"The most important difference between this aberration in the timeline and our own is the fact that here, there was no clear victor in the First World War." - Precipice Original Post
The Great War was a decade long conflict, centered in Europe, which devastated the economies of the traditional European powers and brought about a permanent change in the political structure of the world. The timeline of Precipice and it's differences from the real world stems from the different outcome of the Great War, which in the real world is known as World War 1. These differences stem from the early withdrawal of Russia and continued isolationism of the United States in the Precipice universe, which not only causes the Great War to be a decade long stalemate, but also allows Russia to defeat the Bolshevik's and remain a super power under the rule of it's Tsar, while the continued isolationism of the United States weakens the union, allowing for secessionist causes to succeed in Florida and the American South, and New England, and it's eventual humiliation in the First North American War.
- 1 Causes of War
- 2 The War
- 3 Armistice and the Effects of the War
Causes of War
In the 19th Century, the major European powers had gone to great lengths to maintain a balance of power throughout Europe, resulting by 1900 in a complex network of political and military alliances throughout the continent. These had started in 1815, with the Holy Alliance between Prussia, Russia, and Austria. Then, in October 1873, German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck Bismarck negotiated the League of the Three Emperors (German: Dreikaiserbund) between the monarchs of Austria–Hungary, Russia and Germany. This agreement failed because Austria–Hungary and Russia could not agree over Balkan policy, leaving Germany and Austria–Hungary in an alliance formed in 1879. This was seen as a method of countering Russian influence in the Balkans as the Ottoman Empire continued to weaken. In 1882, this alliance was expanded to include Italy in what became the Triple Alliance.
After 1870, European conflict was averted largely through a carefully planned network of treaties between the German Empire and the remainder of Europe orchestrated by Bismarck. He especially worked to hold Russia at Germany's side to avoid a two-front war with France and Russia. When Wilhelm II ascended to the throne as German Emperor (Kaiser), Bismarck's alliances were gradually de-emphasized. For example, the Kaiser refused to renew the Reinsurance Treaty with Russia in 1890. Two years later, the Franco-Russian Alliance was signed to counteract the force of the Triple Alliance. In 1904, the United Kingdom sealed an alliance with France, the, and in 1907, the United Kingdom and Russia signed the Anglo-Russian Convention. This system of interlocking bilateral agreements formed the Triple Entente. A naval arms race existed between the United Kingdom and Germany. German industrial and economic power had grown greatly after in 1870. From the mid-1890s on, the government of Wilhelm II used this base to devote significant economic resources to building up the Kaiserliche Marine (Imperial German Navy), established by Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz, in rivalry with the British Royal Navy for world naval supremacy. As a result, each nation strove to out-build the other in terms of capital ships. With the launch of HMS Dreadnought in 1906, the British Empire expanded on its significant advantage over its German rival. The arms race between Britain and Germany eventually extended to the rest of Europe, with all the major powers devoting their industrial base to producing the equipment and weapons necessary for a pan-European conflict. Between 1908 and 1913, the military spending of the European powers increased by 50 percent. Austria-Hungary precipitated the Bosnian crisis of 1908–1909 by officially annexing the former Ottoman territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which it had occupied since 1878. This angered the Kingdom of Serbia and its patron, the Pan-Slavic and Orthodox Russian Empire. Russian political maneuvering in the region destabilized peace accords that were already fracturing in what was known as "the powder keg of Europe"
In 1912 and 1913 the First Balkan War was fought between the Balkan League and the fracturing Ottoman Empire. The resulting Treaty of London further shrank the Ottoman Empire, creating an independent Albanian State while enlarging the territorial holdings of Bulgaria, Serbia, Montenegro, and Greece. When Bulgaria attacked both Serbia and Greece on 16 June 1913, it lost most of Macedonia to Serbia and Greece and Southern Dobruja to Romania in the 33-day Second Balkan War, further destabilizing the region.
On 28 June 1914, Gavrilo Princip, a Bosnian-Serb student and member of Young Bosnia, assassinated the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria in Sarajevo, Bosnia. This began a period of diplomatic maneuvering among Austria-Hungary, Germany, Russia, France, and Britain called the July Crisis. Wanting to finally end Serbian interference in Bosnia, Austria-Hungary delivered the July Ultimatum to Serbia, a series of ten demands intentionally made unacceptable, intending to provoke a war with Serbia. When Serbia agreed to only eight of the ten demands, Austria-Hungary declared war on 28 July 1914. Strachan argues, "Whether an equivocal and early response by Serbia would have made any difference to Austria-Hungary's behavior must be doubtful. Franz Ferdinand was not the sort of personality who commanded popularity, and his demise did not cast the empire into deepest mourning".
The Russian Empire, unwilling to allow Austria–Hungary to eliminate its influence in the Balkans, and in support of its longtime Serb protégés, ordered a partial mobilization one day later. When the German Empire began to mobilize on 30 July 1914, France, resentful of the German conquest of Alsace-Lorraine during the Franco-Prussian War, ordered French mobilization on 1 August. Germany declared war on Russia on the same day. The United Kingdom declared war on Germany on 4 August 1914, following an "unsatisfactory reply" to the British ultimatum that Belgium must be kept neutral.
Over 10 million men, mostly volunteers from the Isles and conscripts from India died in trenches across the world fighting. Money was introduced by the Crown in 1920 in a desperate attempt to save the stagnant wartime economy.
Belgium comprised the main epicenter of conflict in the Great War as the core of the front between France and Germany. Overran at the beginning of the war, the Belgian military was completely destroyed by German forces and the Belgian government was forced into exile. German policing was also harsh, as the German command considered many functions - such as agriculture - to be vital to their military aims and tampering or threatening these resources and assets was treated as a war-crime. As a result, the Belgian people suffered heavy casualties from the Germans, in addition to deaths brought on by fighting from both sides of the war.
Large parts of west and south-west Belgium were destroyed in the war and much of the country's farm acreage was destroyed and rendered unusable due to the degree of shelling that took place.
As with Belgium the war-time devastation of France was heavy, although focused considerably on the nations north-east in the French defense of Paris and in and around Verdun. The loss of life among its male demographic was heavy and the return of the nation's veterans to home was hardly anything of a re-compensation to the millions of French lives lost.
The German army was capable of reaching the outskirts of Paris as the height of the war with Parisians being able to note and listen to the distant sounds of artillery fire that flashed beyond the day and night horizon.
The war also spread from outside the north-east corner with German forces seeking to outflank the French defenders, expanding the European front to span the north-south breadth of Europe on the border between France and Germany.
The Austrian-Hungarian Empire largely had its forces concentrated on the eastern theater combating the Russian Army with Turkish assistance. As well as against the Serbian nationalists in the south. However, the mis-managed and dated army found trouble in combating the Russian bear and faced a large number of defeats that required it to be rescued by either the Ottomans or the Germans. These saves however were not a fortune for the Empire as it still developed its own unique internal stresses.
The Great War came at a violent cross for the Hapsburg monarchy in Austria, with the death of the Arch-Duke so too did a large loss of life. The conflict also came with the nationalist radicalization of the Empire's minorities who demanded and declared independence through the context of the war and in the end of the war. By the end Austria was reduced to merely the original duchy that it was.
The war greatly weakened the Italian government. With a less coherent grip the country was gripped with internal violence though the thirties. The nation as a whole was shaken that it was eventually over-ran by the aggressive and expansionist Ottoman Empire in the 1970's, and divided by them.
Being the flash-point of the war, Serbia suffered greatly at the hands of the Austrian Empire for the death of Arch-Duke Franz Ferdinand. The Austrian campaign in Serbia was not just a campaign of military dominance but one of civil and social retribution. Much of Serbia suffered severely from the Austrians who treated the Serb people as criminals and the Imperial Army acted harshly against the people.
Eventually with a cessation of conflict to the war being made the Austrian forces retreated to their broken nation and Serbia could limp on.
Russia found itself fighting three-foes through the war based on allegiances with the UK who had petitioned they enter the war. Among these forces was the German, Austrian, and Ottoman armies who engaged the czar's forces. Although large, the Russian army was unwieldy, scoring victories but at a substantial cost. The efforts of the czarist bear in Europe met with great political pressure at home to leave the war.
Czar Nicholas II eventually ceded to political pressure on the inside and withdrew Russian forces from Europe and negotiated a peace with Germany. Russia returned her large army home to quash the rising communist and Republican forces. With the forces of the czar returned home Nicolas was able to wrangle the opposition into peace through political and military force, obligating some to step down and fighting and arresting the rest.
Though forceful, Russia ultimately lost some of its imperial lands through other devices, its Central Asian colonies and Ukraine namely.
The size of the Asian theater is comparatively small given the lack of sizable German and Austrian colonies in the South Pacific and Eastern China. The most significant battle fought in Asia was the Siege of Tsingtao between allied forces and the German/Austrian colonial defenders.
Battle of Tsingtao
The Battle of Tsingtao was the only major engagement on the Asian front and involved the Japanese army and the Royal Army of Great Britain in engaging German marines in defense of their Chinese interest/colony on mainland China. The significant factor to the German defeat is the immense numbers that battled them at Tsingtao.
Tsingtao is now the the modern city of Qingdao in Shandong province.
The Ottoman Empire, in an attempt to regain its lost sovereignty against the Russians, signed the Ottoman-German Alliance, on August 2 1914, thereby entering into the conflict alongside the Triple Alliance. The first major Allied offensive took place in the Straits region in 1915, resulting in a clear defeat, preserving the capital, Constantinople, from falling into enemy hands, and strengthening the military dictatorship of the Young Turks. In the Caucasus, the Russian forces steadily advanced from 1914 to 1917, capturing Erzurum and Trabzon in the beginning of that year, only to precipitously retreat following the onset of the Bolshevik rebellion and the subsequent peace settlement. This authorized the Turkish forces to turn the tide in Iraq where Baghdad had been captured by British Imperial forces on March 11 1917, and in the Levant and Arabia, where a general rebellion of the Arab populations had begun in early 1916, pushed by the United Kingdom. Following the recapture of Baghdad on July 3 1917, and the battle of Gaza during the months of August-September 1917, the military situation reversed entirely, the Turkish army gaining momentum, aided by German contingents sent from the Eastern front.
To prevent utter defeat, the United Kingdom engaged with Persia, until then under the weak rule of Ahmad Shah Qajar, still a boy, and the joint occupation of British and Russian forces. Changing policy, the Shah was given the means to bring back his country under his rule, severely limiting the autonomy of the Majlis, created in 1908, and imposing military rule, bringing about a renewal in the old monarchy, and securing its survival and renewed prestige. Beginning in September 1917, Persian troops joined the conflict in Iraq. After early defeats at Sulaymaniyeh (October 10-25) and Samarra (November 2-19), the front passed the border as Ottoman troops captured Kermanshah and Ilam on January 10, 1918 and February 7, prompting the mass levy of Persian peasants, summarily trained and equipped, but aided by ardent patriotism, Persia's soil now being under the occupation of the Turks, the traditional enemies. Despite the immediate gains of the Ottoman army, which had advanced all the way to the Lake Orumiyeh, at one point threatening Tabriz, the capital of the North, in April 1918, the Allied victories at Marageh (May 19) and Saqqez (May 20) signaled the end of the Ottoman advances.
Following the failed Turkish offensive on Najaf, in southern Iraq, on May 29, the Allied forces launched the Baghdad campaign, leading to the ultimate recapture of the city, after severe urban warfare, on October 1, 1918, after three months of combat, leading to the swift capture of Habbaniyah (October 6), Ba'qubah (October 11) and Samarra (October 18). After these advances, the front immobilized along a line going from Sulaymaniyeh to Tikrit and Al-Qaim, on the far-western banks of the Euphrates, skirmishes and minor offensives concentrating along the two rivers and in the Kurdish mountains. In November 1918, British troops began to retreat, as the fighting on the Western and Egyptian front intensified, the second after a prolonged stasis, culminating in the fall of Rafa to Ottoman troops on December 11. By March 1919, there remained in Iraq only a few training officers, artillery experts, doctors and Indian auxilliaries, thereby entrusting the guard of Mesopotamia to Persian armies, by now more or less autonomous. The first display of this newfound independence was in the breaking of the front at Al-Qaim, and the expulsion of the Turkish army from Syrian Kurdistan (Siege of Deir-es-Zor April 1-25) in late May 1919. The enemy troops now trapped in a pincer movement in Iraqi Kurdistan, the scene was ready for the "Assyrian campaign".
The difficult battle of Kirkuk won by Persian forces on June 18, the Ottoman government, preemptively, decided the extermination of all Kurds, Chaldeans, Assyrians and Nestorians in its southern reaches, as well as the Druze, Alawite, Orthodox and Jewish minorities in Palestine, where Jerusalem had been captured on May 8. This, instead of strengthening its position, lead to the collapse of the front across the Middle East, with Greek and Armenian populations, the latter already having partially suffered from a massacre in 1915, rising up throughout the Empire, including the capital, Constantinople, itself. The general retreat ended only in August 1919, with the Anglo-Persian troops halted at Antakya (Syria, August 20), Diyarbakir (Turkish Kurdistan, August 25) and Van (Turkish Kurdistan, August 29). From then on, the war lost much of its initial intensity, with the Middle East and its oil succesfully cleared on hostile troops, and Anatolia itself having mostly fallen to anarchy, at least in its eastern half, erasing fears of an effective counter-offensive.
In the next two years, few advances were made, save for the occupation of Adana (December 17, 1919) by British troops and the annexion of Turkmenistan by Persia on April 18, 1920, the Russian government then being in the midst of a fight with Bolsheviks, and desiring to pacify its southern borders. The nations of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Daghestan were also created during the year.
The war lit back again in mid 1921, when Armenia and Georgia both declared war on the Ottoman Empire, leading to the fall of Yerevan on June 20, 1921, causing the intervention of Persian troops, leading to the recapture of the city on August 18, 1921. The Ottomans, now lead by an energetic general, Mustafa Kemal Pasha, attempted to force the frontline, succesfully pushing back the British back to Aleppo (September 18), and laying siege to Diyarbakir (September 10-October 18), threatening to break down the fragile peace which had more or less settled down since the Summer of 1919. After the daring attack on Hamah (December 11) and Batman (December 13), following the failure to recapture Diyarbakir, however, the situation reversed, with all the lost positions regained by March 1922, after two months of winter quarters.
Intent with finishing the war, a final offensive was mounted in Fall 1922, beginning with the battle of Kayseri (September 4-17) and Erzurum (October 1-29), and ending with the capture of Ankara, on November 20. The surprisingly rapid collapse of the Ottoman army was caused by the assassination of Mustafa Kemal Pasha on October 19 by the Caliph, weary of his mounting political influence. Overstretched, the Allies nevertheless accepted to sign an armistice on January 17, 1923, retreating temporarily to the 1919 line. In 1926, as the war in Europe ended and Britain collapsed into anarchy, the territories of the Levant were reoccupied, and Iraq's independence tacitly approved, with Persia's armies preserving its independence.
After Emperor Menelek II died in 1913, his chosen successor and daughter's son Iyasu V assumed the duties of Emperor, however his actual coronation was put off by the nobles who were unsure about his suitability for the position. Soon, rumors began to spread in the heavily Coptic Christian Ethiopia that Iyasu had converted to Islam. As the World War started in Europe, Western powers flirted with the African kingdom, hoping it would join their respective sides. Iyasu sided with the Central powers in with the goal of claiming nearby allied colonies in British Sudan and French Somaliland. This, combined with his alledged conversion to Islam, caused the Ethiopian nobles to rebel and name his Aunt as monarch in 1916. Iyasu's father Mikael of Wollo lead a countercoup, and thanks to the supplies and modern weapons given to Iyasu and his supporters by the Germans and Austrians, the rebellious coup was quashed at the Battle of Segale. The nobility was devastated by the loss, and Iyasu's opposition fled the country in exile. Now in complete control of Ethiopia, Iyasu was named Emperor in 1917. Not suprisingly he officially converted to Islam in the same year, ending the centuries long Christian rule.
Ethiopia entered the Great War on the side of the Central Powers. He followed this up by overthrowing the French, Italian, and British colonial powers in Somalia and Eritrea, where minimal garrisons, which had been stripped of much of their number in order to put men on the Ottoman front. The fight for Eritrea was short; By 1918 the Italian forces had abandoned it after a disastorous defeat at Keren, where the Italian forces lost a quarter of their number before routing. French Somaliland surrendered shortly after without a fight. British Somalia would hold out for two years, defeating the Ethiopian forces at the month long siege of Berbera, but ultimately being forces into the south where Somali rebels joined forces with the Ethiopians to capture Mogadishu in the later part of the year 1920. The Ethiopian forces continued on to Sudan, winning a signifigant battle at Asosa before ended up in stalemate against the British defenses on the border. The year before the end of the war, in 1924, the British lines slipped and, at the battle of ad-Damazin, the British just barely avoided being pushed back to Khartoum.
Armistice and the Effects of the War
Millions were killed in the stagnant front lines and countrysides stripped bare. The war ended in an armistice that did little more but shuffle territories and summon an end to the conflict. Compounding the international later was rampant economic weakness brought about by imploding war-time economies.
The Armistice was signed after eleven years of devastating warfare, ending the conflict in a draw. Although there was some minor re-drawing of international lines, none of these moves could be considered an actual display of victory or superiority over another. For the most part, these moves are considered a way to meet the war's goals diplomatically with bargaining before Europe could bleed itself to a wasteland and to fold to the pressures the nations faced. Or in a whole: to admit their failures and allow things to pass on.
The traditional powers of Western Europe never currently recovered from the war, and their empires slowly fell to pieces. In the decades that immediately followed the war the end of the war had collapsed an economy that had grown due in part to the war-time economy, collapsing the military-industrial complexes of Europe and the dependencies that relied on these economies. Although some nations were able to avoid the scale of economic devastation of Europe, the effects of the post-war international depression was wide-spread.
Belgium and Eastern France suffered a large deal of devastation against its land which compounded later stresses. Serbia lost a great deal of men and women at the hands of the Austrian army, and Austria itself collapsed completely.
Having escaped the carnage of the Great War early on to fight the Bolsheviks, Russia came out of the conflict on top; becoming one of the few European powers to not be devastated by the war. The territorial shifts the Empire suffered were those of independent revolutions and conflicts contained within Russia itself. Its early departure saved a good deal of its natural infrastructure and resource base so as to allow itself to focus internally as the world around it collapsed. This preserved the ancient structure of Imperial Russia to live on for several decades longer until it finally lost touch with the world.
The Ottoman Empire left the war exhausted and devastated, having lost its most promising land, Iraq, as well as over seven million inhabitants, of its prewar population of 21 million, resulting in significant loss of vitality for the next several decades. Although the Empire found in it some breath to crawl out of war-time depression it was never truly what it was, and the breath turned out to merely be a last dying gasp.
Persia, leaving the war as a clear winner, however fell victim to its traditional problems of disunity, with as a result, after a few years of prosperity and general exuberance, masking rising tensions, the beginning of a deadly Civil War in 1930, which would last until 1944, with few intermittent conflicts.
European Influences in Africa diminished after the Great War.
The Armistice that came at the end of the Great War accepted Ethiopian control of Eritrea and Somalia, but all of Sudan remained British.
Main Page: The International Depression
Coupling with a considerable degree of human life destroyed in Europe the economies of post-war Europe and the world began to buckle and collapse in on themselves as a result of the war. Over the duration of the violent and lengthy conflict considerable industrial-military complexes had arisen to supply the war-effort which caused a considerable shift in both national economies and the socio-economic make-up of these countries. The violence of the war had accelerated weapons research and development while not leaving much funds or support for the development of social technology and infrastructure. The crippling of the populations of France, Belgium, the United Kingdom, and even Germany created an immense deficit in their working populations. And of most catastrophic being the sudden collapse in demand of war-time goods as supplied by the industries during the war.
With so little international demand for the weapons trade the demand for raw-materials plummeted internationally leaving nations that had developed considerable infrastructure to supply the war-time production with an over-abundance of supply that had to be sold off at a price that constituted a massive lost for all industries causing massive panic.
The resulting consequences of the shrinking international economy coupled with numerous social stresses and the political events to unfold in the following decades was accelerated with panic over stock prices and the withdrawal of money from the banks and from the stock market indebted both.
The world - and Europe - wouldn't recover for some several decades. Though the size and effect of the depression and its influence internationally would be a scar that never healed.