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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

VILenin

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Alright, I'm playing Austria-Hungary in TGW and I'm operating with a simple operational theory:

Germany + Compotent Ally = Victory for Central Powers.

So we'll see how that turns out. Hopefully the armies of the Entente will fall about the same time as the leaves do, but somehow I doubt it. :) This is my first AAR so, please, be kind. ;)
 
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Part I: Austria Hungary from 1905-14

Chapter I: The Dual Monarchy
In 1905 the attention of Europe was fixed on the crisis in Morocco and the showdown between two Great Powers: France and Germany. Many feared the outbreak of a general war that would spread across all of Europe. This war did not materialize and a compromise was reached, though the implications for the future were serious. Ignored during it all was the state of Austria-Hungary, the ungainly empire that sat in the center of Europe. Austria-Hungary had no colonial possessions and, led by the elderly Franz Josef, was assumed to be stable, some would say declining, power. If there was to be trouble it was assumed that it would be Germany, Austria-Hungary’s ally, that would be the cause. This focused disinterest would not last, however, as events would soon direct the attention of the Great Powers back to Austria.


Austria-Hungary was what had emerged from the Compromise of 1867. After Austria’s defeat by Prussia in the Six Weeks War, Franz Josef had been forced to seek an accommodation with the Magyars to preserve the integrity of the state. The Habsburg Empire of Austria became the Duel Monarchy of Austria-Hungary. Austria was divided into two quasi-states that were autonomous over internal matters but united under a common ruler for foreign policy. Each had its own Parliament and Prime Minister. The Habsburg Monarch would be both Emperor of Austria and King of Hungary. Additionally, the army, navy and the customs union would remain in imperial control. The Kingdom of Hungary and the Crown Lands of St. Stephan included Hungary, Transylvania, Croatia and the Dalmatian coast, with the capital in Budapest. It was dominated by the Magyars from the outset as they pursued a nationalistic agenda. This caused considerable friction with the other ethnic groups inhabiting the region, most notably the Rumanians, who harbored nationalist ambitions of their own, and the Croats, who resented Magyar control. Cisleithania was the other half of the Empire and was commonly known as “Austria” even though it included a range of territories other than Austria proper, such as Galicia and Bohemia, with the capital in Vienna. The Germans dominated Cisleithania although local-autonomy was granted to certain extents to the Poles and Czechs.

The balance between Austria and Hungary was always delicate. Austria possessed the majority of both the population and the economic wealth while Hungary was the Empire’s breadbasket, containing most of the agriculture. Statesman in Budapest were constantly straining for more autonomy while their counterparts in Vienna were constantly trying to re-impose a measure of control. The terms of the Compromise of 1867 stipulated renewal every ten years. This was interpreted by the Austrians to mean that every ten years the two parties would correct problems and make minor adjustments as necessary. The Magyars took it quite differently, deciding that every ten years everything went back on the table and the terms of the Dual Monarchy had to be completely re-negotiated. This invariably led to more and more concessions to Budapest to keep their cooperation and left many in Vienna bitter. Disharmony between the two capitals would lead to serious problems for the Empire later on.



Franz Josef was born in 1830 and had ruled since 1848. He had been in office for as long anyone could remember and had become the enduring symbol of Imperial authority and national unity. Though over seventy, Franz Josef continued to work tirelessly as the head of state, rising before dawn and retiring late in the night. He remained active and would take trips around his Empire to visit soldiers or attend parades. The death of the Empress Elisabeth, or “Sissi” as he called her, in 1898 (she was killed in Geneva by an Italian who claimed himself an anarchist) left Franz Josef without any immediate family; his brother, Maximillion, had been killed in Mexico and his son, Rudolph, had committed suicide. Franz Josef experienced this sense of loneliness acutely and it heightened his sense of personal responsibility to the Empire. As he grew older he continued with a heavy workload, refusing to delegate to ministers and subordinates. The death of Elisabeth brought the people of Austria-Hungary closer to their Emperor but Franz Josef began withdrawing from the world, falling out of touch with his subjects. As this progressed the onus for action, although not the authority for it, began to pass to the heir apparent: Archduke Franz Ferdinand.
 
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Virgiltchicken

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Ah, the war to end all wars and playing as the old man of Europe no less. Very intriguing. Good luck to you in this endeavor! I hope we will see screenshots when appropriate. :)
 

unmerged(19363)

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Nice start, and another HOI aar to boot! Nice selection to play as, should be interesting to see how it turns out.
 

unmerged(24857)

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This can be really interesting.
Hope that German AI won´t screw up.
 

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Thanks guys. Hopefully I will meet expectations. :) I have some pics as well as screenshots for when the game actually starts that I hope to put up as soon as I can get them working.

Vincent Julien said:

Out bursts of joy are much appreciated! :D
 

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Chapter II: The Heir Apparent


The Archduke with his wife and family


“The Habsburg Crown is a crown of thorns, and nobody who is not born to it shall aspire to it.” -Franz Ferdinand

Franz Ferdinand was not born the first in line to the Habsburg throne. In fact, the line of succession only came to him after passing through his cousin, uncle and then father. It was after all of them had died under various circumstances that he finally became the heir. Nor would he have been Franz Josef’s first choice. Relations between the two were always “cool” at best. Franz Josef disapproved of his nephew in many ways, he saw Franz Ferdinand as brash, reckless and irresponsible. Their views often clashed and, both men possessing highly stubborn dispositions, this led to great tension between them. In truth, the two of them were probably more alike than either would admit and this is the very thing that made them incompatible. While they shared certain personality trait’s the facts of their life made them very different people. The elderly Franz Josef was full of experience from his long reign but after a half-century he had run out of new ideas, determined only to hold things together. Franz Ferdinand, in contrast, was full of ideas, albeit many of them a bit hair-brained, but lacked the experience needed to make them workable. Had the two worked together the results might have been impressive. Sadly, this was not to be.

The largest issue of contention that caused the rift between uncle and nephew was the woman the Archduke chose to marry. Countess Sophie Chotek von Chotkowa was from a Bohemian family counted among the minor nobility. Unfortunately the Choteks were not on the Habsburg list of approved families for marriage. When Franz Ferdinand announced his intention to marry Sophie, Franz Josef was furious. He delivered an ultimatum to the archduke: Sophie or the throne. Franz Ferdinand, characteristically stubborn, refused to choose one or the other and defiantly stated that he would have both. After a tense period of confrontation Franz Josef backed down and acceded to Franz Ferdinand’s eventual succession to the throne on the condition that the Archduke’s children give up their right to it. This was agreed to and Franz Ferdinand proceeded to marry Sophie. To make the situation slightly more bearable she was given a new title of “Duchess of Hohenberg.” Despite this Sophie would continue to bear the scorn of the royal court and never receive the respect due to the heir’s consort. Significantly, there was one monarch who insisted that Sophie be accorded proper treatment: Wilhelm II of Germany. This was the beginning of a friendship between the Archduke and the Kaiser that would have important consequences.


The Archduke with Kaiser Wilhelm II


Confirmed as heir to the Habsburg dynasty, Franz Ferdinand began to assert himself as such in 1906. He took an interest in both politics and the operation of the military and soon began forming opinions about both. These frequently led to further conflicts with Franz Josef or members of the court. Franz Ferdinand’s experiences were shaped largely by his interaction with three different people. They were Baron Lexa von Aehrenthal, the Foreign Minister, Max Vladimir Beck, the Austrian Prime Minister, and Conrad von Hotzendorf, the Chief of Staff. In the realm of politics, Franz Ferdinand soon took up an adversarial position to both Aehrenthal and Beck, who hated each other, which led to a convoluted three-way power battle. The result was general confusion and very little progress. One thing that Beck and Franz Ferdinand agreed on, however, was the threat of the Magyars to the Imperial order. To them the Magyar’s were usurping Imperial authority and posed a threat to the stability and very survival of the Empire through their ambitions. So great was Franz Ferdinand’s dislike of the Magyar’s that he would often fly into a rage when discussing them. In one letter to Beck he wrote,

“Again and again I come back to the conviction, which I shall go on expressing as long as I live, that the so-called ‘decent Hungarian’ simply does not exist, and that every Hungarian… is a revolutionary and a ___”

He expressed similar sentiments in his correspondence with Wilhelm II, telling the Kaiser that all of Austria-Hungary’s problems could be attributed to the machinations of the Magyars. Needless to say, this opinion did little to endear him to his Hungarian subjects. In Budapest, the opinion of the heir apparent approached contempt and the Hungarian Parliament looked to the eventual day of his succession with distaste. In contrast to his relationship with Beck and Aehrenthal, Franz Ferdinand developed a friendship with the Conrad von Hotzendorf, though, like with nearly everyone, he ended up disagreeing with the Chief of Staff on a great many things.

There were two monarchs who the Austrian heir got along well with and who, in their turn, influenced him to greater and lesser extents. Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany and King Carol of Rumania, both Hohenzollerns, maintained friendly relations with Franz Ferdinand. This friendship was due in large part to their support and recognition of his wife, Sophie. The Kaiser, looking to future relations between Austria-Hungary and Germany, set out from an early date to cultivate a good relationship with the Archduke. Wilhelm II filled his correspondence with flattery and somewhat condescending advice that won over the mind of Ferdinand. The two were only four years apart in age and shared a desire for decisive action towards greatness that covered up an inner degree of vacillation.

Franz Ferdinand had a great many ideas to solve the problems facing his country, some of which had merit and deserved exploration. Unfortunately, the animosity with the Emperor meant that any idea of Ferdinand’s was often rejected out of hand. Worse, Franz Josef would sometimes immediately decide on the opposite in what could only be spite. One of Franz Ferdinand’s most interesting ideas was a potential solution to the problem of the Magyars. There had been talk for some time of expanding the concept of the Dual Monarchy to include more parties and thereby weaken the power of the Magyars. The most popular form of this idea was a Triple Monarchy of Austria, Hungary and a Slavic Kingdom. Initially the capital of this third kingdom was to be in Prague but Franz Ferdinand disliked it, preferring Agram(Zagreb) as a location instead. This would create a South Slav bloc that would not only oppose the Magyars but reduce the attraction of Serbia to the Slavic citizens of the Empire. This only further incensed the Magyars, however, and strengthened their opposition to him.

Franz Ferdinand was a strong-willed man with many of his own ideas about how to rule. He was determined to maintain the Empire, not just for himself but for the Habsburg line. It was that same strong nature and stubbornness that alienated him from so many parties. It was clear that if Franz Ferdinand assumed the throne it would mean some rough times for Austria-Hungary.
 
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Great Update! Huzzah for pictures!
 

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There will probably only be two or three more updates for Part 1, then it'll get to the game itself. If it's too heavy on backround, let me know and I'll cut down on it in the future.
 

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Chapter III: Austria Must Still be Great

The long reign of Franz Josef had been a difficult one. The old emperor had endured many defeats and setbacks throughout the years; the loss of Lombardia and Venetia, the humiliation by Prussia. The result of these had been that while Austria was still considered to be a Great Power it was, some thought, not quite in the same league as the others. The Ottoman Empire was the “sick man” of Europe, rotting from within, but Austria-Hungary then was the “old man,” staggering under the weight of the centuries. This weighed heavily on the mind of Franz Josef, who still felt the shame from previous defeats. He had kept his country at peace for decades but he also wished to make up for his failings, take some action to restore the honor and prestige of Austria. Such an opportunity came in 1908.

Bosnia and Herzegovina was a former province of the Ottoman empire that had split off during that countries long retreat in the Balkans. Austria-Hungary had signed a pledge not to annex the area unless there was the threat of another power doing so. That was not likely to happen as the other powers did not want to give Austria-Hungary an excuse to take Bosnia. During the early 1900’s a group called the Young Turks seized power of the Ottoman Empire. The Young Turks were nationalists and determined to modernize their country to hold it together. Members of the Austrian cabinet looked at these reforms with a measure of concern; the last thing they wanted was a revitalized Turkey capable of asserting influence in the Balkans. Suddenly, the threat of Bosnia drifting back into Ottoman influence became a very real possibility. Hawks in the government began calling for the annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina to forestall this outcome. Franz Josef remained cautious, however, and was unwilling to consider such a course of action that would be a blatant breach of treaty and go against international opinion.



Enter Foreign Minister the Baron von Aehrenthal. Aehrenthal was looking for a diplomatic coup and saw the annexation of Bosnia as his chance. Aehrenthal was a fairly intelligent and capable diplomat who managed to fail spectacularly as his country’s Foreign Minister. In some ways he was like his counterparts, a product of the times. Aehrenthal was proud and vain, concerned firstly with prestige and secondly with diplomacy. He linked national prestige with his own, turning negotiations into personal contests with foreign diplomats. As a result, Austria-Hungary’s dealings with her neighbors often ended up as attempts by Aerhenthal to one-up the other party. Unsurprisingly, these negotiations had the tendency of alienating or offending that party. This was exactly what happened with the annexation of Bosnia.

On July 2, 1908, the Russian Foreign Minister, Alexander Isvolsky, proposed a meeting between himself and Aehrenthal to discuss matters of “mutual interest.” Isvolsky did not specify but the focus would undoubtedly be on the Balkans. Russian attention had turned once more toward Constantinople and the Straits and Isvolsky was scouting out potential support for his country. Russia was still smarting from its defeat in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05 where the Russian fleet had been smashed at the battle of Tsushima. Many in the Russian court thought that if the Black Sea fleet had not been trapped and forced to stay idle the battle might have gone the other way. Russia was looking, in the short term, to guarantee the passage of warships through the Straits and, in the long term, maybe gain control of the waterways themselves. Isvolsky’s idea heading into the meeting was a quid-pro-quo with Austria-Hungary; in exchange for Austrian support on the issue of the Straits, Russia would, in turn, recognize desired annexation of Bosnia.

The two Foreign Ministers finally met on September 15 at Aehrenthal’s country seat in Buchlau. They talked alone for six hours and then left. Their discussion was not recorded and therefore the exact content cannot be known for sure. It was clear, however, that some sort of agreement had been reached. Aehrenthal then turned to the task of convincing the Emperor of the annexation plans. It would serve twofold, he argued. One, it would show the world that Austria-Hungary was still independent and full of vitality, greatly enhancing its international prestige. The annexation, Aehrenthal said, would “put Austria on the map.” Two, it would further efforts to create a South-Slav bloc in the Empire to act as a counter to Serbia. The Emperor agreed.

On October 6, Franz Josef announced to the world the annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina into the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The world was shocked, as this move came seemingly out of the blue. Isvolsky, in Paris at the time of the announcement, erupted in fury. Recriminations flew back and forth for weeks but, slowly, it became clear that Austria-Hungary had agreed to support the issue of free passage in the Straits in exchange for recognition of the Annexation, which was to occur at a later date. Aehrenthal had jumped to gun, betraying the terms of the agreement in order to “score points” on Isvolsky and get something for nothing. Isvolsky had been had, and he knew it, but it had been done in an amateurish way. When Isvolsky returned to Petrograd he carried with him a detestation of Aehrenthal and a determination to punish Austria-Hungary. The Bosnian Annexation was supposed to be the crowning masterpiece of Aehrenthal’s career; instead, it alienated Russia and ended any hopes of a rapprochement with Petrograd. One of Aehrenthal’s goals as Foreign Minister had been to avoid a collision between Austria-Hungary and Russia in the Balkans; an eventual collision now seemed inevitable.
 
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unmerged(19363)

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Very nice start for a first AAR. :)

I enjoy the historical background very much, no need for you to fast forward through it. Its interesting watching 19th century government stumble into the modern age with their outdated ways.
 

VILenin

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Miral said:
Very nice start for a first AAR. :)

I enjoy the historical background very much, no need for you to fast forward through it. Its interesting watching 19th century government stumble into the modern age with their outdated ways.
Thank you very much! There are few governments that stumble more than Austria-Hungary's so you're in for a treat :D I'm hoping that the background information feels right for the AAR, y'know, as part of the story and not just something thrown in from the history books. I think some of the great AAR's on the forum are known for their skillful way of setting the stage for the game.
 

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Chapter IV: Stoking the Powder Keg

By the end of 1908, Austria-Hungary had gained territory in the Balkans and made an enemy of Russia in the process. With the acquisition of Bosnia, and its important city of Sarajevo, the government in Vienna hoped to create a South-Slav bloc inside the Empire that would lessen Serbian influence on the Slavic nationalities. Some, such as the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, went so far as to say that the Slavs should be given co-equal status within the Empire, turning the Dual Monarchy into a Triple Monarchy. Of course Trialism, as it was sometimes called, was less to help the Slavs then to hurt the Magyars. In the end the discussions were rendered moot as efforts to create a loyal Slavic bastion failed utterly in the face of Pan-Slavism.

The Pan-Slavic movement called for the unification of all the Slavic peoples in the Balkans under a new Greater Slavic state. Belgrade was an important city to the Slavic peoples of the Balkans and also was the capital of Serbia. Serbia, therefore, emerged as the natural leader of the Pan-Slavic movement. The leaders of Austria looked at this with a mixture of skepticism and fear; from Vienna, Pan-Slavism looked like an attempt to build “Greater Serbia” at Austrian expense. Imperial control in the Balkans was coming under strain as the Empire’s Bosnian, Serbian, Slovenian and Croatian subjects began to agitate against Habsburg authority. The war hawks in Vienna began calling for an attack on Serbia, to bring that country low and bring these “foolish” notions of Pan-Slavism to an end. There were two major obstacles to any move against Serbia, however. The first was Russia, the traditional sponsor of Pan-Slavism and the supporter of the Serbs. Petrograd had long seen Serbia as its player in the Balkans and would fiercely oppose any move against them. This was truer then ever now that the Foreign Minister, Isvolsky, was determined to humble Austria-Hungary.

The second obstacle was presented not by another government but from inside the Dual Monarchy itself. The Magyar government was vehemently opposed to any expansion of the Empire because it would predictably reduce the power of Budapest. They were weary of including Slavs in particular, being fully aware of the ideas of a Triple Monarchy that were circulating. Having gained a measure of authority and autonomy in 1867, there was no wish to share that with anyone else. The Hungarian government was dominated the Count Istvan Tisza, who had served as Prime Minister of Hungary from 1903-1905 and was to return to the office in 1913. His father, Count Kalman Tisza, had also been Prime Minister, from 1875-1890, and had created a political machine, the Liberal Party, that his son inherited. Changing the name to the National Party of Work in 1905, Tisza used it to control the Hungarian Parliament through a combination of political maneuvering and electoral corruption. Though a fierce nationalist, Tisza modeled himself after the German Otto von Bismarck in the way he conducted Hungarian affairs. Tisza was firmly opposed to any action against Serbia that would bring more Slavs into the Empire.

Count Tisza, Prime Minister of Hungary


From the beginning of the twentieth century the government in Vienna had tried several punitive measures to bring Serbia into line. Despite the cries of the War Hawks, led by Chief of Staff von Hotzendorf, many simply wanted Serbia to acknowledge the supremacy of Austria-Hungary and its benign influence in the Balkans. This was not to be. In an attempt to gain greater access to Serbian markets, Austria-Hungary initiated a boycott of Serbian agricultural exports. This backfired; Serbia found new buyers for her produce, leaving Austria even more dependent on the produce from Hungary. Attempts to cut Serbia off from the sea by preserving the independence of Montenegro and Albania ended up giving Italy a foothold in the Eastern Adriatic. Serbia could not be humbled by diplomacy. This lent strength to the War Hawks who continued to call for a war against Serbia. It would be a preventative war, they argued, stopping a threat before it could fully materialize.

Vienna and Budapest clashed over other issues besides Serbia. In 1907 the Compromise came up for renewal again and the Magyars were pushing as hard as ever for more concessions and more privileges. Some of these demands were truly audacious, such as making Magyar an official language for the army and dividing the army into two independent bodies with individual chains of command. Politicians in Vienna were horrified; if Hungary was given an independent army not only would it reduce Imperial authority to virtually nothing but it would make them an independent state in all but name. It would then be only a matter of time, they thought, until Budapest cast of the pretensions of Union and split from Vienna. Making Magyar an official army language would, it was feared, also give Budapest greater control over the army. It fell to the Austrian Prime Minister, Max Vladimir Beck, to defend Imperial interests in the re-negotiation of the Compromise.

Beck did better than could have been expected; not only did he maintain a single army but he struck down the idea of making it bilingual, arguing that it would require teaching a majority of troops the difficult Magyar language. Though some concessions were necessarily made. the agreement reached in 1907 left the state of the Dual Monarchy at something close to status quo. It was a temporary reprieve only, however, for when the Compromise came for renewal again in 1917 it promised to be a bitter affair.
 
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unmerged(19363)

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Nice job portraying the Austrian/Hungarian friction. It is interesting their collective policies are intended to try to weaken the other's grip.
 

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I am also keen to read more. Any chance of screenshots of the map?
 

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Thanks, everybody. It's really encouraging to get a positive reaction (heck, any reaction would have been ok by me :) ). Dark Scipio, screenshots of the map should start appearing in the next post as I move into the in-game stuff.