A Shift in Priorities - Sequel

The superior power of population cannot be checked without producing misery or vice.
(Thomas Malthus)

Yeah, the space programme had been cancelled. Raumkolonie was to be mothballed. Hans Kammler had seen it come. Truth be told, he hadn't even protested – it was the inevitable consequence of recent events. It was, however, no reason for exasperation: the Moon landing had been a complete success. Once the current crisis had been overcome, the media – and the public – would quickly review and reprocess this extremely positive exploit, instead of wallowing in the penury of the pest.

He thought it was going to take less than one year, until the space programme was revived, greater and much better funded than the one now terminated. The tragedy of the plague would soon be suppressed. In fact, the trauma of the gassings would cry for space heroes to make it forgotten. The government would hurry to distract the populace from what had been done. – If he had got the numbers correct, the German population had fallen below one hundred millions. It would require ten years to catch up again.

Yep, the Russians were in the lead now; and even the Amis were counting more people than the Reich. The wealthy countries to the west had been destroyed. That was going to hurt German economy, as a lot of potent consumers were all dead. The poor eastern Europeans couldn't make good that loss. Hence, what could be better for boosting the economy than a lavish space programme? The infrastructure hadn't suffered from the gassings, no reconstruction was required.

Nay, there was no need to worry. One would celebrate the return of the Moon farers, show the motion picture – once it had been finished by adding the sequences filmed on the Moon – in the cinemas and prepare the new programme. Kammler wanted a bigger space station and a permanent Moon base. – While the public at large had hardly recorded the Moon landing because of the plague, the fact that NASA's Venéra–2 was now circling in orbit around Venus – and actually sending photographs – had gone completely unheeded. – Well, if the Russians were heading for Venus, then RRA would go for Mars.

Kammler would, after welcoming back the Moon farers, go on vacation. He had toiled for three years without break now. Southern Italy hadn't suffered from the pest. The Gulf of Naples should still be fine in April. He had heard the great heat was only starting by the end of May. Yes, some recreation would be good indeed...
Wow, best space race. How about the US and Asian countries?

The US is a distant third in this game. In the Indian Federation, folks are still debating whether a space programme should be launched at all. China and Japan are out of the game for now. - But wait for the Ottoman Empire and Middle Africa...
Both Russia and the USA have suffered the least from the plague. It appears as if the remains of the UK entity (the military) have basically written off Canada so I would expect a gradual absorption of Canada (plus/minus Quebec) in to the USA. Given the depopulation of much of Europe including hits to Germany, the USa and Russia look to be the folks to fill the gaps in needs for manufactured goods and key industrial products and I expect they will see an economic boom (an ill wind blowing good). This economic expansion may allow the US to step up space exploration.
When the sharks the sharks devour little fishes have their hour.
(Bertolt Brecht)

Scary! Absolutely scary! Being caught in a no–move zone was an experience Doris Zülch had no wish to repeat. She had been on business travel, lodging at Jülich, when the no–move zone suddenly had been declared. Being confined to a modest middle class hotel for more than a fortnight was no fun at all, neither for the guests nor for the staff. Okay, water supply had been assured, and the cellars had held enough supplies for not going hungry. But, nevertheless, it had been hardship of a kind Doris had never known before.

There had been the noise: shots, from rifles and – after a while – also from machine guns had penetrated peace substantially – and increasingly often. Even rounds fired from tanks had occurred, shattering windows in a wide area. You would never know what was going on, because this was a frigging no–move zone. The soldiers would fire on virtually everything that moved – and without any warning. – Okay, there had been no area firebombing and no gassing at Jülich, so, she could consider herself lucky indeed.

But... – Ordinary joes evidently went nuts by the dozen, when forced to lived in seclusion. That had been the most disturbing problem. Those simply getting drunk – and staying so all the time – had been the most agreeable lot. The rest... Gosh! Doris had been familiar to a lot of human flaws, she had believed. But... Manifestly, believing to be forsaken and bound to die was releasing very repugnant instincts...

Okay, she had resigned, was no longer working for Strabag, as her associates being present at Jülich would also remember the event – forever and always... That, however, was not a problem. Qualified staff was in high demand. She was now working for AEG, who were proposing to install a dedicated data network for zusies – in all that chaos created by GQDD and plague. That was, she thought, an innovative idea, something perhaps useful in future...
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There is a great deal of ruin in a nation.
(Adam Smith)

Malta had been secured; it hadn't been a complicated operation, but nevertheless a large–scale one. The Grand Fleet was now firmly established on the islands; 308,000 Maltese and 4,000 Brits were forming the pivotal populace. In addition, about 20,000 foreigners were living here, the bulk of them Italians and Greeks. Well, and 5,000 more Brits were currently in transit from Canada; Joe Mercer and George Creasy really had pulled it off.

Admiral Edward Evans–Lombe was pretty satisfied. Operation Athanasia could be called a complete success. But... Gibraltar had been pocketed by the Spaniards, because of plague prevention. Plus, the Germans had found an antidote – and were now in train of tidying up the continent. What were they going to do with Britain? Would they recognise him as acting regent? – Oh, he was not in doubt that the Queen and her family were dead.

Yes, he had bought time for Britain, perhaps five years, he thought. It was vastly preferrable to total perdition. And, at least, Britain's nuclear power had been preserved. The Grand Fleet had 168 nuclear warheads and 224 operational Arrows. It was quite a bargaining chip. – Yet, Malta did not have the repair capacity and capability to maintain the fleet, decline was inevitable.

Would the British expat community rally? He didn't know. Would the resident powers tolerate the GF in the Mediterranean? He didn't know. The Ottomans had fought ferociously to get rid of British presence after the Great War. The bastards had known darn well who had been the driving spirit for partitioning their realm and securing the oil wells – if the Entente had won...

He could only wait. The home islands were still the realm of the dead. Perhaps, the Germans wouldn't even touch it. But they would issue the antidote to everyone who asked for it, this they had declared in public. – Could the British Isles be resettled? As far as he knew, the plague was going to die together with its victims. Only that those immune to it, perhaps two million people, were still carrying it...

Could the immunes survive at all? Could they be treated and cured with the antidote? Or would one be forced to hunt them down? – He was going to wait for the arrival of TF Foxtrot – and discuss these questions with Joe Mercer. That guy possessed some common sense. Perhaps a good plan could be devised for reclaiming the home islands...
Would they recognise him as acting regent? – Oh, he was not in doubt that the Queen and her family were dead.
Not a certainty, there may be a minor royal or someone down in the succession line alive within or outside Britain.
Is Evans–Lombe planning to create an Hungarian Regency in Britain?
Would the British expat community rally?
Only if the SUP dictatorship is gone.
Only that those immune to it, perhaps two million people, were still carrying it...
Will they accept their authority, unless liberalised? The SUP had many enemies, and disillusioned citizens, Montagu Slater*, and the Churchillian Resistance* may still be around...

*these two forces, as well as party structures in exile could be the basis for a renewed party system.
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I expect the Germans will send some scout teams to the UK, and they may very well know about Porton Down. If, as expected, the plague turns out to be a British biowar project that went bad, I can't see the rest of the world allowing ANY sort of British independent government for a long time. Former Britons may be allowed to settle in the UK, but only strictly supervised for a generation or more. The population on Malta, around 400,000, or so will be dependent on imported food as well as fuel poil for the British ships and so forth. Yes they have some leverage with the weapons they have, but it is only so much...
The UK line of succession is carefully traced. Those British expat aristocracts would have kept track of exactly how many bodies needed to drop dead for them to advance to position number one as a matter of course. So the job is not only guaranteed to have fallen to some noble in Europe or an US expat, everybody in those circles likely already knows who it is. The only possible bone of contention would be rule's lawyering debates ('unacceptable' marriages, etc.) which produce several rival claimants.

I have the word of a prominent expert in the field on this:
Terry Pratchett said:
The only thing known to go faster than ordinary light is monarchy, according to the philosopher Ly Tin Wheedle. He reasoned like this: you can't have more than one king, and tradition demands that there is no gap between kings, so when a king dies the succession must therefore pass to the heir instantaneously. Presumably, he said, there must be some elementary particles -- kingons, or possibly queons -- that do this job, but of course succession sometimes fails if, in mid-flight, they strike an anti-particle, or republicon. His ambitious plans to use his discovery to send messages, involving the careful torturing of a small king in order to modulate the signal, were never fully expanded because, at that point, the bar closed.

Poor Europe, you really are pouring one cruel disaster after the other on the continent...
The destruction of the foundations necessarily brings down the whole edifice.
(René Descartes)

Great Britain – and Ireland – originally had played no specific part in German contingency plans for fighting NED, except that the area had to be cordoned off by all means. After this concept had failed in short order, one had concentrated on battling the plague on the continent – and had discounted the British Isles, considering them as ground already lost irretrievably.

However, now, with the pest brought under control, more or less, this course of action could no longer be sustained. When the news was received that in Denmark and Norway, where the pest had not raged, expeditions 'to salvage people and valuable items' from British soil were under preparation, the fact that an undisclosed number of nuclear weapons was presumably standing around unguarded on said soil, suddenly left a nasty taste in many German mouths.

Hurriedly declaring a military exclusion zone and scaring away forage–happy Danes and Norwegians was one thing, finding the nukes quite another. One knew that the Arrows had formed the backbone of the British nuclear arsenal. They had been deployed as sea–based and land–based systems. One could safely suppose that the sea–based stuff was in custody of the large British fleet that had dislocated to the Mediterranean.

The land–based Arrow systems were said to have been highly mobile, they might be parked almost everywhere. It was established that the Brits had also tested long–range bombers and ballistic missiles, but one didn't know whether they really had been deployed. The communist regime had effectively obstructed intelligence collection. Thus, simply sending search parties didn't promise much success.

One had to survey the country from the air and to prepare detailed photographic maps, before ground forces could be sent in. The specialists were certain to identify many nuclear weapon storage sites. But that was going to take some time, first of all because the reconnaissance units were still busy mapping France and the Low Countries. Hence, for the time being, the Kaiserliche Marine kept being tasked to maintain the exclusion zone.

Initial observation, however, showed the British Isles as being uninhabited. No one could be seen, no human movement could be detected. There were dogs and cats, birds, some other game, but no men – and no horses. According to the medics, about two to three million immune people ought to be still alive. Where were they?
It was France and the Low Countries that basically got annihilated, at least on the Continent, right? If nothing else, Spain and Germany suddenly have some room to grow. It'd be interesting to see a map of Europe 100 years later.

Not really sure what's ultimately going to happen with Ireland and Britain though. There are so few Britons left, and of the expat communities . . . Well . . . Enough time has passed that they'd had kids basically grow up in other countries. Kids that probably don't want to leave the only homes they've ever known to try to rebuild a country from scratch.
It is not necessary to live, but to carve our names beyond that point, this is necessary.
(Gabriele d'Annunzio)

The large British expatriate community of Sankt–Peterburg had always been buzzing with news and rumours about Red Albion, but since the plague had struck the buzz had escalated to a veritable hurrican. Not that any usable information from the British Isles was available, the expats were as cut off as everybody else. But their European network had been shrieking in horror when the communities in France and the Low Countries had been hit. A short time later, the American network had chimed in, as the Caribbean and Central America had been overrun by the pest.

Yes, casualties were estimated to be severe. The vast communities in the Netherlands, Belgium and France had all but perished. One couldn't still number losses, but there was little hope for survivors. Most communities had lived near the coast, there where the pest had struck first and hardest. – Nevertheless, the communities in Gemany, Scandinavia, Russia and the US had emerged unscathed. A quick survey via telephone had produced a figure of roughly two and a half million persons, which meant that the plague had about halved the worldwide community.

The question was: what should one do now? Many expats had found family, job and property in the countries they were living since many years. Their children had – in most cases – been born there. Should one forsake all that for an uncertain future in a depopulated Britain? Would the family follow at all? – These worries were also bothering Gerald Lascelles, who had a lucrative job in the Russian automobile industry – and was married to a woman belonging to the influential Dulgorukov family. In his case, however, the worries were amplified by the prospect of being the presumptive successor to the British crown.
I hope there is enough of a population left in the Netherlands to man the dikes, otherwise the next storm is going to finish us of. How delightfully horrible. First the people, than the land. Until nothing is left but a shallow sea erasing a millennia of history.
I am a cemetery by the moon unblessed.
(Charles Baudelaire)

France had been hard hit, but she had survived. There even was a government – in Toulouse. A certain Pierre Pflimlin was the acting Prime Minister. The Royal Family, King Louis Philippe II, his wife Anne–Marie, and the infant Dauphin, Louis Frédéric, were out of harm's way on a man–of–war cruising in the Mediterranean. The populace, however, had been reduced to about a third of the pre–plague number. The North, the Normandy, the Bretagne, but also the Île–de–France, the capital region, had been completely depopulated. – But south of a line drawn from Bordeaux to Lyon and on to Genève in Switzerland the damage done was indeed minor; the antidote had arrived just in time.

One was still in the process of counting the losses and registering the damage, but it was obvious that a France with only eleven or twelve million citizens was condemned to play a very second fiddle. Two hundred years ago, France, with a population of twenty–four million, had been the foremost power in Europe. But at that time, all of Europe had had about as many inhabitants as Germany had today. – Bien, one would, somehow, muddle through this calamity, Frenchmen always had managed... but it was an unmitigated disaster...

German help had been substantial, but also strictly limited. Berlin expected Toulouse to be self–reliant. After all, there were still a lot of Frenchmen left. It was a staggering emergency, one had all hands full already. – In fact, there was no lack of material, not even of foodstuffs. One had, however, to tailor the missions to the scant manpower available. Everything was going to take time. – And one needed ideas how to swiftly multiply the populace. Could one ban women from work? And coax them to have many children? How about artificial breeding?
For what that passes among mortals everywhere is not full of folly, done by fools in the presence of fools?
(Desiderius Erasmus)

While France appeared to be a serious case, but one still raising faint hope, the situation in the Low Countries looked almost irredeemable. – In Belgium, the Flemish, living near the coast, had taken it all – and perished like the clappers. The Walloons, dwelling further inland, had at least had a chance to run away. While, at first sight, in the valleys of Sambre and Meuse there seemed to be little variation to the desolation found in Antwerp, Gent or Kortrijk, after some days, unbelievably, groups of survivors came wandering back from their hideaways in the Ardennes.

The Royal Family, however, had valiantly undertaken to defy the pest in their Brussels home – but to no avail... As a matter of fact, the Belgian capital had been overrun by the plague early on, before most people had even realised what was going on. – Hence, the few surviving Belgians, perhaps two lean millions of the nine roaming the realm afortime, now had no national government – or rather, had to craft one from scratch, should they find the time to care for such luxuries in the near future. – Some help, all the same, was gradually coming forth. The Germans had wheedled the Danes and Swedes to send rescue teams.

For the Netherlands, the situation had been akin to the disaster in Belgium, if not worse – it had happened too close and too fast... – and there had been no safe place to run to – and an infrastructure too good to obstruct the advance of the pest. Many Dutch had tried to flee to Germany, but the Germans would not allow them in. It was estimated that the German no–move zone had killed at least as many Dutch as had the plague. – Fortunately enough, around Groningen, a small portion of the country had been kept free of the pest, as had the islands of Terschelling, Ameland, and Schiermonnikoog.

The Dutch Royal Family, though, had found refuge on sea, protected by the Kaiserliche Marine. As Prince Consort Louis Ferdinand was the younger brother of the German Kaiser, the Germans now were also ready to cater for the surviving Dutch. Of the eleven million Dutch pre–NED, roughly one and a half were eventually found rallying... It was a bleak new beginning.
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Berlin has more inhabitants than the Netherlands and Belgium combined. Do these countries even have the chance to take care of themselves in the foreseeable future? Maybe they should just ask for admission to the german empire as individual states. In return the germans help them with money, materials and expertise for free.
Berlin has more inhabitants than the Netherlands and Belgium combined. Do these countries even have the chance to take care of themselves in the foreseeable future? Maybe they should just ask for admission to the german empire as individual states. In return the germans help them with money, materials and expertise for free.

That's going to be a rather hard sell, given:

It was estimated that the German no–move zone had killed at least as much Dutch as had the plague.

Even if you accept that it was necessary, that's going to be hard to forget or forgive.
While it may make a pragmatic kind of sense, pragmatism won't automatically turn those people German. And 5,5 million dead by German gas is indeed bound to cause some resentment. Even though by any measure it was the right thing to do. At least they are willing to throw money at their neighbours, that will mend some of the wounds.

The culture of these nations will absolutely change. There aren't any Hollanders left. Dutch culture will shift to be Wadden-Groningen based, with some residual influences here and there. Not to mention the impact of the almost unimaginable trauma. I doubt this will produce a culture that will look fondly upon anti-vaxxers.

Christ, those are some absolutely horrifying numbers. It really makes you wonder how we ourselves are going to fare when the next pandemic shows up.
I see your point. But consider this:
The rulers of Belgium and the Netherlands have to make sure their surviving people continue to survive. For this they need food, medicine, all kind of consumer goods, electricity, running water, and so on.
How much if these things can they still produce themselves, how much stuff can they produce to sell abroad to buy the stuff they need.
Food should be the smallest problem at the moment considering they had problaby foodstocks to last some months for 17 million people and 12 million just died. But they will need medical stuff soon considering that most of the dead were not burried.
They will need experts to compensate the losses in many areas (dike builders, farmers engineers, doctors, lawyers, normal workers to restart production...). These experts will come from other countries, given the right incentives: houses, farmland and equipment for free (from the dead who have no heirs). These experts doesn't have to be german, but with Britain and Flanders depopulated, germans are lingually speaking the closest to the dutch.
The people that will come, will be young and having families or starting them soon. Since there is probably a shortage of native woman of marriable age (more men survive alone in the woods than women), they will bring women from their homelands, creating a sizeable minority, that in case of germans have a 100-million-people backup across the border. By 1.5 million Dutch, the fertile women are around 300-500 thousand. If 200 thousand women accompany the forreign workers, after 30 years the minorities could account for up to 40% of the population.
As a member state of the german empire, your internal policies are in many areas completely your own business. If the leaders negotiate clever, they can get a great deal of autonomy and a lot of help in form of money and experts (military and government officials) from the other member states who have to leave after a predefined period of time.

At the moment the shock of all the dead and the rigorous handling of the affair by the german government makes the people dislike or even hate the germans. But their attitude will change when food or medicine runs out and there is neither electricity nor running water nor clean water and the solution sits on the other side of the border, offering you help.

PS: I probably forgot something, but I am ti tired ti check the post again. I have been tipping this with my cellphone fir the last 30 minutes and it is somehiw horrible at spellcheck.