Who should win the 1920 election?

  • Charles Evans Hughes (Republican)

    Votes: 37 88.1%
  • James Cox (OTL Democratic nominee)

    Votes: 4 9.5%
  • Other Democratic nominee (please specify who!)

    Votes: 1 2.4%

  • Total voters
    42
Update is progressing slowly... RL has been a bit distracting of late. Does anybody have any suggestions for anything original for the Baltics?
I ‘d like to press the case for the very interesting Duke Adolf Friedrich of Mecklenburg (1873-1969) to be the ruler of the United Baltic Duchy . Or maybe a role in Mittelafrika if not the Baltics..
Before World War I, he explored extensively in Africa, writing a book “From the Congo to the Niger and the Nile”. He was the last colonial governor of Togoland but was in Germany when the war broke out. His nieces were Queen Alexandrine of Denmark and Crown Princess Cecilie of Prussia. His sister-in-law was Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands.

You got me to find one of my books, “A History of Finland” by Eino Jutikkala, which mention’s Kaiser Wilhelm II’s son, Oskar, as being a very desirable early choice to the Finns for their proposed kingdom. And the circumstances in your thread’s timeline might make it hard for you to have Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim be in Finland as IOTL, but what an incredible life he had serving the Russian Empire.

It seems on Wikipedia that Joachim, the Kaiser’s youngest son, was really in demand for various kingships, including the Kingdom of Lithuania. I am very pleased to see that you, in your test thread at least, have chosen Wilhelm Karl, Duke of Urach as the new Lithuanian King, considering his background involving Monaco, Albania and a proposed Grand Duchy of Alsace-Lorraine.

Since I know you will also be writing another chapter on Ireland, in this Wikipedia article “Prince Joachim of Prussia”, several Irish nationalists, before the Irish Easter Uprising, thought having Joachim become the King of Ireland, especially since he did not know English, was a very good idea. Here is what one of them said about this:

Desmond FitzGerald said:
"That would have certain advantages for us. It would mean that a movement for de-anglicisation would flow from the head of the state downwards, for what was English would be foreign to the head of the state. He would naturally turn to those who were more Irish and Gaelic, as to his friends, for the non-nationalist element in our country had shown themselves to be so bitterly anti-German.......For the first generation or so it would be an advantage, in view of our natural weakness, to have a ruler who linked us with a dominant European power, and thereafter, when we were better prepared to stand alone, or when it might be undesirable that our ruler should turn by personal choice to one power rather than be guided by what was most natural and beneficial for our country, the ruler of that time would have become completely Irish."

--from Wikipedia Article “Prince Joachim of Prussia”

ArmageddonZ4747 said:
Don't stress yourself too much! This timeline is great and the site is willing to wait.
I agree totally with ArmageddonZ4747. I continue to be amazed at the quality and the quantity of your output.
 
Don't stress yourself too much! This timeline is great and the site is willing to wait.

This timeline is great,
And the site is willing to wait,
So take your time,
Doing so ain't a crime,
Patience ain't just a mind state.

I ‘d like to press the case for the very interesting Duke Adolf Friedrich of Mecklenburg (1873-1969) to be the ruler of the United Baltic Duchy . Or maybe a role in Mittelafrika if not the Baltics..
Before World War I, he explored extensively in Africa, writing a book “From the Congo to the Niger and the Nile”. He was the last colonial governor of Togoland but was in Germany when the war broke out. His nieces were Queen Alexandrine of Denmark and Crown Princess Cecilie of Prussia. His sister-in-law was Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands.

You got me to find one of my books, “A History of Finland” by Eino Jutikkala, which mention’s Kaiser Wilhelm II’s son, Oskar, as being a very desirable early choice to the Finns for their proposed kingdom. And the circumstances in your thread’s timeline might make it hard for you to have Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim be in Finland as IOTL, but what an incredible life he had serving the Russian Empire.

It seems on Wikipedia that Joachim, the Kaiser’s youngest son, was really in demand for various kingships, including the Kingdom of Lithuania. I am very pleased to see that you, in your test thread at least, have chosen Wilhelm Karl, Duke of Urach as the new Lithuanian King, considering his background involving Monaco, Albania and a proposed Grand Duchy of Alsace-Lorraine.

Since I know you will also be writing another chapter on Ireland, in this Wikipedia article “Prince Joachim of Prussia”, several Irish nationalists, before the Irish Easter Uprising, thought having Joachim become the King of Ireland, especially since he did not know English, was a very good idea. Here is what one of them said about this:




I agree totally with ArmageddonZ4747. I continue to be amazed at the quality and the quantity of your output.
Ah, thanks very very much to all three of you! That makes a writer's day, it does.
I got some work done today and we're tentatively looking at Thursday for an update on German Puppets In the East...
 

It seems that OTL the British weren't very happy with the Qajar dynasty and supported their removal. Assuming the Persian/Caucasus front doesn't differ too much from OTL the Brits would probably have the same view, even if they didn't have the strength to support a coup. Maybe they still try but are thwarted by an Ottoman-backed counter coup?

EDIT: Another quirky fellow operating in the area OTL

 
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I considered that, but rejected it because I wanted a Belarusian state.

The Eastern borders of Poland could be similar to OTL. This doesn't exclude a Belarussian state. But (speaking as the Kaiser now), I'd be happy to give Poland a strip of territory from the NE corner of Poland up to the Gulf Of Finland. So Belarus ITTL=Belarus OTL from 1921-1939, Poland ITTL=Poland OTL from 1921-1939 - cession to Germany - Vilnius to Lithuania, but + a Polish Corridor to the Gulf of Finland.
 
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Dear Readers,
I know things have been a bit slow here lately and I apologise for that.
I'm going to delay the update by 24 hours: I need some time tomorrow to get it perfect. It will be a long one!

Thanks for your patience.

-Kaiser Wilhelm the Tenth
 
Chapter 34: The East Is Feldgrau
Chapter Thirty-Four: The East Is Feldgrau

"In 1913, we had been under the rule of Russia for a century. Things were bad and we hated the foreign rule, but after a hundred years we had all gotten used to it. Now, we have our own states, our own countries once more. Who could have imagined such a thing in 1913? But I wonder how benevolent the Lithuanian government can be when there are German sentries at His Majesty's door."
-Diary of Adam Petrauskienė, a young man living in Vilinus, late 1918.

"I should like to extend my apology to the people of the Eastern countries. Germany has played a pivotal role in the development of Eastern Europe over the past century, but that development has often had harsh consequences for the people of the region. While our historic achievement of liberating the East and restoring the peoples to independence is laudable, we must criticise the errors of our forebears. Thus, I say this: today, I issue a formal apology to the people and governments of the Kingdom of Lithuania and the United Baltic Duchy. The regime led by Erich Ludendorff, the martial law of Ober Ost, was not in accordance with international law or the dictates of the human conscience. Germany must bear a measure of historical responsibility for this..."
-German Social Democratic Reichskanzler Theodor von Grafschuber speaking at the annual Old World Economic and Security Community (Altwelt Wirtschafts- und Sicherheitsgemeinschaft) summit in Riga, United Baltic Duchy, 2018. The speech attracted controversy because, in the eyes of the German right, it challenged Germany's 'inherent right' to lead the Continent.


Germany had long coveted an Eastern European empire. The Teutonic Knights had spent much of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries in battle with medieval Poland and Lithuania, while Prussia had been all too eager to gobble up as much of Poland as possible. Many viewed the Baltics, with their substantial German population, and Poland as prime places for expansion. Freidrich Neumann epitomised these views in his 1915 book Mitteleuropa. Neumann’s book was well-timed, as that same year the Gorlice-Tarnow Offensive delivered Poland and Lithuania to the Central Powers, who divided it amongst themselves. German troops manned the north of the line and ruled Lithuania, while Austro-Hungarian troops manned the south and centre and ruled Poland. (1) The status quo persisted until Germany’s summer offensive of 1916 delivered Estonia and more of Belarus to Germany; Reich troops occupied these territories. Peace came on 11 November 1916, extending German hegemony further east than ever before. Soldiers of the Central Powers stood from Narva to Minsk to Warsaw. Diverse peoples inhabited this area, all with their own aspirations and attitudes towards their new overlords.

In Berlin, attitudes towards the new Eastern European lands were straightforward- it was a colony to exploit at will. Food shortages had haunted the Central Powers during the war, and Germany was determined to never let this recur. They imported close to a million tonnes of grain and over two million heads of livestock during the last two years of the war; that pattern continued through 1917 and 1918. German companies eagerly moved east to claim natural resources- fourteen and a half million tonnes of coal were brought to the Fatherland from Poland by 1918. Combined with the resumption of world trade, the bounty of the East meant that the years following the war were fat and happy ones in Germany- despite economic turbulence caused by demobilisation, the price of food was markedly lower in 1917 than three years before.

Well-fed Germans were apathetic to the human cost of these policies. Erich Ludendorff’s “Order of Rule”, issued in June 1917, declared that “the interests of the army and the German Reich always supersede those of the occupied territory.” (2) Farmers had up to half of their produce nicked by German troops and women, children, and the elderly were often impressed into labouring for token wages with a soldier’s bayonet never far away. Germany was equally rapacious in its pursuit of forced labour. The regime deported Slavs to occupied northern France and eastern Belgium, as well as Danubian Galicia, and put them to work clearing battlefields. This was an unquestionable breach of international law, and decades later various German prime ministers would offer apologies to the Polish, Belarusian, Lithuanian, and Baltic governments. That said, despite the claims of some Slavic nationalists, these policies never constituted genocide; no master plan to eradicate the peoples of the East existed, nor did the shortages ever escalate into famine. This does not absolve the German Empire of its actions, but it is important to note that ineptitude and apathy by distant, ignorant bureaucrats, not malice per se, caused the human losses. Naked plundering also lasted a relatively short time; rapidly petering out once direct martial law ended and nominally independent states formed- but the Eastern countries’ relationships with Germany were never equitable and always rigged to benefit the latter.

It is perversely fitting that the Eastern lands only gained independence because of one man’s career interests.

Advocates of creating eastern puppet states- who were acting out of expediency, not altruism- had to go through one man: General Erich Ludendorff. He had distinguished himself in the war, cracking open the Belgian fortress of Liege as a colonel before being transferred to the Russian front. Victory at Tannenberg had made him a cult figure, a hero who’d saved sacred East Prussia from the Russians, and now-General Ludendorff had remained on the Eastern Front. He came into his moment in summer 1915, conquering Poland, Lithuania, and even parts of western Belarus. (3) Reward for his service came in October 1915 with command of Ober Ost, the military district spanning from Riga to Vilnius. Ober Ost grew in autumn 1916 as the Oststorm- Germany’s great offensive capitalising on Russia’s internal troubles- delivered more of Belarus and Estonia into the Reich’s hands. Ludendorff was a bitter rival of Chief of Staff Erich von Falkenhayn, and while the latter basked in the glow of his victory in the west, Ludendorff made bloody sure the people of Ober Ost knew who was number one. Ostensibly ruling on Berlin’s behalf, from 1916 onwards Ludendorff turned the military district into his own fiefdom. Many of the worst requisitions came during the Ober Ost period; surviving memoirs and diaries confirm that the leanest years for most in the Baltics were 1916 and 1917. Falkenhayn disliked the status quo but let it stand because there was a war on and Ludendorff, whatever else one said about him, was literally bringing home the bacon. By the middle of 1917, however, his patience was fraying. The Chief of Staff was determined to take his rival down a peg. It was this, and not concern for the well-being of the locals, which motivated his interest in puppet states- although he was perfectly happy to cite statistics from the Treasury claiming that puppet states would be cheaper to run than Ober Ost. (4) There was just one problem: as a military man, Falkenhayn had no excuse to throw his weight around in foreign affairs.

The Chief of the German General Staff was going to have to talk to some ‘useless civilians’ who’d stayed home while he was being a hero at Verdun.

Falkenhayn met with Finance Minister Siegfried von Roedern in autumn 1917. The two had never had much to do with the other, and so the meeting was a bit frosty at first. Both men were professionals though, and they had a common goal. Von Roedern was terrified about the national debt. The war had left Germany with an eighty billion mark deficit (5), and the chaos in France meant that reparations would be slow in coming. Ober Ost placated Ludendorff’s ego, but it was a leech on Germany’s wallet and was an ideal bit of fat to trim. Falkenhayn said that puppet states could provide Germany with the same resources it was getting now at a fraction of the cost; Von Roedern happily accepted the claim, adding that a decrease in supply might actually be a good thing, as it might drive prices up a little and stimulate the economy. (6) The two men wrote a memorandum and jointly submitted it to the Kaiser on 30 October. Wilhelm took little convincing; a nominal Poland was already on the map- what was a few more?

Convincing the sovereign to go ahead had been the easy bit- convincing Erich Ludendorff to go quietly would be the challenge.

Erich Ludendorff, generalissimo of Ober Ost, looking decidedly more cheerful than usual.
ErichLudendorff.jpg


Kaiser Wilhelm broke the news to his general in a telephone call on the first day of November. The porky general was too Prussian to give his genuine feelings to his exalted monarch, but once he set down the phone, Ludendorff flew into a torrent of coarse language. Ober Ost was his by rights, by God! Surely that swine Falkenhayn was behind this! After a few hours spent venting his spleen, Ludendorff calmed down sufficiently to dictate a formal protest to Wilhelm. Highlighting the profit Germany had gained from the military district, Ludendorff claimed that Baltic peoples were too uncivilised to farm efficiently without German soldiers pointing guns at their backs. He also voiced his offence that he, the hero of Tannenberg, was being thrown out of his position on budgetary grounds. With Falkenhayn whispering in his ear, the Kaiser said that little would change on the ground; exports would still be under German supervision, it was simply that they would be done in a way involving less German manpower. Ludendorff remained unconvinced, and it looked as though the Kaiser might have to fire him to break the impasse- a public relations disaster in the making if ever there was one. Matters were exacerbated when the offended general complained to Marshal Hindenburg a few days later, and the other hero of Tannenberg protested the injustice to the Kaiser. Just as things appeared to be falling apart, Falkenhayn arrived with a cunning plan. He would offer Ludendorff what appeared to be a concession, but what was really a gain for the Chief of Staff.

Falkenhayn telephoned Ludendorff on 7 November 1917 with a proposal. It was unjust, he said, to even consider dismissing the venerable Ludendorff over something as slim as budgetary issues, and for that he was sorry- doubtless, Falkenhayn’s stomach must’ve curdled at apologising to his rival. In exchange for accepting the dissolution of Ober Ost and the creation of Eastern puppets, Kaiser Wilhelm would give Ludendorff command of all German troops in the new satellites. This was a peace-time position and so he would not be a military governor, but it was the closest thing he could give. Tossing a stick in with the carrot, Falkenhayn claimed to be speaking on the Kaiser’s behalf and implied that Ludendorff would be sacked if he did not agree. This was a victory for Falkenhayn for two reasons. For a start, it earned him acclaim from Kaiser Wilhelm for avoiding a public-relations catastrophe, and less honourably, it got his rival Ludendorff out of Berlin and out of power.

The path was now clear for the establishment of Eastern satellites.

Of all the Eastern lands, Poland had the best claim to independence, but also the most contentious relations with the Central Powers. Prussia and Austria had collaborated with Russia to take Poland off the map in 1795 and happily divided it up at the Congress of Vienna. That border had remained unchanged until the start of the Great War, leaving Poles divided, with links to both sides in the war. Germany, Austria-Hungary, and the Poles themselves all had aspirations for the country. Germany had always looked down its noses at the Poles and viewed them as a source of manpower and natural resources, not as a people to respect. Hans Hartwig von Beseler, military commander of Poland in the wake of Gorlice-Tarnow, traced the basic path which Poland was to follow. Von Beseler proposed that Germany establish a rump Polish state akin to Napoleon’s Grand Duchy of Warsaw; something with which to de facto control the country without having to pay for military occupation. Von Beseler’s proposals met with much praise, with General Ludendorff praising them in high circles. By the end of 1915, it was decided to place Poland on the map after the war. Committees in Berlin got to work drawing provisional borders and interviewing prominent Poles.

The Kingdom of Poland nominally joined the family of nations on 5 November 1916, when the “Provisional Council of State” declared independence. Interestingly, the Kingdom of Poland spent its first two months in a power vacuum- there was no king, and the Regency Council would not be established until 14 January. This made little odds as the German military continued to govern. A man named Waclaw Niemjowski was president of the Council and was expected to end up as Prime Minister once a monarch was installed. One can gauge Niemjowski’s power from the time he spent listening to the German aide by his side and reading missives from Berlin, as compared to how much time he devoted to statecraft. Aspiring German civil servants spent the spring of 1917 flocking to Warsaw to begin a career supervising the Polish bureaucracy.

Despite having its foreign policy managed by Germany, Poland established diplomatic relations with much of the world. Germany broke the world record for being the fastest state to recognise a newly independent nation; four minutes after the Provisional Council of State declared independence, the first German ambassador walked through the door and presented his credentials. All of Europe but France followed suit throughout 1917- Russia was bound by the Treaty of Konigsberg, Britain viewed it as an olive branch that cost them nothing, the Central Powers were all too happy to do so, and the rest of Europe aimed to please Berlin. The United States would drag its feet until autumn 1918- Charles Evans Hughes had to weigh his Germanophobia against his desire for the Polish vote in that year’s midterms. Poland’s diplomatic relations with the world enabled Berlin to claim that the state enjoyed real independence, but the German garrisons in the new state showed no sign of preparing to pull out and celebrated Poland’s “day of liberation” by nabbing wine and sausages from the locals.

Poland’s ‘independence’ was totally bogus.

The country was a source of tension between Germany and Austria-Hungary. Both sides had parts of historic Poland in their core territories, and both wanted to dominate the conquered Russian area. To Vienna’s chagrin, troops earmarked for a potential war against Italy had gone to garrison duty in Poland. This brought their arms little glory and Conrad chafed at being treated as a subordinate. This was a blessing in disguise, because it gave Austro-Hungarian, not German, officials much more leverage over Poland, since theirs were the ‘boots on the ground.’ Germany resented this, as they were the senior partner in the Central Powers and wanted to bend Europe to their will. Nonetheless, they were forced to treat Vienna as an equal in the battle over Poland’s future… the idea of asking the Poles never once crossed their minds. Another bargaining chip Vienna enjoyed were the Polish Legions, formations of ethnic Poles created by Jozef Pilsudski. The Legions had fought valiantly during Gorlice-Tarnow and the Oststorm, leading Pilsudski to demand autonomy from the Austro-Hungarians. After the imperial government refused, Pilsudski became a bitter man. (7) Germany would subsequently shoot themselves in the foot vis-a-vis the Austrians and Poles when, in June 1917, they demanded that all Poles under arms swear an oath of loyalty to Kaiser Wilhelm II. This disgusted Pilsudski and alienated many Poles from Germany. It looked as though Austria-Hungary would become the dominant player in Poland…

...and then Hungary broke away.

The Danubian Civil War (8) changed everything. Hungary declared independence on 13 July and spent the summer beating back imperial assaults. With revolt chewing at its heartland, Danubia needed every man available to crush the Hungarians. The Polish Legions from the Great War were still under imperial control and went south, depriving the nascent Polish state of the potential nucleus of a future military. More importantly, the empire swallowed its pride and asked Germany to take over occupation duties in Poland; Berlin was all too happy to comply.

Poland was now in Germany’s pocket.

Even a proxy state requires a normal government. Germany was trying to demobilise and so occupying every town in Poland as though there was still a war on wasn’t workable. Poland’s lack of a functioning government was costing it international legitimacy and exposed the unpleasant fact that Germany was ruling by the sword. Thus, in autumn 1917, Berlin entered the market for a Polish king. The Habsburgs wanted Archduke Karl Stephen to mount the throne to unite the Galician Poles with the new Polish state, but they no longer ruled the roost and Berlin ignored their opinions.

Germany would place its own man on the Polish throne.

King Frederick Augustus III of Saxony, Frydryck I of Poland
frederick of poland.jpg


The kings of Bavaria, Wurttemberg, and Saxony all had respectable claims. The Polish throne, powerless though it was, was heavily contested. This was because with the unification of Germany and Italy over the preceding decades, and no more independent Balkan states, plenty of German royal houses who might’ve gone abroad to rule a foreign country now had nowhere to go, and reigning over Poland would be prestigious. Letters exchanged between contenders to the throne survive, laced with bitterness unusual for dignified noblemen. Eventually, a rather convoluted- and not a bit unsavoury for the women involved- compromise was reached. King Frederick Augustus III of Saxony would become King Fryderyk I of Poland, and his daughter Princess Margarete Karola would marry Prince Konrad of Bavaria. When Frederick died, Konrad would inherit the Polish throne, and a joint House of Wettin-Wittelsbach would rule Poland. A generation later, the oldest son of Konrad and Margarete would marry a woman from Wurttemberg, and their child would become King of Poland, thus forging a Polish dynasty with roots in three kingdoms. Konrad was amiable to the plan and agreed to marry Margarete, even if the bride didn’t much fancy her new husband. Frederick Augustus was crowned as King of Poland in Warsaw on 3 September 1917, and the wedding took place a month later. A general election to the Sejm, the Parliament, was scheduled for January 1918, and Poland’s constitution was unveiled on Christmas Day 1917. Of course, all this talk about parliaments and constitutions was window-dressing; German soldiers remained on the country’s territory and German bureaucrats really ran the place.

Princess Margarete Karola of Saxony, another in a long strain of European noble-women whose honour was sacrificed over dynastic issues.
margaretekarolaofsaxony.jpg


It was an insult to the poor woman’s honour, but it solved the issue of dynastic claims and that counted for more in the year 1917.

This is where race enters the story. As mentioned above, Germany viewed itself as superior to the Poles, and the politically powerful, conservative Prussian landowners had never reconciled themselves to Poles in their territory… besides, they could scarcely wait to get their hands on the empty land on offer. Therefore, a consensus developed throughout 1916 and 1917 that they needed to annex a western Border Strip, especially if Danubia ended up winning the battle for influence. Therefore, German garrisons remained in the proposed areas. When Hungary broke away and Germany absorbed Poland, Erich Ludendorff pushed for immediate annexation of the strip, but it was decided to wait until a proper Polish government had been formed to mollify public opinion. With a “proper Polish government” now in existence, Ludendorff pushed ahead. On 4 March 1918, the Sejm ratified the Treaty of Siedlice, King Fryderyk giving Royal Assent. Twenty thousand square kilometres passed from Polish to German hands. The Border Strip was divided between the German provinces of East Prussia, Posen, West Prussia, and Silesia. The conservative Junkers who dominated these provinces eagerly swept in, gobbling up vast tracts of land for their estates. Germany now controlled thousands more Poles and Jews- but it wasn’t to last. What followed would become something of a black mark in Germany’s history, straining relations between Germany and the United States (the Polish and Jewish voters didn’t react kindly to such a thing), and making many Poles despise the Germans who’d liberated them from Russia only to infringe on their dignity.

The deportations of spring 1918 began within weeks of the Treaty of Siedlice. Ethnic Poles living inside Germany- including in the Border Strip- were ‘encouraged’ to move to the new Kingdom of Poland. Propaganda appeared in German, Yiddish, and Polish exhorting “the unity of the Polish race”. Just in case people missed the message, King Fryderyk issued a proclamation (in German, which says how much he valued his Polish subjects) calling on “his people to return home” and said ominously that he would work with the Kaiser to assist German Poles who wanted to return to their so-called motherland. Germans in the eastern provinces began giving Poles the cold shoulder, tacking up signs forbidding Poles from entering, all with quiet approval from Berlin. Incidents of anti-Semitism ticked up in spring 1918. One infamous example came when a young German in Danzig mugged an elderly gentleman who’d spent his entire life there but whose parents had hailed from Poland (he spoke with a pronounced Polish accent). The local police refused to investigate, and when the man brought charges before a court, they dismissed the case as not worth their time despite his bruises and bandages. Just in case anyone felt like missing the point, at the same time the police began pulling down houses in Polish and Jewish quarters of towns for alleged safety reasons, Germany’s major rail companies announced the resumption of services eastwards, with a third-class seat from Posen, Danzig, or Königsberg to Warsaw costing thirty pfennigs (the state quietly subsidised the programme). Many deportees were good Germans who had served honourably in the Great War, but were now betrayed by their Fatherland. History can be an unfair business. That said, direct violence against Poles in Germany by the state was fairly rare, although not uncommon. Caricatures in the London and Petrograd papers, and rumours in the Lower East Side of New York City of Germans burning down Polish villages and killing everyone who didn’t agree to move eastwards were untrue.

The deportations left the Polish Border Strip and, to a lesser extent, Germany’s eastern provinces depopulated. Berlin would attempt to make up for this by fostering immigration from the Volga Germans. These people had lived in Russia since the eighteenth century and had never been trusted by the Tsarists. When the Russian Civil War erupted, Germany would extend an open invitation for these people to settle as refugees on humanitarian grounds- many took up the offer.

The 1918 Sejm elections saw the rise of the National Conservatives. (8) The party represented German interests first and foremost, and consisted mostly of wealthy Poles who’d purchased seats, and men who’d been officers in the now-disbanded Polish Legion. Jozef Pilsudski had resigned over the oath crisis and held no place in the new parliament. It surprised no one when Waclaw Niemjowski, former president of the Provisional Council of State and Regency Council, became Poland’s first PM. Poland’s Constitution stipulated a general election every five years, but few expected much change in 1923. The Kingdom of Poland would carry on, bereft of its Border Strip and shackled to Germany, but independent. 1918 would see Germany reduce its military presence in the kingdom somewhat as it demobilised- however, six military bases remained scattered throughout the small kingdom, and virtually all of Poland’s industrial and financial assets were either owned by Germans or set up to provide profit to the western colossus. Poland would not develop a real military for years- only a skeleton force comprising Polish Legion veterans bound by oath to the Kaiser and commanded by Germans. The Poles appreciated their independence from Russia but were none too happy about their subservience to the Germans. For the moment, Berlin could keep hold of the Kingdom of Poland by playing up fears of the Bear.

To Poland’s east lay the Belarusian People’s Republic. Belarus, it was widely quipped, had no need to fear the Bear- it was the Bear! The joke reflected that there was no precedent for a Belarusian state- the territory had gone from the Kievan Rus to the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth to Russia, and now to Germany. Therefore, the Belarusian People’s Republic was the first time the Belarusian people and culture had had a state all its own. The one snag was that the Belarusian language and alphabet were very similar- though not identical- to Russian and many Belarusians were bilingual, Belarusian gentiles were uniformly Russian Orthodox, the Russo-Belarusian border was an artificial war frontline codified in a peace treaty, and ‘Belarus’ is the Russian for ‘White Russia’.

Germany had to do everything in its power to get the inhabitants of the People’s Republic to embrace their appointed role as ‘not Russians.’

Much of Belarus had fallen to Germany during Gorlice-Tarnow. Minsk, Grodno, Baranovichi all lay under German rule. Unlike in Poland, there were no Danubian troops in Belarus, and so Berlin had a totally free hand. In late 1916, when revolt gripped the Ukraine, some considered awarding the territory to that country; Tsar Michael’s quelling of the revolt put pay to those dreams. With Ober Ost a thing of the past, something had to be created in the region. The idea of parcelling Belarus out amongst Poland and the Baltic states was discussed but rejected; no one wanted to embolden Poland by extending its territory to Minsk. An independent Belarus would serve as a useful buffer against Russia and keep the other German puppets weaker and smaller than they would’ve been otherwise. Thus, on 21 February 1918, the First National Council of the Belarusian People’s Republic met in Minsk, declaring independence. (9) German advisers were present to ‘assist’ in drawing borders. Said borders were totally artificial. The eastern border was the limit of the German conquests as per the Treaty of Konigsberg; to the northwest was the long frontier with what would become Lithuania. Nationalistic delegates pushed for much more, but the German word was final.

Many factions had a voice in founding the Belarusian People’s Republic. The Belarusian Socialist Assembly had mixed feelings about the new status quo- on the one hand, they had been freed from the Russians, but on the other it was the equally reactionary imperialist Kaiser who had done so. Nonetheless, deciding that they could do more good inside the system than out of it, the socialists attended. The other major delegation was the Belarusian branch of the General Jewish Labour Bund, a left-wing, secular Jewish organisation which spread across the Russian empire. They were skeptical about working with the Kaiser, fearing antisemitic treatment, but again decided that there was more to gain swimming with the tide than against it. Poland’s branch of the Bund had broken away when German boots overran their home country; now the Belarusians did the same. This meant that the First National Council had a very left-wing flavour. Clearly, the only way a monarchy could be imposed was at bayonet point- which would’ve cost money and lives when Berlin was trying to trim the fat. Kaiser Wilhelm was none too pleased about this, nor were Hindenburg and Ludendorff, but they eventually reached a consensus that it didn’t make much odds. German boots would remain on Belarusian soil and the country would be economically shackled to Germany no matter what- why not let them have their republic? When the Second National Council convened on 25 March 1918, it got busy laying down provisional sketches for a republican constitution. The Socialists and the Jews hemmed and hawed over this and that, but a liberal order, albeit one subservient to Germany, was clearly being formed. They scheduled a formal congress to assemble a Belarusian government for December.

Father Christmas came right on time for the Belarusians and Germans.

The First All-Belarusian Congress elected the Socialist Jan Sierada as President, and established the Rada, the Parliament. There were thirty-six regular delegates to the Rada, plus fifteen devoted to the rights of Belarus’ Polish, Russian, and Jewish minorities, ten representatives of local authorities, and ten for major cities. However, like the Polish monarchy and parliament, the Rada’s authority extended no further than the auditorium where it met. Germany indirectly ran the Belarusian economy and it just so happened that every officer above first lieutenant in the nascent Belarusian army was a German who’d lost his job in the postwar demobilisations, but who Berlin had offered a new line of work to.

Despite German control, Belarus experienced a cultural flowering in the years following the war. Germany had a vested interest in getting the Belarusian people to see themselves as “not Russian” and so they emphasised Belarusian culture, sponsoring nationalist poets and art- the irony that a foreign imperialist did this was lost on few. Many Belarusians, especially conservatives, disliked the new regime and longed for a return to the Russian fold, but the Jews, Poles, and liberals provided key support for the People’s Republic. Germany looked forward to the 1920s and beyond, when a new generation of Belarusians would be born and raised knowing only their government and Germany, and that Russia was the enemy…

To Belarus’ north was the Kingdom of Lithuania. Germany had overrun the territory during Gorlice-Tarnow and it had been part of Ludendorff’s Ober Ost. Lithuania had last existed independently in 1569, when it federated with Poland. The resulting Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was a dual monarchy similar to prewar Austria-Hungary, in which both ethnicities shared equal status and control over the state’s future. This pleasant arrangement was not to last, and from 1795 to 1915 Lithuania lay under Russia’s yoke. Yet, the Lithuanian identity had survived its exodus, and many hoped to see an independent state once more. Conservative Germans dreamt of incorporating the country into their empire and opposed dreams of independence. In fairness, these proposals were quite generous, with Lithuania being offered the same deal as Bavaria and other kingdoms- rule by a local king and sizable cultural autonomy. Domestic German politics proved the death-knell of this idea; Catholic Bavaria and many of the smaller constituent states objected to the expansion of the Protestant Prussian colossus, and got the idea dropped. Lithuania was relieved- Russia had given Poland a similar deal at the Congress of Vienna and look what happened there.

One surprising threat to Lithuania’s independence came from Poland. Having gained liberty, the Poles wanted to expand their borders. Many in Warsaw and elsewhere called for Poles and Lithuanians to “join forces” in reviving the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Their argument was that since the Commonwealth represented the last time a sovereign Lithuanian state and a sovereign Polish state had been on the map, resurrecting it (albeit with reduced borders) would correct a historical injustice and provide protection from Russia. This argument collapsed when viewed closely, for it ignored Austro-Prussian guilt in the “historical injustice”. A restored Commonwealth would be subservient to two of the powers which wiped it off the map. The proposed ‘reduced’ frontiers only highlighted this; the pre-partition borders encompassed much key German and Danubian territory and no one in Berlin or Vienna would stand for that. Added to this was that a century of Russian domination had turned the Lithuanians off the idea of being shackled to any foreign power. Advocates of a Commonwealth were shunned as traitors or in Polish pay- these harsh accusations had a ring of truth about them.

Lithuania would not settle for anything less than full independence.

The cynical motto “Might makes Right” is all too often true in statecraft. German soldiers occupied the country and could do what they pleased. As with Poland, placing Lithuania on the map served Berlin’s interests and so that was what happened. After much wrangling, Germany and the nascent Council of Lithuania compromised. Duke William of Urach, a politically neutral German prince, took the regnal name Mindaugas II after a medieval Lithuanian prince. The Urach dynasty would rule Lithuania for the next century- and presumably beyond, for even in the year 2021 King Mindaugas IV remains a popular figure. As with Poland, the kingdom learned that beggars cannot be choosers; Lithuania had nominal independence but remained shackled to Germany, and the people learned to accept it. Lithuanian nationalists yearned for freedom, but the German response of “us or the Russians?” quelled many; the tip of an imperial bayonet made a convincing argument as well.

Mindaugas II, King of Lithuania
mindaugas ii.png


Polish-Lithuanian relations in the years to come make an interesting if unfortunate coda to Lithuania’s story. One effect of the two being united for centuries, first under the Commonwealth and then the Russians, is that many Lithuanians lived in the new Kingdom of Poland and vice versa. Germany had awarded districts such as Augusto and Vilnius, with their high Polish populations, to Lithuania. A widespread conspiracy theory of the period was that they had done so to sow discord between their puppets; events played out that way. The German master would never have tolerated a war, but acrimonious border disputes persisted until well into the 1920s, and the Polish ambassador to Vilnius (itself claimed by Poland!) often found himself out of work; his Lithuanian counterpart in Warsaw fared no better. Protests by one side or the other were very common, as were incidents on the border. Germany eventually got sick of the mess and in 1924 deployed forces in the two countries to man the border while applying economic pressure.

Disliking the Germans, Russians, and Poles in equal measure, the Lithuanians would carry on.

Berlin enjoyed a unique advantage in the Baltic- there was a large population with guaranteed loyalty. Germans had first moved into the region during the late Middle Ages, forming a landowning upper caste. With great tenacity, they had stuck out through Polish and Russian domination, and many could trace their family trees back three or four centuries. Their ethnicity linked them to Germany- many had faced suspicion from Russian authorities when the war began- and they had gotten along well with Ludendorff’s Ober Ost regime. Now, the various noble houses would compete to see who would rule. One name proposed was Gustav von Biron of Courland, whose ancestors had ruled the Grand Duchy of Courland and Semigallia in the eighteenth century. Von Biron proposed resurrecting the Grand Duchy, but Berlin turned him down, fearing that the state would be too small and weak to survive in the modern world. There was some bitter haggling throughout spring 1918, but eventually everyone found an acceptable compromise candidate: Adolf Pilar von Pilchau. Von Pilchau was a sixty-seven-year-old landowner from Estonia with a large family and an even larger estate. His sons could succeed him as Grand Duke and he would always act in Germany’s interests. Kronprinz Wilhelm travelled to von Pilchau’s estate on 21 May with the news. He arrived, escorted by armed guards, at seven AM: the soon-to-be-monarch was in his bath and was quite startled when a servant walked in with the news that the Kaiser’s son was at the front door and wanted to see him! His hair still wet, von Pilchau agreed to become Grand Duke, ruling on Kaiser Wilhelm’s behalf.

The United Baltic Duchy was a government by wealthy German landowners for wealthy German landowners. When the constitution was formalised in November 1918, qualifications for sitting in Parliament (Gustav von Biron received the prime ministership as a consolation prize) were pegged to the amount of land one owned and the amount one had sitting in the banks of Riga and Berlin. Elections were meaningless; the position of Prime Minister was something for wealthy German families to pass around like a participation trophy they were “entitled to” by virtue of their blood. Grand Duke von Pilchau ruled at the Kaiser’s behest, and where Berlin told him to go, he went. Baltic Germans sued one another in German courts, the local Papiermark was pegged 1:1 with the German mark (the latter was actually legal tender inside the Duchy!), and German was the official language of government (Latvian and Estonian were treated as ‘recognised minority languages’ despite speakers of either of these tongues outnumbering German-speakers). Since the Duchy’s raison d’être was pleasing the wealthy German landowners, tax rates were extremely low, making it a fine tax haven for wealthy Germans. Extremely low taxes were only possible because of immense subsidies from Berlin, but one cannot deny that the economy profited from having wealthy Germans deposit their money in Riga. Another trick the German upper crust caught onto was to marry their daughters to a Baltic landowner, and to give her a large sum of cash as a dowry, to be deposited in a Baltic Duchy account- and then to spend that money as their own. Libertarians for decades to come would point to the Baltic Duchy as a prime example of their policies thriving in action: if a wealthy German landowner wanted to repair a stretch of road running by his estate, he hired Latvian or Estonian day-labourers to do it with the government not stepping in once. Rich Germans had wielded considerable economic clout for decades, but throughout the 1920s their power exploded, and a study in 1927 found that the noble families employed more people than the government. The Duchy also had a significantly higher number of soldiers than the other German puppets because of its proximity to Petrograd. This would become important during the Russian Civil War, as both sides were deterred from messing about in the German East by the knowledge that one of Russia’s key cities could be removed from the board. Interestingly, none of these soldiers were Latvian or Estonian, showing how much the Germans trusted the natives.

The United Baltic Duchy was a glorified colony.

Adolf Pilar von Pilchau, Grand Duke Adolf I of the Baltic
adolfpilarvonpilchau.jpg


Common themes ran through all the German puppets in the East. Different ethnicities- Poles, Lithuanians, Balts- had long and complex histories of independence and submission to Russia. Feelings towards Germany’s new order were mixed. On the one hand, they were grateful for having their own states on the map. For the first time in centuries, Lithuanian, Polish, and Belarusian were used in courts and classrooms, not Russian. (11) Nearly everyone in the East was grateful to be free of the Russian yoke and at least grudgingly thankful to Germany for having removed Russian dominance. Germany managed to squander much of that goodwill by lording it over the Eastern peoples. Polish Germans were bitter about being deported to the Kingdom of Poland and felt betrayed by their government, while the Poles in the Kingdom frowned at these newcomers. All of the Eastern puppets were run for German benefit. German immigrants were given pride of place by the forces stationed in the countries and they owned most of the major business and held most of the good jobs. Racial discrimination was baked into all the countries to an extent, with the natives being second-class citizens and their cultures under assault from German ways in their own countries. The United Baltic Duchy, with its personal union with Prussia and large German population, was the worst in this; the Belarusian People’s Republic the least so.

The East had gone out of the Russian frying pan, and if not directly into Germany’s fire, then onto the hot coals next to the blaze.

Comments?


  1. These men were on the Italian front in OTL. Side note: ITTL, Poland is not divided; all of Poland is under Austro-Hungarian military rule.
  2. This is an OTL quote taken from page 399 of Alexander Watson’s Ring of Steel: Germany and Austria-Hungary in World War I. I predicted it’d be a useful Christmas gift… and I was right!
  3. Gorlice-Tarnow is more successful in TTL because Austro-Hungarian troops who were on the Italian front in our world are in the East. These men end up doing garrison duty in Poland, which leads to… butterflies!
  4. I have no idea if that’s actually true, but you can get statistics to prove anything you like if you distort them enough, so...
  5. Many thanks to @Athelstane for this…
  6. I’m no economist-- please let me know if this claim is a load of horse...radish.
  7. But with the war over, he couldn’t have defected to the Entente, so he just stays in limbo.
  8. To my new readers: see chapter 16, but essentially Austria-Hungary=Danubia.
  9. Fictitious
  10. Most of this is not OTL, but it’s based off of OTL with divergences by authorial fiat.
  11. I know the other languages were used in the western Russian empire, but hopefully my point comes across
 
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Well, from the sound of it it looks like Germany's iron grip on the eastern puppets slips somewhat down the line, if the Chancellor is apologizing to them.
 
Von Roedern happily accepted the claim, adding that a decrease in supply might actually be a good thing, as it might drive prices up a little and stimulate the economy. (6)
I’m no economist-- please let me know if this claim is a load of horse...radish.
I think the best way to put this is... it's complicated.

Cutting supply of something is always going to raise the price, but whether that is a good thing really depends on what product we're talking about, and who is producing it and consuming it. If we take a staple food for instance, raising the price is going to help farmers (good for the rural communities), but it will hurt those who consume it. In this case, that's everyone, but the net effect on farmers is less (they're receiving more, but paying more as well, so really all you get is inflation, which doesn't matter unless it gets very high). It will however hurt those in the cities, as they're paying more but receiving (what can be assumed to be) the same income. Whether this redistribution of wealth from the cities to the farms is a good thing or not depends a lot on what you're trying to achieve - if the cities are very rich it's good in GDP terms as you're reducing inequality (at least if most of the population is on the farms, which I believe was still the case in 1914), if you're trying to win votes in urban districts, it's not so good.
Another example might be some fancy wine grown at small farms. Let's say only rich people consume this - they've got enough money, so they'll pay whatever. Raising the price in this case is wholly a good thing (benefits those who need more money, only works against those who have more than enough) as long as demand doesn't fall. However, if the elasticity of demand* is great enough (this will depend on a lot of factors!), it will become problematic for those small growers, as suddenly they have less customers and thus less income even if the price is higher.

* = This is a measure of (change in demand) vs (change in price) - if it is high in magnitude, a small price increase means the loss of a lot of customers. A classic example of this is brands of soft drinks - if Coke goes up in price by $1, a lot of folks will switch to Pepsi or Sprite or something.

All that said, if some politician is making the claim and words it carefully, your statement works well enough :)

- BNC
 
Well, from the sound of it it looks like Germany's iron grip on the eastern puppets slips somewhat down the line, if the Chancellor is apologizing to them.
I'm just hoping the monarchies stick. Europe needs more glamor, especially compared to OTL, where it's all bureaucrats and plutocrats left and right.
 
I think the best way to put this is... it's complicated.

Cutting supply of something is always going to raise the price, but whether that is a good thing really depends on what product we're talking about, and who is producing it and consuming it. If we take a staple food for instance, raising the price is going to help farmers (good for the rural communities), but it will hurt those who consume it. In this case, that's everyone, but the net effect on farmers is less (they're receiving more, but paying more as well, so really all you get is inflation, which doesn't matter unless it gets very high). It will however hurt those in the cities, as they're paying more but receiving (what can be assumed to be) the same income. Whether this redistribution of wealth from the cities to the farms is a good thing or not depends a lot on what you're trying to achieve - if the cities are very rich it's good in GDP terms as you're reducing inequality (at least if most of the population is on the farms, which I believe was still the case in 1914), if you're trying to win votes in urban districts, it's not so good.
Another example might be some fancy wine grown at small farms. Let's say only rich people consume this - they've got enough money, so they'll pay whatever. Raising the price in this case is wholly a good thing (benefits those who need more money, only works against those who have more than enough) as long as demand doesn't fall. However, if the elasticity of demand* is great enough (this will depend on a lot of factors!), it will become problematic for those small growers, as suddenly they have less customers and thus less income even if the price is higher.

* = This is a measure of (change in demand) vs (change in price) - if it is high in magnitude, a small price increase means the loss of a lot of customers. A classic example of this is brands of soft drinks - if Coke goes up in price by $1, a lot of folks will switch to Pepsi or Sprite or something.

All that said, if some politician is making the claim and words it carefully, your statement works well enough :)

- BNC
Wow, thanks BNC. I'll keep the statement as is for now, but I appreciate your taking the time to analyse that. Besides, it's not really about economic issues is it- that's just a fig leaf for Falkenhayn's ego project! :)
I'm just hoping the monarchies stick. Europe needs more glamor, especially compared to OTL, where it's all bureaucrats and plutocrats left and right.
You bet it does! I'm happy to report that Place In the Sun will be a monarchy-rich TL.
Edit: And the Europäische Wirtschafts- und Sicherheitsgemeinschaft will be quite different from OTL's EU...
 
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