Yeah. I felt like crap writing that but I do feel it was historically plausible and added a much-needed bit of 'dark' to the TL. Humans are still humans and such things will still occur regardless of the PoD.
It's a mark of a good timeline that they bother to show atrocities like this. One of my favorite timelines, An Age of Miracles, does not shy away from the fact that the Romans, like everyone else for most of history, were enthusiastic ethnic cleansers when the opportunity presented.
 
As I said above: sorry things have been so quiet here; midterms have eaten up much of my energy. We'll be back tomorrow though!

I'm sorry to say that us Americans say exactly this ITTL lol.
Yes, very much so unfortunately...
A lot of people commenting about Italy's "mercenary" foreign policy that might see them go against Berlin. Assuming that the next great conflict is still Britain/France vs Germany, Italy still has much much more to gain with the Germans than against. Algeria in particular is an excellent target for Italy. Depending on how the situation in France goes, the Pieds-Noirs could even let the Italians in as liberators should France decide that in order to beat Germany on the continent they have to empress thousands of its colonial subjects and in the process give them equal rights, something the Pieds-Noirs will be wary of. Britain of course has egypt as a juicy target for Italian ambitions in both the Mediterranean and East Africa. Go against Germany, what might the Italians get? Some concessions in Danubia AND a war with Germany on the continent. Every country has their share of delusional people who bite off more than they can chew, but this TL is too good to have Italy go fully off the goop for TTLs WW2 analogue. Italy got virtually everything they could want from WW1.

1. ALL French territory with Italian claims (border territories + Corsica)
2. African concessions from the French/British
3. Malta

Even stronger than their desire to gain more land is the Italian desire to keep what they've already gotten away with, which I am trying to say is a whole whole lot.
You are absolutely right that Italy made out like a bandit in World War I. As of 1917-1918, everyone in Rome would agree with you. But then, Italy has always been a "wildcard" of sorts. Who could've predicted the March on Rome in OTL 1919 or what the subsequent regime would have done? This TL has yet to see the rise of Integralism but once we get there the effects will be considerable.
I like the idea of a Pied-Noir revolt or at least their being somewhat pro-Italian if a French Federation of sorts is formed... that will go in the notebook for sure!
That said, you are 100% correct in that Italy's military, even ITTL, will never match up with Germany's and the last thing they'd want is to have to do more or less what they did in OTL- take on Danubia and Germany with minimal help from the Entente.

One thing I always wonder - and that is often overlookes in ATLs - is how territorial expansion affects the strategy and the economy of some States. How would Italy's economy change with Corsica, Malta, Nice and Savoy in its hands? I'm curious about how Germany is affected by their expansion as well and how Danubia will manage without Trieste, but I'm not as knowledgeable about them.
My guess is that without France having a knife pointed towards the Tyrrhenian (Corsica) and with the position to control the center of the Mediterranean (Sicily - Malta - Libya) they'll focus more on being a naval power. And maybe Corsica and Sardinia's economies would benefit being under the same administration? Maybe ITTL instead of the Bridge between Calabria and Sicily Italian politicians will eternally talk about a Bridge over the Strait of Bonifacio without ever realizing it.
Propaganda is gonna be something, too: Savoy is the region the Royal House comes from, Nice is Garibaldi's home town (he was furious about it being given to France) and Napoleon would be rebranded as one of the great Italians in history. Last but not least, Savoy is giving us a lot of new cheese and wine to try - jokes aside, Piedmont may stay more relevant in the country's economy (the industry shifted more towards Veneto and Lombardy in the 20th century - which admittedly could happen anyway due to Trieste, our biggest port, still being annexed and Pola being probably kept) due to the new territories being likely part of its region.

I'm sorry if I went a little overboard with this. I love this TL.
No worries- there is nothing I love more than comments "going overboard" and making the TL so much more lifelike. Furthermore, I'm a bit flattered you're willing to do so! :)

To answer the question... Corsica's main economic asset is tourism, which is nice but not really a sustainable thing, especially in the early twentieth century when not as many people could travel frequently. That said, they have a lot of granite and agriculture so I'm sure that would come in handy.

Instead of the Chunnel, will TTL's 90s be dominated by the underwater bridge between Bonifacio and Santa Maria? ;)

Oh my goodness-- Napoleon is Italian ITTL! I hadn't even considered the idea, to be honest but you're right: he would be seen as, at the very least, more "Franco-Corsican" or even "Franco-Italian". Not as if he really cared about any country, or anything other than himself... he would've ridden the Emu Empire to power if he thought it would've helped him...

You are absolutely right with the idea of reclaiming the current ruling house's ancestral homelands being seen as very important- those areas have significant national prestige and having them under foreign rule has got to feel 'wrong' somehow. Spoiler: the Italian monarchy will still be very much around in TTL's 2021; no Italian Republic here.
I think Italy will try to avoid war if possible and, if war is inevitable, fight on the side of the Germans.
The only way I can see Italy and Germany as enemies are if Danubia attack Italy (improbable) and for some reason the Germans are ok with it (almost impossible).

People who think that Italy can be bribed into abandoning the Central Powers should remember that non only Germany can offer more and is a more dangerous enemy, but also that England has lost a great deal of face in TTL WW1.
Sure, they are still a great power whit great wealth and many colonies but to protect that wealth they didn't hesitate to end the war after it turned bad and throw their biggest ally at the wolfs on the negotiating table. Not exactly a show to inspire trust in new allies.

In short: England is still strong, but also far away, not entirely reliable and there is already bad blood while Germany is an ally, has a strong and victorious army and more important is near.
Which one would you choose?
Well, Italy was bribed into the CPs ITTL so it's not at all impossible. If the opening stages of round 2 go very badly for Germany+Danubia (assuming that's the lineup which it might well not be), I could see Italy plunging the dagger into Vienna's back. Rome would love to either annex or puppetise Tyrol and Croatia and if they think they can pull it off they probably will try.

You raise some solid points with regards to Britain- the Indian uprising in particular cost them a lot of face. If their crown jewel has just given them the two-fingered salute at a cost of thousands dead and millions of pounds, that says a lot about their sturdiness as a world power. France's current state, which IMO couldn't really have been averted by Britain alone, also reflects badly in comparison with London's relative ease (there has not been and won't be any uprisings on the main island for a while at least)
Maybe... maybe if the Russians turn into some sort of military colossus (think pos1943 Red Army) I could see the Italians making a deal with them in regards to divvying up the Balkans if the Germans and Danubians piss them off enough.
It would be possible, especially if Danubia breaks up. A coalition of White Russia+Hungary+Greater Serbia+Italy would put a crimp in Germany's day. However, getting Russia to military colossus state took a lot of loss of human life in forced industrialisation, the shattering of the German Army deep inside Russia, and a lot of American aid; I can't say with 100% certainty that any of that trifecta will happen ITTL. It's not impossible, but a hyper-Russia isn't a given.
Also: The British default, probably did the opposite of wonders for Anglo-American relations. In a re-match chances are:
1. The Yanks wont be coming in to help the British unless Germany does something really really stupid.
2. The US will be a lot tighter with the purse strings from the start. Any imports to be paid in advance, banks advised to make sure any loans are fully secured with room to spare as they wont be getting any bailouts.
3. No chance in heck for any alt-Lend&Lease.
I could tick off all three. America will most likely- not definitely but most likely- sit out GWII barring the Entente or Germans doing something stupid.
and depending who is in the white house, might even side with Germany, they will remember how italy negotiated rewards.... there will still be us politicians eyeing canada
Considering the US had plans to invade Canada until FDR, after the two had fought in World War I together, an Anglo-American War is fully on the table. This becomes even more true if Britain becomes an authoritarian country (think Leese and/or Mosley).
Since Italy controls the central mediterranean sea they can make the suez useless, shure the british and french still own the canal and can operate it but in case of war the italians could simply spam torpedoe boats, submarines and destroyers to hunt the supplie ships, if the brits still want the supplies they need to wait an additional of ~8 months to the ships go around Africa.
Absolutely, yes. I've been reading Churchill's WWII memoirs lately (a nice Christmas gift from family!) and one thing he keeps harping on is the importance of protecting that convoy route- and that was with Malta in Allied hands and no Ottoman Empire. So the Mediterranean will be at best contested, at worst a CP lake...
And for the concurrent Assyrian and Pontic Greek genocides, I guess they followed the Armenians to a quiet sandy death, given that there was no mention of them in the posts. Sometimes, the monsters win.
Unfortunately yes. The Greek one was a little better because the Greco-Turkish War is butterflied, but it was still very bad. Score one for the monsters...
It's a mark of a good timeline that they bother to show atrocities like this. One of my favorite timelines, An Age of Miracles, does not shy away from the fact that the Romans, like everyone else for most of history, were enthusiastic ethnic cleansers when the opportunity presented.
Thanks for the kind words! I love Age of Miracles and need to drop back in there sometime soon...
Simeon's warriors would typically see eye to eye to you with you about the Byzantines, but that might be a little difficult given their, eh, present circumstances...

Like I said-- update tomorrow at last! Thanks for commenting and reading...
 
Oh my goodness-- Napoleon is Italian ITTL! I hadn't even considered the idea, to be honest but you're right: he would be seen as, at the very least, more "Franco-Corsican" or even "Franco-Italian". Not as if he really cared about any country, or anything other than himself... he would've ridden the Emu Empire to power if he thought it would've helped him...
Napoleon hailed from a Tuscan family, so going by blood it will be easy to appropriate him . The media could paint him as another Eugene of Savoy, a great general leading a foreign country - but he was also the first to form an Italian Kingdom and declare himself its ruler after about a millennium would also raise many nationalist instances (the Napoleonic Era, indeed, sparked the Risorgimento). Surely as hell they can't sweep under the rug that he was Emperor of the French, though, and I can see it being a point of contention between the French and Italians in pop culture! ;)
 
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What's going on in Nepal and Bhutan? Intervening on such a widescale will have political consequences. Many Indian independence movements in India in Bihar and uttar Pradesh were linked with the Nepal Congress which were a political group fighting for the democraticization of Nepal. Not having Nepali aid would be disastrous for Bihar and somewhat of an annoyance for Uttar Pradesh. Also without Indian aid the process of democrsticization in Nepal may be slowed down, or may even start early due to the intervention. Otl a revolution almost broke out in Nepal in 1922 against the Rana's but was aborted on the last second due to fears of Rana's spying on them. It could go ahead ittl. Also Bhutan had interests in the Koch Bihar region and Arunacbal region until the 1940s otl as well. They could expand. In 1947 Sikkimese politicians asked for a partition of Sikkim between Nepal and Bhutan as well which both governments wished to do however Mountbatten scattered that plan. A lot of things could happen.

Nonetheless, all I am pointing out is that don't forget the little countries!
 
Chapter 38: Mittelafrika
Chapter Thirty-Eight: Mittelafrika

"My people have suffered under the rule of one white man for decades. Now, they say, we are under the rule of another white man! Well, I tell you, it makes as much difference to me as it would to the people of Berlin if they were to go from rule by the Mongo to the Luba!"
-An embittered (and presumably well-off) Congolese expatriate mocking the idea that Germany would be a better ruler than Belgium in a letter to a friend, spring 1917.

"The Dark Continent has been tamed at last! German people, rally to the cause of our empire!"
-Kaiser Wilhelm II during his first and only visit to Mittelafrika, summer 1918.


The Great War had profoundly affected Africa. Four centuries of colonisation had culminated in 1914 with the continent being divided on perfectly straight, non-contested lines, none of which bore any relation to cultural or geographic patterns. Barring the quasi-Westernised Liberia and the ancient Ethiopian empire, every square mile of the second-largest continent was under direct rule from Europe. Few Africans were happy with the status quo- many felt that “it was a paradise before you came here!” and romanticised their people’s independent history. Several tribes used the Great War as an excuse to revolt; by 1915 the Senussis of North Africa were at war with both the Entente and Central Powers, having led a vast swathe of territory in both Libya and Egypt into revolt, while three separate uprisings rocked French West Africa. Few of the continent’s peoples joined them in this though; for most, the war was a chance to leave their farms and cities and prove their worth. Well over a million Africans donned khaki, blue, or Feldgrau for the mother country, not forgetting their ethnic identities and experiences of racism but willing to ‘do their bit’ and let bygones be bygones. Black troops went to all theatres of war; French tirailleurs sénégalais fought on the Western Front aside Parisians while Nigerians rubbed shoulders with Yorkshiremen. More common was for African troops to be deployed against foes on the continent. 250,000 men of the King’s Own African Rifles distinguished themselves in combat in German East Africa, while the South African Volunteer Brigade had done a tour of Egypt before going to the Western Front. 17,000 Congolese spent two years in German East Africa; many Belgians who didn’t want to or couldn’t fight in Ypres became commanders in the Congo. These Belgian officers-in-exile fought with a greater hatred of the foe than the British or French because their homelands were lost, and if the only way to avenge that was to fight in East Africa then so be it.

Africans in the pay of the Central Powers were no less valiant. Aware that they couldn’t win, they resolved to go down with a fight and make the Entente pay for every inch taken. Africans in German service spent 1915 fighting a losing battle to keep Namibia out of South African hands, waging a delaying battle across the dusty, baking plains. Namibia was a long way from friendly territory and Britain’s naval dominance meant that few supplies could get through, whereas the Dominion of South Africa put its small but substantial weight behind the fighting. The defenders had courage aplenty, but that wasn’t enough to win a war by itself, and the end of 1915 would see the Dominion flag fly over Namibia. South Africa would annex it- as opposed to its coming under rule from London- following the Treaty of Dresden.

Kamerun and German East Africa were different stories. Unlike Namibia, both were dense jungle with minimal population and negligible infrastructure beyond a few port towns. France had ceded Kamerun to Germany two years before the war, and it was the least well-developed of Germany’s colonial possessions. Colonial governor Karl Ebermaier knew his position was hopeless but had no choice but to fight. Schutztruppe- a catchall term for black German soldiers- were recruited from the locals, swelling the defensive force threefold to some six thousand poorly equipped and trained men. Arrayed against them were ten thousand Entente soldiers who enjoyed naval support and lines of supply extending to Cape Town and London. The invasion of Kamerun began during the last days of autumn 1914, when much of the colony’s prewar military was caught foolishly defending the coast and wiped out. Faced with the loss of the coastal towns which made Kamerun a viable colony, Ebermaier decided on a retreat into the interior where his men tied down ten thousand enemy soldiers for over a year. Local Schutztruppe knew the terrain far better than Entente and made the most of that, luring the enemy into dense bush where a man lay in Feldgrau, bayonet at the ready. Quixotism wasn’t enough to save Kamerun. By February 1916 the Entente had overrun the colony and Ebermaier had to flee to Spanish Guinea. While in Spanish protection, the German grew depressed over his failure and contemplated suicide.

He needn’t have worried.

Karl Ebermayer, governor of Kamerun.
karlebermaier.jpg


Kamerun was isolated from the rest of the war and events there had no bearing on those in Europe. Days after Britain and France finished mopping the floor with Ebermaier’s regime, Erich von Falkenhayn’s offensive opened at Verdun and knocked the French on their heels. As part of the Armistice of 23 May, France had to pull its forces out of Kamerun; the British did likewise for logistical reasons. The Treaty of Dresden restored Kamerun to German control, and Karl Ebermaier would rule the colony until 1923.

Then there was German East Africa, in 1914 the most populous of Germany’s African colonies with seven and a half million people. Only ten thousand were German immigrants, but the loyalty of the natives was never in question. As in Kamerun, the defenders of German East Africa had poor logistics and only fifteen and a half thousand were on hand to defend the colony. The officers were uniformly white, while the vast majority of foot soldiers were black Schutztruppe. With British East Africa and Rhodesia on two sides and the Congolese colossus to the west, on paper the isolated colony didn’t stand a chance, and everyone assumed it would fold quick enough.

Such naysayers had reckoned without Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck.

Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck had been born in the Rhineland in 1870 and spent his adult life in the colonial services. He had been part of the German force sent to quell the Chinese Boxer rising in 1900 and served honourably even though he grew to dislike the guerilla-style tactics in play there, considering them dishonourable and unworthy of the German military.

If this was so, it made Von Lettow-Vorbeck a master of an art he despised.

Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck, the Lion of Africa, shown here without his trademark moustache.
Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck.jpg


Von Lettow-Vorbeck commanded five thousand soldiers at the outbreak of war, half of whom were white Germans. Throughout 1914 and early 1915, Von Lettow-Vorbeck discarded orders from the colonial governor and launched one daring expedition after another into British and Belgian territory. His insubordination raised eyebrows and would surely have got him demoted or transferred had he not been so successful. Togoland fell without a hitch while Namibia and Kamerun were slowly swallowed up, but Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck kept fighting. His persistence was rewarded on 18 June 1916 when a British soldier approached under flag of truce with a telegram from the German minister to Norway of all places. The United Kingdom had signed an armistice with Germany in Oslo five days previous and British troops were to pull out with all due speed. The war was over.

Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck wasn’t present at the Dresden Conference despite his wishes to be. He spent the summer and autumn of 1916 in Dar es Salaam, rebuilding his tired force of Schutztruppe. There was an expectation that Germany’s possessions on the continent would increase and that would require more native black troops. Von Lettow-Vorbeck’s took the form of a small parcel from Berlin with a Pour la Mérite inside. Like all Germans, the size of the new Mittelafrika overawed him: from once-Belgian Congo to the desert of French Central Africa (now Tschad), to French Congo and even Benin in the far west: all was German. Some had hoped to gain British Nigeria or Rhodesia, but Berlin hadn’t been able to demand those. Von Lettow-Vorbeck secretly coveted command of Mittelafrika for himself, but was denied: Heinrich Schnee, former governor of German East Africa, got the top job. Von Lettow-Vorbeck briefly feared being ignored, but he needn’t have worried. Berlin had an equally important job for him. With all of Germany’s colonial possessions barring the enlarged Togoland now geographically contiguous, the General Staff wanted to establish a unified military command for the African territories. (1) What better man to lead it than Von Lettow-Vorbeck, hero of the East African fighting and conqueror of the German front page? Wasting little time, Von Lettow-Vorbeck dashed back from a brief holiday in the Rhineland to his new post in the city of Brazzastadt, capital of Mittelafrika. (2) He would remain at this post for the rest of his career, marrying a Belgian girl half his age in 1922 and having three children.

Mittelafrika was a diverse place if ever there was one. East Africa had been a settler colony in the years before the war and that pattern continued after it. Interestingly, a small but significant number of Austrian Danubians moved to the colony in the wake of the civil war, largely going to the wealthy and heavily Germanised regional capital of Dar es Salaam. The city profited from this influx, experiencing a steady increase in German immigration throughout the 1920s and would be fifty percent white by 1925. German East Africa became a “model colony” in which living standards were on a par with the Balkans or the German puppets in the east, the government prioritised education and infrastructure, and German racism was held somewhat in check as Christian German culture rubbed shoulders with Islam and Swahilli- a long way from the “darkest Africa” stereotype prevalent elsewhere.

Sadly, much of Mittelafrika was not run this way.

Germany had acquired the Belgian Congo at the Treaty of Dresden, but since they didn’t have soldiers in the colony when pen was put to paper, establishing physical control would take time. Small groups of officials reached the major cities in late October, formally replacing the Belgian flag with the German, but their lack of administrative appartuses to run the colony led to corner-cutting; many Belgian civil servants simply recieved new contracts from Berlin. Pride motivated some Belgians to refuse- one said that after what the Germans had done to their homeland, doing anything for them would make them like Judas and his thirty pieces of silver- but one couldn’t eat honour and most were grateful to have a job. A new generation of German bureaucrats would arise and found jobs in Africa, thus phasing out these Belgians, but they made useful placeholders who knew the territory. Unlike the civil service, the military was no place for ex-Belgians; as their loyalty was inherently suspect, giving them guns was a poor idea. Conscious of the tongue-lashing King Leopold had rightly received for his atrocities in the colony, Kaiser Wilhelm did his best to ensure that the German regime in the Kongo was more humanitarian than the one which came before, yet the influence of ex-Belgians meant that Deutsches Kongo (3) was run rather similarly to its Belgian predecessor. Rubber remained the main plank of the colonial economy, and German corporate interests merely replaced Belgian ones. While people weren’t having their hands cut off for failing to meet quotas, human rights were never a major concern for the colonisers, and living conditions were appalling. Berlin repressed several uprisings which occurred throughout the 1920s, inflicting many civilian casualties. Very few white Germans moved to Kongo, not wanting to live in an impoverished, war-torn land, and the demographics remained very similar from before the war- although German was quickly phased in as the lingua franca.

Kongo would never be a good place to live, but it was a tremendous source of revenue and for Berlin that counted for more.

To Kongo’s north was Tschad, which can be summed up with the following joke. “Two tribesmen ride up to one another on their camels and one says to the other: ‘What shall we do, brother, now that we are under the rule of Germany and not France?’ The other replies, ‘What are Germany and France?’” Germany’s issues in projecting power into the Kongo were ten times worse in Tschad- towns of more than a thousand people and proper infrastructure were rare amongst the sand dunes. Wilhelm II’s being their lord and master made little difference to the Saras and Arabs (4). Many in Berlin questioned why the country was taking on the expense of running a useless patch of desert which brought them little economic gain. (5)

There was a very simple reason- Tschad was to become, in the words of Kaiser Wilhelm, “the greatest escape tunnel in the world.”

Britain’s blockade of Germany had caused much harm to the country during the Great War. Geography dictated that while a country might dominate the Continent, Great Britain would always be poised to cut said empire off from the wider world- it was why neutral trade with Germany had withered and died during the Great War and why Napoleon’s Continental System had bitten France in the backside a century previous. London’s possession of Gibraltar and the Suez Canal only made things worse. Since Germany could never achieve naval supremacy over Britain, they would surely be doomed to fighting with one hand tied behind their backs during a second Great War- no?

Perhaps not.

Powerful connections with Italy- both diplomatic and physical (the latter through Swiss and Danubian rail) looked to be a new fixture of German foreign policy. Added to this was that Italian Libya and German Tschad touched, while Douala touched the Atlantic Ocean too far south for the Royal Navy to isolate it. Strong rail and maritime connections with Italy had kept the Mediterranean competitive for the Central Powers during the Great War and had helped them communicate with Libya- why not extend that pipeline further, so that a rail line could connect Benghazi with Douala via Tschad? “I dream of a line”, the Kaiser declared in spring 1919, “of German-Italian communications and transports. One might board a train in Hamburg and travel uninterrupted through Germany and into Switzerland, thence into Italy, before sailing to Libya. Once there, I dream of a man boarding a train and travelling across the continent for hundreds of miles before planting his boots in the warm shores of the African Atlantic!”

Thus was the Transafrikanische Eisenbahn (Trans-African Railway) conceived.

The logistical difficulties of such a thing were obvious. From Benghazi to Douala was two thousand miles as the crow flies; difficult-to-traverse mountains and hostile French Niger and British Nigeria lengthened the route by four hundred miles. This cut through the Sahara Desert, where for hundreds of miles in every direction there was nothing but sand. Tschad’s few towns lived in crushing poverty, the mission of the locals being to sustain their water supplies. Dirt goat-tracks were the closest thing to roads. Nomads who didn’t exactly subscribe to the Westphalian idea of ‘absolute sovereignty’ had lived in the deserts since the Middle Ages and would take it amiss if the white men started building railroads through ‘their’ territory. Since they were working on Italian soil, the German builders would have to pay steep rent to Rome for permission, and if Italy ever withdrew its consent, the project would be off. Once one left the desert, one entered Kamerun, the dense jungle which had held up thousands of Entente soldiers during the Great War. Malaria was the order of the day, and in places a man was lucky if he could see ten yards in front of him. Equatorial humidity was added to the heat, and while water supplies were plentiful, they were more often than not unsafe to drink. Much of the colony, despite having been under German control since 1912, was scarcely known to Berlin and was theirs in name only. Finally, once one reached Douala, what did one find? An impoverished colonial city without the infrastructure needed to be a major shipping port.

And Kaiser Wilhelm II wanted to spend millions on a railroad.

Locally recruited Libyans toiling away on the Trans-Sahara Railway, summer 1920.
mittelafrikaraillabourers.jpg
The project had its proponents, though. Aside from the geo-strategic advantages mentioned above, such a thing would bring Germany much prestige as, unlike France, they could claim to have ‘conquered the continent!’- such was the slogan used by proponents of the railroad. Italy was all in favour of the idea- bringing in the apparatuses needed to construct a railroad would provide a fine bit of cover for increasing the garrisons in remote southern Libya, where the Senussi were lying low after their most recent uprising had failed. Italian financiers looked forward to charging Germany the most exorbitant price possible. Besides, since this was Germany’s idea, Italy could let German workers do all the heavy lifting- literal and proverbial- and so its labour costs would be minimal. The German Finance Ministry reluctantly allocated thirty million to the project in November 1919; construction began soon after.

Phillip Holzmann AG was Germany’s premiere construction firm, responsible for some of the greatest edifices of the past few decades, the most significant of which for our purposes was the Berlin-Baghdad Railway. Chancellor Ernst von Heydebrand, the Italian ambassador to Berlin (6), and the company’s executive signed a contract for five million per year for the next five years, with Germany paying three-fifths and Italy the rest in January 1920. The German government would physically own the railway, and the sections in Libya would have extraterritoriality, while Phillip Holzmann AG would also enjoy unlimited free use of the railway. Three weeks later, German emissary to Rome, Hans von Flotow and Italy’s Finance Minister struck a deal whereby Germany would pay Italy a onetime lump sum of ten million and give Italy the right to use the railway for free. (7) (8) Pen touched paper and Kaiser Wilhelm II nailed the first spike in on 11 April 1920.

Constructing the Trans-Africa Railway would prove a monumental task. Logistics in the Libyan desert were appalling once one travelled a few miles from Benghazi. Many natives didn’t want to work on the “white man’s project”, considering it a further intrusion on their homes, and there was no way Europeans were going to leave their homes to dirty their hands in Africa. The only way to attract enough natives was to raise wages, which increased overhead for the construction firm. After a band of Senussi attacked a gang of construction workers in early June, the company informed Berlin that it had to provide security otherwise the deal would end; Phillip Holzman AG would not have its workers killed (or fork out for the insurance). Thus, Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck was ordered to dispatch an entire brigade north to keep order- this protected the construction but strained supplies. Every piece of equipment had to be shipped in from Europe to a Libyan port and brought down either by lorry or mount, as did every ration. Just as an army which has swept all foes aside cannot advance too far lest it lose its supplies, the construction could only proceed as fast as the supplies. Stifling summer heat crashed upon the project as April turned to May; the latter saw two heatstroke deaths and that number would quadruple in June. Work continued through the summer, but it rapidly became clear that things would not end well, as the only thing climbing faster than the death toll was the expenses. Germany’s debt from the war was eighty million and they had paid not much of that off, while the thirty million allocated to the project was burning at both ends.

Thus was the Trans-Sahara Railway laid to rest.

The first attempt at the project had been an unmitigated failure. Eight months of work had seen the line come within miles of the Libyan-Tschadi border, nowhere near enough to connect with a line to the Atlantic (although what was present was quite high quality). Worse still from the German perspective, the terms of the contract still bound them and had to pay Phillip Holzman AG the required five million per year for the next five years- but that would all be for nothing. The failure of the Trans-Sahara project would doom Ernst von Heydebrand’s government, but that is for another update. However, this is not the end of the railway story. Plans for a line between Douala and the Tschadi town of Fada would be adopted in 1939 and construction would go on throughout the 1940s, with Kaiser Wilhelm III taking a much-publicised journey from Berlin to Douala in 1950, a little over a year before his death. Today, the Transafrikanische Eisenbahnkommission, headquartered in Berlin and Brazzastadt, gives the involved governments- Germany and Italy included- a share in Africa’s biggest transportation route.

Northwest of Mittelafrika was Morocco, nominally an independent state under a German ‘protectorate’- France had held an identical position in the sultanate before Dresden transferred it to Germany. Minimal change resulted from Berlin’s take over- conservative, pro-German policies were the order of the day and Berlin’s civil service ran the country. 1917 saw a small Mediterranean Squadron move into Rabat while many German investors flocked to Rabat. Britain was none too happy at having German troops only miles from the Rock of Gibraltar, but there was little they could do. When the Rif Rebellion set Spanish Morocco aflame in 1920, London reinforced Gibraltar but decided against aiding the rebels: projecting power so close to a German holding broke the spirit (if not the letter) of the unwritten Great Power ‘rulebook’ and would surely invite retaliation. Some in France pondered intervening on the rebel side, but the country was too weak from its civil war and such plans were shelved. Germany and Spain partnered to crush the Rif and the whole matter was taken care of within a few years. Morocco would continue playing a subservient role in its own country but would never challenge German dominance, and even today is a Germanophone nation with strong ties to Berlin, and an African member of the Old World Economic and Security Community (Altwelt Wirtschafts- und Sicherheitsgemeinschaft) (9). On the other end of the Sahara Desert lay Togoland. Originally intended as a coaling station for the Navy, Togoland had fallen quickly in 1914 but had its size doubled at Dresden with the acquisition of French Benin. The white population had been low before the war and continued to stagnate, yet living standards were quite high. Because of this, Togoland’s Africans came to identify as “African-German” or “Togolese Germans” in a way few in the empire would for years, and Berlin had remarkably few issues running the colony. Finally, there was Dakar. The major West African port had been procured for ninety-nine years at Dresden because a secure base in the mid-Atlantic would greatly enhance Germany’s ability to project power in the region. With their homeland under partial German occupation and the fabric of their nation fraying, the French had had to acquiesce and a German occupation force reached Dakar on the first day of November 1916. The city was sovereign German territory much as Qingdao had been before the war, and Germany took the fact that French West Africa surrounded it very seriously. Conscripts were sent to the city annually, with an average of two battalions on hand at any given point. Some adventurous German fishermen moved to Dakar to begin a new trade in equatorial waters, but for the most part the city’s raison d’etre was as a naval base. Living standards remained about the same as before the war and the new regime didn’t change much about daily life in the city.

Flag of the German concession in Dakar.
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That, then, was Mittelafrika. Forged from the fire of the Great War, the massive colony and its outliers put Germany on the map of Africa on a par with Britain and France and was a great source of pride in Berlin. To quote Wilhelm II, “now that we, the German people can claim a piece of that great wilderness known as Africa, that I can look from Tschad to Togoland to the Indian Ocean and see our flag, now that all of this is true, now I know the German Empire has its place in the sun.”

Comments?

  1. Prussian centralisation, ja?
  2. A fusion of Brazzaville and Leopoldville, suitably Germanised.
  3. The German for it, “Kongo” is how the colony is referred to in TTL in the Anglophone world and so that’s what I’ll use here.
  4. Sara being a Tschadi ethnic group. The bit about using German names still holds true here, by the way.
  5. The country’s oil reserves weren’t developed till much later, no?
  6. The Internet is being exactly as helpful as always… if anyone has a name please ‘shoot’...
  7. There’s a reason Germany’s naval growth will be a bit stunted beyond my general ignorance of ship design… where do you think that money is going to instead eh?
  8. I feel like I need to explain this better: the German government is hiring Phillip Holzman AG in the same way one might hire a builder to touch up one’s roof: the government’s footing the bill and providing the workers, who are then “hired” by Phillip Holzman AG and nominally paid by the company- which presumably uses a big chunk of the money from Germany and Italy for wages. Sorry if this seems oversimplistic and/or inaccurate: my knowledge of such things is hazy and it helps to write them down.
  9. See the very top of chapter 34 (here) for a hint...
 
Now that Southwest Africa is part of the Union of South Africa and now there are no borders between them and Germany, what are German/South African relations like?
 
one thing i did realise it that germany with having the french equatorial africa & belgian congo also owns quite a lot of uranium ore real estate
 
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I'm slightly confused, does Mittelafrika officially exist, or is it just shorthand for the colonies in the region? You mention Kamerun and German East Africa post-ww1 as though they still exist as their own political entities
 
I'm slightly confused, does Mittelafrika officially exist, or is it just shorthand for the colonies in the region? You mention Kamerun and German East Africa post-ww1 as though they still exist as their own political entities
It's... complicated.

Mittelafrika is sort of a federation with its own capital in Brazzastadt (though obviously subservient to the colonial office in Berlin), and Kamerun, German East Africa, etc, are political subdivisions- almost like the varying levels of autonomy enjoyed by Russian oblasts in OTL. The government in Brazzastadt doesn't have a ton of real power and the colony is fairly de-centralised. When I get a chance I'll go back and touch that point up; thank you for mentioning it...
 
How long is Germany going to hold on to their African colonies? There seem to be some hints of continuing German influence in Africa to the present (at least on the scale of France's influence in their former West African colonies).
 
Now that Southwest Africa is part of the Union of South Africa and now there are no borders between them and Germany, what are German/South African relations like?
I wonder if Boers who don't like the British (and speak a language very similar to German) would be willing to work and settle in Mittelafrika.
 
The Kaiserliche Marine will need to pump out some destroyers, light/protected cruisers and heavy/armored cruisers to be able to project power in the african ports. If the heavy cruisers are really annoying the british (assuming that they will be against germany in a round 2) would need to send capital ships (battlecruisers/fast battleships) to deal with them thus lowering their numerial advantange in the north sea. Also the germans could harass the shiping that can't go trough the suez. (my mind is blowing with the opportunities that the germans have now with these strategic ports)

If the problems with the constrution are supplies why don't the germans build the infrastructure to support their efforts?
 
The Kaiserliche Marine will need to pump out some destroyers, light/protected cruisers and heavy/armored cruisers to be able to project power in the african ports. If the heavy cruisers are really annoying the british (assuming that they will be against germany in a round 2) would need to send capital ships (battlecruisers/fast battleships) to deal with them thus lowering their numerial advantange in the north sea. Also the germans could harass the shiping that can't go trough the suez. (my mind is blowing with the opportunities that the germans have now with these strategic ports)

If the problems with the constrution are supplies why don't the germans build the infrastructure to support their efforts?
The Kaiserliche Marine should be pumping out all these types fairly soon - right now they're working on building the Koln-II class, which like all German light cruisers of the era was a dual-role fleet and colonial vessel, and are working through the 1916 mobiliziation type at destroyer, 900-ton ships with 3 105mm guns.

Longer-term the Germans are working on new designs that should form a good basis for further development - a new 1250-ton destroyer design comparable in speed and gunnery to the contemporary British V&W class and American Wickes-class, and the FK series of fleet cruisers, most likely FK 2 with 5 150mm guns and a top speed of 33 knots. Meanwhile, among the lessons of Jutland is a need for an armored cruiser smaller and cheaper than the battlecruisers to deal with British light cruisers, something that should also form the basis of a heavy colonial cruiser as well.

So long-term the Germans should have a good number of heavy cruisers available for raiding from African ports, with no shortage of old light cruisers and large torpedo boats for colonial defense.
 
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The Kaiserliche Marine should be pumping out all these types fairly soon - right now they're working on building the Koln-II class, which like all German light cruisers of the era was a dual-role fleet and colonial vessel, and are working through the 1916 mobiliziation type at destroyer, 900-ton ships with 3 105mm guns.

Longer-term the Germans are working on new designs that should form a good basis for further development - a new 1250-ton destroyer design comparable in speed and gunnery to the contemporary British V&W class and American Wickes-class, and the FK series of fleet cruisers, most likely FK 2 with 5 150mm guns and a top speed of 33 knots. Meanwhile, among the lessons of Jutland is a need for an armored cruiser smaller and cheaper than the battlecruisers to deal with British light cruisers, something that should also form the basis of a heavy colonial cruiser as well.

So long-term the Germans should have a good number of heavy cruisers available for raiding from African ports, with no shortage of old light cruisers and large torpedo boats for colonial defense.
Does shipbucket have any images of the destroyers that you mentioned?
 
Interesting stuff there!

One small nitpick: IIRC Von Lettow-Vorbeck albeit not getting married until after the war in OTL, was in fact engaged already before the war broke out. So IMHO he'd still marry his fiancee rather then someone else in TTL.
 
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