While visiting Sarajevo on the 28th of June, Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie are assassinated by Serb nationalist Gavrilo Princip. In reaction, Austria-Hungary sends an ultimatum to Serbia, whose contents are deliberately made unacceptable to the Serbs. Austria-Hungary declares war on Serbia shortly after receiving German backing. Russia in turn declares war on Austria-Hungary and Germany. Germany, wanting to knock France out of the war before it can assist its Russian ally, declares war on France on August 3rd.
When Germany invades neutral Belgium to execute the Schlieffen Plan, the British Empire declares war on Germany. The German advance to Paris is halted at the Marne and a series of flanking attempts, known as the Race to the Sea, prove unsuccessful. The war in the West grinds down to a halt.
The Germans are much more successful in the East, repulsing the Russian invasion of East Prussia and defeating the Russians at the battles of the Mazurian Lakes and at Tannenberg. The architects of these victories, Field Marshal von Hindenburg and General Ludendorff, would play key roles in the final German victory.
The Ottoman Empire joins the Central Powers in October, after a dispute with Britain about the confiscation of ships being built for the Empire.
Almost all German colonies are occupied before the end of the year, besides German East-Africa. Here Colonel von Lettow-Vorbeck will play a game of cat and mouse with the Allied forces until the end of the war.
In the West the lines remain static, but the fighting increases in brutality, with chlorine gas being first used during the Second Battle of Ypres on 22nd of April.
In the East, Russia is being pushed back by the Germans, but manages to hold on to Galicia.
Bulgaria joins the war on the side of the Central Powers, and Serbia becomes the first Allied nation to be defeated.
Italy joins the war on the Allied side, hoping to claim Austro-Hungary's Tyrolian and Illyrian provinces. The campaign bogs down into trench warfare.
In an ill conceived effort to knock the Ottomans out of the war, Allied troops land near Gallipoli, hoping to gain control of the vital Dardanelles. The whole campaign becomes a disaster and the Allies will pull back their forces before the year ends. A British invasion of Mesopotamia is repelled and the remaining troops retreat to Kut, where a disastrous siege will start.
A German submarine sinks the Lusitania. A severe backlash in the United States leads to Germany abandoning its unrestricted submarine warfare, which had hoped to strangle Britain into submission. Many speculated that a continuation of the unrestricted submarine warfare could have led to the entry of the United States into the war.
The Battle of Verdun starts, attempting to bleed the French Army dry. In reality, all sides bleed equally in a battle which soon loses its military objective. A similar attempt against the British forces at the Somme has the same outcome. 1916 also saw the first use of tanks at the Battle of the Somme.
In the East, the Brusilov offensive is launched. While very successful at first, the offensive doesn’t manage to either knock the Austro-Hungarians out of the war or drive Germany from Russian Poland.
The British troops at Kut are forced to surrender, dealing a heavy blow to British prestige. The Ottomans are being pushed out of the Caucasus and Armenia by a successful Russian campaign. The Sharif of Mecca starts of a general Arab revolt against the Turks.
At sea the First Battle of Jutland ends in a tactical German victory, but a strategic British victory, as the Hochseeflotte will remain in port until late 1918.
Romania tries to profit from Austrian setbacks and invades Transylvania. German assistance would lead to a quick collapse of Romania, with Bucharest being taken by August von Mackensen within the year. Further south the Allies have taken positions around Salonika.
On January 8th, the Kaiser hears arguments from military leaders for reopening unrestricted submarine warfare, but ultimately decides against them. This is the point where the Kaiserreich universe diverges from our own.
Chancellor von Bethmann-Hollweg is forced to resign and is replaced by Georg Michaelis. It is soon clear that Michaelis is little more than a puppet for Generals von Hindenburg and Ludendorff.
On the Western Front, the heavy French casualties at Chemin des Dames lead to a strike among the French soldiers. This would paralyze the French Army until the end of the year, giving Germany a chance to recover from the Brusilov Offensive.
Russia collapses into anarchy, with the Tsar abdicating in March 1917 (O.S. February). A provisional government is formed under Alexander Kerensky, but this government was overthrown by Lenin's Bolsheviks in November (O.S. October), starting the Russian Civil War.
In Italy the Caporetto Offensive beats the Italians back to the Piave river, where only a last minute defense saves Venice from occupation.
The Ottomans receive blow after blow, with both Baghdad and Jerusalem being lost to British forces.
A British submarine mistakenly torpedoes an American freighter carrying Christmas gifts to Germany, killing several US citizens. The public backlash forces a partial opening of the blockade, averting the looming spectre of famine in Central Europe.
In early March the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk is signed between the Germans and the Bolsheviks, freeing thousands of German and Austrian troops for other fronts. The Bolsheviks cede Finland, the Baltic states, Congress Poland, Belarus and Ukraine to the Germans.
A great Allied spring offensive, designed at breaking the German lines before their reinforcements arrive, is repulsed at great cost of life.
Operation Teutoberg is launched, attempting to kick Greece out of the war. Instead of assaulting the Salonika stronghold head on, the Central Powers make extensive use of specialized storm-troopers and so called "infiltration" tactics. The defenders at Salonika are pinned down while the rest of the German-Bulgarian forces sweep through Greece. Athens falls on July 3rd, causing the Greek government to surrender. The western forces at Salonika are evacuated soon afterwards.
Anti-Bolshevik White Russian forces of the "Volunteer Army" under General Lavr Kornilov retreat south from Rostov across the frozen Kuban steppe from February to May. The famous "Ice March" campaign concludes with Kornilov narrowly escaping death from an artillery shell on his headquarters during the Battle of Yekaterinodar. The city's capture cements the Whites' control over the Kuban Cossack heartland.
General Allenby manages to pull off the last great Allied victory of the war, encircling and destroying large parts of the Ottoman Army and conquering Damascus. Only the last minute arrival of two German divisions in Asia Minor prevent an invasion of Anatolia.
Vladimir Lenin, the famous leader of the Russian Bolsheviks, is assassinated by Fanny Kaplan following the Bolsheviks' suppression of the Left SRs. Lev Kamenev quickly succeeds Lenin, but Bolshevik spirits are seriously shaken.
Successful Allied tactics against Germany's U-boats and the blockade of Germany leads to a desperate sally of the Hochseeflotte, now led by Admiral Hipper. The Second Battle of Jutland ends in a tie, but the shock of being assaulted forces the Royal Navy to break their blockade. The total end of the blockade and the influx of Ukrainian grain ends all fears of Germany being starved into submission.
Meanwhile, Kaiser Karl, under pressure by the continuingly crumbling homefront and continually swelling spirit of revolution, issues the "Völkermanifest", promising national self-determination within the Empire once the war is won, placating Austria's numbrous ethnical minorities. Even though the manifesto did not pose any demands to Hungary, self-determination of a Croat state was agreed upon by both sides of the Dual Monarchy by the end of October, resulting in the Kingdom of Croatia achieving the same status as Hungary.
After almost a month of negotiations between the anti-Bolshevik Constituent Assembly and Siberian governments, Admiral Aleksandr Kolchak reluctantly launches a British-backed coup to unite the fractious Whites. The situation is salvaged by the arrival of Boris Savinkov, who convinces Kolchak to accept many of the SR's demands, and limit his power to only supreme command over military affairs.
On March 2nd the Germans launch their Great Offensive at St. Mihiel, south of Verdun. Their infiltration tactics prove to be successful, with Nancy falling on the 16th. The French organize an ad hoc defense, leaving their flank exposed. An attack on Rheims on the 26th splits the Allied forces in two. An attack on Chateau-Thierry meant the French couldn’t retreat back to the Marne. In effect, the entire French army was forced to retreat south and Paris was placed under siege.
Operation Radowitz is launched on the 11th of March, attacking the Italian forces from Trento instead of the Piave. Vicenza and Verona fall on the 24th, pinning the Italians between two Central armies after Venice was reached on the 10th of April. The Siege of Venice would last until July, but with most of the Italian army occupied the rest of Italy lay defenseless, with Rome falling on August 1st. Italy would surrender a few days later. The surrender of Italy meant the road to Southern France was now open, with Marseilles falling in September.
As Italy collapsed, Empress Zewditu of Ethiopia and Sayyid al-Hasan of the Dervish State declared war, retaking Italy's colonies and reversing a European colonization of Africa for the first time.
Allied setbacks would lead to Allenby, and most of his troops, being redeployed to France. Allenby’s successor, Sir William Marshall, is forced to slowly retreat because of a lack of manpower.
The retreat of the French Army leads to the positions of the BEF becoming indefensible. Most of the British forces are evacuated at Dieppe in June, leaving the French on their own. At this point the French Army, battered, war-weary and with little hope of victory was in open rebellion. With a second mutiny, a general uprising of the working classes imminent, the fall of Paris a certainty and Marseilles in German hands, the French government capitulated on the 4th of October, ending the war in Europe. One month later, the Central Powers and the remaining Allied Powers signed a ceasefire in Copenhagen.
The Treaties of Versailles
The fall of France, Russia, Italy and their allies in the Balkans reduced the Entente to the British Empire, Japan and Portugal. While none of these countries were under direct German threat, none were able to pose a threat to Germany likewise. The battle between Germany and Britain continued for two more years by proxy, in Ireland and elsewhere, while the otherwise victorious Central Powers divided up their conquests.
Serbia cedes Macedonia to Bulgaria and is forced to accept Austrian-Hungarian oversight in most of her domestic and foreign affairs. Albania suffers a similar fate. Montenegro is annexed by Austria outright.
Greece was forced to cede Greek Macedonia and Salonika to Bulgaria, and had to accept a German lease on Crete for as long as the Kaiser deemed necessary.
Romania was forced to cede the entire Dobrudja to Bulgaria and the Carpathian mountain passes to Hungary. It was however granted the former Russian province of Bessarabia. Full religious minority rights were instituted in the country and the economic interests of the Central Powers were secured.
Italy was split apart into a number of weak republics, duchies and principalities with Tuscany, the Papal States and the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies returning on the map of Europe. The Republic of Venice was made completely demilitarized as a buffer for Austro-Hungary. However, the Italian Civil War meant that only the Two Sicilies, Sardinia and a rump Papal State stayed on the map of europe for long.
Libya became a kingdom under Ottoman protection.
France ceded Dahomey, Cote D'Ivorie, Madagascar, all of French Equatorial Africa south of Lake Chad, Pondicherry, Indochina, and her Pacific colonies, along with a swath of territory from Pas-de-Calais to Lorraine. However, the revolution prevented the occupation of anything outside Lorraine.
Belgium was reorganised into the Kingdom of Flanders-Wallonia, with the Kaiser's son Adalbert becoming the new king. The Belgian Congo was given to Germany and Wallonia east of the Meuse, the location of most Belgian industry, would be occupied as long as the German government deemed necessary. The Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg would become a constituent state of the German Empire.
In the East, the acquisitions of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk were organized into a series of puppet states. Estonia and Latvia were fused into the United Baltic Duchy, with Adolf Friedrich von Mecklenburg becoming its first Grand Duke. The Kaiser's brother Heinrich became King Genrikh I of White Ruthenia (Belarus). Poland and Finland became independent states under German protection, with the Kaisers brother-in-law Friedrich-Karl von Hessen becoming King of Finland. Lithuania became independent with Wilhelm von Urach, Duke of Urach, becoming King Mindaugas. The Austrian Archduke Wilhelm Franz ascended to the throne of Ukraine, aligning the country with Mitteleuropa.
The Peace with Honour (1921)
As the ceasefire began to run out and neither side willing to re-enter direct conflict, General Ludendorff proposed a ‘Peace with Honour’ to the Entente. The remaining Entente members would acknowledge the peace treaties between Germany and the former Entente members and return Germany's colonies (Including those transferred in the peace treaties) in exchange for status-quo ante-bellum. The peace itself was signed at 11 AM on the 11th of November, 1921, ending the Weltkrieg after seven long years.
The Confédération Générale du Travail (CGT), led by anarcho-syndicalist Emile Pouget, declares a general strike in reaction to the bloody defeat of the French army during the German Great Offensive and the second mutiny. Its main aim was an immediate end to the war. After the fall of Paris, the government of Georges Clemenceau was replaced by a Provisional Government under Aristide Briand.
The Southern White Russians begin their "Volga Campaign" with the capture of the city of Tsaritsyn. Led by General Pyotr Wrangel, the Whites swiftly seize Saratov, but are halted at Samara by Leon Trotsky. It takes until July for a Siberian White counter-offensive to force Trotsky to withdraw and surrender Samara, ultimately uniting the two largest White fronts.
In the Baltics, the White Russian Northwestern Army under General Nikolai Yudenich launches its offensive towards Red Petrograd. The outnumbered Reds are quickly forced to withdraw to Petrograd itself, and the Whites (with White Ruthenian and Baltic support) place the city under siege.
The Southern and Siberian Whites meet in the recaptured city of Ufa to negotiate a union of their governments. It is ultimately decided that Alexander Kolchak will remain supreme military commander of all White Russian forces, with Sergey Sazonov acting as prime minister. Most importantly, however, the Siberian Whites agree to follow the example of the Southern Whites, and cut ties with the Entente. Petrograd falls shortly afterwards to Yudenich's troops, and he presents the city as a gift upon also ratifying his support for the new, unified Provisional All-Russian Government.
Jacobin radicals, inspired by their Russian brethren and Leninist theories about a revolutionary vanguard start a series of attacks on government officials and public buildings, ending the chance of the CGT and Provisional Government of reaching any agreement. An attempt of the government to use demobilized soldiers to restore order ends in many soldiers joining the revolutionaries. France in engulfed in a short but bloody war, ending in a victory for the revolutionaries. Emile Pouget starts with the difficult task of changing the French Republic into the Commune of France.
The remains of the French establishment flee to Algiers, setting up a government-in-exile, led by Marshal Ferdinand Foch.
Mere hours after the announcement of this nation-ending 'peace', the Republic of Italy was proclaimed in Milan by incensed nationalists. All treaties signed by the House of Savoy where to be considered null and void. The competing Socialist Republic of Italy, modeled after France's syndicalist revolution, was proclaimed less than a week later in Torino, and thus the Italian Civil War begun
Blurry battle lines were drawn in the space between Veneto and Lazio, where the Austrian garrisons were simply too strong for the fledgling Italian successor factions to confront at first. Soon, street brawls devolved into full scale battles; looting was widespread in the countryside as army regiments were quickly forced to take sides in the midst of a chaotic demobilization, often having to suppress their own beliefs in order to fight a peace both ‘republics’ saw as vile. The Italian Nationalist Association, which by now had renounced blue as its color due to it's association with the traitorous House of Savoy, had its paramilitary units constantly at the front lines, and gained a great deal of popularity as the conflict degenerated further and further into open civil war. Unrest in the Veneto, Lazio and Campania areas were quickly supressed by Austrian and right leaning army regiments now loyal to the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies.
Baron Ungern von Sternberg and his ‘Wild division’ take the Mongolian capital of Urga, with Sternberg declaring himself Mongolia's supreme ruler.
Though Moscow had been under siege from a combined army of Whites since November of 1919, it takes until January 22nd, 1920 for the Bolsheviks to finally submit a formal surrender. Outnumbered, outgunned, and crippled by starvation and desertion, the Reds have little choice but throw themselves at the mercy of the Provisional Government. The Whites stand victorious at the formal conclusion of the civil war.
The White Russians send a delegation of Alexander Kolchak, Sergei Sazonov, and Alexander Kerensky to ratify a modified version of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, despite furious protestations from nearly all elements of Russian society. With the nascent Russian Republic in almost as poor shape as the Bolsheviks had been in 1918, the Russians have little choice but agree to German demands, lest they face "punitive action" by the Kaiser's armies.
Secretary of the Treasury William McAdoo becomes the 29th President of the United States, with Alexander Palmer as his Vice-President
The Italian Civil War reaches it's de facto end, as outnumbered Austrian and Republican forces defeat the Socialist attackers in the Po River Offensive. Weary of starting a full scale war with Austria, and with most of its territory devastated by conflict, the SRI quits its offensives. Only 3 of the states of the former Italian Federation are still existing at this point.
Kaiser Karl reconvenes the Imperial Council and announces his intent to move forward with the institution of national self-determination within the Empire.
The promising political career of Franklin Roosevelt is tragically cut short when he succumbs to polio.
After the Easter Uprising in 1916 and five years of war, a peace treaty is concluded between the UK and Irish rebels that leads to the creation of a new Free Irish State on 1st January, 1922. With the Protestant north as an autonomous region and the King as a figurehead only nominally acknowledged, opposition to the treaty is minimal.
South Rhodesia joins South Africa, nervous of potential German expansionism in its region.
In Portugal, the Monarchy is restored after a coup led my Mitchell de Paiva Couceiro
After being linked to a mass embezzlement of public funds, Ludendorff is removed from his post, ending the Junta in Germany. Grand Admiral von Tirpitz is elected Chancellor, beginning the golden age of Weltpolitik.
When the Victoria Police Strike leads to a Syndicalist uprising and the brief formation of a Melbourne Commune, George V implements the Emergency Protocols, and the Commune is brutally suppressed.
In the U.S., President McAdoo is reelected.
In Russia, a coup is attempted by a loose coalition of businessmen, industrialists, centre-right conservatives, and Siberian autonomists, all of whom are united chiefly by strong anti-German resentment. Alexander Kolchak, despite having little involvement with the plot, is declared provisional dictator. However, only a handful of units in Siberia side with the plot, and all ultimately agree to stand-down rather than fight the army units sent to suppress them. Seeing the writing on the wall, the plotters disperse, with Kolchak accepting an Anglo-Japanese offer to be installed as an anti-German pretender in the "Russian Republic" of Transamur.
Seeing the chaos engulfing Russia in the wake of the Kolchak Putsch and resentful of broken promises for autonomy, the Don, Kuban, and Terek Cossacks mutiny on the urging of General Pyotr Krasnov. Though support for the rebellion is far from universal among the Cossacks, the feeble state of the Russian army leads Kerensky to reluctantly agree to Krasnov's demands. The newly-created "Don-Kuban Union" that arises is independent from Russia in all but name.
The Consolidation of Resources Act merges Australia and New Zealand into the Australasian Confederation. Elections are suspended and much of the new Dominion is put under martial law.
A British general strike over coal tariffs escalates into an nationwide uprising when government troops massacre striking miners. After the army begins to stand down or defect and the Royal Navy begins to mutiny, the government flees to Canada. A coalition of leftists centered on the Trades Union Congress take control under the charismatic John McLean, creating the Union of Britain.
Michael Collins dissolves the Irish Free State and the autonomy of Ulster, proclaiming the Republic of Ireland with himself as President.
The fall of Britain itself lead to a massive landgrab by many of its longtime enemies. Gibraltar finally returned to Spanish hands, while Argentina quickly seized the Falklands, Egypt gained sole authority over the Sudan and the Ottoman Empire regained control over Cyprus. The German Empire managed to secure most of the British African Empire as well as the strategic colonies of Malta, Suez, Aden, Ceylon, the Strait Colonies, Brunei and Sarawak.
Australasia keep control over the British parts of New Guinea and Fiji.
India, once the pearl in the British crown breaks down into three new states. The Dominion of India, colloquially Delhi, retains control of the northwest, while the Indian National Congress forms its own government, the Bhartiya Commune. The Princes of the south form their own, independent Princely Federation. Burma becomes an independent kingdom once again.
The facade of a protectorate Britain claimed in Somalia collapses, and Sultan Mohamoud formally proclaims Somali independence.
South Africa manages to secure the Bechuana Protectorate. Tensions between the pro-Entente Smuts and pro-republic Hertzog grows.
The Royal Navy's Caribbean Squadron secures the British colonies in the region. These colonies, together with the former French colonies in the region would form the Caribbean Federation.
In Canada the Senate is replaced by a reconstituted House of Lords.
Xu Shichang manages to become president of the divided Chinese Republic. In an effort to restore order, Xu asks the German Empire to help him restore order in China. In exchange he would accept the restoration of Pu Yi to the Chinese throne. The Guominjun accuses Xu of betraying the Republican principles of Sun Yat-Sen and declares war on him.
A supposedly Serb-sponsored pan-Slavic revolt sweeps over the Southern parts of the Austrian sphere, endangering Austrian hegemony in the region. The Kaiser deals with this by playing the Croats against the Serbs, establishing a Croat-led Panslavic Kingdom under the name of Illyria. Hungary is not amused.
Governor Hans von Seeckt of German Indochina is ordered to intervene in the civil war in support of Xu. Within six months Germany manages to defeat the Guominjun and secure most major centers of industry and population. The opponents of the government retreat to the remote west, Yunnan or Manchuria, while Pu Yi is restored as Emperor, but has to accept a conglomerate of German enterprises, known as the AOG (Allgemeine Ostasien GmbH) taking economic control of the industrial south. Hans von Seeckt would become its first governor-general. In order to safeguard the economic interests of other major powers all the port cities are united as the Legation Cities and are put under joint control.
Japan intervenes in support of Zhang Zuolin, but isn't willing to risk conflict with Germany. The Fengtian Government is established in Northeast China.
King Ferdinand of Romania dies and is succeeded by his grandson Michael, after his son Carol had been forced to renounce his claim to the throne. As Michael is still a minor he is effectively a puppet of the military who now have complete control over the country.
Republican Herbert Hoover easily defeats Governor of New York Al Smith. Norman Thomas runs for the Socialist Party, and wins several Midwestern states, while Jack Reed is elected Senator for New York in an upset. Huey Long becomes Governor of Louisiana.
The Central American revolt spreads to El Salvador. Guatemala and El Salvador merge to form Centroamerica
Reichskanzler Afred von Tirpitz dies on March 6th. He was the most successful and popular chancellor in German history behind Otto von Bismarck himself. He is replaced by Franz von Papen.
In a reaction to the growing threat of Centroamerica, Nicaragua and Costa Rica unite to form the United Provinces.
The Creditanstalt, Austria's largest bank, almost collapses after a brief but intense banking scandal. A major CS politician is implied as amongst the guilty parties, putting in hazard the Christlichsoziale influence over Austrian politics.
Chile, after bankruptcy and several years of instability, has a Syndicalist revolution breaking out and succeeding in toppling the goverment thanks to large amounts of Navy and Army support. Arturo Puga becomes head of state
Herbert Hoover is reelected by the House of Representatives after the socialists win enough states to deny any party an electoral majority. Denied the Democratic nomination, Huey Long forms his own American Union Party.
In South Africa Barry Hertzog wins the elections and declares South Africa to be a republic. South Africa leaves the Entente.
A series of border skirmishes between Paraguay and Bolivia leads to Argentina and Bolivia go to war over the alleged Bolivian attempts to annex Paraguay.
Argentina manages to drive the Bolivians out of the disputed Gran Chaco region. Brazil decides to intervene on Bolivia’s behalf, sparking off the Great South American War. Small Uruguay is quickly overrun by Brazilian forces, having the misfortune to be in the way. The march towards the River Plate ended in trench warfare.
Argentinian troops, fresh from defeating Bolivia counterattack the Brazilian lines along the River Plate. The tired Brazilian forces break and Brazil quickly seeks terms. Paraguay and Uruguay join Argentina in the newly created Federation of La Plata.
The military government of Romania is violenty ousted by one of the right-wing political groups they collaborated with, the fanatic nationalist Iron Guard. Their leader Corneliu Zelea Codreanu is set up as the new Leader (Conducător), while the young king flees the country.
Marmaduke Grove, a former militaryman, is elected the second chairman of the Chilean Syndicalist Republic