This is a history of the years 1914 through 1929 of the timeline 1914 Incident.
Two foreign policy blunders of Wilhelm II never occurred: the Kruger Telegram and the Moroccan Crisis. The main effect that these changes have on the timeline is that they prevent Britain from declaring war on Germany during the 1914 Incident, thus allowing the war to end in a German victory.
The 1914 Incident
At the beginning of the 1914 Incident, Germany did not have a competent leader, and it was becoming increasing isolated from the other great powers. France had lost its territory of Alsace-Lorraine. Russia was lagging behind other nations in technology. Austria-Hungary was falling apart due to ethnic tensions. Britain didn't have any true allies in Europe. As tensions rose, a war between the great powers seemed to be inevitable. When Austria-Hungary's heir to the throne, Franz Ferdinand, was assassinated on June 28, 1914, by Serbian nationalists, Austria-Hungary sent an ultimatum to Serbia. Unacceptable, Serbia only agreed to some of the terms. Austria-Hungary then declared war on Serbia on July 28, 1914.
Following the string of war declarations, the war pitted Serbia, Russia, and France against Germany and Austria-Hungary. The first army movements began, as Austro-Hungarian soldiers invaded Serbia. Germany used its (unmodified) Schlieffen Plan to invade France, while Russia continued to mobilize. French armies began to invade Alsace-Lorraine, and the Belgians put up heavy resistance to invading Germans.
Since Germany considered the treaty protecting Belgium to simply be a piece of paper, they were not expecting any nation to come to Belgium's aid. However, many British politicians called to defend Belgium's neutrality. A vote in Parliament was narrowly unsuccessful in declaring war, and is the POD of this timeline. Instead, a moderate proposal, condemning Germany and giving aid to Belgium, was passed. Without British support, Germany entered French territory just before the end of August.
Likewise, France had also made large gains into Alsace-Lorraine. By early September, France had re-acquired the territory, and were entering Baden (the southwestern most Kingdom of Germany). Despite their gains, Germany had already made sizable gains in northeast France. Another problem was that, by early September, Russian troops were starting to arrive on the Eastern Front. Russia, facing little resistance, was able to occupy several parts of eastern Germany, and nearly reached Königsberg before the tide turned against them.
France had been lulled into a false sense of victory. When reports came in that Germany had almost reached Paris around September 10, French commanders, who were now reaching into Württemberg, panicked and withdrew to defend Paris. However, this was too late. By the time the first French reinforcements arrived, German forces had already surrounded Paris. The German government offered France a peace if they agreed to give present-day Benin to Germany, Tunisia to Italy, and most of present day Guinea to Austria-Hungary, as well as relinquish claims to Alsace-Lorraine. The rather merciful peace was accepted by France on September 16, though it was rather unpopular among the people.
With France kicked out of the war, attention now turned to Russia and the Balkans. Montenegro had declared war on Austria-Hungary in late August, and the Serbs were putting up heavy resistance. However, Austria-Hungary offered Bulgaria some Serbian land if they helped in the Balkan Front. Bulgaria accepted the deal, and entered the war. On October 22, Montenegro and Serbia jointly surrendered, and were annexed by Austria-Hungary and Bulgaria.
Meanwhile, Germany was sending huge amounts of its powerful army to fight the Russians in the Eastern Front. Austria-Hungary and Bulgaria also began to send their forces to the Eastern Front. By September 25, the Russian advance had been stopped, and a stalemate began. Though heavy casualties were incurred on both sides, on November 9, Russian lines were smashed during an offensive. The Central Powers pushed back the Russians, in a constant retreat, reaching Smolensk on December 14. Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Bulgaria signed a peace treaty with Russia in February 1915, giving peace in exchange for territorial concessions, with Congress Poland going to Germany, and Bessarabia going to Romania, who had agreed to remain neutral in exchange for the strip of territory. Congress Poland would officially became a member state of the German Empire in March 1915, though under the control of a German prince. With the new large Polish minority, the German government greatly reduced anti-Polish measures to encourage Polish support for their membership in the empire.
With all fronts closed, the war truly was over by Christmas, unlike OTL. This solidified the position of Germany as the most powerful nation of Europe. In addition, another revolution similar to the Revolution of 1905 transpired in Russia. The aftermath of the war led to some democratic reforms in Russia following the Revolution of 1915, which included vast protests among the populace and defections in the military. The humiliating defeats of France and Russia greatly led to the emergence of far-left and far-right groups both in those two countries but also in Germany. Germany also implemented some reforms to increase the power of the Reichstag. The Kaiser had also became more cautious in foreign policy, imagining the disastrous result of a possible defeat. Technology was also heavily invested in after the war, and somewhat of a cold war developed in technology, especially in offensive military technologies, such as heavy war machines (like tanks).
Collapse of Austria-Hungary
The Collapse of Austria-Hungary is believed to be rooted in lack of reform and the rise of nationalist groups. In the lead up to the collapse, Austria-Hungary had supported Greece and Bulgaria in a war against the Ottoman Empire, known as the Third Balkan War (occurring in late 1915), which was successful, having made the Ottomans lose all of Thrace except for the European side of Istanbul. Serbs, Bosniaks, Croats, and other groups saw how an empire could be pushed away.
Franz-Joseph, who had been the Emperor of Austria since the 1860s, died in 1916. This caused chaos throughout the empire. Although he was succeeded by Charles I, who tried to keep the empire together, this was ultimately unsuccessful. The first ethnic group to revolt was the Serbs. A declaration of independence on February 10 was accompanied by mass revolts and attacks against police. The army was quickly sent in, though many soldiers desert.
Bosnia and Montenegro declared independence the next day, followed by Croatia and Galicia later in the week. Smaller uprisings in Slovenia, Czechia, and Slovakia also occur, and the army became riddled by defections and desertions. Charles I was successful in coaxing Bulgaria, who had been suffering rebellion, although less extensive, themselves, into joining the war against Serbia. However, the Bulgarians are unable to successfully fight against the revolutionaries, as they are now being armed by Russia, and to a lesser extent, France and even Italy. On March 7, 1917, Hungary announced its withdrawal from the personal union. Three days later, on March 10, Hungary conceded independence to Serbia, Bosnia, Montenegro, and Croatia. Following a stalemate, where Galician revolutionaries successfully held off Austrian soldiers, Austria conceded independence to Galicia on April 4, and calls for a settlement.
The Congress of Budapest convened on May 2, 1917, to draw up new borders in the Balkans. It was agreed that the borders will be decided by ethnic group. Austria, Hungary, Czechia, Galicia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia, and Montenegro all attended, as did Italy, Romania, and Bulgaria, attempting to gain territory. Germany also attends, but only to observe. On May 30, a proposal was reached. It was agreed that borders would be divided roughly by ethnic group, with no exclaves. The drawn map looked vaguely similar to the Balkans in OTL 1919, though Hungary has significantly more territory, including all of Transylvania, Austria has Sudetenland and more fringe territory, the country of Galicia exists, and several of the newer countries have less territory. It was also agreed at the Congress that Guinea would become a colony of Austria.
The deal was applauded by several world leaders, including Woodrow Wilson, then the US President, as well as previous Austro-Hungarian enemies, such as French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau. A political advantage seemed in sight by France and Russia. This was not to last, however. On September 12, Austria, now limited to the territories of the German ethnic group, announced its intention to become a member state of the German Empire, with some terms. Most world leaders expected talks to fail.
Negotiations began on September 17. The Austrian government claimed that Prussia has too much power, and as such, should be reduced. Supported by other member states of the empire (except Prussia itself), Austria demanded that Hesse-Darmstadt be extended to include all of Hesse that is within Prussia, and that Hanover be recreated. Facing support from the other member states (Baden, Bavaria, Hesse-Darmstadt, Saxony, and Württemberg) and the citizens of Hesse and Hanover, Prussia agreed to do so, but only if Sudetenland became an imperial territory instead of remaining with Austria. Austria agreed to the resolution. Saxony, desiring Wittenberg, demands that Prussia give back some land it took at the Congress of Vienna. Again, supported by the other member states, Prussia is pushed into accepting that half of its province of Saxony, as well as all of its provinces of Hanover and Hesse will be lost. The outcome of the merger talks are regarded as a landmark German policy, and a showing of increasing German, rather than Prussian, identity. The deal is signed on September 30. In addition, the two Reusses, Mecklenburgs, and Schwarzburgs are unified, and the Ernestine duchies are merged into a new state called Thuringia, ruled by a prince supported by both Austria and Prussia. However, Poland, a member state of the German Empire since 1915 under a Prussian prince (not contested by Austria), does not receive any majority Polish territory from Prussia.
Meanwhile, the rest of Europe, expecting talks to fail, is shocked. France and Russia demanded that the merger be cancelled. Germany and Austria refused to do so. Hungary and Italy showed support for the merger. France and Russia began to mobilize their armies. In response, Germany did so as well. On October 6, the French asked Britain for support against "the German Menace". Although Britain distrusted Germany, the country did not want to ally with the French and Russians, who may have well simply lost another war, and refused. This helped lead to a deterioration in Anglo-French relations.
With the refusal of Britain, France and Russia began to demobilize their armies on October 8. By October 10, Germany had also demobilized, and a crisis had been averted, although there was still plenty of tension within Europe in the following years.
The Balkan states remained surprisingly stable throughout the remainder of the 1910s, though they become a political battleground among Germany, Russia, and other powers. Germany established an economic and military alliance with Hungary in early 1918, and later in the year begin to share technology. Russia asserted Serbia and Galicia as its allies, while Germany courted Greece and even Czechia, despite their Slavic ethnicity. Despite German efforts, most Slavic countries ended up in the sphere of Russia.
Germany tried to improve relations with Britain (now rather isolated), but was largely unsuccessful. However, continued neutrality of Britain, at least in a Franco-German war, would be secured.
The 1920s were, like OTL, a peaceful and prosperous decade. However, in the ATL, it expanded to more countries. Germany would begin the decade as the strongest nation in Europe and perhaps even the world, but as it progressed, Russia and America developed greatly and became essentially equals to Germany by the end of the decade. Germany (now including Austria, the Sudetenland, and Congress Poland), Russia, and America would be considered the highest of the "great powers" by the end of the decade, although Britain, France, Italy, and Japan (developing as fast as Russia and America) were still forces to be reckoned with. In addition, due to the quick end of what would have been World War I, Russia never turned into the Soviet Union, remaining a monarchy, despite the growth in power of the Duma.
Russia, quickly modernizing, began to speed up in technological development. More and more peasants began to move to the cities and work in factories. A revolution in 1915 (similar to that in 1905) had resulted in fairer elections and more power for the State Duma. After three preceding elections (1915, 1917, and 1922) where leftists did not win a majority (despite having a large presence in the Duma), elections in 1927 narrowly resulted in a leftist majority in the Duma, due to the increased modernization and industrialization in Russia, and thus increase in support for leftist parties.
The Social Democratic Labour Party had officially disbanded after its Bolshevik and Menshevik factions split into a Communist party and a Socialist party respectively in 1920 (sometimes called the Red Divorce). Due to the moderateness of the former Mensheviks, they were more popular, especially among rural peasants. However, the former Bolsheviks maintained a slight majority over the Socialists in industrial workers. The Socialists won more seats than the Communists in the 1927 election. The two parties worked together in Congress, and formed a coalition government after the 1927 election. The main opposition was comprised of the Constitutional Democrats (Liberals) and the Nationalist Party (which had essentially absorbed the Octobrists at that point), as well as some smaller conservative parties.
The new government of the two leftist parties would immediately begin work on socializing Russia. This worried Tsar Nicholas II, but he died in 1929 before he could act. Nicholas was succeeded by his son Alexei, a much more lenient figure. He agreed to implement further democratic reforms and allowed stronger reforms by the leftist parties, who had tried not to make any extreme changes to Russian society in fear of banning by the Tsar. With Alexei now on the throne, the two parties could now make much stronger changes to Russia.
France, suffering another humiliating defeat at the hands of Germany, was turbulent, but not as troubled as OTL Weimar Germany. The Popular Front, an alliance between the Socialists and Communists, formed earlier than in OTL. The Communists, without being dictated by the Soviet Union, became much more pragmatic. The Popular Front won a majority of seats in the 1928 legislative election.
In America, the economic growth of the 1910s continued, but at a slower pace, due to the lack of a post-war boom. Warren G. Harding was elected in a fairly close race, with Calvin Coolidge as his vice president. Like OTL, Coolidge became president after Harding's death in 1923. He was re-elected in 1924. After an economic slowdown in 1927 (due to worries about France and Russia) after fast growth in the mid decade, he successfully restarted growth by the end of his term and left a good legacy, allowing a third Republican to be elected. Herbert Hoover became president in 1929, and unlike OTL, there was no stock market crash, instead there only being another slowdown. In addition, women won the right to vote in 1926.
The Social Democratic Party of Germany successfully reformed the electoral districts in 1921 to a proportional system, allowing them to take a strong majority of seats in the Reichstag. They began to return Germany to a slightly less interventionist state, to the protest of the Kaiser. They gradually lost some seats throughout the decade, but still retained a small majority in the 1927 elections.
Japan continued to become stronger. Hirohito ascended to the throne, with an imperialist policy. More land was taken from China, and more colonies in the Pacific were created. By the end of the twenties, European powers were starting to worry about the power of Japan.
Britain, despite having no real allies in Europe, refused to pursue an alliance with France or Germany, the two countries trying to get Britain on their side.
The Ottoman Empire collapsed under ethnic pressure in 1925. A peaceful resolution was worked out, mediated by Europe (the US had largely returned to neutrality), dividing the empire into several different nations according to ethnic group, including Turkey, Syria, Palestine, Lebanon Kurdistan, and various Arabian states.
Communism solidified as an ideology in the early 1920s. The most radical factions of Social Democratic or Labour parties began to separate from the more moderate factions during the decade. The first Communist Party was formed in Russia from the Bolsheviks (the Mensheviks formed the Socialist Party). A similar divorce of radical and moderate factions would occur in France, Germany, and Italy. No significant Communist Party would emerge in Britain or America until later, with their respective Labour and Socialist parties remaining relatively stable. Communist Parties in the ATL would be much more pragmatic due to their freedom from Soviet manipulation.
Thirties and the Great War
The Twenties had resulted in the establishment of two increasingly radical governments. One right-wing in France, and one left-wing in Russia. Despite the huge differences, the countries were intent on getting revenge on Germany. This is exactly what happened in the Thirties.
The pact between Germany, Hungary, and Italy remained alive. Italy was also no longer interested in betrayal, having gotten the territory it wanted. The Slavic Pact, involving Russia, Czechia, Galicia, Slovakia, Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia, and Montenegro was formed in 1930. This vast alliance of Slavic states became a force to be reckoned with. With France also in on the alliance, Germany was becoming increasing cornered, and was lucky to be able to keep Slovenia and even Albania neutral. Bulgaria and Hungary continue to remain its allies, however. What Germany needs is a pact with Britain, but talks remain unsuccessful, so other nations come into consideration.
See 1930-1959 (1914 Incident) for the next part of the timeline.