It's amazing how tight are the results. À bas les rouges!
It's amazing how tight are the results. À bas les rouges!
Bien dis ! To Cologne and beyond !
Election of 1918 and the Treaty of Versailles
The horrors of the war and the inspiration of the Revolution in Russia as it caused a leftward radicalisation of the French working class, sending support for the, at least publicly revolutionary, Radical Left soaring. In the response to the worrying growth of the radicals the French ruling elites largely united around a PRD dominated coalition of centrist Republican parties – the National Block. The National Block portrayed itself as the party of order, the only group capable returning France to the glorious and tranquil days of the pre-war era, a group that could put the genie of the Russian Revolution back in the bottle and continue in the way things had gone before.
The election proved to be one of the tightest in French history. The Radical Left assumed the role as the party of the working class and even expanded its support into factions of the peasantry. Winning an incredible 258 seats there were points when the fearful, disunited and totally unprepared party nervously contemplated being thrust into power by the French electorate. The National Block, whilst technically the election's victor, failed to establish itself as the largest faction in the Assembly – making only marginal gains when compared to the Left's surge. Meanwhile, Action Francaise's almighty pre-war performance was not repeated. Losing more than half of its vote Maurras' Monarchist group's dream of bringing the counter revolution to France seemed to be dying. Finally, the SFIO was all but destroyed as a mass working class party, indeed its vote and membership seemed to have shifted more towards the more comfortable 'middle class' professionals rather than the industrial workers who had previously backed it.
With an obscenely small majority of just 9 deputies the National Block joined with Action Francaise to a form the government that would lead France into the final peace negotiations at Versailles. With such a powerful block in opposition the government would have to ensure a significant degree of discipline from its National Assembly members in order to properly function. The new Prime Minister was to be Alexandre Ribot – a highly experienced right wing Republican who had twice held the Premiership during the 1890s.
(Left to Right) David Lloyd George – Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Charles Maurras – Foreign Minister of France, Vittorio Emanuele Orlando – Prime Minister of Italy
The negotiations at Versailles, which ran from early October until January 1919, were dominated by the 'big three' – the Prime Ministers of Britain and Italy and Maurras, who led the French delegation as Foreign Minister (in constant contact with the cabinet in Paris Maurras still enjoyed the right to head negotiations). The leaders of the 'big three' victors of the Great War would divide up the new map of Europe, the Middle East and the former German Empire. As Lloyd George quipped ''things went as well as one might have expected, sat as I was between Julius Caesar and Napoleon Bonaparte''. Both facing instability at home due to the rise of a militant left and despair at the sacrifice of the war effort Italy and France found common cause in their desire for a decisive treaty and significant annexations – drawing the staunch opposition of the British, who had sacrificed comparatively little (British losses being around 1/10 of the French) and desired both a strong Germany to act a a future trading partner and bulwark against Bolshevism and supported the principle of self determination for national groups (obviously only within Europe itself). By January this fiery contradiction between the demands of the continental powers and Britain had led to the death of the Entente alliance.
As the haggling proceeded in Versailles events on the ground in Central and Eastern Europe were moving fast. The Hungarian Civil War broke out in early 1918 after the right wing Hungarian provisional government (which maintained power in the Hungary core lands and in Transylvania) launched a large scale crackdown against the far left that was rapidly rising in the country. This in turn provoked a workers and peasants uprising led by the recently created Hungarian Communist Party, led by Bela Kun. From an initial territorial base in the North-West the Communists had slowly fought across the country, in late October they entered the capital – Budapest. In response to this the Romanians, ushered on by France and Italy, invaded Transylvania. However, just as they were about to proceed into the Hungarian heartlands a message arrived from Petrograd – if the Romanian Army marched any further West then 100,000 Red Army soldiers in Bessarabia will march straight into Romania. With the Civil War in Russia winding down, the Whites in the North losing Murmansk in September, the Turkish rebels in Central Asia in full blown retreat and Kolchak far to isolated to be a genuine threat the Bolsheviks felt confident enough to engage in some geopolitical brinkmanship with the West in order to save the flame of revolt in Western Europe.
In parallel with the events in Hungary, Germany was in the throes of Revolution too. The dogged, almost psychotic, refusal of the Prussian elites in government to surrender until the French army had entered Berlin itself shattered the confidence of the German popular masses in every aspect of the old regime. Across the country the nobility was overthrown and forced into exile whilst workers and soldiers councils (Soviets or Räte) popped up. In Berlin the French appointed government (essentially a coalition of moderate Republican liberal and Catholic parties) was challenged by a rival left wing government – an alliance of the SPD and USPD (the SPD being the right wing of Social Democracy that had stayed loyal to the Kaiser's government throughout the war – like a German version of the SFIO - the USPD being more similar to the Radical Left in that it was a pluralistic and confused alliance of more left wing members of the old party united by opposition to war, however its view on the Russian Revolution was extremely fogy), finally far right nationalist and even monarchist groups and the ultra leftist Spartacists also contested for political power. In essence it was a total mess, growing only more convoluted and violent by the stream of demobilised soldiers returning to their homes, often with their old military equipment still in toe. There were great fears in Versailles over the potential of the revolutionary contagion to spread into Germany, even greater fears that the Russians were both supporting the German Reds with arms and might be willing to march on Berlin itself. With the strength of the far left in both France and Italy, a defeat in Germany would inevitably cause civil war in both those states.
Therefore, the two most militant of the Versailles powers proved to be the most reluctant to actually go to war with Soviet Russia. The British, with its largely untapped reserves of manpower and financial muscle, called for the big three to join together with the Poles, Czechs and even the Turks in an anti-Bolshevik alliance. Maurras was initially enthusiastic about the idea but a directive from Paris forced him to back down. It was clear a war with the Russians would be suicidal, there were million of revolutionaries across Europe only waiting for such a trigger to begin insurrections of their own whilst by the time the exhausted allied armies could actually reach the front line the Red Army could be in Berlin, Prague and Bucharest. So an unofficial stance of international neutrality was taken over the issue of Hungary – both the Russians and the capitalist powers flooding arms towards their respective sides. In Germany the Versailles powers put their full backing behind immediate elections.
As the SPD-USPD and the French appointed liberal coalition united in their support of elections and began the process of centralising political power around the state and government at the expense of the workers' councils the Spartacist ultra-lefts became more militant, gathering arms and occupying, factories, newspaper offices and other important positions. Over the course of November the SPD controlled Berlin police force had begun a programme of ending Spartacist occupations. At the head offices of Die Rote Fahne (an occupied newspaper office where the main Spartacist paper was published) Spartacists resisted the police, resulting in a skirmish that saw three officers and two Spartacists die. In response to this the SPD and liberals united in their agreement to send troops into Berlin in order to quash the 'rebellion'. Faced with the prospect of arrest and the destruction of all their gains the Spartacists called for armed revolution and rose up across the capital – in 3 days of fighting much of Berlin was wrecked and the Spartacist movement was essentially crushed, losing its best cadres to either the fighting or the jail cell, including Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht who were murdered by a group of right wing militiamen. In the resulting election in December the SPD came to power backed by a coalition of left wing liberals and the Catholic Centre party. This government seemed prepared to accept whatever Versailles dictated – the convulsion of the Revolution were far from over as in December Bavaria attempted to separate itself from the rest of the country under a workers' government. Responding to the rebellion immediately fierce fighting ensued in Munich and Nuremburg.
The Treaty of Versailles was finally signed on January 13th 1919. The treaty was especially harsh on Germany. North Schleswig was granted to neutral Denmark, Eupen-Malady to Belgium and Alsace-Lorraine to France. Luxembourg had held its plebiscite on whether to join with France in November, after the country voted against union the French army invaded, disbanded the government and appointed a new pro-French regime. Luxembourg would remain a technically separate entity, although it was now a French protectorate. French ambitions for territorial expansion were again stunted in the Rhineland. The British were adamant in their refusal to sign a treaty that granted the West bank of the Rhine to France as a permanent province. Instead the French had to settle for establishing a protectorate over the Rhine – this would remove these vital war making industries from Germany and still allow France to recoup its financial losses from the war. In the East Poland made substantial gains. Although denied any territory from East Prussia, mostly from British belligerence on the issue, Poland gained all of West Prussia, Poznan region and multi-ethnic Silesia as well as a recognition that substantial Bolshevik controlled territories would become Polish as soon as ''order can be restored in them''. Germany was forced to accept total and exclusive responsibility for the war and pay a large indemnity to the triumphant powers. It was also forbidden form unifying with Austria (the Austrians having elected a government backing a unification earlier in 1918).
In the Balkans the Italians gained Trento, Trieste, Istria, Slovenia, Dalmatia, Albania and even the area around Zagred whilst Serbia united with Montenegro and gained Vojvodina, Bosnia and a small enclave of Croat territory. Having failed to secure any part of the German colonial Empire, or lands from the Turks, Italy had compensated itself with a large Balkan Empire. Meanwhile, Greek gains were limited to the Aegean coast of Bulgaria.
In the Middle East the British paid for the small concession they had won in Europe (limiting the rampant annexations proposed by Italy and France) the entire Arab portion of the former Ottoman Empire came under French control through a system of 'mandates' in Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and Transjordan and through a French backed Kingdom in Iraq. In Africa all of Togo and Cameroon were annexed by France and in the Pacific all German possessions North of the equator went to the Japanese, finally in central Africa the Belgians gained Rwanda and Burundi for their colony in the Congo. The remains of the German colonial Empire, most importantly Tanganyika, went to the British and their Dominions.
The Great War had been finally concluded, but even with the Civil War in Russia approaching its end Europe was far away from peace – the Civil War in Hungary continued to rage, a peasant rebellion in Serbia was threatening Belgrade, the Revolutionary situation in Germany was far from over, nationalist and socialist rebels still fought for independence in Ireland, the Ottoman Empire was going through its death throes as a Revolutionary and nationalist regime under Ataturk struffled to gain power and in Italy and France mass revolutionary factions simmered. The Entente had defeated the Central Powers, but the outcome of the war between Revolution and Reaction was far from decided.
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That outcome is not so bad, although the communists are spreading like locust.
What now, though? Considering that the players' influence is limited to elections, are we supposed to do sth?
That's a good peace deal. Long live the French nation! Now we must focus on crushing the Bolshevik threat.
This Rhineland protectorat is an outrage ! Annex it ! We NEED a french anschluss !
Great job there in Luxemburg! Let's just hold a plebiscite and completely scrap its result and invade their country anyway, really democratic. That Italian annexation in the Balkans was also a mistake, their gains there should've been restricted to coastal areas. I've already expressed my opinions in the matter, so my only question about the Rhineland is if this protectorate is temporary or not. I still support the negotiation with the soviet government about borders, specially in the polish case, but I doubt our new government would be willing to even try to negotiate with the bolsheviks. It is more likely that they make false accusations and thus create a new enemy in Russia for the battered and divided french nation.
Since "we" have won by a really small majority, I think the actual government must take serious actions to crush the red menace. They must not have a chance for the next election!
Oh yes, we all know how deeply democratic the newly established government in Russia is.
Also, please tell me how do you intend to crush the biggest party in the Assemblée Nationale, one that has the support of 42.9% of the population of France? You accuse the left will bring violence to our country, but in reality you are the ones fostering civil war and even more death to our people!
Seriously, I just fear that if the Gauche Radicale win, they will abolish the democracy. Then if we want to save the republic, we must stop them at all cost, even with war if necessary
Last edited by Samwell; 20-07-2012 at 20:20.
@Tommy : We really need two subjects : One for the AAR, and one to debate about communism and capitalism .
That means killing the capitalists everywhere in EuropeRevolutionaries across the continent must be supported emphatically. We shall align ourselfs with Soviet Russia, back the Reds in Hungary, the Spartacists in Germany and support any insurrection undertaken by the Italian workers. Workers of the World Unite! You have nothing to lose but your chains!
I think the goal of an interactive AAR is to have both. The debate in the forum is exactly the same that the debate in this 1918 France. I find this really cool.@Tommy : We really need two subjects : One for the AAR, and one to debate about communism and capitalism.
Radical Left should be angry at French belligerance with Luxembourg and the Rheinland.
RL doesn't know what it really is. Half of its voters believe in things which are outside of the scope of the RL's political program and have grand utopian visions which have nothing to do with the reality of RL's politics. It was similar in case of AF several years ago, when Bonapartists believed that their wet dreams could come true, but AF was not really a Bonapartist party. Right-wing radicalism was the biggest threat to the stability of France back then, now it is the left-winged radicalism which is threatening both France and the rest of Europe.
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