Ghastly Victories: The United States in the World Wars

Part 2-2 Historical Madness, European Wars
…The reason why the new Russian government continued to wage an obviously unwinnable war has bedeviled people for decades. Surely it would have been better for them to make peace than to keep fighting to the breaking point and let the communists take over. With hindsight the obvious choice is to make peace and accept whatever losses are necessary in order to avoid civil war and communist takeover. This view overlooks two important facts about the provisional government.

The first was that it was in fact a semi-democratic body. The second was that its constituency wanted to continue the war. But the Russian people were totally against continuing the war, that is why the Czar was overthrown and the provisional government was as well, you say. That was not actually the case in anything accept communist propaganda. In truth the Russian people as a whole were quite opposed to any kind of peace with Germany, this was why the Communists cancelled plans for an election of a constituent assembly in November as they were quite certain to lose. Later on they found the best way to rally the Russian people was with nationalism, one figure was quoted as saying “who knew there were so many patriots in Russia?”.

But if the Russians were for continuing the war why did the Revolutions happen? That can be explained by the fact that while the Russian people as a whole were for continuing the war, certain groups within the Russian Empire were not. Most importantly the urban populations of St. Petersburg, Moscow and to a lesser extent the other Russian cities. The war had disrupted life greatly in the urban centers, causing shortages of food, disruptions to employment and more direct exposure to Czarist incompetence. As such St. Petersburg, like Paris in the French Revolution, was able to be the tail that wagged the dog, an urban minority that was able to steer the country in a direction opposite the wishes of the rural majority.

The other group opposed to the war was the common soldiery. They were the ones who dealt with the worst conditions, were poorly equipped and saw defeat after defeat shatter their morale, with brutal and incompetent officers making the situation worse. While the urban population of St. Petersburg drove the Revolution it was their dissatisfaction that allowed it to move forward…

…One must be honest and state that the Provisional government did consider opening negotiations with the Germans if they were not given a guarantee of American loans, both during the war and after. That is not to say that the negotiations would have gone anywhere as the Provisional government was not prepared to make peace in Spring 1917, certainly not on any terms the Germans might have offered then, it was merely a threat to get those loans that they so desperately needed. In this way it was similar to the promises of peace they mad in the early days to quiet down the St. Petersburg mobs which they had no intention of following through on. Furthermore, actually talking to the Germans would have caused much dissension in the ranks and possibly brought down the government. So the Provisional Government was never actually seriously considering leaving the war…

-Excerpt from Why did they do THAT!?! Historical Madness in Context: Volume III, Harper & Brothers, New York, 2015

…After the February revolution a provisional government was put into place in Russia led by the state Duma. The new government remained committed to continuing the war, as they viewed living up to the nation’s commitments essential to the future of the Russian state. However, they were realistic about their military situation. 1916 had shown that even a supremely well-prepared offensive against the Germans or Austrians was likely to end badly, and the Russian army was in even worse shape in 1917than in 1916. However, they needed to do something both to show their commitment to the war to the rest of the Entente and to rebuild the deficient morale.

Minister of War Alexander Kerensky proposed a solution. They would stand on the defensive against the Germans and Austrians, while transferring additional forces and supplies to fight the Ottomans. The Russian Army had performed very well against the Ottomans in previous years campaigns, and the forces in the Caucuses had the highest morale in the Russian Army. With reinforcements and supplies victories were guaranteed and examples could be used to restore the morale of the Russian Army so that in 1918 they would be able to restore the offensive, with the help of greater supplies from the new railroad from Murmansk.

The plan relied on the British, French and Italians playing their parts to keep the Germans and Austrians from launching major offensives that could damage the Russian Army. The British and Italians were able to live up to their commitments, thanks to the mutinies the French were not. Despite this the offensive went on as planned, as no other option had been seen launching on June 30th.

Russian forces quickly overwhelmed the Ottomans, still reeling from the defeats of 1916 and by July 10th had captured the port of Ordu and pushed the Ottomans back all along the front, despite the best efforts of Mustafa Kemal, the Ottoman’s finest general. The Kerensky offensive had achieved its goals.

However, this victory was overshadowed by new from elsewhere on the front. After the losses of 1916 and with the fresh Romanian army to consider the decision had been made to focus attention on the southern portion of the front. Thus the North was left neglected in the faint hope the Anglo-French would cause enough trouble for the Germans to not launch major offensives.

This was not to be and on July 2nd the Germans launched a major push for Riga. Using tactics developed by the Russians for the Brusilov offensive, but perfected by officers like Branchmüller and Hutier, the Germans rapidly broke through the front. On July 14th they were at the gates of Riga.

This pressed the governing coalition sorely and the Kadet Party left the government on July 15th, leaving only moderate left Socialists in the government. This prompted Prime Minister Georgy Lvov to resign effective the 20th.

Demonstrations started on the 16th by soldiers from local units, soon joined by sailors and factory workers. They called upon the Soviets to seize power from the useless provisional government and to use the power they had. Elements of the Bolshevik party supported these moves, however the party leadership was opposed to openly taking power at this time. Attempts by demonstrators to convince Lenin to intervene had failed.

On the 17th Riga fell to the advancing Germans, though the defending forces managed to pull back and avoid heavy losses. Alexander Kerensky, then the favorite to replace Lvov was blamed for the loss and placed out of the running. This delayed the response of the government for two days. During that time period Lenin was finally convinced of the need to take charge and on the 19th started speaking out and leading the demonstrators.

Attempts by the provisional government to entail local military forces to intervene proved fruitless, local units either remained in the barracks or joined the demonstrators. Armories, utilities, bridges, railway stations and other pieces of infrastructure were being seized by the demonstrators, slowly tightening their control over the city. The Provisional government felt they had to act now or control would be lost and ordered General Lazar Kornilov to bring reinforcements from the front and crush the demonstrations.

Kornilov had already been gathering troops since the protest started, partly due to his desire to create a more unified government and end the dual power system between the Soviets and the Provisional Government, partly due to the urging of Alfred Knox, the British military attaché. Kornilov immediately acted upon receipt of orders, and along with some British troops in Russian uniform, attempted to advance on St. Petersburg.

As his progress was impeded by striking railway and telegraph workers in sympathy with the demonstrators Kornilov took drastic measures to keep moving. Striking workers were made to return to work under threat of immediate execution, a threat carried out more than once on the 21st. Attempts by workers to impede his progress by absenteeism on the 22nd were met with threats of execution of workers families. This was counterproductive and on the 23rd Kornilov was killed when his train was derailed by railway workers. Without Kornilov the attempt to put down the revolt disintegrated as soldiers dispersed and officers squabbled over command.

Buoyed by the failure of Kornilov pro-Soviet and pro-Bolshevik demonstrations spread rapidly to other cities across Russia, followed by the seizure of the cities. The Russian civil war had begun…

-Excerpt from European Wars for Americans, Harper & Brothers, New York, 2004
Part 2-3 European Wars
…With Russia falling into civil war the German decision to ship Lenin there in the early part of the year was vindicated. With the Eastern front now a passive holding action, Hindenburg and Ludendorff turned to their next target, Italy. If the Italians could be driven from the war a major part of the pressure on Austria-Hungary would be gone and the Dual-Monarchy could partially demobilize and provide greater economic contributions to the German war effort. Even if the Italians were not outright driven from the war a major defeat could leave them incapable of significant offensive action. Such a defeat would also allow the occupation and exploitation of a significant quantity of Italian territory for the Central Powers war effort, and possibly divert Anglo-French troops to stiffen the wavering Italians. It would thus be a useful precursor to a knockout blow on the Western Front in Spring of 1918.

The Italians had attacked the Austrians in the tenth battle of the Isonzo in late Spring, and launched the eleventh in midsummer, slightly pushing back the Austrians and inflicting a great deal of casualties on both sides. The pressure of the still ongoing Eleventh battle convinced Conrad to agree to allow the Germans to take the lead.

German specialists in chemical and mountain warfare were sent to reconnoiter the area, choosing a quiet area around the town of Caporetto, Karfreit in some sources, as the location for the planned assault. A thrust by nine Austrian and nine German divisions would split the Italian Second Army, then hook behind and encircle the Italian Third Army. Other formations would launch attacks of opportunity if the Italians diverted troops to try to contain the breakthrough.

The attack was timed for October 1st, to give the Austrians four weeks to recover from the Eleventh Battle of the Isonszo. Italian aircraft were able to notice the buildup of German and Austrian troops for an offensive, as a result General Cadorna ordered defenses constructed to halt the coming attack.

Bad weather delayed the attack two days, but on the night of October 3rd there was no wind and a heavy mist over the front. With perfect conditions the Germans launched a heavy and abnormally effective gas attack. This was followed up by a short sharp bombardment and the detonation of a pair of mines. This provided the cover for stormtroopers to infiltrate strong points and quickly take them out. By 8:00 in the morning the Germans had broken through and were advancing almost unopposed through the valley road. By the end of the day they had penetrated almost 20 miles into the Italian lines.

Attempted counterattacks on the Fourth proved unable to stem the Germans and Austrians and the Second Army started the process of disintegration. Its commander Luigi Capello asked to withdraw on the 5th, however Cadorna still thought the situation could be salvaged. By the 6th, with the Austrians advancing in other parts of the front as well, he realized that it could not be and ordered a withdrawal behind the Tagliamento river. By that point it was too late, Second Army was in the process of disintegration and Third Army was not far behind.

Italian morale had, after the Russians, been the lowest of any of the great powers. Luigi Cadorna was infamous as a martinet who was detested by his troops for being overly harsh. To maintain discipline the Italian Army had as many military executions as the rest of the European great powers put together and it was rumored that Cadorna had reintroduced decimation for defeated units. He was liked no better by the officers, having sacked over 800 officers above the rank of Captain during his time in command. As such the Italian soldier, and indeed many officers, often felt no pressing need to die for his country, and would surrender in situations where his counterparts in other nations would keep fighting. This proved the Italian Achilles heel during the Caporetto campaign.

The Italians started crossing the Tagliamento on the 7th and took three days to cross. A large portion proved unable to do so and were trapped and captured by the Germans. By the time the Germans and Austrians crossed the river on the 10th Second Army had essentially disintegrated and Third was heavily damaged. The Austro-Germans could not follow up their success immediately as the rapid advance had overwhelmed their logistics, given time for the Italians to withdraw behind the Piave River.

The British and French sent further troops to reinforce the Italians, however they urged the Italians to withdraw further, to the Adige if not the Mincio and Po Rivers. This would mean sacrificing Venice and Padua, as well as Verona in the latter case.

On October 23rd the Austrians and Germans began their assault on the Piave line, specifically targeting the Third Italian Army. Already shaken by the enormous casualties it had taken in the earlier battles the Army broke. Fourth Army was forced to withdraw to protect it’s flank and Venice was cut off, with the garrison and many citizens to be evacuated by the Italian Navy. By the end of the Month the Italians were in full rout.

The Anglo-French force on the Mincio advanced to the Adige and on November 5th checked the Austro-German advance and saved First and Fourth Armies from destruction. The Austrians had managed to cross the Adige in the South on November 10th and the Entente forces were able to withdraw behind the Mincio and Po rivers for the Winter.

The Italians had suffered 30,000 dead, 50,000 wounded and an incredible 400,000 captured, along with 350,000 stragglers and 75,000 deserters. An estimated half of the Italian army simply ceased to exist in a recognizable form, though the stragglers would be reconstituted over the winter. The Germans and Austrians suffered about 90,000 casualties between them, and the Anglo-French 10,000. Over 4,000 artillery pieces, 5,000 machine guns and 2500 mortars were captured by the Central Powers, along with a vast quantity of supplies. It was in many ways a disaster worse than the loss of Russia and despite the entry of the United States into the war, many were privately convinced it meant that the war was lost...

-Excerpt from European Wars for Americans, Harper & Brothers, New York, 2004
Part 2-4 Loss of Innocence, European Wars
…American Contributions to the war during 1917 were limited. Partly this can be explained by the small size of the army and the nature of it. The United States Army was smaller than that of Belgium’s before the war started. It was also scattered over a wide geographic area, with many small detachments all over the Western United States, with more troops in the Philippines, Puerto Rico and elsewhere in the Caribbean. It would take time for the United States to pull together full-sized formations to send to Europe, with the 1st Infantry division not arriving on the front lines until October 24th. By year’s end only four combat ready American divisions were in France, one regular army, two national guard and one composite Army/Marine division.

This can also be explained by a lack of shipping. German U-Boats caused significant losses in shipping that had to be made good. Furthermore, an oil shortage resulted in many ships having to carry oil in their double bottoms, which cut into their transport capacity. This shipping crunch, along with a shortage of American built weaponry forced the American Expeditionary Force to use a great deal of Entente weaponry. Even as constraints in shipping weight were reduced constraints in shipping bulk remained into 1919 forcing the US to take measures to conserve shipping volume. Vessels belonging to Germany that had been sitting in port in the US were seized to partially make up the difference, leading to such incidents as the United States Navy having a USS Kaiser Wilhelm II in commission while at war with her namesake’s government.

The Navy was able to contribute more immediately, with convoy escort duty starting within a matter of months and US destroyer squadrons were stationed in France and Britain by mid-summer. The first American combat loss was the loss of the destroyer Fanning to U-Boats on September 20th. This was quickly followed by the first US kill on October 1st by the Destroyers Cassin and Cummings.

The Battleships would take longer to arrive, with Battleship Division Nine arriving in Scapa Flow on December 1st, with the Battleships, New York, Texas, Florida and Wyoming, the British having requested coal fired battleships to conserve oil, forcing the American’s to leave the newer, more powerful battleships of the Nevada and Pennsylvania classes home. The Battleships were not considered combat ready by the British, due to all but the flagship New York having been stripped of experienced gun crews to man smaller vessels. It would take months of gunnery practice, as well as learning British practices before they could join the grand fleet…

-Excerpt from The Loss of Innocence: America in the Great War, Harper & Brothers, New York 2014

…The Italian campaign had gone as well as the German High Command had realistically expected. Better in some ways as they were considering the need to retreat behind the Adige to consolidate their logistics until the Entente obliged them by retreating instead. Italy had not been knocked out of the war, but it was in the process of rebuilding a shattered army and would not be performing any land-based offensives for a long time.

There were arguments that another attack should be launched. These were overruled given the previous attacks had already stretched Austro-German logistics to the breaking point, and that any future attacks would be against the French, British and Americans, not the Italians who had broken so easily.

Proposals for a counterattack at Passchendaele were also mooted. The 220,000 casualties they had taken there from July to October had severely weakened the army in Flanders and it needed time to rest and refit. Until then German reserves were needed in Flanders in case the Entente resumed the attacks they abandoned mid-October.

A November assault by the British at Cambrai, making extensive use of tanks contributed to this decision. While the Germans had been able to counterattack and reverse most of the British gains the attack revealed a weakness in their defenses. Skillful use of tanks, with proper coordination from infantry, artillery and airpower, let attacks achieve a measure of success without extensive preparations that would provide warning to the defenders. Large reserves were needed to counterattack such breakthroughs.

Cambrai further illustrated to the German high command that they were on a time limit. Entente material superiority was growing, and the tank was turning from a curiosity to a real weapon. Combined with American divisions starting to appear on the frontlines this made it clear time no longer favored them. The 1918 Offensive would have to be decisive and everything reserved for it…

…For the Entente the Italian campaign made a bad situation worse. It forced the British to call off the Passchendaele offensive after they had suffered 260,000 casualties, but before they could actually take the Passchendaele Ridge or break the German Army in Flanders. It also forced a reevaluation of the Entente Strategy.

Previously the Entente had been determined to beat Germany by knocking away the props. The Italians would defeat the Austrians, the Serbs, Italians and expeditionary forces from other powers would defeat the Bulgarians in Albania, while Franco-British colonial forces defeated the Ottomans. Without the support of their allies the Germans would not be able to maintain the front in France and would have to sue for peace.

The Italian campaign suddenly made putting any pressure on Austria-Hungary or Bulgaria impossible. The collapse of the front and near destruction of the Italian Army prevented any pressure being applied on the Austrians there. Furthermore, the Italians had to withdraw significant amounts of troops from Albania, leaving the position there as a small pocket around Valona and reducing any pressure on the Bulgarians.

The campaign against the Ottomans would continue, as it was perhaps the only place the war was going well for the Entente and good news was necessary to keep morale up. Otherwise the war would have to be won in France. Limited Anglo-American assaults in 1918 would occur to build morale and occupy jumping off points for a decisive offensive in 1919 that would make use of the incredible material superiority that the Entente was building. If that failed the Entente could take solace in the fact that only the Americans could really continue the war into 1920 without collapse, thus their victory could then be assured, even if that would be a ghastly alternative.

This would of course require that the Entente survive the German offensive that was sure to come in 1918…

-Excerpt from European Wars for Americans, Harper & Brothers, New York, 2004

Things happened, update got posted later than usual
I liked your story, it seems that the war will last longer.
How are the Germans going to get food?
Romania is in the Central Powers so kept exporting grain to them to the tune of a million tons a year, the Central Powers have occupied part of the Ukraine more or less uninterrupted since 1915 and thus got agricultural production there back into shape, Greece is a nuetral state serving as a minor hole in the blockade, the CP are getting to loot a much bigger chunk of Italy and A-H is able to demobilize some troops to farm. By any objective standards they are still doing horribly, but compared to OTL the food situation is much better
Part 2-5 European Wars, Loss of Innocence
…Following the failure of Kornilov to crush St. Petersburg the Provisional Government fled the city. They attempted to reach Moscow by railroad and were stopped by striking workers. They then attempted to reach the city by road, avoiding the cities of Veliky Novgorod and Tver for fear of being intercepted by Bolsheviks, a fear that proved to be false. This put them effectively out of communication for ten days and let the Bolsheviks control the starting narrative. As such Moscow had been overtaken by revolution before they arrived with the local officials and troops not taking decisive action without orders.

The Provisional government then compounded their mistakes by taken the opportunity to flee west along the Trans-Siberian railway, rather than attempting to establish themselves in one of the cities to the south that were still loyal. As such establishment of a secure seat of government took over two weeks until they arrived in Omsk and decided the situation there was sufficiently secure. This lack of leadership at a key moment let the Bolsheviks take over the center of the Russian Rail and Telegraph networks without organized opposition and made the task of attempting to coordinate against the Bolsheviks almost impossible.

This lack of leadership led to local generals taking the initiative to try to form their own resistance blocks, to varying degrees of success, even crushing or dispersing a few Bolshevik uprisings near the front. However, they were unable to stop the slow disintegration of the Russian Army that had started to occur. Desertion, already rife exploded. A few more popular commanders were able to do better than others, and certain units with high morale such as the infamous Battalions of Death or of specific ethnic composition, such as Armenian volunteer units, did not suffer much at all. The combat power of the Russian Army was rapidly eroding.

Despite this the Provisional Government still controlled more than enough force to crush the Bolsheviks two weeks after the failure of Kornilov. At a command level this force was fragmented, and control had to be reasserted, a difficult task from Omsk when the telegraph lines from Moscow were unusable. It took two weeks for some semblance of control and coordination to be established and two more for a counter assault to be organized.

By that point the Bolsheviks controlled the territory between St. Petersburg and Moscow, the oblasts around Moscow, with pockets in the surrounding Oblasts. Bolshevik revolts elsewhere had been crushed by central authority, as in Minsk, or by local forces such as in Kiev, or simply contained as in Finland, Volgagrad and the Caucuses. The Bolsheviks were rapidly trying to organize some semblance of a military force to defend their territory, not helped by their ideological issues making military discipline difficult. They were outnumbered and substantially outgunned by forces loyal to the provisional government.

In the first offensives during September the Provisional government achieved a good deal of success, dispersing Bolshevik forces at a number of locations and retaking territory. With these victories the disintegration of the Russian Army accelerated. Opportunities for desertion increased and casualties were primarily concentrated among officers, NCO’s and the most loyal soldiers. As Government forces garrisoned retaken territory, they were exposed to increasing amounts of Bolshevik propaganda.

The first signs of trouble occurred two weeks into the reconquest when some of the government columns began bogging down. This was ignored as others were still making considerable progress. Yet one by one the other columns began bogging down as well. By the third week of October only two columns were moving forward at any speed, one to Moscow and another at st. Petersburg.

The St. Petersburg column met heavy resistance from the soldiers and sailors that had defected from the Bolsheviks. It was able to bulge their lines considerably, before being driven back by a counterattack from the armored cars that had been hastily assembled at the Putilov Works and captured from Kornilov. The retreat turned into a rout and the neighboring columns were forced to withdraw as well.

The Moscow column suffered a different fate. Victorious on the field it was ultimately torn apart by mutiny within as the harsh measures that allowed them to reach the gates of Moscow proved too much. The soldiers mutinied, executed their officers and defected to the Bolsheviks. With the failure of that column the neighboring columns were again forced to withdraw.

Things settled down into a stalemate for several weeks as the Provisional government tried to find the manpower and supplies to get their troops moving again. Such was not forthcoming in the continual disintegration of the Russian military, and at the end of October a retreat was ordered to consolidate and try again. This proved the final straw for the cohesion of the Russian forces, and they shattered on the retreat. Only the most dedicated managed to withdraw to their start lines, with the rest either deserting or going over to the Bolsheviks.

The Bolsheviks took advantage of the confusion and occupied the territory the government withdrew from, and even expanding further than they had before. Other groups joined them, anarchists in the Ukraine, ethnic nationalists in the Baltics and Caucuses, religious rebels in Central Asia and just plain madmen in Siberia. The Provisional government itself remained united, by the subordinates it depended on began to splinter into pieces as their control effectively began to run no further than the borders of Omsk…

-Excerpt from European Wars for Americans, Harper & Brothers, New York, 2004

…the most significant development of the fall of 1917, aside from the Caporetto offensive was the publication of the Russian Diplomatic archives by the Bolsheviks. The publication revealed the details of all the secret treaties and negotiations that had occurred before and during the war. Most importantly the Treaty of London bringing Italy into the war and the agreements to partition the Ottoman Empire.

The cynical and mercenary nature of the treaties appalled the American public. That the Entente was willing to carve territory from a neutral power and encourage the subjugation of another to gain Italy’s favor seemed to put to lie the idea that the war was fought for the rights of neutrals. The nature of secret agreements formed between nations without the knowledge or consent of the nation’s people offended the democratic sensibilities of the American populace.

Hellenophiles were appalled by the decision to give Corcyra from neutral Greece to Italy. In Greece itself newly reelected Prime Minister Venizelos had just recently outmaneuvered the king with regards to neutrality and had been planning to join the Entente. This revelation killed any chance of that happening and shifted Greece’s neutrality from pro-Entente to almost pro-Central Powers overnight.

The idea of giving Italy both a blank check and a free hand in Ethiopia offended many. It was too similar to the blank check given by Germany to Austria that helped start this whole mess to the comfort of many. Ethiopia’s status as one of only two independent African nations had African Americans appalled at the decision to sacrifice it to Italy, and its status as a Christian nation appalled certain white groups as well.

In general, the revelations of the Fall of 1917 started the process of souring the opinions of many Americans on their Entente Allies, despite the best effort of the propogandists both in America and abroad…

-Excerpt from The Loss of Innocence: America in the Great War, Harper & Brothers, New York 2014
Part 2-6 Loss of Innocence, European Wars, Naval History
…German planning for the Spring Offensive began in November of 1917. The Germans had realized that there was no way for them to win a prolonged war of attrition with the Americans in the war, war production was not increasing as fast as it should, and the Italians failing to leave the war. With attrition not an option victory would have to come through an operational masterstroke.

General Ludendorff proposed an operation to provide that. The goal of the operation was to break through British lines on the Somme, hook around and cut the British lines of communication. The BEF would thus be cut off and able to be destroyed at the Germans leisure, without the BEF the French could not cover the front alone and sufficient American troops were not available to do so. The French would be forced to sue for peace or be destroyed in place and the war would be won.

Ludendorff was unwittingly helped by an Entente decision to increase the area of the front covered by the BEF relative to the French. The British high command resisted, but the French were desperate, and they were overruled by Lloyd-George. This expansion, along with the casualties the British suffered in the previous year, forced the British to reorganize their infantry into triangular divisions, with 9 battalions, as opposed to rectangular divisions with 12. The British in order to preserve seniority had the oldest battalions retained, which caused organizational chaos as newer divisions lost most of their battalions which had to be replaced by battalions from other divisions.

Events in Russia would further aid Ludendorff…

-Excerpt from The Loss of Innocence: America in the Great War, Harper & Brothers, New York 2014

…With the immediate threat to Bolshevik power removed at the end of October Lenin and All Russian Congress of Soviets released a decree on peace. There he called for an immediate beginning of negotiations by all powers for a just peace without annexations or indemnities. No power took up this offer for a general peace conference, but the Central Powers indicated that they were willing to talk with the Bolsheviks.

Negotiations began in early November and seemed to start well. The German negotiators indicated that they were willing to accept in principle the no annexations or indemnities principle, so long as the Entente unanimously pledged to do the same and had no intention to annex territories by force. The Bolsheviks were ecstatic at the seeming success of their principles and were prepared to sign an immediate peace on these terms.

Then the German delegation realized that the Bolsheviks had misinterpreted their position. The Germans had no desire to annex territories but based on the principle of self determination the Societs espoused the Polish and some of the Baltic territories occupied by the Germans would become independent states. This came as a total shock to the Soviet negotiators who viewed this as annexations of territory in violation of their principles, and they demanded a recess of two weeks.

In this recess the Soviet leadership decided that such a peace agreement could not be agreed to. Agreeing to it would alienate their political allies in the Left-SRs and minor socialist parties. It was instead decided that they would stall until Revolutions broke out in the Central Powers, then conduct negotiations with the new revolutionary governments. Leon Trotsky, the Soviet foreign minister was thus sent to head a new delegation and stall.

Likewise, the German government was furious. The Austrians, Ottomans and Romanians were demanding that they be allowed to annex territory, and Hindenburg and Ludendorff wanted a much larger buffer in Poland and the Baltics for the next war. Foreign minister Kuhlmann was given strict instructions to ensure Germany got the territories it wanted and their allies were not left out.

On November 27th the delegations met again. Within a week it was clear to them that the Soviets were stalling. On December 7th they gave the Soviets an ultimatum, accept the terms of the loss of Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Bessarabia and Galicia or else. They had two weeks to make up their minds.

Trotsky returned to St. Petersburg and advocated for simply declaring peace with the Central Powers and transferring their forces against the Provisional Government. The most extreme left members of the Central Committee believed that the Central Powers were on the verge of revolution and that they should continue the war until that happened. Finally, Lenin, in a rare burst of pure pragmatism, wanted to sign a treaty now and avoid having to sign a more damaging treaty after a few weeks of humiliating military defeats. Trotsky’s views won out and a position of “no war, no peace” would be the basis for future negotiations beginning on the 21st.

On the 27th, after having time to recover from the Christmas celebrations, the central Powers launched an offensive all along the front. The Bolsheviks, having transferred their forces elsewhere, were unable to resist. The Central Powers advanced 150 miles in a week. German forces advanced within 150 miles of St. Petersburg and forced the Soviets to move their capital to Moscow.

On January 8th the Central Powers stopped and released another ultimatum. They added Estonia, Belorussia, Finland and all of the Ukraine to the list of territory the Soviets had to cede, as well as Erdehan, Batum and Kars to the Ottomans. This time only seven days would be provided to decide. The Bolsheviks stalled until the eleventh hour but announced they would sign just before the deadline on the 15th, after a heated debate and a Central Committee decision of 7-3-4.

On the 17th the Treaty was signed in the Fortress of Brest-Litovsk. A quarter of Russian population and industry was ceded to the Central Powers, as well as ninety percent of Russian coal mines. The Central Powers quickly advanced to occupy this new territory and set up puppet governments, a task that took weeks.

The signing of the treaty caused the Bolsheviks to lose their allies in the Left-SRs and other socialist parties, as well as costing them a great deal of popular support. They lost control of many outlying territories and were forced to withdraw, giving opposition to them a chance to consolidate. Only the lack of control and complete discreditation of the provisional government prevented this from becoming a complete disaster for them.

In the Caucuses the governments of Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan refused to recognize the treaty and formed a provisional union to resist the Ottomans.

The largest effect though was that with the cessation of hostilities the Central Powers could transfer forces to the Western Front. A total of 50 German and 10 Austrian Divisions were transferred West by the start of the Spring Offensive…

-Excerpt from European Wars for Americans, Harper & Brothers, New York, 2004

…In the year and a half following Cleaver Bank the Germans added the Bayern class Battleships Bayern, Baden and Sachsen with 8 38cm guns and the Derfflinger class Battlecruiser Hindenburg with 8 30.5cm guns, which more than made up for the loss of Von der Tann. A fourth battleship, Württemburg would be added in June 1918, with the 35cm armed Mackensen class battlecruisers Mackensen and Graf Spee scheduled to follow in November 1918 and February 1919 respectively. Eight light cruisers with 15cm guns had been added to replace those four lost from Cleaver Bank, with three more expected in 1918 and four more in 1919. The High Seas fleet was stronger than it had ever been.

The needs of the war had weighed heavily on them. To free up resources for U-Boats the decision had been made not to lay down any additional light cruisers or capital ships of the Ersatz-Yorck type and to suspend construction on Prinz Eitel Friedrich, Fürst Bismarck and Ersatz-Yorck, who would not be ready in time to do any good for the war effort. Work on further capital ships and cruisers would be limited to paper studies for the aftermath of the war.

Its rival, the Royal Navy was also stronger. Britain had added two 15” Battleships, Resolution and Ramilles of the Revenge class to replace the two Battleships it had lost, ships that were arguably inferior. The 14” Chilean Battleship Almirante Cochrane was purchased and would be completed in late spring 1919. The 15” armed battlecruisers Repulse and Renown, formerly Revenge class battleships, had been completed, along with two 15” armed Large Light Cruisers of the Courageous class, Courageous and Glorious, their half-sister Furious, ordered as a fast monitor with two 18” was rearmed under construction with 4 15” guns like her half siblings and been commissioned as well, replacing the three battlecruisers launched and the unrepaired Inflexible. Four Battlecruisers Hood, Anson, Howe and Rodney, with 8 15” guns each, would be ready in late 1919 and early 1920. Nine 6” armed light cruisers replaced the two that had been lost, with 5 coming in 1918 and 8 in 1919. The British were further helped by the entry of the Americans into the war, 6 battleships were able to reinforce the Grand Fleet and offset the relative gain made by HSF in battleships.

However the need to replace capital ships had hurt British construction of supporting units, the cruisers of the Hawkins class were suspended in early 1917, two destroyer leaders were cancelled, a proposed aircraft carrier conversion of the Italian liner Conte Rosso was never performed, the two Gorgon class Monitors were suspended, and 13 large submarines of the K, Modified K and M class were cancelled or suspended…

…By early 1918 the Kaiserliche Marine had learned of the planned Spring Offensive by the Army. The Navy had ridden high from the victory at Cleaver Bank in 1916, but later victories by the Army had overshadowed that. If the coming offensive won the war, as most believed would happen, then the Army’s reputation would be untouchable. The KM, looking at their future was thus concerned for their budgets, which had been high prewar thanks to public esteem, the Kaiser’s support, and the desire by the Prussian Aristocracy to keep the Army small enough they could dominate it. With a parsimonious postwar period expected, the Navy would need to do something to ensure they got the budget they wanted. The U-Boats and small units were doing vital work, but they were not particularly visible in the public consciousness, something bigger was needed.

The Spring Offensive offered them the chance to do that. While the KM could not directly support it, they could do so indirectly. A mass sortie by the HSF to cover a Battlecruiser raid on the English coast would provide a distraction to the British at the moment of decision. If they could repeat Cleaver Bank and chew up the British Battlecruisers and give the U-Boats a shot at the Grand Fleet, that would be ideal. If not, they would still provide a distraction to the British government and military at a time when they could ill afford it and amplify the moral blow of the Army’s victories on land.

The idea was proposed to the Kaiser in February and he was enthusiastic about the idea. The HSF would sortie at the same time the Army launched its grand offensive…

-Excerpt from Naval History Between the Wars, Harper & Brothers, New York, 2007
Last edited:
Well let's hope that the Kaiserschlacht can achieve as much operational success as it possibly could with current state the Entente are in.

Ludendorff will still run the operation inefficiently but at least the Germans have the OTL 50 Divisions along with a ATL 10 extra Austro-Hungarian Divisions to help, not to mention the extra food and oil supplies from Romania meaning more trucks (too supply the stormtroopers) and early AFV's available and the food and war matericals + trucks coming out of Austro-Hungary with the recent demobilisation.

The Navy is still heavly outnumbered, the only advantage is the Battle is going to be a a war between Quality Vs Quanity.

The Germans have the superior armed ships while the Brits have the naval equilivent of the Red Army.

Their best ships are the Queens.

But, Post-war loading tests by the British on Baden found that it took only 23 seconds from the time the guns fired until they were ready to fire again, compared to 36 seconds for the 15 inch (38.1 cm) guns on Queen Elizabeth... and to see one of those guns ended up becoming the famed Paris Gun..

The Baden class are going to be brutal to the RN, especially with the older classes of Dreadnoughts.

The Hood class seems to be a bit rushed with all 4 of them Operational in 1918... how did they-..... not sure if the British considered but I'm pretty sure rushing a lightly armoured but heavly armed ships into a conflict area with new sailors and new equipment with new gunners might not end up in the disaired results.

Not to mention we all remember the last time HMS Hood met a 15 inch Shell in 1941, that meeting ended up making a great song.
Still smaller shells from the Battlecruisers meeting the 1910s era amour of HMS Hood is still going to be quite disastrous.

Meanwhile the Renown-Class will only have one ship available since Reown herself is getting some saftey against plunging fire installed at Rosyth so one 15 inch Battlecruiser is already down for the count, Repluse already has it installed but the ships themselves are still venerable thanks to the light armour, especially at this time period before the rebuilds started post war.

The Revenge class is not great but it significantly better then the Battlecruisers.

The USN ships are not super ships but they are needed.

This is not to mention the chance of seaplane torpedo attacks and the swarm of U-boats who might get more fortuitous luck than their 1916 counterparts did at Jutland.
Heck a Zepline could radio in the GF location if it happens to stumble over it.

I've also seen the comparison of German engine rooms to British ones and its not good for the RN.

The RN biggest friend is starting a fire on a German ship.
Catching the HSF will be be a brutal slugfest but still a costly victory for the RN when the HSF runs out of ammo.

The KM biggest friend is penetrating the deck armour of a British ship or the Turret + fireball but they have extra protection since the last battle.
Hipper catching the British Battlecruisers will be a victory that the HSF needs.

Still in the end Germany greatest enemy is not the Entente but rather fate, because we all know that the war was lost before if even started with the hindsight the books of the 21st century ATL are giving to us.

Still the Kasiers Empire is going to take as many people as it possibly can down with it when the time comes, including the innocence of the American people by the looks of it...

Oh that reminded me the RN lost a Battlecruiser in Gallopi, I wonder what ship it was...