Crimson Banners Fly: The Rise of the American Left

Part 7: Chapter XXIV - Page 160
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The Vienna Peace Conference, 1918 - Source: GeneralHistory

The Great War was over. Over eight million died during the course of this travesty, plus an additional eighteen million wounded or missing. World leaders rose and fell quicker than the life cycle of a common fruit fly. Longstanding governments buckled under the pressure of an unpacifiable population. The world had fundamentally changed, and the memory of the, "war to end all wars," would permanently affect the construct of the public consciousness. With the fighting concluded, however, now the question was how to go about the reorganization and reconstruction of the world. The main, unifying objective of the hostilities, that of total reallocation and division of resources, land, and national borders, necessitated the ratification of a definitive peace treaty. Blood soaked the seas red, and now the sharks prepared to feast.

Alongside Germany, the United States had emerged in the strongest position to set demands at the peacemaking table. Despite funneling revenue toward the war effort and exacerbating the national debt, the American power established itself as perhaps the strongest producing and trading nation in the post-war era. The U.S. was undoubtedly a manufacturing juggernaut, even so prior to the outbreak of war, but now it stood alone with its surplus industrial capacity. European governments owed billions in direct loans to the United States treasury, and private investment in overseas enterprises doubled since 1914, thus transforming the once-aloof debtor nation into a toughened creditor. This unique stage frankly meant Theodore Roosevelt's dream of an American Empire was finally being put into motion.

Following the joint agreement on the armistice, diplomats from over thirty countries gathered in Vienna to conduct the business of negotiation. Delegations included heads-of-state, notable secretaries, ministers, and, to a lesser extent, military commanders. For instance, President Roosevelt (cane in tow) joined the symposium, but he brought with him Secretary James R. Garfield, Assistant State Secretary Henry C. Lodge, and Admiral Austin Knight. Delegates were assigned to some four-dozen committees and instructed with the duty of hashing out the finer details. As one may imagine, it was a foregone conclusion that the victorious powers would seek to implement their various territorial and economic war goals, but the defeated would nonetheless attempt to salvage all they could.

Though domineering men like David Lloyd George and Italian Prime Minister Vittorio Emanuele Orlando played their respective roles in the peace process, the "Big Three" leaders reigned supreme at the Vienna Peace Conference. This overbearing numerical group was composed of President Roosevelt, Kaiser Wilhelm II, and Emperor Charles I. These three informally, albeit effectively, pronounced the shape of the final treaty, and uniformly struck down provisions they deemed unsuitable. Representatives of the fourth Central Power, the Ottoman Empire, did indeed have a say as to the makeup of the process, but Sultan Mehmed V and Grand Vizier Talaat Pasha, for example, are infrequently named by World War historians as key decisionmakers. Other than the aforementioned individuals, some periodically argue that Count Johann von Bernstorff, German Ambassador to the U.S., proved invaluable to Germany's prospects.


The Treaty of Vienna, signed July 1st, 1918, officially ended the war between the Central Powers and the Entente. This treaty was the first of four drafted in the city of Vienna, but it is the most significant for its role in envisioning the postwar world. President Roosevelt, with his European allies, felt as though the opposing nations needed to be harshly punished for the damage caused during the war. Some viewed this punishment as unjust. See below some of the treaty clauses.
Reparations: The United Kingdom, France, Russia, Italy, Japan, Romania, and Serbia are ordered to repay billions for war-related damages. Existing debts are not excused.
Military Constraints: The former Entente's armed forces are heavily reduced. British production of submarines now forbidden. The Royal Navy is sharply limited.
Freedom of the Seas: France and the United Kingdom are forbidden from fortifying trade restrictions and/or blockades.
The Alliance System: The Entente is dismantled. The United Kingdom, France, and Italy can no longer form military alliances with any Eastern European or Asian power.
Europe and America: Germany gains territory. Belgium and Luxembourg become German client states. Ireland is granted limited independence. Austria-Hungary and Bulgaria gain territory. Poland and Baltic states are re-established. Canada is no longer a British Dominion and is removed from the British sphere of influence.
Asia and Africa: Prewar German and U.S. possessions are restored. Japan surrenders all conquered territories in China and the Pacific. U.S. gains Micronesia and Germany gains non-Dutch Melanesia. Mittelafrika is formed from Belgian, French, and British colonies in Africa.
War Guilt: Serbia is forced to accept responsibility for causing the war.
Jamesco Ltd., Wars That Changed the World Encyclopedia, Vol. 23, 1999

For the first time in over a century, a globe-stretching war altered the state of both hemispheres simultaneously. The tidal shift in Europe was anticipated, but the prospect of losing Canada was a surefire blow to the British ego. The loss of their chief North American possession was perhaps inevitable when considering the growth of anti-British factions in the Canadian Parliament and Lloyd George's overwhelming sense of dread at the idea of interacting with that besieged land. Upon the signing of the Treaty of Vienna, Prime Minister Robert Borden acquiesced to public pressure which demanded he dissolve parliament and call a general election. With the Unionist Party coalition in tatters and a hearty opposition ready to take the lead, Borden stepped aside and allowed for the dissolution of the Unionists in late 1918. Thomas Crerar, leader of the center-left Progressive Party of Canada, secured a landslide victory in the 1918 federal election as the now-separated Liberals and Conservatives dissipated to distant legislative minorities. The 42-year-old politician would preside over a divided nation, one characterized by violent Québécois separatists, angered British loyalists, and an Ontario provincial government operating as a de-facto U.S. vassal state.

By the year's end, the German Empire sat at the head of the European Zollverein: A cross-continental economic union governed by members of the Central Powers and all residual satellite states. This coalition, not unlike its nineteenth century predecessor, immensely assisted in the development of Central Europe, as well as the continent's overall postwar recovery. Smaller countries desperate for economic assistance and greatly deterred from engagement with the failed Entente eagerly signed up to be a part of the customs union. This included the newly created nations of Poland, Ireland, and the four new Baltic states, in addition to the Netherlands, Spain, and all of Scandinavia. In the terms of Jacob Fischer in The New Zollverein,
"The inability of the Vienna Peace Conference to settle on a postwar, peacetime political organization expedited the need for Zollverein, a tool for both industrious growth and international cooperation."
 
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You'd think they'd let Bulgaria annex Serbia to get access to that side of the sea?

I was toying with the idea of either Bulgaria or Austria-Hungary annexing Serbia outright, but I doubt either country would be interested in adding millions of furious citizens to their rolls. Instead I went with Bulgaria 'reclaiming' much of southern Serbia. The weakened Serbian state would retain limited independence with Austria-Hungary overseeing its government.
 
This was a really good close to this part of the story.
President Roosevelt, Kaiser Wilhelm II, and Emperor Charles I
"Big Three"

Two Caesars and Hapsburg.

Ironically, even without Russia, they managed to form a DreiKaiserbund of a sort.
Upon the signing of the Treaty of Vienna, Prime Minister Robert Borden acquiesced to public pressure which demanded he dissolve parliament and call a general election.
I imagine some similar chaos is taking place in London? Hell, it might be messier.

The Canadians have the small comfort of knowing they did their best. The British will be baying for blood.
In the terms of Jacob Fischer in The New Zollverein, "The inability of the Vienna Peace Conference to settle on a postwar, peacetime political organization expedited the need for Zollverein, a tool for both industrious growth and international cooperation."
Alright, so this tells me two things:

The current incarnation of this customs union isn't going to last. Probably because of some inevitable economic crises.

And that at some point there's going to be a push for an international organization a la the UN/League of Nations. Which seems...odd given the the more haphazard nature of international cooperation among this set of victors, but then again I don't know much about the kind of political discourse that existed running up to the OTL League of Nations.

The former Entente's armed forces are heavily reduced.
Is Japan included in this?
 
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Reparations: The United Kingdom, France, Russia, Italy, Japan, Romania, and Serbia are ordered to repay billions for war-related damages. Existing debts are not excused.• Military Constraints: The former Entente's armed forces are heavily reduced. British production of submarines now forbidden. The Royal Navy is sharply limited. • Freedom of the Seas: France and the United Kingdom are forbidden from fortifying trade restrictions and/or blockades.• The Alliance System: The Entente is dismantled. The United Kingdom, France, and Italy can no longer form military alliances with any Eastern European or Asian power.• Europe and America: Germany gains territory. Belgium and Luxembourg become German client states. Ireland is granted independence. Austria-Hungary and Bulgaria gain territory. Poland and Baltic states are re-established. Canada is no longer a British Dominion and is removed from the British sphere of influence.• Asia and Africa: Prewar German and U.S. possessions are restored. Japan surrenders all conquered territories in China and the Pacific. U.S. gains Micronesia and Germany gains non-Dutch Melanesia. Mittelafrika is formed from Belgian, French, and British colonies in Africa.• War Guilt: Serbia is forced to accept responsibility for causing the war.
Sorry.

No.

Neither Germany or America can force a peace like that on Britain in the First World War. The Royal Navy was Britain's (formerly Wooden) now Metal Wall against things like the US Navy and the Kaiserliche Marine. Neither the US Atlantic Fleet or the High Seas Fleet would be able to contest the Grand Fleet in open battle frankly anywhere. Ireland is going nowhere, because if they ask for that, the Prime Minister narrows his eyes and says "Make me". Short of the German Army standing in London, it ain't happening. The US can maybe get Canada once everything is set and done on a de facto measure, but it cannot contest Atlantic domination, just as Germany cannot contest North Sea domination (They tried OTL. It didn't go well). The only way the Royal Navy and British Army are getting reduced is if they are butchered in open battle.

France you can drive a truck to from Berlin, and the same for Canada from Washington. You can't with Britain. Any and all attempts are just going to be laughed out. Same for the debts imposed on Britain. The UK is going to go "Well fuck you all" and leave right then and there if they actually tried to propose that. (Look to Northern Ireland for a possible ethnic cleansing too in the future)

With Alliances, that too will be laughed out. You could probably intimidate the Scandis and the Netherlands to not agree, but Spain, Italy, etc. who were considered great powers at the time will just tell Germany to fuck off, and if they try, they can show up with their army. Same for Japan. They will say "You and what Army?" The US Pacific Fleet cannot project power that far into Asia, and the Kaiserliche Marine will run out of coal long before it makes it there. The IJN will be waiting there, rested and ready.

As for colonies. You can maybe get Belgian Congo, but you are not getting Algeria, or most of the African colonies either, British or French. Not South Africa, not Togo or Nigeria. Mittelafrika only works because of the power of the plot in Kaiserreich.

The Treaty's obligations on Britain seriously stretches disbelief to the point that it breaks, honestly. IF anyone signs that treaty, they do so, full well knowing that it will be broken as soon as the British Delegation leaves Vienna
 
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Sorry.

No.

Neither Germany or America can force a peace like that on Britain in the First World War. The Royal Navy was Britain's (formerly Wooden) now Metal Wall against things like the US Navy and the Kaiserliche Marine. Neither the US Atlantic Fleet or the High Seas Fleet would be able to contest the Grand Fleet in open battle frankly anywhere. Ireland is going nowhere, because if they ask for that, the Prime Minister narrows his eyes and says "Make me". Short of the German Army standing in London, it ain't happening. The US can maybe get Canada once everything is set and done on a de facto measure, but it cannot contest Atlantic domination, just as Germany cannot contest North Sea domination (They tried OTL. It didn't go well). The only way the Royal Navy and British Army are getting reduced is if they are butchered in open battle.

France you can drive a truck to from Berlin, and the same for Canada from Washington. You can't with Britain. Any and all attempts are just going to be laughed out. Same for the debts imposed on Britain. The UK is going to go "Well fuck you all" and leave right then and there if they actually tried to propose that. (Look to Northern Ireland for a possible ethnic cleansing too in the future)

With Alliances, that too will be laughed out. You could probably intimidate the Scandis and the Netherlands to not agree, but Spain, Italy, etc. who were considered great powers at the time will just tell Germany to fuck off, and if they try, they can show up with their army. Same for Japan. They will say "You and what Army?" The US Pacific Fleet cannot project power that far into Asia, and the Kaiserliche Marine will run out of coal long before it makes it there. The IJN will be waiting there, rested and ready.

As for colonies. You can maybe get Belgian Congo, but you are not getting Algeria, or most of the African colonies either, British or French. Not South Africa, not Togo or Nigeria. Mittelafrika only works because of the power of the plot in Kaiserreich.

The Treaty's obligations on Britain seriously stretches disbelief to the point that it breaks, honestly. IF anyone signs that treaty, they do so, full well knowing that it will be broken as soon as the British Delegation leaves Vienna
Technically, Germany could make Mittelafrika with just Belgian Kongo, French Kongo and French Gabon.

As for Ireland, maybe force a referendum if they want to leave or stay.

Beyond that, alot of stuff with the British wil be difficult.
 
Technically, Germany could make Mittelafrika with just Belgian Kongo, French Kongo and French Gabon.

As for Ireland, maybe force a referendum if they want to leave or stay.

Beyond that, alot of stuff with the British wil be difficult.
They can't even force a referendum. No German soldiers anywhere near the possibility of standing on Ireland or in London = No independent Ireland, referendum or not
 
Questio: why is Luxembourg not annexed outright as a federal state of the German Empire?
Luxembourg becomes a client state of Germany under the treaty. It essentially starts the process of integration without total, up-front annexation.

This was a really good close to this part of the story.
Thanks!

Is Japan included in this?
I'd doubt that would work, so I'll say no.

Will there be a map of Africa? I'm curious to see just how big Mittelafrika is.
It's not as big as you may think, though I haven't made up a map yet.
My idea was to include portions of the Congo, OTL Chad and Gabon, and a narrow strip of then-Rhodesia.
 
Sorry.

No.

Neither Germany or America can force a peace like that on Britain in the First World War. The Royal Navy was Britain's (formerly Wooden) now Metal Wall against things like the US Navy and the Kaiserliche Marine. Neither the US Atlantic Fleet or the High Seas Fleet would be able to contest the Grand Fleet in open battle frankly anywhere. Ireland is going nowhere, because if they ask for that, the Prime Minister narrows his eyes and says "Make me". Short of the German Army standing in London, it ain't happening. The US can maybe get Canada once everything is set and done on a de facto measure, but it cannot contest Atlantic domination, just as Germany cannot contest North Sea domination (They tried OTL. It didn't go well). The only way the Royal Navy and British Army are getting reduced is if they are butchered in open battle.

France you can drive a truck to from Berlin, and the same for Canada from Washington. You can't with Britain. Any and all attempts are just going to be laughed out. Same for the debts imposed on Britain. The UK is going to go "Well fuck you all" and leave right then and there if they actually tried to propose that. (Look to Northern Ireland for a possible ethnic cleansing too in the future)

With Alliances, that too will be laughed out. You could probably intimidate the Scandis and the Netherlands to not agree, but Spain, Italy, etc. who were considered great powers at the time will just tell Germany to fuck off, and if they try, they can show up with their army. Same for Japan. They will say "You and what Army?" The US Pacific Fleet cannot project power that far into Asia, and the Kaiserliche Marine will run out of coal long before it makes it there. The IJN will be waiting there, rested and ready.

As for colonies. You can maybe get Belgian Congo, but you are not getting Algeria, or most of the African colonies either, British or French. Not South Africa, not Togo or Nigeria. Mittelafrika only works because of the power of the plot in Kaiserreich.

The Treaty's obligations on Britain seriously stretches disbelief to the point that it breaks, honestly. IF anyone signs that treaty, they do so, full well knowing that it will be broken as soon as the British Delegation leaves Vienna

I understand your objections, but there are a couple of key divergences TTL lays out that, in my view, would have pushed Britain hard enough to agree to the Vienna Treaty conditions (on paper, anyway). First, the U.K. was in no place to debate in Vienna as if this was a white peace. France and Russia exiting the war would be rough enough on its own, but Britain was also in the midst of compounding crises in Canada, Ireland, as well as on the home front. As mentioned in prior sections, English production was diminishing dramatically, unemployment was shooting upwards, and the PM was struggling to avoid all-out revolt in the streets. Not to mention, their fleets were gradually being torn apart in the Atlantic, blockades shredded in the North Sea, and their soldiers were facing devastation on the Western Front. I figured these conditions would have taken their toll, even without a land invasion of GB or a Super Jutland. It's fine if you don't agree though.

I will say, without giving too much away, that you are keen to the fact that there's no real international police force here to enforce some of these provisions. It's easy to proclaim alliances forbidden, for example, then turn around and carry out secret negotiations. More so, it was a deliberate decision of mine to pull the Vienna Treaty quote from a fictitious encyclopedia entry as opposed to one my imagined historians.

Anyway, I appreciate the critique! Hope you keep reading!
 
I understand your objections, but there are a couple of key divergences TTL lays out that, in my view, would have pushed Britain hard enough to agree to the Vienna Treaty conditions (on paper, anyway). First, the U.K. was in no place to debate in Vienna as if this was a white peace. France and Russia exiting the war would be rough enough on its own, but Britain was also in the midst of compounding crises in Canada, Ireland, as well as on the home front. As mentioned in prior sections, English production was diminishing dramatically, unemployment was shooting upwards, and the PM was struggling to avoid all-out revolt in the streets. Not to mention, their fleets were gradually being torn apart in the Atlantic, blockades shredded in the North Sea, and their soldiers were facing devastation on the Western Front. I figured these conditions would have taken their toll, even without a land invasion of GB or a Super Jutland. It's fine if you don't agree though.

I will say, without giving too much away, that you are keen to the fact that there's no real international police force here to enforce some of these provisions. It's easy to proclaim alliances forbidden, for example, then turn around and carry out secret negotiations. More so, it was a deliberate decision of mine to pull the Vienna Treaty quote from a fictitious encyclopedia entry as opposed to one my imagined historians.

Anyway, I appreciate the critique! Hope you keep reading!
They are absolutely in the position to argue for something approaching a white-ish grey peace, or barring that, trade symbolic admissions for fleet size. The UK is not invaded, and stands no chance of being invaded in the near future. (A key difference in Germany in 1918, where the army was basically gone after the Spring Offensive). Canada you can jettison temporarily anways. Ireland can be safely-ish contained with the fleet, and on the home front...well, let's just say that Britain fared worse. They may suffer some devastation, but the UK cannot, as a prime principle accept another power having naval supremacy around the British Isles. Anyone who is smart enough to be sent to kiss hands, is also smart enough that they cannot agree to limitations on the Royal Navy. The whole structure of the British military was built up around the fact that they alone had naval supremacy and the power to enforce it. Worst would come to worst, the UK would withdraw from the Atlantic and focus everything on the North Sea to keep the HSF contained. The USN was in no position in 1930 to operate cross-Atlantic, let alone 1919. Ireland is irrelevant, because in 1920, it was, AFAIK an agrarian economy, with, frankly, little industry of note to speak of outside Northern Ireland, which was both protestant and would if necessary rebel against the Treaty-enforced provisions.

It is important to note that the UK is in nowhere the same position that Germany was in post-WW1. The army is still loyal to the state, there hasn't been an power vaccuum caused by the monarch fleeing for the Netherlands, there is no military junta, and there is no imminent threat of physical devastation to the Homeland, and you cannot enforce any physical demands, short of landing a punitive expedition in London (See the USM for why that is hellishly difficult to do.)

But let me repeat: The Royal Navy's Priority Number 1, 2 and 3 is UK Home Waters Supremacy (That is Western Approaches, English Channel, North Sea and in part, the GIUK Gap). Any PM who is stupid enough to accept that treaty is a PM that is toppled as soon as news reach London, and the next PM will double dare Willy and Teddy to make the Royal Navy smaller. The Navy is the way that Britannia protects herself, just as the Army was Germany's way of protecting themselves.

No, the UK would be left as-is. UK of Great Britain and Ireland, but with very few friends on the Continent (save Portugal and Italy), basically their geopolitical nightmare anyways, and with Canada not officially ceded, but practically given away. The Royal Navy would also be left as-is, and something approaching a symbolic indemnity to be paid to Germany. At the end of the day, the UK is a tough nut to crack, socially and militarily, and besides, you have both France and Eastern Europe to plunder for booty. At times like this, both sides are smart enough that this is impasse, there is no forcing a total victory on either end, and therefore, for Germany, they take what they can get, (that is, France, the Benelux and Eastern Europe plus assorterd colonies) and go home in peace, while the UK retreats to lick its wounds and build up alliances elsewhere for Round 2.
 
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