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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

CSL_GG

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June, 1897

The week had begun with a sudden and quite unexpected downpour, drenching most of southern England in a series of horrid storms. Many within the British government anxiously hoped for the storms to pass by the end of the week and by late Wednesday the first bright tendrils of sunlight were peeking through the clouds. Thursday proved remarkably better, the sun appeared early in the day and stood like the conquering hero amid the cloudless sky, removing any traces of the previous rainfall by the beginning of Friday - the Diamond Jubilee. Victoria, Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and Empress of India, now seventy-eight, had been the ruler of Great Britain for sixty years. The Queen remained in London during the Jubilee, joined by Emperor Friedrich III of Germany, and a host of other high-profile dignitaries. Amid the pomp and ceremony of the vast military parade that was to occur in London, one could be forgiven for forgetting the vast assemblage which was also occurring in the Solent.


Kaiser Friedrich III would join Queen Victoria at the Diamond Jubilee

Anchored in the Solent were over one hundred and sixty vessels of the Royal Navy. Over ninty years had passed since the Battle of Trafalgar, but the British fleet still remained the most powerful in the world – unchallenged in its supremacy of the seas. The review of the Royal Navy was a showcase of the power which Great Britain held. Five lines of black hulls, thirty miles of warships, forty thousand men, and three thousand naval guns – the most powerful fleet to have ever set itself upon the waves. Adding to this vast herd of naval vessels were dozens more from fourteen other nations. The town of Portsmouth was swamped not only with British sailors and civilians, but thousands of foreigners. “Chief among the foreigners are Americans,” noted the Daily Chronicle. “If they are not known by their accents, they are sure to disclose their nationality at mealtimes by rising without the slightest shame and prettily drinking the toast to 'The Queen!' . . . English folk would be shy of doing this except at public dinner, but not so our cousins from over 'the pond.'” Asides from Americans the Daily Mail also noted ”black-browned little Spaniards, tall, dull-eyed Russians, and heavy-limbed Germans” – but the real stars of the review were the ships.

British sea power was laid out for all to see, and few could walk away without being impressed. The Channel Squadron alone was comprised of eleven First-Class battleships, five First-Class cruisers, and thirteen Second-Class Cruisers. The flag of Commander-in-Chief, Portsmouth, flapped lazily from the H.M.S. Renown. Comprised within this squadron were both the Royal Sovereign and Majestic class battleships, the most powerful ships afloat and unmatched by any others in the world for gunpower, speed, or protection. Behind these vessels lay another thirty older battleships and large cruisers, along with almost fourty smaller cruisers and several dozen torpedo boats. While these vessels were no longer the biggest and the best, they were still formidable. Among them was the 10,880 ton Inflexible, one of the last Royal Navy vessels to include sails. Her first captain was the now famous Jacky Fisher, the man who had used her cannon to shell Alexandria years earlier. Nearby lay the Sans Pareil which sported two massive 110-ton guns, the largest in the entire navy. Behind these vessels lay the foreign contributions, every one of them as professional as could be. One could marvel at the Italian battleship Lepanto, the Japanese cruiser Fuji, the Norweigan cruiser Fritjhof, and the French cruiser Pothuau. Yet more followed, including the massive Rossiya and the gleaming USS Brooklyn. While these vessels were widley admired, few took note of them after their eyes meandered over the German contribution.


Kronprinz Wilhelm would join his uncle in Portsmouth for the fleet review

Kronprinz Wilhelm himself had sailed with the German contribution, leading the half dozen German vessels into Portsmouth a week before from his own private yacht. Dressed the uniform of a British Admiral given to him by Queen Victoria a decade earlier, Wilhelm now stood next to his uncle, the future King Edward VII. Together throughout the ceremony they stood side by side exchanging small talk and discussing each countries navy. While the Kronprinz had led six ships into Portsmouth - the battleshisps Kurfürst Friedrich Wilhelm, Weißenburg, and Kaiser Friedrich III, along with the Heavy Cruiser Kaiserin Augusta, and the Light Cruiser Hela – he still spent the majority of his time discussing the British fleet that lay in front of him, constantly turning the polite inquiries from his Uncle into questions about the Royal Navy, showering it with praise and dictating his proposed elements of strategy. As the review ended the Kronprinz left aboard the Kaiser Friedrich III, saluting his counterpart, the Prince of Wales, both secure in the notion that their nations would remain friends for another sixty years.
 
Last edited:

The Yogi

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CSL_GG, I'm looking forward to reading this! :cool:

EDITED to reflect the change of title.
 
Last edited:

unmerged(10416)

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Hmm the title really isn't very well chosen.

But the alternate history seems interesting. Kaiser Friedrich somehow dodged his throat cancer to live another ten years - and his young firebrand son Wilhelm remains crown prince, eh? Britain on the other hand doesn't seem to have swayed from from the historical course.

What are the connotations for Germany? Historically many people expected Friedrich's reign to usher a new age of liberalism - but that expectation may or may not have been off, since he didn't comment much on his father's policies and all that has been written about his liberalism was inspired by his British upbringing, his liberal wife and the people he didn't get along with. He and Bismarck hated each other, and many of the old elites distrusted him. He also thought (and said to friends) that his son's rashness and superficiality were going to be problems. So will the proud Hohenzollern Kaiser lead the way for a more parliamentarian system in Germany? And how will his son fare?
 

unmerged(47162)

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very nice start! yea please dont say the us aar is abandoned :(
 

GeneralHannibal

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Hope you didn't abandom your US AAR, it has a lot of potensial right now. This looks interesting but I don't get the AH yet. Hopefully this AAR will sucsede without computer problems. Good luck!!
 

CSL_GG

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The Yogi said:
CSL_GG, while I'm looking forward to reading this, I must object to the title - it's a ripoff, word for word, of my alt.hist AAR - The Eagle and The Lion, a history of the German Empire in the Revolutionary wars.
I fear I have not been as astute as usual. It was an honest mistake I assure you and I am changing the title accordingly. Though I will need a moderator to change the thread title to...

Clash of Titans: Germany, Britain, and the Coming of the Great Wars
 

unmerged(24320)

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The Yogi: ..I'm looking forward to reading this...

agreed! ! ;)
 

unmerged(51077)

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Good start, i like your writing :)
 

AOK. 11

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I really like this opening of a new alternative history AAR. The beginning is great, and the possibility for intrigue is great to say the least.

I will watch this AAR for certain. :)
 

Sir Humphrey

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Looks like a good start, building things up. :)
*
 

CSL_GG

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Prussia and Bismarck

Germany was at the beginning of the nineteenth century a patchwork of kingdoms, electorates, principalities, grand duchies, bishoprics, and free cities. Among them all was the Holy Roman Empire, a political design hundreds of years old, a political entity which was dominated by the Austrian Emperor ruling from his throne in Vienna. But Austria was not itself a German state. While ruled by German speakers and possessing a fine German capital at Vienna, the Austrian Empire looked towards Hungary, the Balkans, and other non-German sources for the majority of its population and power. Thus, the five other kingdoms included in the Holy Roman Empire – Prussia, Bavaria, Saxony, Hanover, and Württemberg – held special grievances with the Austrians, each one wanting to usurp the control that Vienna held over Germany. Yet among the five, only Prussia possessed the tools to become the dominant force of political change in the region. Napoleon Bonaparte, perhaps the most feared man in Europe during the first fifteen years of the century, would rue the Prussians after they arrived late in the Battle of Waterloo, relieving Wellington and helping to send the Emperor into ignominious exile on St. Helena.


Germany in 1815

Prince Clemens von Metternich and the Congress of Vienna had rewarded Prussia handsomely for its participation in crushing Napoleon. Previously confined to the eastern portions of Germany, the Congress granted significant territories in the Rhineland and Westphalia to Prussia, including the cities of Aachen and Colbenz. Moreover these new areas possessed vast strength. Densely populated, and with large mineral wealth, the region would quickly take up the first tendrils of the Industrial Revolution, spawning among other things the genius of one Friedrich Krupp. Hailing from Essen, the Krupp family would have a lasting impact on the fortunes of Prussia, but the beginnings were humble – a small steel-foundry. Still however Prussia lagged behind her rivals in terms of population, a mere ten million citizens to the thirty million which France and Austria could each call on. Thus, despite the apparent advantages gained by Prussia at the Congress of Vienna it could still not openly challenge its rival for the control of Germany itself. Indeed, that would have to wait until the arrival of a supreme statesman, for while Austria could count on a man like Prince Clemens von Metternich, Prussia would receive her own trump card in the coming years with the arrival of Otto von Bismarck.

Otto von Bismarck was born on April 1st, 1815, in Schonhausen near the Elbe River west of Berlin. Only two months had passed since the Battle of Waterloo and the Napoleonic Wars had finally ended. His father, Ferdinand, was a minor noble, tied to the land on one of the hundreds of Junker Estates. His mother, Wilhelmine, came from better quarters, but was a commoner by birth, her father having been a counselor to Frederick the Great. Unlike her husband she possessed a sharp intellect, a trait she was to eventually pass off to her son. The combination of a passionate and intelligent mother with a hard and direct father was to result, in the words of one biographer, ”he was the clever, sophisticated son of a clever, sophisticated mother masquerading all his life as his heavy, earthy father.” From the age of six onwards Bismarck spent most of his time away from home, engaging in the intellectual pursuits of youth. After tens years at a private school in Berlin, the young Bismarck took his next step, enrolling at the famous Göttingen University. There he would show his first rancor towards liberalism, shunning the middle-class students that made up the majority of the enrollment and instead joining an aristocratic club where he would drink heavily, put off his studies, and was eventually arrested for ten days due to his behavior. Bismarck instead of burying himself in university work, busied his mind with the finest writers of Germany and England – men like Shakespeare, Byron, and Goethe. After two years at Göttingen, Bismarck returned east, spending a year at the University of Berlin before taking the entrance exam for the Prussian Civil Service.

Bismarck quickly entered the ranks of the Prussian bureaucracy, himself aiming to become a diplomat. Instead to his regret he was initially sent to Aachen, a Catholic and quite liberal city. Having already determined that Catholics were not true Germans, Bismarck was undoubtedly dismayed at his initial posting, and took to the numerous vices which had already afflicted him at Göttingen – namely drinking and gambling. Meeting an Englishwoman named Isabella Lorraine-Smith, Bismarck quickly began to abandon his duties in Aachen, following Lorraine-Smith first to Wiesbaden and then to Switzerland. Gone for an inordinate amount of time he was suspended from his first bureaucratic position, but lamented little, stating, ”[he] by no means intended to give the government an account of his personal relations.” Thereafter his affair with Lorraine-Smith ended and Bismarck returned to Berlin to take up his required year of military service, serving with a regiment of Foot Guards. Soon after his service ended, and before he could return to government service, Wilhelmine died, and Bismarck was forced to return to his estate in Pomerania, where he would remain for another eight years. Once again he was to turn to drink, using it to escape from the dull boredom that encapsulated daily Junker life, and taking his ill-judgment to new heights. In 1844 would Bismarck reenter the Prussian Civil Service, but his return was short-lived, resigning only two week later, writing, ”I have never been able to put up with superiors.”


Bismarck in 1836

Only one force could compel Bismarck to reenter politics for good – his hatred of liberalism. The Year of Revolutions, 1848, would finally position Bismarck to return to his lifelong calling, but in reaction more than anything else. Unlike most other places in Europe the demands of Prussian liberals during that year were met initially not with gunpowder and steel, but with agreement by King Frederick William IV. Quickly a written constitution and elected parliament, the Landtag, were put in place. Bismarck, at Schonhausen, was aghast and went to Berlin at once, only to find the situation resolved without his influence. Despite this, his pleas and firm support for the monarchy earned him a certain degree of support, allowing for him to finally enter the diplomatic core. Soon after, in 1851, Bismarck was given his first major assignment – Prussian Ambassador to the German Federal Diet in Frankfurt. Here, astride the Main River, Bismarck was to personally challenge the Austrian supremacy in the Diet, with the goal of letting the Hapsburg's know that Prussia was its equal in Germany – no better man could have been picked. The Austrians had sent their own representative already, Count von Thun und Hohenstein, a man who seemed to view all others as inferiors, including Otto von Bismarck. When Hohenstein was called on by Bismarck for the first time, the Austrian received him wearing only a casual shirt. Offended at the slight, Bismarck stripped off his own coat, declaring, ”Yes, it is a hot day.” This behavior took on more overt forms shortly thereafter at meetings between representatives, where as “first among equals”, Hohenstein was the only one who would smoke. Bismarck put an end to that practice as well, pulling out his own cigar and asking the Count for a match.

Bismarck would remain in Frankfurt am Main for eight years, where he remained dedicated to Prussia in the fullest, stating, ”When I have been asked whether I was pro-Russian or pro-Western, I have always answered: I am Prussian and my ideal in foreign policy is total freedom from prejudice, independence of decision reached without pressure or aversion from or attraction to foreign states and their rulers. I have had a certain sympathy for England and its inhabitants, and even now I am not altogether free of it; but they will not let us love them, and as far as I am concerned, as soon as it was proved to me that it was in the interests of a healthy and well-considered Prussian policy, I would see our troops fire on French, Russians, English, or Austrians with equal satisfaction.” Having shown his unswerving loyalty and diplomatic skills in Frankfurt, the Prussian Regiment, Prince William, placed Bismarck in St. Petersburg as Prussian ambassador. The appointment was a high honor, but Bismarck did not see it that way as one assistant to him stated, ”Bismarck receives no news from Berlin. That is to say that Wilhelmstrausse simply does not write to him. They don't like him there and they behave as though he does not exist. So he conducts his own political intrigues, does no entertaining . . . he gets up at 11 or 11:30 and sits around all day in a green dressing gown, not stirring except to drink.”


William I

With the death of King Frederick William IV in 1861, his brother came to the throne as King William I. A soldier with a relatively one track mind, he was quickly put to the test by members of the Landtag who wished to reduce the period of required military service imposed on every Prussian male. Along with his war minister, General Alfred von Roon, the new King quickly refused any such talk, and a crisis over the issue began which was to last more than two years. Thankfully for Bismarck, he had a friend in Alfred von Roon who suggested placing Bismarck within the Landtag to resolve the situation. William, while earnestly wishing to end the political stalemate which continued to revolve around the service issue, nevertheless had no wish to see his ambassador withdrawn from St. Petersburg. While Bismarck had shunned any sort of social activities in the Russian capital, he had still gotten along remarkably with Tsar Alexander II, going so far as to accompany him on several bear hunts. Thus, not wanting to upset the cordial relations which Prussia had thus developed with the Tsar, William initially rejected the advice of Roon, but by 1860 with the crisis showing no sights of relenting, William finally offered Bismarck the Chancellorship. Bismarck, wary of becoming a mere figurehead for the King demanded that he be given full charge of Prussian foreign policy, a demand which was quickly rejected by William I. Soon after Bismarck was transferred to Paris in 1862, but in Berlin the situation remained ominous. Two elections of the Landtag following the dissolution of the chamber had only resulted in more liberals clogging the system. The King, in despair offered to abdicate, if he could not control the military his position was meaningless, yet his son Frederick would not agree and William remained King. Roon, sensing that the critical moment had arrived beckoned Bismarck to return to the capital, wiring him with the following, "Delay is dangerous! Hurry!"


Albert von Roon

On September 20th, 1862, Bismarck returned to Berlin. William, now truly in despair told Roon that only Bismarck could help, "But, of course, he is not here." Roon of course knew that Bismarck had returned and countered, stating, "He is here and is ready to serve Your Majesty." Meeting on the 22nd, Bismarck declared himself willing to carry out any matters about the military if only given control of domestic and foreign affairs. William, now having exhausted all his other efforts and wishing only to see the Landtag keep its hands off his precious army, consented. Bismarck was now Acting Minister-President and Foreign Minister-Designate of Prussia. Just over a week later he entered the Landtag and made his landmark speech, declaring that "Germany does not look to Prussia's liberalism but to her strength . . . The great questions of the day will not be decided by speeches and the resolutions of majorities - that was the great mistake of 1848 - but by iron and blood."

The Era of Bismarck had arrived.
 

Jape

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Nice update. That was something I didn't comprehend. no Wilhelm II equals no conflicts with Bismarck although I doubt a long ruling Frederick III would really be the Iron Chancellor's bed fellows. Has the 'new' Kaiser gotten rid of Bismarck then, or possibly just let him stay on a longer than in OTL?
 

AOK. 11

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Wonderful backstory! The alternate history is really excellent reading. I like it very much.

Keep up the great work and this AAR will be something indeed. :)
 

unmerged(10416)

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Jape said:
Nice update. That was something I didn't comprehend. no Wilhelm II equals no conflicts with Bismarck although I doubt a long ruling Frederick III would really be the Iron Chancellor's bed fellows. Has the 'new' Kaiser gotten rid of Bismarck then, or possibly just let him stay on a longer than in OTL?
Actually, Crown Prince Friedrich (later Friedrich III, the 99 days emperor) hated Bismarck, and Bismarck hated him. They had been at odds for many years before Friedrich's ascension to the throne, over political issues and also because Bismarck never tolerated people who considered themselves his equal.

In real history Friedrich III was too sick to bother with politics, but had he been healthy and had things between them gone as in real history, he would have sacked Bismarck at the first opportunity.
 

cthulhu

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Alright, CSL. This looks good, so I will follow this one. :) I just hope you're not wasting our time and will end up abandoning this one too... :p
 

Lord E

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Wonderful start, this seems very interesting and I think this story should be good. I will be following this, good luck :)
 

unmerged(18239)

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Another CSL AAR and a very nice one at that :)
 
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This looks very good, but I do hope that you continue with Self-Help.