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Seelmeister

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The Concert of Europe – Germany in the Long Nineteenth Century

BaU3goj.jpg

Table of Contents




Welcome to my first Victoria II AAR. As my favourite Paradox game, and indeed my favourite game, period, I’ve always had an AAR in mind. In contrast to what I’ve done before (primarily gameplay) I’m going to write a history book piece. There will be some screenshots from the game, but these will be fairly infrequent. The long nineteenth century is an area I studied quite a lot while at university, and so I hope to draw on this to sketch a plausible alternative Europe.

For this AAR, I’ll be writing based on the events of my recent Prussia game. This has been played using the excellent PoD mod, version 3.06 for Heart of Darkness. Prussia is clearly not the most original of choices, but it is no coincidence that it is such a popular one. The country may be small, but comes with several advantages, namely decent population growth and an excellent industrial base, and of course is at the forefront of many of the most interesting in game dynamics.

Something I have found, though, is that a Prussian game can get a little stale after the 1870s – if you have succeeded in unifying Germany you can find yourself in a relatively easy position, and the lack of challenge can detract from the enjoyment of the game. My solution to this (I hope!) has been to focus on the history book approach from the moment I started playing – trying to tease out themes and trajectories, and consider action as a policy maker rather than the player. So I hope this will be an entertaining alternative history.

Although I won’t be making heavy use of in game evidence, I have taken a vast number of screenshots, so please do ask as many questions as you like – I should be able to dig up some kind of answer!

Before I start, I’d also like to thank a number of authors whose work has inspired this, and from whom I have learned a lot from. If I can get anywhere close to the high standards they have set, I’ll be delighted;

Tanzhang – United We Shall Stand
Merrick Chance’ – Lords of France: Roads to the Enlightenment
DensleyBlair – A Biography of Great Men
MondoPotato – The Republic

Outside of AARland, some of the books which I’ve found particularly interesting on the period, and have indirectly influenced this, are listed below;

The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers 1500-2000 by Paul Kennedy
The Pity of War by Niall Ferguson
The Age of Capital, the Age of Empire and the Age of Revolution, all by Eric Hobswam
 
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Introduction​

BaU3goj.jpg


Germany after the Congress of Vienna

Although the German states technically emerged on the winning side of the Napoleonic Wars, the prolonged conflict had highlighted a number of weaknesses. Prior to Napoleon’s invasion, there had existed over 300 kingdoms, duchies, free cities and principalities within the bounds of the Holy Roman Empire, headed by a powerful Austria. Of these states, two sat among the Great Powers of Europe; the militaristic Prussia and the vast Austrian Empire. Austria had been considered the pre-eminent land power in Europe, and Prussia had established a strong record of military supremacy through the successful campaigns of Frederick the Great. However, Napoleons France dealt a huge blow to both German states reputations on the battlefields of Jena–Auerstedt. In 1806, Napoleon formally disbanded the Holy Roman Empire, replacing it with a series of French client states, and pushing the French frontier to the Rhine.

YZ8bIsi.png

Gathering in Vienna in 1815, the victorious powers sought to bolster those countries which bordered France. Austria lost the Low Countries, which were incorporated into the new Kingdom of the United Netherlands. The multitude of states which had existed within the Holy Roman Empire were not recreated, but instead were consolidated significantly in the new German Confederation, or Bund. The new 39 states were intended to be more capable of resisting French aggression, and this meant that Prussia, which had been found less than capable during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, was granted control of much of the Rhineland – a move which would have profound consequences as industrialisation gathered pace.

iZgAHSJ.jpg

Klemens von Metternich was foreign minister of the Austrian Empire between 1809 and 1848​

The Congress of Vienna established what became known as the Concert of Europe, a balance of power in Europe whereby the Great Powers agreed to resolve issues multilaterally, and hopefully avoid resorting to open warfare. This, along with the economic devastation, hindered the ability of European powers to pursue an aggressive foreign policy on the continent. However, almost immediately, the consensus showed signs of fraying at the edges. In 1818 the British renounced their role and refused a proposal from Czar Alexander to suppress future revolutions. The British signal began a period of splendid isolation, where they would only involvement themselves in continental matters of direct consequence to British interests. In 1822, a crisis in Spain was successfully resolved and, with the agreement of the Great Powers, France dispatched 5 army corps to support the restoration of Ferdinand VII. In 1830, a larger crisis loomed. The Low Countries, having been ruled by a succession of foreign government for hundreds of years, erupted in the Belgian Revolution. This directly threatened one of the key elements of the Congress system; the establishment and strengthening of states which bordered France. In 1831 the Great Powers recognised the independence of the Kingdom of Belgium following the success of the revolution, but the borders between the states were not finally resolved, with both sides maintaining claims on the other. France also made proposals to annex part of the French speaking territory south of Brussels, but this did not meet with international support.


The Zollverein​

During Napoleonic control of the Rhineland, moves were made to economically integrate the previously independent states. The continental system promoted links with other European markets, but the Confederation of the Rhine removed a significant number of customs barriers that had previously existed.

The German Confederation did not make any concrete economic proposals, but its establishing articles did suggest that trade and transportation questions be discussed at some future date. Hans, Count von Bülow, who had been Finance Minister in Westphalia, modelled the Prussian customs statutes on those of the former states of the French led Confederation of the Rhine. After 1818, these statutes were used to remove all internal customs barriers within the enlarged Prussian state.

The southwest German states of Baden, Württemberg and the two Hessans had all gained additional territory from the Congress of Vienna, and they were also keen to properly integrate their new territory. However, these states also lay between the core territory of the old Kingdom of Prussia, and the newly acquired Rhineland. In 1820 Württemberg proposed the creation of a customs union in the so called ‘Third Germany’ – the middle sized states of Baden, Bavaria, the Hessans and Württemberg. It proved challenging to reconcile the differing needs of these states, but in 1825 the foundation of a Southern German Customs Union was agreed.

Although not particularly popular with the southern German states, the Prussian customs union was far more successful in the North. In 1821 the Duchy of Anhalt joined, which given its geographic position surrounded by Prussia was perhaps not surprising. In 1826, Mecklenburg-Schwerin became the second state to join. It was 1828 when the most significant expansion was agreed, when Prussia agreed to form a customs Union with Hesse-Darmstadt. Later than same year, many northern and central German states joined, including Saxony, Hanover and Hess-Kassel.

The Southern German union, however, was not particularly successful, as it did not seek to remove any of the existing barriers, but rather just protect the status quo. In 1834, Baden and Württemberg dissolved the Southern German customs union and joined the Prussian led union, which was renamed the German customs Union. By 1835, the vast majority of the German states had joined, with the notable exception of Austria who had been explicitly excluded from the outset.

o8Wlh5O.jpg

Germany, then, in 1836 is dominated by the two large states of Prussia and Austria. Austria remain the powerhouse, with a vast multicultural and multilingual empire and a relatively large armed forces. The Rhineland, granted to Prussia two decades ago, has begun to show signs of robust economic development. Large volumes of the key ingredients of industrialisation; coal, and crucially density of population, and beginning to make this area the centre of European steel production. The successful economic integration of its new territory, along with the inroads made towards more efficient trade with the other German states, mean that economically Prussia is punching well above her weight in terms of population. The Concert of Europe has maintained the post Congress settlement, but the early 1830s have brought this under strain as domestic strife increases throughout the European states. A growing number view the German Confederation not as the successor of the Holy Roman Empire, but rather as a transitional mechanism before some form of ‘real’ German unity emerges.
 
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volksmarschall

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The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers 1500-2000 by Paul Kennedy
The Pity of War by Niall Ferguson
The Age of Capital, the Age of Empire and the Age of Revolution, all by Eric Hobswam

Hmm, ironic that I have read these works too! :) And it's great to see you highlight them to the rest of the AARland community.

"The long nineteenth Century" is obviously influenced by Dr. Hobswam, ;) may his soul rest in peace!

Nice introduction too, although I fear I will see my beloved Habsburg Empire come to the crossroads and threshold of Germany in this AAR? :( Gott schütze Österreich! (I will let my biases out!) Unless, of course, your title will foreshadow how you play the game...
 

DensleyBlair

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Zorro

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Looking good so far.
 

Avindian

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Glad to see a new AAR from you, even if your mini-reading list gave me flashbacks to my PhD exams (I have somehow not had a chance to sit down and read all of Kennedy's book, which is weird, because I like his other books.)
 

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Considering I have this weird pro-Habsburg obsession and this is a Germanic focused AAR, I can do nothing but make another drink and anxiously await a new update!
 

Seelmeister

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Hmm, ironic that I have read these works too! :) And it's great to see you highlight them to the rest of the AARland community.

"The long nineteenth Century" is obviously influenced by Dr. Hobswam, ;) may his soul rest in peace!

Nice introduction too, although I fear I will see my beloved Habsburg Empire come to the crossroads and threshold of Germany in this AAR? :( Gott schütze Österreich! (I will let my biases out!) Unless, of course, your title will foreshadow how you play the game...

Thank you, and welcome along Volksmarschall. Pretty essential reading for anyone who is a student of this period! Certainly, the conflict between the Habsburg's and the Hohenzollern's will shape European history. However, this will not be a WC attempt - Prussian ambition will be tempered by Realpolitik.

There are three fantastic pieces of work on that list... :p

Naturally, I must follow this. Great author; great game; great writing; a brilliantly fascinating period of history... What more could a man want?

I'm very much looking forward to the first update proper.

Welcome, and thank you Densley! Well, I think all four are excellent, I'd be interested to hear which one you do not feel is worthy of praise ;)

Looking good so far.

Thank you Zorro, and welcome!

Glad to see a new AAR from you, even if your mini-reading list gave me flashbacks to my PhD exams (I have somehow not had a chance to sit down and read all of Kennedy's book, which is weird, because I like his other books.)

I'm a big Kennedy fan, I found the research into the economic forces which underpin the power struggles. Hopefully the rest of the AAR won't cause too many flashbacks to late, highly caffinated nights! Great to see you here Avindian.

Considering I have this weird pro-Habsburg obsession and this is a Germanic focused AAR, I can do nothing but make another drink and anxiously await a new update!

Although playing as Prussia I'm going to try and, at least initially, tell the history of all the German people, so the Habsburgs will not be neglected. It seems I am outnumbered by the Austro-philes in this audience already! Welcome Buckingham.

Great to catch this from the beginning.

I didn't realise Metternich held his ministry for such a long time :eek:

Welcome Aldiq! You know, I read this and rushed to check I hadn't mistyped in the caption! He certainly was a huge figure in the early part of the 19th century, and it is little surprise it took a revolution to dislodge him.

Nice one Seelmeister! I am looking forward to this one! Though I am so envious on how you make those banners etc. How can you do them so easily? Do you really have to use programs that cost money lik photoshop? :p

Welcome Derahan, although I feel I'm being mocked here. I'm not particularly good with graphics programmes, a truth that is likely self evident to all readers, but I'll hopefully keep them clear at least!
 

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Franco-Prussian Rapprochement and the new German Colonialism, 1830-1837


BaU3goj.jpg


The 1830 Revolutions

A major challenge to the forces of reaction in Europe reared its head in the early months of 1830. France, the Low Countries, Switzerland and Congress Poland were all convulsed by the forces of revolution, railing against the rule of monarchs without the consent of the people. The geographic spread of these revolutions provided a huge challenge to the Vienna system – it’s chief enforcer, the Czar of Russia, was fully occupied with suppressing the violent revolt against his rule in Poland, which Great Britain had already signalled that continental matters were considered very much below her, and not worthy of attention. The fate of the channel ports would be monitored, and any attempt by a potential rival to seize them would likely stir the Brits to action, but in absence of this left the German powers of Austria and Prussia as the only ones capable of mounting resistance in defence of the Ancien Régime.

Ec3r5rk.jpg

Czar Nicholas I of Russia sent Marshall Diebitsch to Berlin to negotiate the basis for joint Russo-Prussian action, believing that the Prussian army was the only one in Europe capable of mounting an effective resistance to events in France. Frederick William III was not moved however, and had grave reservations over taking a lead role against the revolution. Should he fail, it would be Prussia who lost territory as a consequence of peace with France, and the Polish unrest could so easily spill over the border into Poznan. Prussia, clearly, had the most to lose in both the east and the west, and so refused the suggestions of the Czar. Metternich, concerned that the Austrian army was in no state of readiness to deal with the rebellions, and also concerned about the large Polish population in the north of his Empire, also refused to answer the Russian call to arms.

Thus it was that the western revolts of 1830 were to succeed. France and the new Kingdom of Belgium emerged as two new constitutional monarchies, where the rule was dependent on the support of the people. Rather than being the King of France, Louis-Philippe was now the King of the French, and Leopold the King of the Belgians, signifying the popular basis for their power.

Franco-German Rapprochement

The reaction to French events in Germany was complicated. Having suffered so heavily at the hands of the radical ideologies which emanated from France, and the Revolutionary Armies which they spawned, many Germans were highly sceptical of anything coming out of France. However, the younger, more liberal generation tended to be more receptive, having less personal experience of the Revolutionary and the Napoleonic wars. There were examples of celebration greeting the establishment of the French constitutional monarchy, while French newspapers increased their circulation massively. However, a worrying strand of the liberal rhetoric coming from France was coloured by a belligerent tint – in particular, it was sometimes difficult to separate demands from the left bank from the cries for liberalism. Such demands naturally caused concerns in the southern German states and Prussia, and coupled with those historic ties to Alsace-Lorraine made a true rapprochement between France and Germany difficult to envisage.

From the French perspective, however, a German ally would be invaluable and would significantly reduce the threat from Czarist Russia. On the Prussian side, an understanding with France would help reduce the feeling of encirclement, and lift the fear over the expanded Prussian holdings in the Rhineland. Perhaps the Polish territory lost during the revolutionary wars could even be recovered?

Talleyrand Plan for the Partition of Belgium

Seeking to capitalise on the unrest in the Low Countries, and create the foundation for an understanding with Prussia, French foreign minister Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord travelled to the 1830 London Conference with ambitious proposals for the partition of Belgium. Prussia would gain Luxembourg and the German speaking regions surrounding it, France would annex a large portion of the French speaking south, some parts of the Brabant and the Limburg would be returned to the Netherlands, and the city of Antwerp would become a British protectorate. Talleyrand calculated that by satisfying Prussian ambitions, while assuaging British fears over the channel ports, he would be able to secure the border of the French Empire and placate some of the continuing unrest.

vBqopJA.png

Frederick William III cautiously welcomed the proposals. The acquisition of further rich industrial lands would be an obvious boon for the Prussian state, but would also boost the Catholic population, and indeed those industrial classes who seemed naturally disposed to support calls for the Liberalisation of the Prussian administration. The Prussian King was also concerned that aggressively pursuing these demands would undermine relations between Prussia and their traditional allies in Great Britain. The two powers had recently been brought closer through the negotiations over Hanoverian membership of the Zollverein, and Frederick William was highly impressed with the functioning of the British Monarchy, and in awe of her empire. He had made no secret of his desire to establish Prussia firmly among the Great Powers, and this ambition had been broadly welcomed by the British – but advancing towards a channel port would quickly dissipate any warm feelings.

The French were ultimately unsuccessful, although the partition was almost agreed. There were some interesting developments, however. The British softened their isolationist stance, keeping a more careful eye on continental developments, concerned by the French ambition and the instability of the Belgian revolt. The Belgians managed to secure their independence, although the Netherlands were far from satisfied – in particular the region of Maastricht and the Duchy of Luxembourg. The most significant development was the closer relationship between Talleyrand and Frederick William III. The Prussian King was impressed with the willingness of the French to cooperate over the distribution of the Belgian industry, and with the desire to secure an understanding over the boundaries which respected Prussian control of the Rhineland.

Frederick William III and the Quest for Colonies

Russia succeeded in quelling the Polish rebellion, and the July Monarchy appeared secure in France. Prussia and France continued to improve their relations. It seemed that despite the events of 1830, the Concert of Europe had largely survived, albeit with one of the crucial buffer states which should have stood against France significantly weakened. As the belligerence died down in France, fears over another occupation of the Rhineland receded. The South German states drew closer to Austria, while the North Germans continued to view Prussia as their protector, with exception of Hanover and Schleswig-Holstein. Saxony, however, was torn between the two competing powers in Germany. Sharing a border with both, but relying on Prussian industrial and trade links, Saxony began to leave the Austrian orbit.

x80d1hu.jpg

Adolph Diesterweg published his guidelines for teachers in 1836, laying down principles to ensure that all Prussian children
would receive among the highest standards of education in Europe.

Frederick William III was determined to improve Prussia’s standing among the Great Powers, and encouraged by the French and British monarchs sought to re-ignite German interest in Africa. Brandenburg-Prussia had previously established outposts on the Gold Coast, but these had faded in significance before being overshadowed by the British and Dutch colonies. The Warri tribe were chosen as a target, and the Prussian’s began to prepare an expedition to depart for the Gold Coast. France, keen to secure Prussian friendship, offered an alliance and the use of local naval bases to the Prussian’s, an offer which was gratefully accepted. On the 20th November, the Prussian invasion began. 9,000 professional soldiers, with a small artillery support, began to unload onto the Nigerian coast. A short battle ensued, but the disorganised tribe were unable to resist the European arms. After almost a year, the population were subdued, and the Prussian’s enforced a treaty which secured the first modern German colony. That same month, Prussian undertook to establish two large rail network which would span the length of their separated territories; the Great Rhenish Rail and the Prussian-Königsberg line. Discussions were opened with the Zollverein, to secure permission to link the two planned Prussian networks.

yCGdd01.jpg
 

Zorro

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A French-Prussian alliance is interesting. Looks like Prussia is strongly positioned to intervene in Africa now. Good update!
 

volksmarschall

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However, this will not be a WC attempt - Prussian ambition will be tempered by Realpolitik.

I for one have a far greater enjoyment in all Paradox titles playing through a "realpolitik" handicap, trying to keep the balance of power and so forth, but still like to be the most powerful nation so I can say I won. But I usually call it semi historical, because I might take a nation (like perhaps Sweden in EU4 and make them into a mighty colonial power than they never were, although they tried to be).

So in this sense, it might be interesting where you take your colonial ambitions you are foreshadowing...

And just so we're on the same page, I hate Prussia...mostly because as an English-speaking author of the Habsburg Empire, I run into far too many Americans who have an over zealous fetish for the Prussians. I actually don't think Prussia is that bad, but compared to their historical accomplishments compared to their brethren in Vienna, I do think they are far overrated. Although I have a very keen liking to the great Prussian philosophers, except for Leopold van Ranke.
 

Seelmeister

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A French-Prussian alliance is interesting. Looks like Prussia is strongly positioned to intervene in Africa now. Good update!

It certainly has an impact on European diplomacy - -hardening the rivalry between Austria and Prussia, and giving the Russians cause for concern. In many respects, it is a limited alliance, however, focusing on shared naval bases in Africa, giving a French blessing to Prussian acquisitions in Nigeria, and crucially not resolving the claims of some in Germany to Alsace-Lorraine. Some in Babar is view the alliance as a Prussian betrayal, and relations with the South German states would take some time to recover.

I for one have a far greater enjoyment in all Paradox titles playing through a "realpolitik" handicap, trying to keep the balance of power and so forth, but still like to be the most powerful nation so I can say I won. But I usually call it semi historical, because I might take a nation (like perhaps Sweden in EU4 and make them into a mighty colonial power than they never were, although they tried to be).

So in this sense, it might be interesting where you take your colonial ambitions you are foreshadowing...

And just so we're on the same page, I hate Prussia...mostly because as an English-speaking author of the Habsburg Empire, I run into far too many Americans who have an over zealous fetish for the Prussians. I actually don't think Prussia is that bad, but compared to their historical accomplishments compared to their brethren in Vienna, I do think they are far overrated. Although I have a very keen liking to the great Prussian philosophers, except for Leopold van Ranke.

I think that's a fair observation - Prussia never struggles for ahistorical attention! I think, in part, this is explained by the military reforms - everyone loves an underdog and Prussia clearly wielded hard power which was disproportionate to her size, at least until the era of Bismarck. For me, I find the peculiar nature of the Germans start fascinating, it is full of paradoxes. Clearly the most advanced economy and most sophisticated land power in Europe, and yet the state was haunted by an I security, exacerbated by an erratic monarch. In some respects it was comparatively liberal, with am advanced welfare state and a relatively wide, if weighted, franchise, and yet it also has this entrenched junker autocracy.

Nice to see that you are going into the colonial game very quickly, I like that. :)

Also I did not intend to mock you, that was never and will never be my intention so sorry if you missunderstood.

Ah, the limits of what a smiley can convey online! Well, to answer your question properly, I cannot use photo shop at all. For most images, I just use paint to resize, crop and add a simple border, but for the banner I used Gimp. It's rather crude, though, I'd have liked to keep the Germans flag more visible and to better integrate the other images.

If the Germans are to compete properly on the colonial front, they cannot afford to wait until am eventual unification. Decent naval bases must be established early on!
 

DensleyBlair

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An interesting approach in going for Africa straight away. Taking an area around the Gold Coast is always a solid idea – though I do wonder whether the British will take too kindly to having to fight more actively for their interests in the region – especially considering you've mentioned them softening their isolationist stance (that'll be Palmerston's fault, I presume? ;))

Interesting also to get an overview of the Talleyrand plan. It would have been intriguing to have seen a scenario in which it was actually effected, though I'm not sure how much I'd like to see Britain interfering on the mainland. (Even in a Prussian AAR I can't stop talking about them, it would seem. :p)

Very much looking forward to more.
 

GreatUberGeek

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Can't wait for this! Nice idea-interesting African position. Looking forward to more Prussian adventures. ;)
 

Nikolai

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I'm glad to see another AAR by you Seelmeister.:) Subbed.
 

Seelmeister

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An interesting approach in going for Africa straight away. Taking an area around the Gold Coast is always a solid idea – though I do wonder whether the British will take too kindly to having to fight more actively for their interests in the region – especially considering you've mentioned them softening their isolationist stance (that'll be Palmerston's fault, I presume? ;))

Interesting also to get an overview of the Talleyrand plan. It would have been intriguing to have seen a scenario in which it was actually effected, though I'm not sure how much I'd like to see Britain interfering on the mainland. (Even in a Prussian AAR I can't stop talking about them, it would seem. :p)

Very much looking forward to more.

Yeah, I think the British would rather not have a continental protectorate to worry about - but had France pushed more aggressively for annexations in the Low Countries then the British would have had to secure some kind of stake in the region. The channel ports under control of a major power is something which the British would not tolerate easily.

This is something which will act as a limit on German ambitions in the region, and you're right that German colonialism can create tension. Currently the British interests in Nigeria are minimal, but as the Germans seek to expand their empire it is inevitable that they will come into conflict. There is also the small matter of British influence in Han over, and Heligoland.

Can't wait for this! Nice idea-interesting African position. Looking forward to more Prussian adventures. ;)

The earlier quest for colonies will hopefully mean that Germany does not have to settle for only scraps by the time the scramble for Africa gets underway, but also means there will be a number of different geopolitical considerations compared with real life. I'm hoping we can see a nice, but plausible, divergence :)

I'm glad to see another AAR by you Seelmeister.:) Subbed.

Thanks Nikolai, and welcome!

Great update. :)

Thank you very much!