Kaiser Gustav I Official Portrait
Dear Readers,

Someone (my apologies; I'm tired and can't remember who) commented on the unlikeliness of a German Emperor wearing civilian garb even in TTL's 2021. So, here we have Kaiser Gustav I photographed in his office.

Also, @CosmicAsh my already immense respect for you has increased tenfold. Making this gave me some indication of what you must've gone through for your (vastly superior) Larry Hogan edit.
51128047446_46211599dc_h.jpg
 
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Dear Readers,

Someone (my apologies; I'm tired and can't remember who) commented on the unlikeliness of a German Emperor wearing civilian garb even in TTL's 2021. So, here we have Kaiser Gustav I photographed in his office.

Also, @CosmicAsh my already immense respect for you has increased tenfold. Making this gave me some indication of what you must've gone through for your (vastly superior) Larry Hogan edit.
51128047446_46211599dc_h.jpg
i'd say minus the gun though, on some official things, probable a sword/sabre.
and that flag in his office looks rather silly, looks just too american.

and why couldn't a kaiser wear civilian garb?
 
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to add to my previous post, after all almost a century has gone by, and royal families evolve with time too (although often reluctantly)
and wilhelm II didn't always wear a uniform either.
a 1907 photo of him:
AK_PR_W2_ZA-460x733.jpg
 
Dear Readers,

Someone (my apologies; I'm tired and can't remember who) commented on the unlikeliness of a German Emperor wearing civilian garb even in TTL's 2021. So, here we have Kaiser Gustav I photographed in his office.

Also, @CosmicAsh my already immense respect for you has increased tenfold. Making this gave me some indication of what you must've gone through for your (vastly superior) Larry Hogan edit.
51128047446_46211599dc_h.jpg
Hahahahahahahahaha 😁😁😁 bloody Brilliant, love it.
i'd say minus the gun though, on some official things, probable a sword/sabre.
and that flag in his office looks rather silly, looks just too american.

and why couldn't a kaiser wear civilian garb?
to add to my previous post, after all almost a century has gone by, and royal families evolve with time too (although often reluctantly)
and wilhelm II didn't always wear a uniform either.
a 1907 photo of him:
AK_PR_W2_ZA-460x733.jpg
So, I am the one that made the comment about the suit. So it was less about civilian garb and more about whether or not a royal would wear just an ordinary business suit. My point was more that ittl without the substantial stigma around being a monarch and the more regal trappings. I was rather likely that the ordinary business suit and tie would be less likely to be standard fair for royals especially the monarch himself but likely something that emphasises the regal nature or station of the royal. Now that was the original post I made. Though for official ceremony I would say dress military would remain typical though agreed certainly civilian would still be worn. Just to refer my original comment it was more around wearing just an ordinary business suit as otl royalty tend to do.
Lets see if I can find the original comment
Quite simple why they wanted it, actually it can be summed up in one word. Defence! So, because the. Well damn it @ArmageddonZ4747 beast me too it nice


So I get its only a representation but i believe it raises an interesting question on whether or not modern monarchs would wear modern suits. I am a mind that no they would not wear them. In the quickest explanation possible A monarch ittl will look to emphasise their Regal nature rather than downplay it like otl
There we go so yeah. I do personally believe that suits would still become staple fashion just not something that the royal or aristocracy would do readily adopt more emphasis on royal ofc.
Also wietze sorry forgot about responding on the discussion on the fate of Russian ruling class in terms of tsars power. Had full response lined up but had work few days later draft got deleted. Either way to explain was less about civilian garbs in general and more about the fashion trends of the high class and royals. Though I do believe that military would remain quite dominant in wardrobes of royals ittl but ofc they would also wear civilian just not the modern style of business suit.
Well thank you for coming to my Ted talk
 
Hahahahahahahahaha 😁😁😁 bloody Brilliant, love it.


So, I am the one that made the comment about the suit. So it was less about civilian garb and more about whether or not a royal would wear just an ordinary business suit. My point was more that ittl without the substantial stigma around being a monarch and the more regal trappings. I was rather likely that the ordinary business suit and tie would be less likely to be standard fair for royals especially the monarch himself but likely something that emphasises the regal nature or station of the royal. Now that was the original post I made. Though for official ceremony I would say dress military would remain typical though agreed certainly civilian would still be worn. Just to refer my original comment it was more around wearing just an ordinary business suit as otl royalty tend to do.
Lets see if I can find the original comment

There we go so yeah. I do personally believe that suits would still become staple fashion just not something that the royal or aristocracy would do readily adopt more emphasis on royal ofc.
Also wietze sorry forgot about responding on the discussion on the fate of Russian ruling class in terms of tsars power. Had full response lined up but had work few days later draft got deleted. Either way to explain was less about civilian garbs in general and more about the fashion trends of the high class and royals. Though I do believe that military would remain quite dominant in wardrobes of royals ittl but ofc they would also wear civilian just not the modern style of business suit.
Well thank you for coming to my Ted talk
what stigma about being a monarch? there isn't any, it is just that the yanks imposed their vision of republicansim on germany after ww1 (with ww2 as result). and there isn't so much a stigma, as that the germans got used to the current situation (although they seem to be mightily interested in the dutch royal family).And still a whole bunch of royals across europe, and none of them seem to be inclined to wear military garb that often (with the exception of ceremonial duties sometimes). and can't blame the war for that either.
pre-ww2 edward VIII did wear military sometimes, but not that often. in fact he was a bit of a style setter. And i think that the influence of the military in ittl germany has to be reduced in order to maintain long term stability (pre-ww1 the military had a lot of influence).
and the kaiser mostly wearing civilian clothes would be one method to stress that (plus more comfortable). the modern business suit is a 20th century evolution, so it is very well possible that with several royals preferring a different kind of suit, this would push things in a different direction (i would not mind the necktie/cravat ending out of fashion). it might in fact be setting the trend to ttl version of a business suit. and with regards to royalty not wearing business suits in otl they were early adopters and trendsetters for it.
but what style would very much depend on the person, and as such could be very random where it ends up ittl.

and that photo just seems to embody all american prejudices about a kaiser.
 
One thing to remember is that much of the fact Wilhelm II often used navy uniforms is that he liked big ships (i don't blame him, i love them too). Modern Kaisers will surely use suits (certainly luxurious, maybe with medals and monarchic symbols) for "normal situations" and the army/navy uniforms for more formal situations. Also i don't think the uniforms would be similar to OTL american ones.

@EDIT: Even in announcements i believe suits will be used, royalty will use more "classical" suits though i think.
 
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Well, given that the Kaisar will also be the King of Prussia, and given the role of the King of Prussia and the Army and the Army in Prussian culture/life... I can see the argument that the Kaisar in particular would be more prone to wear military garb than most royals.
 
Well, given that the Kaisar will also be the King of Prussia, and given the role of the King of Prussia and the Army and the Army in Prussian culture/life... I can see the argument that the Kaisar in particular would be more prone to wear military garb than most royals.
i would think the opposite, especially if parts of AH get included. the rest might take offense at rubbing in the prussian militaristic part.
after all he is kaiser of all germans
 
Chapter 44: Over Open Sights, Over Open Ocean
Chapter Forty-Four: Over Open Sights, Over Open Ocean

"As the trenches ran through Ypres, so the Mediterranean runs through France."
-Popular saying bitterly commenting on France's divided state

"Cadres come and take our food without paying. If we protest, we stare into the barrel of a gun, if we protest further, we are imprisoned. There is not enough to eat and none of our produce so much as reaches the cities, so it is all for naught. Do correct me if I am wrong, but I was under the impression there had been a revolution!"
-Excerpt from a letter of protest secretly circled around France, autumn 1918.

"You may write, you may dream. I do not doubt this, nor do I doubt their worth. But this is not theory, Chairman. If this enterprise of yours fails, the revolution fails and we shall be under Clemenceau's boot."
-Ludovic-Oscar Frossard imploring Georges Sorel to repeal Réquisition révolutionnaire

"I am the State. Now that one man is at the helm and politics rendered moot, the exiles of France may hope for a safe and secure society until such time as the mainland is liberated. No party nor political interests will ever succeed in throwing the ship of state off its course ever again!"
-Georges Clemenceau, boasting of his newfound power in private conversation


Overstating how traumatic the past four years had been for France is difficult. Losing Alsace-Lorraine and being humiliated with every glance at a map had reshaped the national psyche. As the Crusaders had striven to restore the Holy Land, so the French strove after those six thousand square kilometres. War had united all but the firmest radicals- including several of the men now controlling the mainland. If la Nation stood as one, they asked in summer 1914, surely nothing was beyond them? Surely?

Evidently not.

A fluctuating consensus of 800,000 has formed around the heaps of dead Frenchmen in the fields of Artois and Ypres, in the Alpine mountains and Libyan desert. (1) That was 800,000 young men who would never return home, 800,000 families irrevocably broken, a reduction of 800,000 in the workforce and tax base- slightly more than one out of twenty Frenchmen.

And for what? Those men had given their lives for the privilege of losing one-fifth of France’s landmass, the bulk of the navy, the worth of the franc, and the country’s honour. Instead of revenge for 1871, the French people had found a calamity to throw it into the shade. They had done their utmost, put everything they had into the war, and it had proven inadequate.

Given that the less comprehensive 1871 had destroyed Napoleon III, the surprise is that the Third Republic lasted as long as it did before collapsing.

German restrictions eliminated the trenches, the weeks and months of standing still in freezing rain and damp mud, watching eight hundred thousand of your countrymen die alongside you. The few set-piece battles all saw manoeuvre and morale dominate. Elan vital, the icon before which generals bowed in 1914, had finally come into play- except it was directed at them. Revolution, not modern war, swept through the streets like a giant vacuum, blowing the old regime across the sea to Algeria. The Third Republic meant war, hunger, misery, and an almost unimaginable shame. If they did not fight this beast, its unfitness to rule would consume them and their families.

For better or worse, the people now had their wish.

Eradicating the Third Republic had been the easy bit. Now the victors had to replace it. Philosopher Georges Sorel had transformed a revolt in Dijon into a revolution. Sorel’s eccentric past had taken him from Orthodox Marxism to syndicalism, while at the same time flirting with social conservatism. (2) His was the face on the poster, he’d convinced the masses with his pen, and he expected the lion’s share of power. General Jean-Jacques Famride complimented Sorel. (3) Famride was not a socialist; rather, he was the officer who’d been ordered to strangle the Dijon revolt in the cradle before his conscience led him and his men into Sorel’s camp, where he’d found himself the most senior military man. After winning a few key victories, Famride had spent the past few months trying to figure out how to turn the rebel army into a proper force. Since he wasn’t actually a socialist, Famride was seen as ideologically neutral and by extension, a potentially key ‘swing vote’ in any major decisions made. However, as commander of the most organised force in the country, his status as an unbeliever concerned some. If he deemed the new regime too radical, might he not move against it with all the guns in France?
This fear predominated amongst the last three regime founders. Louis Dubreuilh had led the French Socialists (SFIO) before the war; Ludovic-Oscar Frossard and Marcel Cachin had been his lieutenants. Their commitment to revolution was matched only by awareness of their own power. Although it had always worked within the system, the SFIO had been France’s largest socialist party for twelve years. Tens of thousands across the country respected General Secretary Dubreuilh, and it was his name which endeared prewar Socialist Party officials and voters to the new order. The SFIO troika was uneasy about the status quo. On the one hand, they were thrilled at opening the door to ‘socialist paradise’ (4) and ensuring their place in history- the intoxication of power sweetened this. Yet, as the afterglow faded they were left slightly disappointed. Georges Sorel had never sat in the Chamber of Deputies, never addressed the masses in whose name he claimed to rule, never sighed at an economic balance sheet or wondered what the people thought. While Dubreuilh had led the nation’s socialist movement, Sorel had been an eccentric recluse, growing pudgy as he slaved away at the study of theory. And now he claimed to lead them? As for Jean-Jacques Famride, well, he was a military buffoon whose only saving grace was in sweeping them all to power. If he vanished tomorrow, the SFIO chairman would not shed a tear. A coup d’etat was too radical to imagine, but so was settling for anything less than his perceived fair share.
These disparate personalities had to unite to give la beau patrie a stable regime.

The most pressing task was preventing another 1792, when Prussia and Austria had sparked twenty years of war with revolutionary France. Ejecting the Third Republic was one thing; repulsing a German-led counter-revolution would be another. What if Britain landed in Normandy while Georges Marin attacked from the south? Suppose Italy decided to advance its frontier to the Rhone? (5) Revolutionary France was surrounded by conservative monarchies and its central ideology demanded that workers of the world overthrow their kings for the new creed. Serious materiel shortages made a levee en masse impossible. Germany and Italy had overwhelmed the vastly superior army of 1914- marching to Paris would’ve been easy. As Jean-Jacques Famride admitted, the rulers would have to be mad not to intervene. If there was one thing European history had proven, said the general, it was that feuding monarchies could reconcile overnight if they found a common enemy- witness how the threat of revolutionary France had ended the ‘stately quadrille’ (6). The list of problems the new men could see were endless.

However, the new regime was in less danger than it might seem.

Jean-Jacques Famride’s comment was less accurate than first meets the eye. Diplomacy had been more fickle in 1792 and war had since become infinitely more costly. The war in Danubia, controlling the Eastern puppets, and subduing Mittelafrika distracted Germany. (7) No one wanted to extend the perpetual low-level insurrection in occupied France to the rest of the country. (8) Great War debt needed paying off while it took something as cataclysmic as the sack of Vienna for the public to approve sending troops south. Georges Sorel wisely refrained from calling for the Kaiser’s overthrow or stirring up the German occupation zone. Italy was waiting for an opportunity that would never come to extend its influence in Danubia. Britain’s sacrifice of youth to defend France had shaped the national consciousness, and the average Briton would’ve been repulsed at the idea of France being an enemy. Furthermore, Germany would’ve viewed British intervention as an intrusion on its sphere. Switzerland, Belgium and Spain had no power to act alone. No one respected the new regime, yet so long as Sorel kept to himself, they wouldn’t spend blood and treasure to kill him, and the state of emergency slowly faded. By the end of the year, Sorel felt comfortable enough to declare that “revolution is not always a linear process… peace is often a common interest shared between revolutionaries and counter-revolutionaries.” It was as much of an olive branch as Kaiser Wilhelm II would get but it was enough.

Germany now accidentally gave Sorel’s regime a chance at life. By late February 1918, the Third Republic’s days were clearly numbered. Berlin had no love for the regime, but neither did it want to see Marxists to its west. Thus, Ambassador Wilhelm von Schoen took a French destroyer to Algiers. Depriving the revolutionaries of recognition was supposed to harm their international image, but Georges Sorel turned it to his advantage. Since Germany wanted nothing to do with revolutionary France, he would have nothing to do with Germany. Therefore, all reparations debt under the Treaty of Dresden should be applied to the “Algiers clique”, not “the true France!” Kaiser Wilhelm faced a conundrum. He could recognise Red France to legitimise his claim to reparations, invade to secure them, or drop his claim. Recognising the revolutionaries was out of the question, and an invasion would’ve been more trouble than it was worth- some economists calculated that France physically lacked what Dresden required of it. Thus, Berlin was forced to accept Sorel’s unpalatable fait accompli. While officially demanding that the Algiers regime pay in full, German elites privately conceded that the money was “as far gone as our hopes for peace on the last day of July 1914.” Prime Minister von Heydebrand withstood savage criticism but always maintained that this was the best of bad options. Ultimately, out of the 65 billion in specie agreed to at Dresden, less than a quarter found its way into German pockets.

This gave the new regime a chance. The collapse of the franc had thrown millions into chaos, costing the Third Republic legitimacy. Communism won hearts and minds by promising to burn the system down. However, Sorel knew the problem wouldn’t vanish with a change of flags, and if he couldn’t increase living standards fast the people would turn on him. Talking his way out of reparations enabled him to create a stable economy. Sorel declared the Third Republic’s currency null and void as two trillion francs populaires rolled off the press (9). By the end of 1918, the franc populaire had overcome its teething troubles. Keeping specie in the country as opposed to shipping it off to Germany gave the communist currency enough support to be trustworthy- although real prices were still three times higher than 1914.
Other economic policies were less popular.

Sorel was determined to capitalise on revolutionary France’s first harvest. He remembered all too well that hungry urbanites had gone over to him because they believed he’d feed them better than the ancien regime. If Sorel failed them, they’d topple him. German occupation halved France’s grain farmland, but also reduced the number of bellies to fill. It would not be easy, especially without foreigners from whom to buy food, but Sorel believed a sustainable Communist agricultural programme was possible.

Sorel, Dubreuilh, Frossard, and Cachin issued their economic encyclical Réquisition révolutionnaire (Revolutionary Requisitioning) on 22 August 1918. It was an attempt to dictate not just the harvest but the entire French economy. Its lengthy preamble declared that with foreign foes occupying much of the nation’s best land, la Nation needed a supreme effort to feed itself, which would require “perfect harmony” between urban and rural areas. Government-appointed agricultural inspectors would frequent all farms to confiscate the vast majority of the produce and farmers would not be paid. In exchange, farmers wouldn’t be subject to taxation and their sons would be exempt from military service. “The farmer pays la Nation with his goods”, declared the elder statesman, “to ask anything more of those who feed us would be unjust.” These goods would then be processed at a local warehouse and shipped to the capital. Every month, the newly-created Ministry of Distribution would assess the goods and decide on a monthly distribution plan. From Paris, the goods would be shipped across nationalised railways to warehouses, where local Ministry of Distribution officials would feed the people. Urbanites received ration books which allowed them to purchase a certain amount of food. Purchase was key- while food was not inordinately expensive, the government expected compensation for the trouble it went to in distributing. Farmers were not issued ration books- rather, they were able to submit applications detailing their family size, ages, states of health, etc, and local Ministry of Distribution officials would use that to decide how much food to leave them.

Urban production was no less convoluted. Réquisition révolutionnaire dictated that all tradesmen register with a newly formed ‘national guild’ by the end of the month. These ‘guilds’ were not like their medieval counterparts- rather, they were organisations designed to run a nationalised economy. As an example, the abandoned Renault factory in Paris was integrated into the National Motor Production Guild ; the foremen and manager were state employees paid by the regime. Ironically, given that Sorel was a syndicalist, unions were forbidden. This was a major source of tension between the leader and the SFIO men. Now that the revolution was complete, Dubreuilh and his allies said, the workers had no reason to unionise because they already owned everything. Sorel retorted that unions would give industrial workers ‘a revolutionary spirit’ and could serve as useful tools for weeding out counter-revolutionaries. He believed his position as leader gave him the final word, yet the SFIO men refused to budge. In the end, Sorel conceded, but he fully expected a reciprocal concession. The debate over unions was the first spat in the leadership, but it would not be the last.

Georges Sorel’s hopes that this mess of paperwork (which was what the system ended up being on paper) would bring the French economy into glorious egalitarianism quickly disintegrated. Farmers hid food or exaggerated the number of people under their roof and banded together to chase food collectors away; more than one met a grisly fate in a vegetable patch. Local Ministry of Distribution officials furiously demanded to know why there was so little food and sent their collectors out again, often with instructions not to spend too long asking politely. This prompted further backlash, and soon collectors couldn’t go anywhere without armed guards. Government officials nicking their produce while armed men threatened their families reminded most peasants of nothing so much as the Third Republic. Collected food ended up spoiling in warehouses and freight cars. Urbanites weren’t pleased that they often could only purchase half or two-thirds of what their ration book entitled them to, while loathing the ‘guild’ system. They were supposed to own the means of production, yet all the directives came from a distant, bureaucratised central government and were enforced by government agents.

The biggest difference between the Third Republic and the revolutionaries, one Parisian bitterly remarked, was the colour scheme on the propaganda posters.


French farmers fill out the paperwork to ascertain how much food they should be left, autumn 1918. Contrast their haggard looks with the well-fed cadres.
frenchcollective.jpeg


Georges Sorel was confused. Years in the ivory tower had taught him that Marxism was perfect for industrialised France. Furthermore, surely the ‘liberated’ people would rationalise any sacrifices as being for the greater good. The same spirit which had got the country through the Great War could see them through communism’s teething troubles. Sorel’s mistake was to approach the business of statecraft from a theorist’s perspective. Composing an eloquent essay or a sharp rebuttal was far easier than dealing with overworked, incompetent bureaucracy and nebulous popular opinion. Sorel’s romanticised vision, incubated during years of study, of a worker’s paradise where human beings enacted his theories like actors giving life to a masterful script, was a pipe dream.

Louis Dubreuilh and his allies entered the vacuum. As career politicians, they knew how to translate vision into action. The problems, they said, ran deeper than just Réquisition révolutionnaire. Sorel’s mistake had been to enact full communism without building a proper government- Ludovic-Oscar Frossard compared it to building a pyramid upside down. The people needed to see a stable government rather than random and confusing policies.

Thus, the five regime heads crafted a new constitution in February 1919 behind closed doors; the masses in whose name the rulers wielded power had no say. Georges Sorel was in favour of looser rules and a more ‘revolutionary spirit’, but the SFIO men had a better understanding of how politics worked. Jean-Jacques Famride, not caring one way or the other, occasionally looked up from his novel to act as tiebreaker. Compromise was thus the order of the day. The SFIO and all labour organisations (many of which had survived for the past year despite Réquisition révolutionnaire’s prohibition) were replaced by the new Communist Party of France (CPF). Any Frenchman over the age of eighteen in good standing with the law- male or female, regardless of race- could apply. Georges Sorel was Chairman of the Party and Marcel Cachin #2. Elections to a unicameral People’s Parliament would be held annually. Although the constitution forbade other parties, multiple CPF candidates could run in the same province. Any adult citizen could vote, regardless of sex or property qualifications- radically broad suffrage compared to 1914. This, the Chairman declared, was socialist democracy.

Sorel took much flak for this. Disbanding the SFIO was seen as a power-grab; assuming control over the successor organisation calmed no one. Dubreuilh viewed this as a major intrusion on his power. The posts of prime minister and state president- official leader and second-in-command of the state- weren’t enough to soothe Dubreuilh or Frossard, respectively. The division of power between the state and Party- that is, between Dubreuilh and Sorel- would be a major sticking point throughout the regime’s. Barbs flew behind the scenes as blood rushed to the one-armed Sorel’s cheeks before Famride adjudicated.

Other matters were less controversial though. Banning non-Communist parties raised no ire, nor did repealing the worst excesses of Réquisition révolutionnaire- the Chairman was quite happy to let Dubreuilh handle unglamorous economics. 1919 saw revolutionary France’s centralised economy loosen. Some private enterprises returned and farmers began selling their produce again. Dubreuilh even went so far as to say that a socialist economy in the early stages should be like a caged bird, with individual effort (private enterprise) flying around freely within government-set parameters. (10) Of course, the Prime Minister hastily added, that was merely in the early stages. With time, French socialism would outgrow such measures. After all, their regime would last forever. History as dictated by Marx said so.


Flag of the People's Republic of France
51137396566_cc7129a8fb_h.jpg


* * *

Louis Marin didn’t want the Prime Ministership. Had Paul Deschanel not died in the Second Paris Commune (11), he would’ve remained contently shuffling papers. Yet, the world had other plans for him, and he found himself in Algiers. Marin privately compared himself to a minesweeper. “Both must stumble along, unaware of when their rendez-vous with fate will be but all too aware that it will come when they least expect it, and that every effort of theirs to survive will be rendered moot.” Or, as one of his aides put it, Monsieur Marin wanted to know if the governor had wired. A more apposite analogy would be a builder forced to make a house with only half the bricks required. Marin’s task in Algiers was to assess the wreckage which had drifted across the ocean and discern what needed rebuilding.

The situation now made the mess of six months ago look rosy.

Losing the mainland left only the pieds-noirs, French immigrants to the colonies, under la tricolour. Whites now found themselves massively outnumbered by Muslim Africans, foreigners in their own land. If there was a lesson there, Marin was too busy to notice it. That said, the pieds-noirs now found their ranks stiffened by an exodus. Aristocrats, Catholic priests, and conservatives all feared persecution. With the surrounding nations closing their borders, Algeria was the only place to go. One study conducted decades later estimated that these nouveaux pieds-noirs (as subsequent generations dubbed them) raised the percentage of whites in Algeria by three to five percent in the span of a few months. Smuggling refugees to Algeria became a major industry on the south coast, with up to seventeen thousand illegally crossing in 1918 and 1919. Regardless, Algeria, West Africa, Madagascar, and the French Caribbean were no substitute for Paris, the cathedral at Reims, the bustling docks of Marseilles, or the vast majority of French-speakers. Nevertheless, truth was on Marin’s side. The Third Republic was the internationally recognised government of France and had ruled by popular mandate for forty years. Not comprehending that the people had rejected him, Marin believed that if they saw him survive in exile they’d soon overthrow the “Sorel clique”. Thus, the Prime Minister wrote long essays on liberation and resistance which were smuggled into the mother country via Spain and Britain. However, as the summer of 1918 dragged on (his Gallic complexion suffered terribly in the desert), Marin realised his failure. The mainland regime would not crumble and he lacked the means to invade it. As much as it pained him, Marin privately conceded that results were fast transferring legitimacy from Algiers to Paris.

Having failed at statecraft, the Prime Minister opted to save his honour by falling on his sword. A few dissuaded him- what would the message be if the Third Republic’s government collapsed in this dark hour?- but most were glad to see him go. Louis Marin stepped down on 4 August 1918, and even today is remembered as one of the greatest buffoons in French history.

It’s difficult not to have a little sympathy for the man, as he’d inherited a hopeless situation from Paul Deschanel. Marin had taken over at the eleventh hour, with his predecessor dead and the people having set their heart on regime change. A swifter response to the Dijon uprising on Deschanel’s part, coupled with attempts at understanding its root causes, might have left the Third Republic in power and Marin as a nameless but content placeholder. But then, legitimate criticism of Deschanel has limits. Paul Deschanel had come into power because of the revolt caused by his predecessor’s incompetence. Emile Loubet might have been adequate in quieter times, but he was out of his depth in the postwar crisis. Had Loubet handled inflation and popular disgust, the Dijon revolt would never have erupted and Deschanel wouldn’t have faced such daunting prospects. Yet, though vituperating Loubet is reasonable, he inherited a hopeless task. The Treaty of Dresden had stripped France’s northeast and confiscated its specie, making hyperinflation certain regardless of what Loubet did. Marin’s failures, then, were just a fraction of what killed the Third Republic.

Proper procedure dictated an election. Parliamentary governments rose and fell (12), but parliamentary systems lived on. Yet, no one could pretend that this was normal. Paul Deschanel and then Louis Marin had ruled by emergency powers to prevent the loss of the mainland. Their failure deepened the emergency. With the departments under enemy rule, the people of France wouldn’t be able to vote, while many politicians either hadn’t escaped, or had defected to the revolutionaries; this included most of the Socialists. Thus, it was decided to craft a “crisis government” in back rooms to suspend the chaos of French politics until the mainland was freed.

Virtually all the emigres felt entitled to lead. They compared resumes in the Algiers town hall (converted into an impromptu parliament) while arguing bitterly. For the first three weeks of August 1918, the republic-in-exile lacked even the trappings of government. There was no one at the top to whom the world could point and say, “l’état, c’est lui!” Even in their darkest hour, myopic politicians saw only their own careers, only the glorious tales they could tell when they returned to France. Exile became half nuisance, half opportunity- yes, you were stuck in this bloody colony and your holiday was cancelled, but on the other hand half your political rivals were neutralised. It was enough to drive one man mad. Something, he decided, had to be done.

Georges Clemenceau conferred with Charles Lutaud, governor-general of Algeria, to plot treason equal to Sorel’s. Clemenceau believed in results above all else and had little respect for his fellow politicians. Their incompetence, he believed, had cost France the mainland, and he was damned if he’d let them bungle the redoubt. Clemenceau had no doubt about his own abilities, and believed that he was the only emigre with a chance of saving the country. One look at the deadlock told him that he’d never get anywhere through legal means. Lacking guns, Clemenceau realised that he needed outside help if he was to mount a coup. The governorship gave Charles Lutaud command of the colony’s militia… which just so happened to be the largest body of troops who answered to the Third Republic. Several quiet meetings throughout August produced a plan. Lutaud’s men would occupy the town-hall-cum-parliament and ‘suggest’ a definitive vote for a new government, at which point Clemenceau would present his credentials. It wasn’t treason, both men told themselves, it was patriotism. The Third Republic had to be rescued from its own leaders, and they loved France so much they’d do anything to save it.

Algiers awoke on 30 August 1918 to gunfire. The Republican Guards- bodyguards for the head of state- had received priority in evacuating the mainland specifically to resist a potential coup. Lutaud knew that trying to move them would arouse suspicions, which might lead to failure. As they had nothing to do with the Algerian colonial apparatus, the Guards didn’t answer to Lutaud. Thus, they had to be taken out. Lutaud had fed his men a steady wave of lies over the preceding days that the Republican Guards were plotting a coup of their own to place someone of their choosing in power. It was palpable nonsense, but after recent months nothing could surprise the cynical loyalists. Militiamen- white and native- attacked before dawn. The confused Republican Guards put a lot of lead in the air. These were all elite soldiers hand-picked for their loyalty to the regime, and protecting the government was what they’d been trained to do, but numbers were against them. It wasn’t the first time elan vital had failed to save the Third Republic. Civilians sheltered in their homes, unaware of what was happening- had the Sorelians tried to attack? Had the people risen up as in Paris or Dijon? Soldiers enacted a lockdown, proclaiming that there were ‘insurrectionists in our midst’. As many of these militiamen were Islamic Algerians, the locals trusted them and remained calm.

Meanwhile, the militiamen entered the town hall over the dead Republican Guards. There were no massacres, but the handful of people who tried to resist realised what a fatal mistake they’d made. Most threw up their hands and were marched to an ad hoc prison ‘for their own safety’, where they were placed under armed guard as gunfire rattled in the hallways. Republican Guards stationed in the town hall itself- as opposed to the barracks outside- fought hard. By now, it was eight AM, two hours after the initial gunfire. Governor Lutaud telephoned commanders across the colony, saying that “the attempted coup d’etat in Algiers is in the final stages of eradication… Dispatching additional forces would only invite unrest elsewhere.” In buying the lie, they unwittingly brought Lutaud time.

At 8:03 AM, armed militiamen burst into the main room where the politicians were hiding- the lock and bolt on the door were no match for a well-swung rifle butt. Some attempted to climb out of windows, others fell on their knees and clutched rosaries, others simply closed their eyes and waited to die. “Arretez!”, the militiamen cried. “Levez-vous vos mains!” Fifteen minutes later, Lutaud burst in breathlessly. He shed crocodile tears for the violence they’d suffered and explained that the Republican Guards had attempted to kill them all and seize power for themselves, but that the local militia had saved them. The fighting was over, Lutaud said, and it was time to return to the task of forming a government. Certainly, the recent chaos proved the need for a strong figure at the helm?

Georges Clemenceau chose that exact moment to walk in.


Georges Clemenceau and Charles Lutaud, photographed in different locations shortly after the coup
georgesclemenceau.jpeg


charles lutaud.jpg

The moustached, bald Frenchman stared at his compatriots for a few moments, his eyes ablaze. “They have not taken me”, he cried, “but it was not for lack of trying!”
“It is high time we returned to voting”, interjected Lutaud, “now that the threat has passed.” He stood at the back. “I say we give Monsieur Clemenceau the time of day.” He nodded to his men, whose gleaming bayonets made the best argument of all for Clemenceau. The old man with the moustache smiled as three-fourths of those present voted to grant him power.

“Mistakes have been made; do not think of them except to rectify them. Alas, there have also been crimes, crimes against France which call for a prompt punishment. We promise you, we promise the country, that justice will be done according to the law. ... Weakness would be complicity. We will avoid weakness, as we will avoid violence. All the guilty before courts-martial. The soldier in the court-room, united with the soldier in battle. No more pacifist campaigns, no more Marxist intrigues. Neither treason, nor semi-treason: the war. Nothing but the war. Our armies will not be caught between fire from two sides. Justice will be done. The country will know that it is defended.” (13)
His first address set the tone for how Georges Clemenceau would rule. Liberating- the word ‘conquering’ angered him- the mainland was his one goal. To that end, he couldn’t tolerate dissent. The handful of Socialists who’d chosen to leave the mainland were all arrested- they’d belonged to the SFIO and were thus guilty by association of treason. Deschanel’s Emergency Powers Acts were renewed; striking was declared illegal since, as it had played a pivotal role in “la grande trahison” (14)- his term for the Revolution. If it could happen in Dijon and the Second Paris Commune, why couldn’t it happen in Algiers? Strict censorship was the norm- criticism of his regime or simply being left-of-centre became a crime as time wore on. Look what happened when Emile Loubet let leftists speak their minds. Though he concealed it for the first few weeks, when the truth that he’d seized power via coup emerged, Clemenceau was nonchalant. “Indeed I stole the Prime Ministership!”, he admitted in his later years. “This was not treason. The treason came from pacifists, politicians. Those who bickered as France failed, and were thus complicit in its demise.” Being Minister of War and Minister of the Interior simultaneously to Prime Minister gave Clemenceau control over all troops and security forces. Some saw him as France’s last great white hope, others saw a dictator who would share Deschanel’s fate. Admirers called him ‘the Tiger’, detractors mocked his moustache by calling him ‘the Walrus.’ Regardless of one’s opinion on him, no one denied that Georges Clemenceau was a force to be reckoned with.

Thus, as the 1920s emerged, the two Georges stared across open sights and open ocean.

Comments?

  1. OTL, about 1.4 million Frenchmen died in four years; here, since the war ends in 1916, it’d probably be just over half.
  2. He was briefly affiliated with Action Francaise and Integralism before the war
  3. Fictitious.
  4. Oxymoron in Aisle 4. ;)
  5. Not plausible at all, inspired by this exchange.
  6. Reminds one of how we have not, in fact, always been at war with Eastasia.
  7. See chapter 20
  8. See chapter 40
  9. I just made 2,000,000,000,000 up. If that’s totally wrong, please say so! I’ve mentioned once or twice before that I’m not an economist….. No?
  10. Not my analogy; Zhao Ziyang came up with it in the Eighties. Much of what’s here is based off of my knowledge of Maoist China (the Communist regime about which I’m most knowledgeable), with hefty doses of War Communism in Réquisition révolutionnaire. If it’s too implausible, please say so and why!
  11. See chapter 43
  12. Living as I do in the United States, I continue to be baffled by the ease with which (from my perspective at least) parliamentary governments are elected and fall apart… but then, I’m sure the rigid four-year election cycle must seem peculiar when viewed from the outside. All what you’re used to, I suppose.
  13. An OTL quote, but with "Marxist" replacing "German"
  14. My many thanks to @Le Chasseur for catching this!
 
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Also: Yes, Réquisition révolutionnaire is absolutely insane, and no, I don't believe it could ever have worked. Bolsheviks and such the world over ITTL are looking at Sorel's failures (he is, after all, the world's first ever Communist head of state) and taking notes...
 
This will be fun. Georges Clemenceau was a fiercely liberal politician, being both an enemy of the SFIO and the traditional aristocracy. When one considers that the French exiles are far more conservative and pro-clerical than the French average (after all, anti-clerical workmen probably have neither the money nor the necessity to make the trip to Algiers), Clemenceau's persecution of the left may leave him open to a counter-coup by the right. Meanwhile, the French People's Republic is more successful than I thought it would be (which is a low bar to clear, but still). I hope that the leadership of that nation won't get Trotskyist ideas of "spreading the revolution," though it seems that Sorel and co. have been surprisingly pragmatic about the whole affair.
 
Is it me or is the text in the update invisible unless you select it?
How d'you mean? Is there something I ought to change?
This will be fun. Georges Clemenceau was a fiercely liberal politician, being both an enemy of the SFIO and the traditional aristocracy. When one considers that the French exiles are far more conservative and pro-clerical than the French average (after all, anti-clerical workmen probably have neither the money nor the necessity to make the trip to Algiers), Clemenceau's persecution of the left may leave him open to a counter-coup by the right. Meanwhile, the French People's Republic is more successful than I thought it would be (which is a low bar to clear, but still). I hope that the leadership of that nation won't get Trotskyist ideas of "spreading the revolution," though it seems that Sorel and co. have been surprisingly pragmatic about the whole affair.
This is a really great analysis. I didn't know much about Sorel before I began this TL, but he really seems like a unique odd duck- a very interesting mishmash of different ideologies and beliefs. Not even the 'traditional' SFIO Marxists really know what to make of him. While he might fantasise about exporting revolution, Sorel knows that he's in a pretty precarious spot, and so his main goal is simply making invasion and conquest more trouble than they're worth from the German perspective.

With regards to Clemenceau, that's an interesting idea I hadn't considered. As of right now, though, he's in a similar position to his taking power in OTL 1917 after the mutinies, but without the constraints of parliamentary politics. Charles Lutaud had best follow or get out of the way....

Thanks for reading and commenting!
 
I get the feeling that Germany is going to regret their actions in France, sure it's not hard to see why their policy towards France has quite hot and cold.

Though I admit I'm curious how the ''white elephant'' of their empire will change, sure Germany won a lot from the great war but their military is trying to hold down the majority of the African continent, that insurgency in occupied France easy hit Germany proper and constant causalities must not play well with their public and their puppets in the east.

Germany is in real danger of overextension if another war happens.
 
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