Continuing my obsession with maps (anyone else ever take a sharpie to a map in grade school? Anyone?), here is one of the situation in Europe in 1933 (same universe as my other map, so all that still applies).
Europe was a place of radical change coming into the 19th century. The French Revolution, the rise and fall of Napoleon, the Liberal Revolutions in the mid-1800s, the rise of nationalism, and the rush to colonize the world would help drive Europe to the heights of its power.
In Italy, the Liberal and nationalistic movement was at its fever pitch. In the north-east Sardinia-Piedmont, led by the House of Savoy, held dreams of unifying the peninsula under their banner while in the south Garibaldi controlled the Kingdom of Two Sicilies. The two nations were unable to reach any sort of an agreement about the details of a unified Italy before Garibaldi’s death in 1869, and this came to a head in the 1874 War of Rome. Both hoped to gain control over the central region of Italy and claim Rome for themselves, but the Austro-Hungarian Empire, still angry over its defeats in Northern Italy years before intervened, dealing a major blow to the Sardinian army. Realizing that directly controlling more of the rebellious Italian lands would be counterproductive, Austria instead created the state of Venice as a semi-autonomous nation.
The Two-Sicilies was also defeated with Austrian and French forces landed near Rome “on behalf” of the Pope, who was the de facto leader of the Papal States at that time. In the Treaty of Pisa, the borders of the Italian states were laid down by France and Austro-Hungary at bayonet point. They had no desire to see a unified Italy that could resist their influence, and instead solidified the many smaller independent regions and city-states in the central regions into the Papal States, which was guarded by garrisons of Austrian and French soldiers to help prevent any attempt to unify the peninsula. Nationalism in Italy was still running hot though, and these garrisons would be plagued by frequent attacks by angry locals.
France and England both intervened in the American Civil War in the 1860s, but the UK was dealt a severe blow when the Union armies were able to seize Canada. While they were successful in helping the Confederate States of America retain their independence, for England the loss of most of Canada to the Americans and Quebec nation was a painful loss of prestige. France on the other hand came out well by getting the USA to acknowledge the Hapsburg Maximilian I as Emperor of Mexico, but were unable to regain their lost colonies in the New World who instead swore allegiance to Bourbon to protect their independence.
The Swedish-Norwegian Kingdom, often referred to as the Kingdoms of Scandinavia, were another victory for nationalism in Europe. Pan-Scandinavianism had swept the Nordic countries, and Norway and Sweden were driven even closer together. Negotiations with Denmark, however, were stymied by Scandinavia’s refusal to come to Denmark’s aide in its war with Prussia.
Germany was also a hotbed of Liberal nationalism in the 1800s. Prussia, under the skilled leadership of Otto von Bismarck, the ‘Iron Chancellor’, was able to unify Germany under their leadership. The victory over France in 1870 created Germany as a power to be reckoned with, and Prussian troops were seen as the finest in Europe. Many nations began to change their tactics and modernize their forces in recognition of this new power. An arms raced developed between the major powers, and it led to a rapid advance in military technology.
The quest for colonial dominance, the rise of modern military technology, and hundreds of other factors create a powder keg amongst the European nations, where one spark might set it off. In Austro-Hungary, the problem associated with so many different ethnicities living so close together was very acute. Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne new this well. He had surrounded himself with a group of scholars like Aurel Popovici who were proponents of giving the many different ethnicities and cultures within Austrian borders semi-autonomous statehood, establishing in effect a constitutional monarchy. The seeds for the creation of The United States of Greater Austria (Vereinigte Staaten von Groß-Österreich) were layed.
On the 28th of June, 1914, a Serbian assassin attempted to kill the Archduke in Sarajevo. The assassins failed to kill the Archduke, but the Duchess Sophie did not escape unharmed. A bullet struck her in her arm, which had to be amputated. This despicable act sent shockwaves across the world, and soon the world was engaged in a war the likes of which had never been seen before. Nations began to call up reserves as treaties were invoked, and The Great War had begun.
In North America the British and French called upon their ally the CSA to aid them in the war, but the Confederate economy was still in a shambles. Fearing what would happen if the USA joined the German side, they made secret entreaties to the CSA that they would intervene if the US and Germany became allies. The Confederacy agreed, knowing that it still relied heavily on England and France to keep is economy going. When news of this got out, there was an uproar in the US. Cries for war against the UK were risen, but in the end the US resorted to a complete naval embargo to the UK and France instead of directly declaring war. US Navy warships sat off Canadian waters to prevent any more Canadian soldiers from heading to Europe and searched every Confederate vessel for ‘contraband’, similar to what had occurred during the Civil War. The CSA was infuriated with this breach of sovereignty, but knew they could not risk a war with their more powerful northern neighbor. Instead both Canadians and Confederates began to smuggle ammunition and small groups of soldiers to Europe to help the war their. But it was too little, too late.
Already, Ottoman army units had managed to push the British out of Palestine, aided as they were by Austrian and Bulgarian units freed from the conquest of Serbia and Greece. In Italy, the smaller nations there refused to take sides, instead enjoying great profit supplying both sides with needed foods and materials. Scandinavia likewise refrained from entering the conflict, although many were supportive of joining the Central Powers to fight Russia and bring Finland into the Scandinavian fold. Japan, hoping to flex its international muscle, decided to take sides on the conflict by declaring war on France and Great Britain, seizing Hong Kong, Singapore and French Indo-China within a few months.
By 1916, the German armies had soundly defeated the Russians, and the Tsar was forced to sign a humiliating peace by handing over large chunks of territory. The Ukraine and Latvia became “independent” nations, while Germany gobbled up Russia’s Polish and Belorussian lands. The British, suffering under the strain of Germany’s U-Boats and the USA’s economic blockade, began to suffer starvation in the major cities. It came to a head when a whole division of British conscripts, veterans of the French trenches, refused to embark to head back to France. They were soon joined by Merchant Navy sailors who refused to set sail against Germany’s U-Boats and even plain civilians who were hungry and looking for food. Rioting and widespread unrest swept the nation, a culmination of dissatisfaction with the current government over everything from the current war to the loss of Canadian soil 50 years earlier.
The Army was forced to come in to restore order, and the London Riots saw hundreds of civilians and soldiers killed before order was restored. Lacking the popular support to continue, the UK offered peace to the Germans, who agreed immediately. Without British support, France quickly fell to the German army, now swelled with the soldiers returning victorious from the Eastern front. Germany forced an even harsher treaty on France, stripping it of all of its colonies, demilitarizing a large portion of its eastern border, restricting their army to a bare minimum, claiming most of the fleet as spoils, and forcing France to shoulder the blame for the war.
The Great War came to an end, with Germany as the clear victor. It now possessed a massive colonial empire, consisting as it did of France’s holdings in Africa and Asia along with Germany’s previously held colonies (sans those taken by Japan). Most of the French navy scuttled their ships rather than let them fall into German hands, but German still was now the undisputed world power. The UK had managed to escape the war with most of its Empire intact, but the social unrest had only just begun. The loss of Egypt to the Ottomans and the Asian territories in Singapore and Hong Kong to Japan were open wounds. France was torn apart, with a huge swath of its northern lands covered in the scars of war. Even Paris had suffered deeply when the German army captured it. Belgium lost territory too, a large chunk of its eastern lands falling into German hands.
In the aftermath of the war, the world seemed to take a deep breath. The riots in England died down as people tried to return to normalcy after the war, and in Russia the outcries for revolution slowly died down as food began to make its way to the peasants again. The Tsar, who had spent a week trapped in his palace by the angry mobs, realized that he had to attempt some form of liberalization of his government. In 1918, Russia created a new constitution and a bill of rights for its people, along with a parliamentary government (that was still subservient to the Tsar’s will, of course).
As the 20s came around, those nations not decimated by the war enjoyed a remarkable economic boom. Germany and the USA enjoyed a profitable relationship, while Austro-Hungary was able to use the economic prosperity and relative stability of the post-war era to implement the Archduke Franz Ferdinand‘s (now Emperor) ideas to help prevent the Austro-Hungarian nation from splitting apart. The USGA, was born on 1922 with sweeping changes in the government. A new constitution (party inspired by the American one) was created, and Austro-Hungary made the transition to a Constitutional-Monarchy with surprising ease. Ferdinand still retained control over the military, but most of the domestic and economic issues of the “states” were left to their respective leaders.
Some conservatives and Hungarians grumbled about the changes, but the USGA saw great prosperity over the next few years. The USA President made a visit to Vienna to celebrate another liberal democracy and meet with Ferdinand, but Germany watched with a small amount of concern. The more reactionary Junker politicians and leaders of Germany were worried about what the political changes in Russia and the USGA foretold for the future. Even the Ottoman Empire, with its more than 600 years of history, was undergoing political changes. After the war, the Ottomans had been able to reclaim much of its lost territory in Africa and the Middle East. For the first time in almost thirty years an Ottoman Flag flew in Egypt and Libya, while the Ottomans had also been able to gain control over Malta from the British. Having utilized German help in modernizing its military before and during the war, now the Ottomans worked on improving their industry. German engineers help the OE construct railroads to connect its distant garrisons, while factories began to spring up in Anatolia. The “Sick Man of Europe” was feeling much better.
But the economic miracle could not last, and the economic crash in 1928 was felt across the world. In the Ukraine, suffering from two years of famine, Communist revolutionaries, many who had escaped the Tsar’s retribution in Russia by fleeing to the Ukraine, managed to seize control over the government. They had feared that Germany and other nations would intervene against the ‘Reds’ like they had in Russia a decade earlier, but they were too busy with their own economic problems to deal with someone else’s too.
In 1929, Italian nationalists, socialists, communists, and other radicals/revolutionaries were inspired by the events in Ukraine and rose up against the rulers of what was still called the Papal States. The French and Austrian garrisons had been removed for duty in the war, and very quickly they gained control over the central regions of Italy. However, the large and diverse group almost immediately began to tear itself apart as the different factions vied for power. In the end the National Fascist Party, headed by Benito Mussolini., and his “Black Shirts” came out on top. The Communists and more radical groups had been favored to win, but that winter after taking control over Rome Pope Pius XI had been shot to death by a member of the Roman Communist Party. This quickly alienated the Communists from most of the Catholic Italians, and the Fascists were able to sweep into power by utilizing the event with great skill. The Papal States were renamed the Italian Social Republic, but unlike the Ukraine (now called the Soviet Socialist Republic of the Ukraine) the Italian Fascists did not scare any of their neighbors, and indeed their prosecution of communists was viewed favorably by most of the major powers.
As 1933 roles around, France and England are suffering from growing political instability. Sir Oswald Mosley’s ‘British Union of Fascists’ were beginning to draw members away from Britain’s Conservative party with jingoistic messages about improving the UK’s military might to help stave off any more military defeats. While he is still in the minority, many are beginning to listen to him with more belief that perhaps the Fascists are the answer to Britain’s troubles and loss of prestige.
In France, an undeclared war exists between radicals on both sides of the political spectrum. Rampant inflation, high unemployment, and the shame of loosing two wars to Germany and being stripped of its colonies has given radicals great power in France. The Communists and Fascists there often clash in the streets, and the world still waits to see who will stand victorious.
My fingers hurt.