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THE EAGLE AND THE LION
History of the German Empire in the Revolutionary Wars
Introduction – The Legacy of the Great War
Prelude - The Advisors
Book I - The Great War, 1914-1917
CHAPTER I - The Western Front
CHAPTER II - The Eastern Front in 1914
CHAPTER III - The Eastern Front in 1915-1916
CHAPTER IV - The War on the seas and in the colonies
CHAPTER V - Armistice and Revolution, end of the Great War
Sick No Longer: The Ottoman Empire and the Great War Part I (by Faelin)
Sick No Longer: The Ottoman Empire and the Great War Part II (by Faelin)
Book II - Aftermath of the Great War
CHAPTER I - New States in Eastern Europe
CHAPTER II - The October Revolution and the Russian Civil War
CHAPTER III - The French Revolution
Book III - The Post war World
Chapter I – Economic consequences of the Great War
Chapter II – The Great Powers in the 1920s
Chapter III – Thorez and the French re-armament
Chapter IV - The Great Powers in the 1930s
Book IV - The Austro-Hungarian Revolutions
Chapter I - A meeting in the Carphatians
Chapter II - A Kaiser on the phone
Chapter III - Revolution in the Austro-Hungarian Empire
Chapter IV – The Empire Strikes Back
Chapter V – A map room conference
Chapter VI - Moscow reacts
Chapter VII – Turn of the tide
Chapter VIII – Where Panzers dare
Intermezzo (by Vincent Julien)
Chapter IX – The better part of valour
Chapter X – Operation Wallenstein
Chapter XI - Panzers in the snow
Chapter XII – The ordnance expert
Chapter XIII – A night out in Berlin
Chapter XIV - I believe in Yesterday
The legacy of the Great War
Few points in recorded history have been as favoured by alternate historians of our days looking for potential points of divergence from the factual to the counter-factual as the opening days of the Great War. This is readily understandable – in August of 1914 the future of Europe and the world revolved around the decisions of a few men, whose wisdom or folly could cause endless disaster.
What if… Germany had not supported their Austrian brothers in arms? Would Austria had backed down and the war been avoided altogether?
What if… Czar Nicholas II had heeded the plea from the Kaiser not to support Serbia? Had the Great War been replaced by short, one-sided Austro-Serbian war?
What if… Kaiser Wilhelm II had not shouted down his Chief of Staff, von Moltke, who insisted on an implementation of the Schlieffen plan? Had Germany then marched west, violating the neutrality of Belgium, thus bringing the British Empire into the war? Clearly, with German imports strangled by the Franco-British fleets, the British and Belgian armies backing up the French, and with the Russians free to attack in the East, it would have become a whole other war. Could Germany have landed the intended knock-out blow against France and won the war in a short few weeks, instead of three years? Or would she have bogged down, only to be gradually bled white in an endless battle of attrition, the horrors of the Alsatian trench war magnified tenfold across Flanders and Picardie? Could the result of the war actually have been reversed?
And Turkey, threatened in the Levant by forces from Egypt and in Mesopotamia by the British bases at Kuwait and Bahrain? Could the arthritic old Ottoman Empire have pushed deep into the Caucasus, reversed three hundred years of decay and thrived? Or would the Ottomans have replaced the Romanovs on the refuse-heap of history? Or joined them, perhaps?
Would Russia have avoided her catastrophic defeats and mutilation? Would the Schlieffen plan have spared her the horrors of the Bolshevik revolution? Or would Germany, strange as it might seem today, maybe even have helped usher it in, if cornered between France, Britain and Russia? It’s important to remember that the then leader of the Bolshevik party, Vladimir Ilich Ulianov, known in party circles as Lenin, was stuck in Switzerland for the duration of the conflict. Italy and France were allied to Russia and would not have let him pass. Only the Central powers could have had an interest in adding to the revolutionary woes of their Russian foe – but with Russia soundly beaten and in full retreat, what use could their have been in inciting its soon to be occupied population to revolution? As the endless Makhnoshchina guerrilla war in the Ukraine later showed, the Russian peasants were unruly enough as subjects, even when allowed their puppet states.
Would Lenin, had he been allowed to join his party brothers in Russia, have proved as effective a leader as Leon Trotsky, the Red Napoleon? Could he have won the civil war, beaten Denikin, Wrangel and Koltchak, ridden out the storm of the Anglo-German intervention? Would Lenin have known how to profit from the deep demoralization of France after its defeat in 1917 and bring about the third French revolution, as Trotsky did? Or would he have held true to his maxim of “Revolution in one country first”?
Would Italy have fallen to the Black-Shirt thugs of Benito Mussolini had it been among the victors? Bitterness over its defeat and fear of Communism were instrumental in massing Italy behind the Fascist take over. Without those factors, it’s not unreasonable to think that lovely, civilized Italy could have been spared its grim fate.
And finally, might the Austro-Hungarian Empire have survived a defeat at the hands of the Entente, or might it have come apart twenty years before its time? To be sure, the victory in the Great War, although costly, did to some extent restore its peeling façade, leaving it in place for Trotsky and the Comintern to spread their sedition. Would Communism have found such fertile ground in the many subjugated nationalities of the Habsburg Empire if it had not come hand in hand with pan Slavic nationalism?
Interesting as these counter-factual speculations might be, we’ll never know the answers to these questions, nor if the world would have been a better place to live in today, had things turned out differently. For better or for worse, the Kaiser did bend von Moltke to his will, Germany marched against Russia first, Britain, not having to fulfil its obligations to Belgium stayed out of the war, the flower of the French Army spent itself in endless mass attacks against the German trenches and bunkers in Alsace and were finally, in their weakened and utterly demoralized state, swept aside by Crown Prince Wilhelm’s victorious legions returning from the East. Even his tragic death in the last week of the war didn’t save France. The Russian Empire and the French Republic, mortally wounded by defeat, did succumb to Communist Revolution, setting the stage for the further spread of Revolution into the Balkans, Central Europe and Iberia. And this is the world we have to live with.
ATLAS - EUROPE, AFRICA and EAST ASIA in 1936