Part one of three maps detailing my Alternate History scenario for Europe. This is the political map, showing the borders in 1937/38.
In 1933 Mussolini lead his Italian Social Republic into a war with the Kingdom of Two Sicilies in , claiming it was time to unify the peninsula under the fascist banner. The war lasted less than a week, as most of the Kingdoms military leaders were supportive of Mussolini’s stated goals and refused to leave their barracks to fight their fellow Italians. Albania, which had been closely allied with Two Sicilies and had joined the fight against the Italian Social Republic, was also brought into the Italian sphere when Mussolini landed soldiers in Albania and seized the capital Tirana in days.
Upon his annexation of southern Italy, Mussolini renamed the Italian Social Republic the Republic of Italy, hoping to stir Italian nationalism in his northern neighbors. Both this and the annexation of Albania upset the other nations in the region, especially Venice and Sardinia-Piedmont, who both feared that Italy would forcibly annex them next. There was a large amount of support for a Italy to absorb both nations from many, but the rulers of the two states feared the Fascists. For having annexed Albania without cause, the League of Nations (LoN) took Italy’s membership away.
Sir Oswald Mosley became PM of the UK in 1935 and, inspired by Mussolini‘s exploits, announced the creation of a fascist British state. His endeavors were blessed by King Edward VIII, who was quite taken by the fascist ideology. Parliament became a tool of the British Union of Facists, who cracked down on personal liberties but were widely praised by the working class as they begin to create jobs and flex England’s military muscle again. The Royal Navy was soon constructing its first new capital ships in years.
In Spain, the Civil War of 1936 was a brutal affair, but the Republican forces (a mix of liberals ranging from pro-republican democrats to communists and anarcho-syndicalists) were able to deal with Franco’s nationalists within a year due to an outpouring of foreign support for their cause. Spain had become a refuge for socialists and leftists from across Europe who were trying to escape prosecution in their mother countries: thousands of Italian, German, French, and British citizens were ready to support the Republic in their war against the right-wing nationalists. Franco pleaded with Britain and Italy to help support his war, but their support was lukewarm as they were both already involved with the situation in France and had their own problems at home. In the end, the victorious government of Republican Spain did not fall to the communists as many had feared, but it did emerge a leftist socialist state. Many of the more dedicated communists would later fight in the Greek civil war, which would create a Communist state.
The Anarchist Catalonia, which had broken free from Spain in the beginning of the Civil War, was able to secure its own independence at the height of the conflict when the hard pressed Republicans agreed to respect their independence in exchange for mutual support; most of the Republicans didn‘t like the Anarchists, so it was a relief to some that the Anarchists had a place to go to instead of staying within the rest of Spain. After the civil war Catalonia became the worlds first Anarchist state, with and newspaper editorials around the globe predicted that the experiment would fail within months. It persevered, mostly due to good relations with its socialist neighbor Spain, but as time wore on the Anarchists and Libertarians found they had to make a number of concessions to establishing a state government.
In France the Parti Populaire Français (PPF) swept the elections in France, its alliance with other fascist and far-right parties and organizations like Solidarité Française, Mouvement Franciste, and even Action Française (a counterrevolutionary monarchist group) allowing it to win a massive majority. The previous three years had seen bloody street fighting between communist and socialist groups and the French right. The paramilitary groups had fought long battles, with thousands dead, but the fascists helped prevail with Italian and later British support. The support for the jingoistic PPF was great amongst the French people, who were especially angry at Germany in the post-war period, blaming it for Frances massive economic troubles, loss of prestige, and the other “embarrassing” stipulations of the Treaty of Straßburg after the Great War.
France began to quickly rearm itself in violation of the treaty, while England followed suite but at a slower pace, not having suffered as harsh a set of conditions as those having been forced upon France: for instance, the British had been allowed to retain their capital ships in the Royal Navy, but had been forbidden to build any new capital ships. German was alarmed by this development, but it had been forced to turn its attention elsewhere by further developments on the continent.
The UK and France, along with Italy also began to intervene in other nations political processes, their main source of aid going to Belgian fascists. But Belgium was able to secure the support of its neighbors the Netherlands and Germany, who both feared the expansion of fascism into the low countries.
Like Spain, Greece was also wracked by a Civil War when the Greek Communist Party (the KKE) launched a revolution, supported by the Soviet Socialist Republic of the Ukraine (SSRU) and many of the communists who had felt betrayed by Republican Spain’s decision to not embrace communism. This time the government of Greece was able to obtain the help of many of its neighbors, but the two most important ones, the Ottoman Empire and the United States of Greater Austria (USGA) were both distracted by their own internal problems: for the Ottomans, it was massive Arab revolts in Palestine and Egypt, while the USGA was too isolationist to intervene.
In 1937, Estonian patriots declared their independence from Russia, supported by their Latvian neighbors. Russia, a shell of its former self, could do nothing to stop it. Russia had fought three separate civil wars and revolutions as communists and other groups had risen against the monarchy. The wars had been followed by famine and disease, and the depression that hit after the great war did nothing to improve the situation. Unable to even raise an army to put down this new threat, the Tsar was forced to grant them their autonomy. To the north, the Finns began to clamor about independence themselves.
With a communist victory in Greece and a socialist victory in Spain, many nations would feel a rush of reactionary sentiment: in Ireland, Eoin O'Duffy’s blueshirts (officially know as the Army Comrades Association, or ACA) were able to gain the support of other political groups, while Portugal and the Baltic states began to restrict political freedoms. In Latvia for instance, the Prime Minister Kārlis Ulmanis established an Authoritarian régime that was anti-communist, but also fought to improve the lot of the average Latvian and fight against outside influences (including the most radical of the right-wing groups). The two Baltic states signed a mutual defense pact, fearing that Russia might decide to bring them both back into its sphere at any time. Eventually both Latvia and Estonia were guaranteed by Scandinavia, who was also interested in seeing the Finish people liberated from the Tsar’s control.