Duchy
into Germany itself.
Change is on the way...the American Presidential election of 1920 promises
change from both sides.
For the Republicans, the Progressive wing of the party has managed to push
through, by a very narrow margin, their candidates: retired General Leonard
Wood, and Hiram Johnson who brought the Progressive Party back into the fold,
and was largely responsible for garnering the support needed for General Woods
and his own nominations.
For the Democrats, the son in law of Woodrow Wilson and former Director General
of the Railroads and lawyer: William Gibbs McAdoo, and as his running mate is
Carter Glass, Secretary of the Treasury.
Each side is loudly proclaiming to fix the economic mess created by the American
involvement in the Great War, as well as stumping for other issues. The
Republican candidates loudly proclaim that America's involvement overseas was
instigated by unscrupulous European powers, and initiated by a man elected on a
peace ticket. While inexperienced, General Wood is not without knowledge: a
close friend to the late President Roosevelt, before, during and after his
Presidency, while also being the personal physicians to Presidents Grover
Cleveland and William McKinley, and his time as the Chief of Staff of the United
States Army. He relies heavily on his vice-presidential candidate's experience,
but his platform is firmly based in isolationism, anti-communism, and renewed
The big issues for the Democratic candidates were conservative fiscal spending,
and states' rights. McAdoo's campaign relies heavily on his experience in the
treasury before and during the war as well as his strong moral grounding in the
Almost from the beginning, the campaigns on both sides start to use dirty
tactics and advertisements. Democrats attack Woods inexperience, and
anti-communist bent. However, Republican mud-slinging distinguishes itself with
more material to work with: McAdoo is attacked for being Wilson's son-in-law,
that he'd recreate Wilson's mistakes all over again. Behind the scenes, there
are whispers of arguments and dislike between McAdoo and Glass that goes beyond
McAdoo's connections to Wilson, as well as his lack of a clear foreign policy
will steadily drag his campaign down, and after the ballots are finally counted,
most people are unsurprised to hear that Leonard Wood would be the next
President of the United States of America.
The war is over...except for the Ottoman Empire. The fighting ended with the
Treaty of Mudros on the 28th of October 1918: following the terms of the treaty,
the Ottomans surrender their remaining garrisons outside Anatolia, grant the
Allies the right to occupy forts controlling the Straits of the Dardanelles and
the Bosporus and the right to occupy the six Armenian provinces in Anatolia and
to seize "any strategic points" in case of a threat to Allied security. The
remains of the Ottoman army are demobilized, and Turkish ports, railways, and
other strategic points are made available for use by the Allies.
Present in the Ottoman Empire at the time are a number of German officers who
had functioned as advisers, and as leaders for the Ottoman Army. These men will
be quickly interned, but due to the Armistice in Europe, they cannot be harmed.
As events move along in Russia and between the "victorious" Entente and Germany,
it becomes increasingly clear that the Ottoman Empire holds the most precarious
position of all the former Central Powers (except Austria-Hungary, which was
going the way of the Dodo anyway). After the signing of the Franco-German peace
treaty in 1920, that the pressure is now on the Ottoman Empire: France,
especially is pursuing an aggressive policy in obtaining its promised
territories in the Middle East, agreed upon in the secret Sykes-Picot Agreement
of 1916. There had been some embarrassment in 1917 when Lenin released it to the
world, and caused a great bit of trouble between the Entente and their Arab
allies. At least there is the minor conciliation that Lenin never got to see the
end of 1920.
Britain was allocated control of areas roughly comprising Jordan, Iraq and a
small area around Haifa, to allow access to a Mediterranean port. France was
allocated control of south-eastern Turkey, northern Iraq (minus an "independent"
Kurdistan), Syria and Lebanon, while Russia was to get Constantinople and the
Ottoman Armenian areas. Palestine is to be an international
mandate...administrated by the British. The Arabian portions would go to the
winner of the current Rashid-Saud conflict taking place in Nejd. The question
for the Entente is who to support.
Now that the reality had caught up with the agreement, there were serious
problems to consider: some of the members of the negotiating teams from France
and Britain do not believe that Russia, especially the present Russia, should
receive any territorial expansion for abandoning the war with the Central Powers
in 1917. Britain is perhaps even more concerned with this than France, and has
already begun to move on other fronts towards this goal. Another source of
aggravation for the two semi-allied powers is the Greek invasion of the Aegean
islands, and the claims to the entire Ottoman Aegean coastline. Finally, added
to this mix is the Turkish Nationalist Movement under Mustapha Kemal.
After the demise of Millerand's political career, and several attempts on his
life following France's acquiescence to Germany's treaty demands several weak
coalitions have been formed and fallen repeatedly. Now with the rising "Ottoman
Question", a brief Nationalist coalition flares into being, proclaiming loudly
and publicly to seek "France's full due at the treaty table." The propaganda is
enough to carry them along until the "Question" is answered.
The multiple factions at the negotiating table can agree upon only one
thing...that the table is round. Osmani delegates resent the presence of the
Turkish Independence movement at the table, as well as the Russian Federation's
claims. Also present are the Greeks, Italians, French, and British, each wanting
a piece of the pie. The strongest claims are the French, British, and Russians
who have the military muscle to force gains. France especially wants ALL of the
territories promised under the Sykes-Picot agreement: south-eastern Anatolia,
the Levant, and Northern Mesopotamia.
Britain is not disinclined to agree to the French demands, if only to dull
their wailing about betrayal, betrayal, betrayal. Russia, on the other hand is a
sticky issue: They have just ended the heavy fighting of their civil war and are
expanding back into their old sphere of influence, which makes the British
government nervous because of their extensive history. President Kolchak,
however, has made it clear to his negotiating team that diplomacy is the best
approach for current relations. The Russian delegation politely, but firmly
makes their goals known to all involved: The return of all occupied territories
in the Caucasus region held by the Ottomans, and an independent Armenia with
reparations to the Armenia people for their attempted destruction by the Turks.
As for control of Constantinople, the Russians are willing to concede it to the
Greeks. The British goals are to prevent Russian dominance in the region, and to
gain their promised territories under the Sykes-Picot Agreement, and to finalize
their control over the Arabian peninsula.
The Greeks really, emphatically, want and demand all European Ottoman
territories, control of the Bosporous, Istanbul, Smyrna, and the Aegean
Anatolian coast. The Osmanli as well as the Turkish Nationalists agree that this
is unacceptable and are violently resisting the Greek incursion into Anatolia.
The Italian ambitions are to cement their control over their "Libyan"
territories which still have Ottoman garrisons.
The weakest group in these negotiations are the Turks, both the Osmanli and
the Nationalists. Of the two groups, everyone involved prefers the Osmanli to
the Nationalists, as the Osmanli are will to concede most of the territorial
losses demanded by the Entente forces, while the Nationalists refuse to give
After three and a half months of serious negotiation, little progress has
been made, and the Greek invasion of Anatolia has begun to peter out. After some
backroom dealing, a final agreement is hammered out by the Entente and presented
to the Osmanli faction: the Entente will get all of their demands; the French
will get the southern Anatolia, the Levant, and the northern third of
Mesopotamia. Britain will get Palestine, the southern two thirds of Mesopotamia,
and Arabia as their sphere of influence. Russia will regain their Caucasus
territory and Greater Armenia will be independent within Russia's Sphere of
Influence, however Russia is forced to give up their sphere of influence in
Persia in exchange, with only a single dedicated rail line running from a
coastal port. Greece will be forced to surrender all claims to Anatolia, but
will get total control of the Aegean Islands, Thrace and Constantinople with
control over the Bosporus. Italy's Libyan territory is finalized as under their
control. In return for giving away so much territory, the Entente forces supply
the Osmanli with arms, equipment, and training to crush the Nationalists, and in
multiple cases, direct intervention to aid them.
The signing of the Treaty of Beirut marks the beginning of the Turkish Civil
War in 1920, between the Osmanli royal family and their loyal forces, and the
Turkish Nationalists under Mustafa Kemal. The initial battles are inconclusive,
as the Ottoman army is still scattered and being released into Anatolia from
Entente internment camps. This trend came to an end when Royal forces were
routed by a much larger Nationalist force outside of the recently declared
capital at Ankara where Kemal shows off his well-earned reputation as a
highly-skilled General, a reputation he earned during his command at Gallipoli.
The balance of power steadily shifts in favor of the Nationalists, as the issues
plaguing the "Empire" continue to build and be ignored.
It is the crumbling Royal position that prompts Kemal and his Nationalists to
move to retake the territories lost in the Treaty of Beirut. Nationalist
spearheads push into Armenia, the French territory, and towards the Straits area
currently held by the Greeks, and supported by the British. These attacks meet
with harsh resistance, as the French have invested most of their standing forces
into their new Middle Eastern colonies, and use brute force and tenacious
defenses to force the Nationalists out of their claims. Armenia will suffer
again under Turkish occupation, until word comes that the Russian Federation is
preparing an army rumored to number 1.4 million men to retake the territory and
perhaps a little more before negotiations are sought between the Nationalists,
Republic of Armenia, and the Russian Federation, to end their conflict.It is in
the Anglo-Greek area that the fighting is the fiercest though, as the
Nationalists raise the local Turkish population to resist the Greeks, while
oppressing and driving out the Greeks populating Anatolia. The Nationalists are
finally forced to concede the loss of Thrace, Constantinople, and the Aegean
islands when they are unable to overcome British naval power along the coasts.
With their chances for victory slim to none, Sultan Mehmed VI dissolves the
Caliphate and takes his family into exile in 1923. With the rump Ottoman Empire
now the Republic of Turkey under President Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, there are some
issues to sort out on all sides.
After his strong election to the Presidency in 1920, Leonard Wood's first act as
president is to jump start the economy. President Wood, and a significant
portion of the American population, hold the opinion that the American
involvement in Europe was a mistake, one that should not be repeated. With this
mindset firmly in place, the policy is Isolation, with high tariffs on foreign
goods, and a progressive policy to help the population from the ground up.
Following in the spirit of his good friend, the late Theodore Roosevelt, and the
advice of his VP Hiram Johnson, Wood pursues an active economic policy,
continuing to break up trusts, and do his best to improve the lot of the working
Wood's biggest tool in restarting the economy is his Naval Building Order, where
he asked, and received, Congressional funding to improve the Navy.
"...we will rebuild the shield that protects America, and our most effective
tool for ensuring American freedom, the United States Navy. This new order will
increase the size and quality of the Navy, so that America will stand strong and
Despite President Wood's shining efforts elsewhere, it is his policy towards
"Reds" that is the biggest blot on his presidency - known socialists and
communists are harrassed and investigated as government policy, and political
leaders like Eugene Debs are detained for questioning.
Across the Pond, by 1922 economic relations between Great Britain and German
Empire have almost reached pre-war levels, and show signs of increasing in the
future. With the warming of relations, Kaiser Wilhelm III officially requests a
Naval Conference between Britain and the German Empire, to discuss the long-term
peace between the two great nations.
While the Treaty of Antwerp limits the size of the German navy for 15 years, the
relatively young Kaiser, rightfully recognizes that the naval arms race between
the two empires helped contribute to the start of the war and that for future
generations, it should be prevented from occurring again. The British accept the
invitation and are eager to ensure peace, and also to ensure their primacy on
This comes at a time of heightened tensions between the United States and
Britain, still frosty after the American pull-out under Wilson, made worse with
the American naval build-up under President Wood. Plans had been drawn up as
early as 1919 for the possibility of war with the United States...
In France, the March of Governments continues, as coalitions are formed and fall
as quickly as the last. The lack of a strong government has led to a steady
slump in the economy - the sole bright point being the new Middle Eastern
territories...which are also trouble. The calls for the end of the Republic are
heard more often in the streets, and clashes with police and military are
Italy, victorious and well-awarded Italy. The Italian mood following the Treaty
of Venice is jubilant, and there is dancing in the streets. However, this happy
atmosphere does not last, as economic woes return to plague the Kingdom of Italy
and are quickly added to by a surge of violence in the new Balkan provinces, and
in Libya. This unhappy state of affairs will end in 1922 with a sea of
Blackshirts marching on Rome.
1923; the "Peace" comes to the Middle East
The irregular peace process that began in Europe has come to settle out the
former Ottoman Empire and bring some semblance of peace to the region. Once
again, there is no unified peace discussion by the various former Allies -
Britain, France, and Russia - and the new Republic of Turkey.
Britain's gains from the Treaty of Beirut are the only ones not to be contested
or threatened by the Republic of Turkey, but their commitment to supporting the
Greeks and enforcing their borders is what brings them into the fray. During the
Turkish offensive intended to retake Constantinople and Thrace from the Greeks,
it was British naval gunfire that broke up the Turkish offensive outside the
city, and a quick landing of Royal Marines behind enemy lines that forced the
Turks to withdraw in conjunction with fanatical Greek defense of the city.
The negotiations began after the Turkish retreat from the city, with both the
Greeks and the Turks making loud demands of the other, with the British forced
to play referee between both sides. After threats, demands, and the loss of
British patience, a new treaty is hammered out: The Greeks will keep Thrace, all
the Aegean islands, and will be responsible for administering the straits.
However, Constantinople will be an "Open City", technically part of both
countries, while being part of neither....an extremely awkward situation. An
amendment is added to the treaty that after 12 years, the city will be able to
vote for independence from both countries, and to receive administration rights
over the straits.
Though not directly involved, the Russian Federation has been granted a
protectorate status over Greater Armenia, and is responsible for its defense, as
such, they are at the negotiating table with the Armenians. The Armenian
delegation is understandably enraged with the Turks, who have twice now tried to
purge away the Armenians, and they constantly push their Russian allies for
punitive measures against the Turks. It does not help that the Turks have
re-occupied close to a quarter of the territory ceded to Armenia by the Treaty
of Beirut and the defunct Ottoman Empire.
Finally, after much wrangling back and forth, an agreement is reached that
pleases no one fully, but everyone can agree on: Armenia will lose half of the
occupied territory to Turkey in exchange for Turkey's recognition of the
Republic of Armenia, and a guarantee on its existing borders.
Of the three former members of the Entente, France is in the worst position
politically, economically, and militarily and this out-of-control situation has
given the current coalition government a desperate need for a political victory
in the Middle East to tout and prop up their government. As such, the French
delegation has been instructed to give away no territory, and in fact demand
reparations from the Republic for their attacks.
The steady French demands, and unwillingness to even discuss other options
quickly frustrate all attempts by the Republic of Turkey's representatives to
reach an equitable peace. Even after the other two peace treaties are written,
signed and ratified, the deadlock continues. Finally, President Kemal and the
Parliament authorize an offensive to push the French out of their claimed
territory, but not to pursue them into the Levant.
Their offensive to take back the French Anatolian territories was a complete
surprise to the French forces deployed in the area, as the weak government in
France had also weakened their intelligence gathering apparatus and supply lines
to the point where the French forces were more for appearances than actual
force. The Turkish Army threw the French forces back towards the Levant in
disarray, and pursued by dark rumors of massacres of surrendering French forces
and torture...few of which were proven true, but the rumors persisted
The sudden blow the French forces almost collapsed morale entirely, before
Marshal Petain, ordered the Navy to open supply lines to the port, and for the
remaining forces in the Levant to use gas reserves on the Turks - civilian and
military alike, while warships were instructed to shell every Turkish settlement
along the coast they could reach. This sudden, and harsh retaliation prompted
the Turks to pull back, especially as the French garrisons were reinforced, and
competent commanders began to organize attacks against the Turkish army with
what armor and airpower they had at their disposal. Petain further harshened the
retaliation by ordering the expulsion of ethnic Turks who might prove
troublesome in the future.
Finally, asking for a ceasefire the Turkish Republic offered to recognize French
claims in exchange for the humane treatment of fleeing Turkish refugees, which
the French commander promptly expected. By the time the current government in
Paris sorted out what had happened, the new agreement had been signed and the
fighting was over. Marshal Petain was being hailed as a hero in the streets, and
the savior of France. Fearing Petain's ambitions and to punish him for wildly
overstepping his bounds, the Prime Minister de jure stripped Petain of his rank
of Marshal, back to Brigadier General, and sent him to a backwater command in
Algeria. This move satisfied many socialists and leftists who viewed Petain as a
warmongering, power-hungry womanizer, it further aggravated the middle and upper
classes, who had just started to view Petain as a decisive leader, perhaps one
with a political future.
Petain's tactics of forced expulsion and gas warfare against rebels and military
alike while brutal, had proven effective, and the British and Germans began to
emulate them in trouble spots in their new territories in the Middle East and
Eastern Europe respectively...
A LINGERING PROBLEM:
The Republic of the Far East is the Japanese puppet state that has been occupied
since 1918 during the height of the Russian Civil War, nominally to protect the
area from Bolshevik occupation, but in fact it is a buffer state between the
Japanese interests in Manchuria, and the Russians, Bolshevik or White. With more
than 70,000 troops at their disposal, the Japanese have established a weak
government seated at Verkhneudinsk, south of Lake Baikal. The Far East Republic
consisted of the Chita Oblast, Amur Oblast, and Primorsky oblasts of the Russian
empire, and was created with the tacit approval of both the Bolsheviks and the
Whites...oddly enough. Now that the war has ended, the Japanese refuse to leave
the Republic, claiming that their continued presence is required to protect the
people of the region, and ensure the productive usage of the oil and natural gas
resources within the borders
Naturally, this turn of events was not welcomed by President Kolchak in Moscow
nor by the locals in the Far East Republic, and the new, and weak Russian
Federation could do little to directly oppose the Japanese at the same time as
the negotiations with the Turks were beginning, and the troubles with the Bloody
Baron. The local Russian and minority populations had no such compunctions, and
soon the area became active with disorganized partisans. For reasons not
immediately clear, in 1920 the disorganized partisans in the countryside begin
to show signs of stricter organization, and are joined by bombings of Japanese
buildings, trains, and the homes of collaborators. By the end of 1921, the
partisans had become a small guerilla army that would attack any small Japanese
military formations outside of the capital or Vladivostok. No one in Tokyo or
Moscow can account for how the local resistance movement went from small and
random attacks to disciplined military units.
The attacks continue to grow in both size and intensity, as the guerillas
resemble more and more an organized military unit, using hidden stockpiles of
arms laid in place by the White Army should their war in European Russia fail.
Finally, in 1922, the Diet cannot tolerate the continued costs in occupying the
region and orders a full-scale withdrawal of the Japanese soldiers stationed in
the Republic. As soon as this news becomes public, the information has already
reached the ad-hoc military units that have formed against the republic and they
have made preparations of their own. The Japanese plan to use the Far East
Republic's small "Defense Force" to screen their retreat back to Vladivostok by
telling them that they will take the local soldiers with them while having no
intentions of doing so. The Japanese commander makes the grave mistake of not
encrypting this message properly when it is dispersed to his units - resulting
in the order falling into guerrilla hands and printing presses. Soon, bootleg
copies of the order abandoning the Defense Forces are circulating through the
ranks, away from Japanese attention. New arrangements are made, and different
orders are prepared.
When the withdrawal begins on March 17, 1921 events proceed as planned, with no
violence from the resistance. Japanese troops load onto trucks and trains bound
for Vladivostok and then to the Home Islands. Then things go horribly wrong for
the Japanese garrisons already loaded for transport - their puppet soldiers fade
away, or are joined by rebel soldiers in attacking the trains and trucks. These
unexpected turn of events will become known as the "March of the Eagles" as the
orderly withdrawal of the Japanese becomes a fully-fledged rout, and flight
towards the coast, harried the whole way by turned Defense Force soldiers, and
the resistance. Of the 70,000 Japanese soldiers originally stationed in the Far
East Republic, only 55,000 will make it home.
As the last Japanese vessel pulls out of Vladivostok, the Imperial Japanese Navy
waiting to escort the transport ships home is ordered to shell the city into
rubble. The following attack claims numerous civilian lives, and effectively
ruins the port for at least 2 years.
With the Japanese finally expelled from the Far East Republic, the rebel
commander makes it known that he will appear in the ruins of Vladivostok and
give a brief speech to the people of the former republic that will be
rebroadcast for the Japanese, and the government in Moscow.
A small stage is prepared in the ruined city square, which is clogged with
surviving civilians from the city, and the soldiers of his command. The man who
has forced the Japanese to flee the occupied stretches of Russia climbs the
handful of uneven wooden steps and approaches the front of the stage. He is a
tall, European, vaguely germanic-looking man who wears the uniform of a
Lieutenant-General of the Russian Empire. After a moment of silence, he speaks
in Russian with a Baltic accent:
"I am Lieutenant-General Baron Roman Fyodorovich Nikolaus von Ungern-Sternberg...and
I proclaim this region and its people free in the name of the Russian Empire..."
The Bolsheviks Aren't Dead....Yet.
With their unhappy defeat, and the death in 1920, the Bolsheviks had fled from
the field of conventional warfare, and fell back on the age old principles of
guerrilla warfare and terror bombings against the new Russian Federation. With
their flight from conventional warfare, Lenin's death had driven a wedge into
the ranks of the Party, between the rising star of Joseph Stalin, and the
established figure Leon Trotsky. Though the two put on a unified front for the
good of the Cause, their personal correspondence and personal confidants reveal
nothing but rancor and bile between the two. This intense rivalry between two
highly placed members of the party results in a de facto split in the Party
between Southern Russia where Stalin had made his headquarters, and Central
Asia/Siberia where Trotsky had made his. In 1922, the rivalry between the two
erupted into a full-fledged Bolshevik Civil War, as the members of the Red
Guards stopped attacking the Whites, and started attacking one another with
The Whites so enjoy this little conflict, and make no effort to stop them except
to kill both sides equally. The Bolshevik internal conflict will come to an end
in 1925 when a Trotskyite agent, posing as a traitor in Trotsky's organization
stabs Stalin in the back of the head with a stiletto while Stalin reads his
falsified report, claiming that Trotsky was to flee into exile in Mexico.
The reappearance of the Bloody Baron and the sudden return of the Far East
Republic into Russia proper throws the relatively quiet political news around
the world for a loop. Far-right papers across the Russian Federation hail the
man as a hero, and there are already multiple nominations for him to take a seat
in Parliament. President Kolchak is left with something of a quandry: he knows
Ungern-Sternberg is dangerous, and would rather see him dead in an unmarked
grave somewhere, but the publicity and political following he has begun to amass
grants him a degree of immunity for the time, being and President Kolchak is
forced to bite his tongue as the Baron rides a wave of popular support to a seat
in Parliament. (1922)
With the de facto Bolshevik Civil War, Representative Ungern-Sternberg is the
loudest voice appreciating Bolsheviks killing one another, and pushing for an
all out offensive against the rebels. The Baron has become the mouthpiece of the
Ultranationalist party, who call themselves the Black Eagles. Kolchak is forced
to juggle the right, the left, and the middle ground to keep peace amongst the
various peoples of the Russian Federation.
With the end of the Bolshevik rift in 1925, the bombings, assassinations, and
terror attacks by the communist forces continue again and in larger numbers.
This rise in violence draws harsher and harsher response from the Russian Army,
and still fails to stem the violence. Finally, in 1927, President Kolchak will
make a drastic move intended to quell the split in Russian society and offers
Trotsky and his followers a chance to run for office if they lay aside arms and
end their violent efforts to seize control of the nation. With in minutes of the
offer becoming public, there are thousands of people protesting in the streets
of Moscow, and the Ultranationalists demand an emergency session of Parliament.
Farther West, the economies of both France and Britain hit a serious hiccup as
the United States begins to call for reparation of the massive war loans that
both nations had taken out during the war, further cooling Anglo-American
relations, and causing the collapse of the French coalition of the week. In
Britain, the answer was to cash out and sell all their investments in the United
States and Mexico - to American buyers. Closer economic relations with Germany
also helped to lessen the strain felt on the British economy. The British naval
build-up to counter the American build-up slows down with the higher costs on
the government, and the Anglo-German Naval Conference turns from naval
limitation, to naval co-operation.
France is nowhere near as fortunate, and their already sluggish economy slows
down further - the newest coalition government will cause and use hyperinflation
of the Franc to try and repay the loans faster, while also selling off various
agricultural, industrial, and intellectual properties below cost to raise the
money to pay the debts off quickly. The government also begins to call in its
own loans to other nations, especially those in Latin America to supplement
their payments. Anti-American and Anti-Anglo riots break out in Paris for days
In Italy, the March of the Black Shirts reaches the outskirts of Rome, and their
leader, Benito Mussolini promises to stomp out the socialists, anarchists, and
communists as well as ending the violence in Italy's new colonial holdings.
Furthermore, Mussolini promises to fix the doddering economy and organize the
government into a more efficient system. Mussolini finds support amongst the
military, business class, and the right-wing.
After reaching Rome, the King refuses to support the liberal cabinet and prime
minister in place, fearing that using the army to disperse the fascists would
lead to a civil war, and instead dismisses the cabinet - while inviting
Mussolini to form his own. By nightfall, the Blackshirts will have a victory
march through the streets of Rome.
Across the Atlantic, the American economy has begun to recover from "Wilson's
Folly" and the United States Navy continues to grow in size and quality.
President Wood's mostly progressive policies continue to work for the common
man, but now other issues have begun to rise up: the passing of the 18th
Amendment has caused a serious problem with illegal smuggling of alcohol across
the border from Canada, which in turn feeds the rise of organized crime.
President Wood seeks to cut off this problem before it gets much bigger, and
tasks the Prohibition Unit to cooperate with the Bureau of Investigation to
prevent these smugglers from crossing the border and dispersing their cargo.
Initially, this charge has little power, but with more funding and wider
authority issued by the President, the joint operation between these two
fledgling law enforcement agents begins to turn dividends, as more and more
shipments are captured on the American side of the border.
However, it is in the fall of 1922 that a group of PU and BOI agents sparked an
international incident: In upstate New York, a group of 5 Canadian citizens were
preparing to turn over preparing to turn over a truckload of illegal liquor and
beer to representatives of organized crime, numbering 8 when a group of 6
Special Agents supported by 10 local police officers swooped in and attempted to
seize the booze and everyone involved. The situation turned bloody when someone
fired their pistol into the air, and sparked a firefight that left 1 Agent
wounded, and led to the death of 2 organized crime members and one Canadian. The
Canadian government argues that the death was intentional and therefore murder,
while the American government holds that the Canadians were performing an act
illegal under American law, and that the remaining suspects will be held for
trial. This results in the rapid freeze of Canadian-American relations.
Farther South, France's collection methods for its loans have begun to change
from political demands to political threats, drawing American attention and
intervention on local behalf. Mexico in particular is becoming more and more of
a focus for American politicians.
During the Civil War, the Central Asian chunk of the Russian Empire had
enjoyed a brief period of freedom that was heavily involved in a three way
conflict between Whites, Reds, and local forces intent on removing their country
from the Empire's control. Unfortunately for them, both the White Army and the
Bolsheviks had declared their intent to include the region in any future state
they established. With the White victory in the Battle of Moscow and the ensuing
unofficial campaign by the Bloody Baron, their control over Russia was almost
With the offensives against the Bolsheviks dying down, the Federation turned its
attention on the impromptu nation of Kokanistan, which encompassed the whole of
the Russian Central Asian territories. Kokanistan however, was in worse shape
than the Federation: they had no capitol, no national army, currency,
government, or unifying language besides Russian. Warlords and tribal leaders
warred with each other more than not, and the Russian forces dispatched by
President Kolchak used this to their advantage, buying off some and fighting
others until the area returned to the de facto control of the Federation. Heavy
reprisals and out-and-out brutality served to suppress further uprisings and
Despite the violence with which the nation was brought back into the fold,
President Kolchak's modernization efforts were felt even here, as new roads,
canals and irrigation systems were laid out and built all across Russia. This
trend of modernizing infrastructure would carry on across the Federation under
Kolchak's rule, and the opening of special industrial cities along the Urals
would take a small step towards industrializing the nation.
(Kolchak's modernization is much slower, less aggressive process than the
Bolsheviks followed OTL)
With the beginning of the warlord phase of Chinese history in 1919, hard
times descend upon China once more. The Kuomintang is re-established under Sun
Yat-Sen with the intent of keeping central power in Beijing. The KMT enjoys
a...complicated relationship with the budding Chinese Communist/Socialist
movement. At times, the growing Socialist/Communist movement support the KMT
against the warlords while at other times opposing their efforts at
centralization and their West-leaning policies. However, as time progresses, the
CCP is established (1921), but enjoys little or no international support.
This lack of support forces the CCP to be more mild in their demands and
rhetoric, making them willing to support the KMT's goals more and more often.
Even after 1921 the KMT/CCP cooperation continues, and reaches a crucial
point with the death of Sun Yat-Sen in 1926, leaving the issue of succession up
in the air as the leader of the party, and thus, the leader of China. Officially
Sun is succeeded by his close friend-at-arms Wang Jingwei, who enjoyed the
support of the Left Wing of the KMT and the CCP. However, Wang faces strong
opposition from Chiang Kai-Shek and the Right Wing of the party, however, Wang
feels that Chiang lacks the authority and capability to challenge his position,
and uses propaganda within the party and military to effectively reduce Chiang
to his current low-level position.
Thus, with the leadership of the party secured, President Wang proceeds with the
Northern Expedition against the Warlords in the Northern half of the nation,
intending to fully re-unite China. Wang's efforts enjoy the strong (and some
would say dangerous) support of the Empire of Japan, whom Wang steadily
increased relations with. While some argued against this move, the senior
leadership of the KMT pointed out that Japan had provided protection from Yuan
Shikai after he had dissolved the party in 1913, forcing the KMT members into
exile in Japan.
The process of clearing out the warlords will require almost a year to complete,
and during that time, a quiet purge is carried out inside the party, against the
Right Wing of the KMT and Chiang in particular, forcing him to flee with the
other Right-Wing leaders into India. Even after 1921 the KMT/CCP cooperation
continues, and reaches a crucial point with the death of Sun Yat-Sen in 1926,
leaving the issue of succession up in the air as the leader of the party, and
thus, the leader of China. Officially Sun is succeeded by his close
friend-at-arms Wang Jingwei, who enjoyed the support of the Left Wing of the KMT
and the CCP. However, Wang faces strong opposition from Chiang Kai-Shek and the
Right Wing of the party, however, Wang feels that Chiang lacks the authority and
capability to challenge his position, and uses propaganda within the party and
military to effectively reduce Chiang to his current low-level position.
Thus, with the leadership of the party secured, President Wang proceeds with the
Northern Expedition against the Warlords in the Northern half of the nation,
intending to fully re-unite China. Wang's efforts enjoy the strong (and some
would say dangerous) support of the Empire of Japan, whom Wang steadily
increased relations with. While some argued against this move, the senior
leadership of the KMT pointed out that Japan had provided protection from Yuan
Shikai after he had dissolved the party in 1913, forcing the KMT members into
exile in Japan.
The process of clearing out the warlords will require almost a year to complete,
and during that time, a quiet purge is carried out inside the party, against the
Right Wing of the KMT and Chiang in particular, forcing him to flee with the
other Right-Wing leaders into India.
As time progresses, the economic demands on France increase as their war
loans are called into collection to better the American economy. The French
government (with the forced compliance of businesses and private individuals)
hyperinflates and over-prints the Franc as a method of cheating payment, but
even then it falls well short of the required payments, and France looks to
claim the loans they've made to other nations.
First is Russia, but President Kolchak and the Parliament make it clear to
France that they cannot even begin to repay their loans.
Next is China, which generates a respectable level of income, but not enough.
Finally, the bulk of France's loans are in Latin America, and especially in
Mexico. President Obregon, who succeeded Carranza through less than legal
measures, plays the French against the Americans, trying for the best deal for
Mexico. In the end, Mexico sells oil to the United States from their
nationalized assets, and pays Paris the dividends, in slow, small amounts.
This policy changes in 1924, as Plutarco Elías Calles becomes the President
of Mexico and shortly thereafter alters the arrangement, giving much more
preferential treatment to the United States. This is immediately blamed
(somewhat rightly) on his strong connection to the Freemasons of which he is a
Calles foreign policies are not the only changes experienced, as he begins to
stridently enforce, and even exceed the Anti-Clerical sections of the 1917
Constitution, much to the consternation of the Roman Catholic Church, the Pope,
and France as well.
The Calles Presidency in Mexico proves to be a trying one, as internal
pressures merge with external pressures. Foremost among these are the French
Loans, and the Anti-Clerical segments of the 1917 Constitution.
The Anti-Clerical sections of the Constitution were created to deal with the
perceived, and real, issues regarding the power of the Roman Catholic Church in
Mexican politics, society, and economics. In particular, Article 3 mandated
secular education in schools. Article 5 outlawed monastic religious orders.
Article 24 forbade public religious worship outside temples (which included
churches), while Article 27 restricted religious organizations' rights to own
property. Finally, Article 130 took away basic civil rights of members of the
clergy: priests and religious leaders were prevented from wearing their
religious garb in public, were denied the right to vote, and were not permitted
to comment on public affairs in the press. These laws make priests or other
members of religious organizations ineligible to hold public office, to canvas
on behalf of political parties or candidates, to inherit from persons other than
close blood relatives.
Calles, a strident aetheist, enforces these laws with zeal, despite protests
from the Catholic Church, and also from France, whose interest in Mexico is tied
to their loan repayments. In the first two years of his Presidency, Calles'
internal policies lead to the seizure of church property, expulsion of all
foreign priests, closure of monasteries, convents, and religious schools
throughout Mexico, as well as steady reductions in loan payments to France.
The reduced payments only increase the strain on the French economy, and draw
the ire of the government. The people of France, also urge the support of the
Church in Mexico against the "freemasons and aetheists", putting Mexico and
France more and more at odds.
As tensions continue to rise in Mexico, so do they rise in the Pacific.
As Sino-Japanese relations continue to improve, and strengthen under Chairman
Wang (not president, i mistook that last time), the West and particularly
Britain grows increasingly leery of a strong Asian power, be it a united China,
or an ascendant Japan. The anti-warlord campaigns that began in 1926 with the
strident aid of Japan, at the request of Wang Jingwei, shapes up to be very
successful from Manchuria through Central China - however, it is in the
Northernmost areas areas that the most resistance comes.
The suspicion among the KMT/CCP alliance is that its being supported by Russia
and Britain, both of whom fear a strong China, and good Sino-Japanese relations.
Within China, the Left Wing of the KMT, and the CCP have been growing closer and
closer under Chairman Wang's leadership, to the point where some question the
actual functional separation of the two. Quietly, out of sight of both Russia,
and Japan, hathe Left Wing of the KMT and the CCP have been funneling in members
of the failed Bolshevik movement out of Russia. There are multiple reasons for
this quiet recruitment: first is the political relationship between the two and
the second is more practical - the Bolsheviks have military experience, some of
whom are quite capable, and would aid China's path to a stronger nation.
After the offer of reconciliation by President Kolchak, The Black Eagles in
Parliament launch an all out yelling session, demanding his resignation, the
rescinding of the offer, and more. They're outyelled by the moderate, left wing,
and Kolchak loyalists, who force the Ultranationalist complaints down, and force
through Parliamentary agreement to President Kolchak's offer.
A special election is scheduled to be held by the end of the month (March 25,
1927) to allow for the Bolsheviks to run have a fair chance to be elected to
public office anywhere they care to run. The results, while argued over
thoroughly, result in a minority of Bolsheviks appearing in Parliament,
including Leon Trotsky.
Following the appearance of the Bolsheviks in national politics, the
Parliamentary meetings become yelling matches, and deadlocked votes as the Black
Eagles vehemently oppose anything the Bolsheviks propose or support. President
Kolchak has to more and more enforce decisions with executive power, or break
deadlocks when the two sides are unable to agree.
Kolchak's presidency began in 1920, and is due to end in 1928 under the 1920
Constitution, however, Kolchak's presidency has not been very constitutional, as
he has repeatedly violated law and commanded powers outside those granted to his
office legally, all for as he describes, "The betterment of Russia and her
Kolchak's greatest desire is for a modern Russia, a democratic Russia, but most
importantly a stable Russia - and he's more than willing to go to any length to
achieve that goal, even violate the laws and constitution he helped create. With
that in mind...the two term limit might not be an impassable barrier either.
The Second Moroccan War began in 1920 between Spain and the Morocccan Jif and
J'bala tribes when General Dámaso Berenguer, decided to conquer the eastern
territory from the Jibala tribes in violation of the 1912 treaty. This, however,
did not happen.
In 1921 Spanish troops suffered a momentous defeat (Epic Fail) — known in Spain
as the Battle of Annual — by the forces of Abd el-Krim, the leader of the Rif
tribes. The Spanish were pushed back and during the following two years, Spain
suffered defeat after defeat until they were pushed back into a handful of
It was at this time (1923) that the King and his government began to feel ever
mounting pressure at home as Spain was looking to lose against a non-Western,
non-industrialized power! This defeat would be worse than the Spanish-American
War in the eyes of the public, and could not be tolerated. And so, in their
desperation the Spanish government turned to a man they didn't entirely
understand, or trust: General Miguel Primo de Rivera.
The decision by the King to appoint de Rivera as Prime Minister and de facto
military dictator was not an easy one to make, but was made based on two large
factors regarding two of the nations nearby:
1) France had been terribly broken by their loss after the Great War and were
holding together by spit and wishful thinking. It was feared that a similar fate
lay waiting for Spain should they lose.
2) Italy, which had gained so much from the Great War, but then fallen on hard
times, was on the rise under their new Prime Minister Benito Mussolini.
With this information, the King appointed General de Rivera as Prime Minister
and placed him in complete control of the war effort. de Rivera's first major
act was to hire German military advisers to improve the quality of the army, and
to begin building up stocks of modern weapons, including German-made chemical
Prime Minister de Rivera's plans would soon be eclipsed by events to the south,
and the actions of two Generals.
Even as Prime Minister de Rivera made preparations to retake Morocco with
modern equipment, airpower, and chemical weapons, he failed to take into account
the will and the power wielded by two men: General Francisco Franco and the
Now-General-was-Marshal Phillipe Petain.
General Franco is the Commanding office of the Tercio de Extranjeros
(Regiment of Foreigners) founded in 1920, and intended to be the equivalent of
the French Foreign Legion but in practice recruited almost entirely Spaniards.
The TdE was already known for their ferocity in battle, and the belief created
within its members that the members of the Tercio are the heir to the Spanish
Reconquistas, dedicated to retaking Spanish territory from the Islamic world.
General Petain, stripped of his rank by a former government-de-jure for
wildly overstepping his authority in commanding various naval and army units in
the counter-attack that secured French Assyria from the Turks. However, in doing
so Petain had wildly overstepped his authority, and the civilian government had
feared that he would become a military dictator with the popularity that he
generated during the war and the brief conflict with Turkey. As punishment,
Petain was stripped of his rank as Marshal and exiled as a General to serve in
It is Petain that will be the largest change the Second Moroccan War, as he
rightfully recognizes that should Spain be defeated by a colonial people it
would set bad precedent in all of Africa, especially in Algeria. So, with this
mindset, the disgrace Marshal sets about arranging for intervention: Petain
lacks formal authorization to enter Spanish Morocco, he goes about ordering
units to patrol to the very edge of the border, and to mercilessly harass the
local Moroccan tribesmen at every chance. It didn't take long before a raid
crosses the border and attacks French soldiers, killing and wounding a few. This
is more than enough justification for Petain to cross full into Morocco, which
had become the unrecognized Rif Republic, bringing with him every soldier, tank,
artillery piece, and airplane that he can command from across North Africa.
As soon as word of the French entry into the conflict reaches the ears of
Brigadier General Franco, he orders the Tercio de Extranjeros at full alert, and
makes all preparations to immediately deploy in the field. Shortly afterwards,
Prime Minister de Rivera is informed of this turn of events, and seeing an
opportunity that cannot be passed upon, he ordered a full attack by Spanish
forces against the Rif and J'bala.
During the year that follows, Petain will gain legal authorization, and the
Franco-Spanish forces will systematically crush the Moroccan tribesmen, and
finally hang the leader and chief general of the Rif, Abd el-Krim, in late 1926.
The end of the war will bring both men up from obscurity: Petain will regain
his position as Marshal on a wave of public support, and the applause of the
various Nationalists. However, he is denounced by leftists and members of the
intelligentsia who are becoming increasingly disliked by the Middle and Upper
In Spain, de Rivera's success in the war is followed by an economic boom that
will carry on through the rest of the 20's. However, it is General Franco,
Spain's youngest General, who is applauded and uplifted by the government,
military and public. Behind closed doors, General Franco and Marshal Petain have
become quite close friends over the course of the war, and Marshal Petain's
proteges Charles de Gaulle and Henri Giraud have learned important lessons in
the combination of aircraft, artillery, armor, and infantry...
The tensions between the Calles government and the Roman Catholic Church (in
cooperation with France) have almost reached the breaking point by the middle of
1926 as the Catholic clergy initiate non-violent political and civil movements
to resist and reform the Anti-Clerical Laws by proposing amendments, and having
Catholic priests and teachers refuse to teach in government schools.
Unfortunately for both sides, events have begun to spiral out of control after
an armed confrontation between Catholics and Federal troops in Guadalajara.
Thankfully, the battle does not spiral out of control and ignite wider violence,
but leaves the whole country smoldering, and on the edge of a major conflict
between the secular government on one side, and the Church and religious
citizens on the other.
Quietly, the French government makes it known to President Calles that in the
event of a religious conflict in Mexico, that they would intervene on the side
of the Church. The motivation behind this threat is clear to both sides - France
isn't a terribly religious nation, but they are a nation desperate to generate
considerable amounts of income before they default on their war loans to the
Through more ethical and official channels, the French Republic is attempting to
convince the Americans to forgive a number of war loans to lessen the strain on
the already weak French economy. However, they find little sympathy from
Congress, as an angry sort of isolationism has set into American politics, one
that firmly blames Europe - especially France and Britain - for the hardship and
suffering that many Americans found themselves in after the Great War.
In 1926 a census is taken by the Kingdom of Poland's Interior Ministry, but
the results are kept secret, and false numbers supplied to the public. The true
results of the census reveal that population growth of Poles in Poland is in
fact negative, with the population shrinking at a slow but steady pace as
incentives created by the German-controlled government have led to families
having fewer children, while extensive food surpluses are exported overseas and
into Russia, creating an intentional state of constant want within Poland.
This calculated famine has two purposes - to limit population growth, to make
the existence of partisans extremely difficult, but to also create conditions
for the existence of said partisans, so that a constant war of attrition is
waged between the Polish Army and the dissidents, further reducing populations
through constant loss. The loss of the Polish population is aided by government
incentives to emigrate to other countries.
Also revealed in the secret results is the explosive growth of German settlers
in Western Poland who are spreading and reproducing faster than the oppressed
Poles - by deliberate intent. If this trend continues, the entire Western half
of Poland will be dominated by ethnic Germans within 10 years, and the Eastern
half to follow within a generation.
No similar programs exist in the Byelorussian Republic or the Ukrainian
Hetmanate, but within Lithuania and the United Baltic Duchy, an aggressive "germanization"
process is underway, where the populace are made into "proper Germans" through a
combination of schools, language, and cultural marketing. This extensive
propaganda and assimilation system is successful in driving down resistance to
the German-speaking government, and to eventual annexation by the German Empire
within a generation.
Some would wonder how such an aggressive and racist program could be propagated
while a relatively liberal government sits in Berlin - and the answer is a
mixture of willful blindness, German Nationalism, and the German peoples' belief
in a sort of Manifest Destiny, that it is their right as a people and a nation
to rule Central Europe and the Baltic.
In the wider world, there is little outward evidence of these events, and those
who would care have little that can be done to stop it: Britain has long pursued
a similar program in Ireland, with very mixed results. France is on the verge of
collapse. Russia has no use for the Poles, even though it covets the Baltic
coast and the return of all lost territories.
In the days following the March on Paris and the birth of the Fourth
Republic, there is some degree of confusion and disorder before the organization
of the government and its policies are made clear. One thing becomes very clear:
Philippe Petain has become the first President of the Fourth Republic, and it is
an office very different from its predecessor. The new presidency is an elected
office akin to the United States and no longer stands upon the system of
coalitions that it once did, and now has a stronger veto power over parliament
than ever before. Noted by some, and seen as very troubling, is the clear lack
of serious checks against the President, and also the complete absence of a term
limit for the office holder.
President Petain's first moves as President are to try and normalize relations
with the rest of the world. Using the recognition granted by the Russian
Federation and Kingdom of Spain as a lever, Petain manages to deftly and
carefully end the embargo placed upon France in Europe, but then must face the
United States and their rather hefty wartime debts.
The President of France himself meets with the American negotiating team in a
secluded villa outside of Paris and argues for the lessening of the war loans.
With a great deal of effort, and some haggling, the two parties arrive at 20%
reduction of the war debts to France. This result is in large part due to
Petain's, and the general populace's, perception that the Second Commune was the
result of gross war loans which were (and are) swamping the French economy.
A day after negotiations with the Americans end, Petains appears in his first
public appearance since the fall of the Commune. As he approaches the podium, he
is greeted with a wave of applause and cheering from the massed crowd, which he
accepts with a wide smile and spread arms before gesturing for quiet.
"My people! Sons and daughters of France, it is by your will that this great
nation breaths free air once more! With this new freedom, we will rebuild our
country, and reclaim our honor...and wash away the stain of our betrayal by
English speaking dogs and foul socialists. I declare that with ten short years,
I will bring France into its place in the son, its rightful destiny. These years
will not be easy, they will be full of struggle and hardship, but our path is
true, our resolution as strong as iron, and our hearts are righteous! We shall
rise again! Vive la France!"
Before the wider foreign and domestic policies of the Fourth Republic can be
elucidated upon, President Petain and his still-united National Liberation Front
announce and organizes a National election for all offices in Legislature and
the Presidency. Riding a swell of nationalism and general popularity, Petain is
unopposed in his campaign for the presidency and retains his position of power
without a concern.
In the legislature, the story is different. The NLF may appear to be a unified,
monolithic political structure but it internally it is fracturing because such
an alliance formed against a common enemy cannot hold for long. Already,
factions are beginning to formulate and move against one another. This the prime
reason for Petain's vigorous organization and launch of elections - knowing his
position is secure, Petain must secure the control of the Legislature to ensure
his plans are carried off without difficulty.
The speed of the election prevents the full formation of new parties and
alliances amongst the varied members of the NLF, while creating the confusion
necessary to conceal Petain's first and perhaps most desperate plan. Known
leftists are prevented from running for office by blackmail, veiled threats, or
accusations of support for the defunct Commune.
Much more covertly is the quiet maneuvering against anti-Petain elements within
the Center and Right wings of the Front, those who oppose the new president for
any number of reasons. The loudest critics and opponents who run for office are
sabotaged by internally placed spies who leak personal information, or on the
day of the elections, votes for them are replaced with votes for more
In the end, Petain's Loyalist faction manages to hold the majority of seats, but
there are the undercurrents that always circulate amongst the people. These
undercurrents and whispers talk about how the Loyalists "helped" the election
along to the desired end. These whispers are quickly silenced by hard, dangerous
men who deliver more veiled threats or severe beatings that are dismissed by the
gendarmerie as muggings gone wrong, or sore losers from the election. This
shadowy maneuvering and realpolitik generates a subtle fear in Petain's critics
while increasing his standing with the more Right wing and Nationalist
movements. This less-than-legal, and elaborate plotting and jockeying comes to
be call 'The Spider's Time' by many people.
More widely, it is known that Petain has the ironclad support of the military,
forming a triumvirate of lieutenants who despite their rank, wield ever
increasing authority in the Army and Navy. Their names are Giraud, Darlan, and
Across the Atlantic, Mexico continues to simmer under the threat of a religious
civil war. The Callistas who hold the government continue to purge the civil
society of Catholic influence and to court the Americans for supplies, arms, and
better relations. On the other hand the Cristeros, Catholic nationalists within
Mexico, have begun organizing - supposedly without any support from outside
Mexico, or from within the Church. In reality, both sides are waiting for France
to announce their new position for their own reason.
President Calles hopes that France under Petain will back down from their
aggressive brinkmanship with their loans reduced, while the Cristeros fervently
hope that France will instead openly support their cause and restore the rule of
God to Mexico.
Prior to the Rif War and President de Rivera's ascent to power, the Kingdom
of Spain had suffered a weak economy, unable to sustain itself and with constant
political turmoil. This has all changed under de Rivera's rather mild
dictatorship, and now Spain boasts stability far greater than its neighbor to
the north, prior to Petain's presidency.
However, President de Rivera is not universally popular, and there are
significant republican, anarchist, socialist, and communist factions within
society who directly oppose his presidency, but are held at bay by de Rivera's
popularity with the middle class, king, and military. This popularity comes from
the belief (based on observing Italy and then France) that a strong leader is
needed in a modern nation to bring about prosperity. This belief and de Rivera's
popularity completely retards any chance at change within the system, and
engineering a raising level of resentment in these dissident factions.
The frustration and resentment finally comes to a head in 1931, when the
President is leaving a hospital in Madrid after treatment for his diabetes. As
the President is about to enter his car outside the hospital, a man emerges from
the crowd and rolls a grenade at de Rivera's feet. Before anyone can react, the
grenade explodes less than a foot away from the President killing him along with
4 bodyguards while injuring 3 civilians as well as the perpetrator.
Unable to escape due to his injuries, the assassin is seized and identified as
an ardent anarchist. The assassin is summarily hung without trial, sparking a
series of riots and uprisings in Madrid that rapidly spreads across the country
completely out of control. The death of the President leaves a power vacuum
within the government that is mirrored in the opposition as no clear leader is
left to take control of the government, or to lead the self-declared Revolution.
In response to the murder of his father, Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera organizes
the Falange Española (Spanish Phalanx), uniting various supporters of his
father's regime, as well as a number of militarists, monarchists, and
nationalists under an ideology based upon fascism, modified by his father's
politics. The Falange is quick to declare succession of President de Rivera to
his son, and with the support of the military jumps to quickly crush the
uprisings and riots by force.
An Absence of Saints and Angels...
With the assassination of Miguel Primo de Rivera, Spain has fallen upon harsh
times - Juan Antonio Primo de Rivera currently holds the allegiance of a right
wing coalition, known as the Phalange (phalanx) as well as the loyalty of the
military, however, he does not command the loyalty of a significant portion of
the population, which is now risen in full-blown revolt.
The revolutionaries count among their numbers republicans, socialists,
communists, anarchists and nihilists, all of whom are opposed to the de Rivera
governments, but they are hardly united against the right wing coalition that
now holds power. Republicans want to reform the government, but some of them
want to utterly remove the monarchy as opposed to limiting to figure head
status. Socialists spar with communists because communists go to far, and
communists argue that socialists don't go far enough, while anarchists and
nihilists squabble over doctrine. In the end, the revolutionaries are unable to
form a unified opposition movement, and will fight and kill one another as often
as the government's forces.
The violence is not limited to soldiers and police officers, but also includes
Catholic priests, nuns, church goers, and property...there are also numerous
atrocities committed by the government against accused rebels, and by the
various rebel groups against real and supposed members of their competition. As
a result, blood flows freely in Spain, and there is no foreseeable end in sight.
Internationally, the responses are mixed at best: Britain had good relatively
good relations with Spain under de Rivera's admittedly mild dictatorship, but
now finds his son and successor far harsher, and his fascist ideology repugnant.
Of all the opposition groups, they favor the Republican faction most but cannot
stomach their bloody methods.
While Isolationist, the United States population is relatively ignorant of the
bloodshed within Spain, and those who know of it find almost all sides offensive
because of their methods.
Italy under Il Duce Mussolini openly supports the Falange against the rebels,
using the opportunity to garner support amongst the middle and lower classes in
Italy by appearing to support a monarch and the Catholic Church.
The Russian Federation is officially neutral, and President Kolchak's office has
issued no statement supporting any side. The Bolshevik party openly supports the
socialists and communists however, but without the power and money to back it
up, their support is of little use. The Ultranationalists and Baron von Ungern-Sternberg
(by now referring to themselves as "the Black Eagles") in particular
aggressively support the Falange.
In France, those aware of the Petainist government's anti-left attitude would
expect their support of de Rivera's Falange against the rebels until one looked
at Jose Antonio's background: He had been educated in Germany, and had become an
ardent Germanophile. Very, very quietly within Petain's inner circle there is
another name that is held in esteem: a relatively young General with strong
experience during the Rif War who has a solid following within the Falange
itself...Francisco Franco. A personal friend of Phillipe Petain.