Prussia loses the Austro-Prussian war (to be expanded on), with no loss in territory save Schleswig-Holstein and parts of Silesia - Austria and Prussia battered and tired. Hungary, badly affected by the war, and furious at the taxes it must now pay for what it sees as Austrian incompetence, rises up and declares independence. Secession of most of Translethinia from Austria, and Croatia declaring independence the next year.
The German Confederation survives, Austria, much reduced and facing the Magyar state, looks to its old sphere - Germany. Union signed in 1872 in Vienna - the creation of the 'Empire of the Germans' (as yet with no power, just a tightened Confederation) with the Habsburg monarch as Emperor. House of Hohenzollern pacified by awarding portions of Austrian Poland (the Silesian concessions and part of Galicia)) to the constituent state of Prussia.
Italian unification continues as norm - Austria retaining Venetia. In the West, the Franco-Prussian war never occurs. Rather, the French continue to press in the 'Rhine crisis' vein, leading to the Franco-German war in 1874 (hence the unification, the alliance formed by the war, a German victory leading to a slightly smaller Elsass-Lothringen, leads into the unified Germany, with the North joining the South German alliance, Luxembourg and Liechtenstein joining in 1873).
Overseas, without Bismarck and realpolitik, the Germans expand in the Scramble for Africa, taking the Congo, as well as chunks of what, OTL, is French West Africa.
Galicia is of note - Austria had no intention of giving it up, and it is still claimed, making relations with the Magyar Kingdom decidedly chilly. As the Ottomans begin to decay, the region is steadily destabilising, and the Magyar state as a whole looks exceedingly fragile.
By the turn of the century, Germany is a European Great Power, holding a reasonably large colonial empire, and despite the greater size of the French holdings, it is generally held to be the strongest power in continental Europe. Overseas the main difference is felt - Brittannia still rules the waves, but the High Seas Fleet is expanding at a rapid rate, with the new 'dreadnought' Kaiser Franz beating the British HMS Dreadnought by two years, being launched in 1904, with two more of the class under construction. Current estimates say that the Austrian (the two demonyms are generally interchangeable) fleet should reach a level to compete with Britain in the mid 1930s.
With no First World War, the Russian Revolution is defeated, and Great Russia survives as an autocratic state. (This will be massively expanded on in the Empire of All Russias article).
When Kaiser Franz Joseph I died, Archduke Franz Ferdinand took the throne in 1917. The 'Roaring Twenties' flourish across America and the British Empire (Germany retaining pre-1920s music and culture, in no small part due to the autocratic and conservative elites in Vienna and Berlin) However, beneath this sheen, Europe, and indeed the world, remain on a knife-edge. The strained diplomacy of the 1890s continues, although the collapse of the Ottoman Empire (as OTL) has left a reduced Turkey, and somewhat lightened the burden.
Germany remains dominant on Continental Europe, and with the Empire of All Russias, France, the USA and the British Empire form the four largest economies and militaries in the world - the 'Big Five', all sitting on the committee of the League of Nations (instituted by Woodrow Wilson as permanent members. Germany has also set up the 'Deutsches Volksbund' to encourage Germanic growth and benefit, it's members currently include Germany and Switzerland.
Germany (as it was still commonly known) continues through the '20s' in much the same vein, the world's third largest economy, with an ever expanding Navy - the new Maximilian class, launched in 1927 'catching up' with the British Queen Elizabeth battleships, following a lag in naval development.
When the Great Depression struck, the Empire of the Germans (still commonly referred to as 'Germany' or 'Austria', fared reasonably well - the aging Minister-President, von Stuergkh, (in his seventies, never assassinated in 1916, and a venerable statesman). did as much as he could, but died in 1933. His successor, Clam-Martinic (he lives a lot longer in this timeline) 'held it together' until 1939, when he died aged 76, and the German economy left recession, after a hard decade, ahead of the other Powers and on a firm footing.
The aging Kaiser Franz dies in 1940. With his children (being the issue of a morganatic marriage) not eligible, the title passes down to Charles, as original timeline (he has lived, owing to never going to Malta in exile and as such never contracting pneumonia). History under construction.
This appears the right time for an assessment of technology - without two World Wars to galvanise advancement, technology and tactics still sit at a very much pre-war level, the cavalry (hussars, dragoons) are still prevalent, artillery and gunnery very much Edwardian (pre-war) .
I hasten to add this is not steam-punk, rather a reasonable (in my view) assessment of how technology would run.
In the 1930s, The motor-car is prevalent, at a 1950s level (in terms of how many people own them) but with a much more traditional aesthetic, leading us convieniently on to art - the old autocracies remain firmly entrenched, and style is hence arch-traditional, in many ways rather crabbed, none more so than in Germany, where the massive constructs of the Kaisserreich are scarcely different to those produced a century earlier.
One major difference is the prevalence of the airship - the German DELAG continues to rum flights (no Hindenburg) while the Zeppelin is (in ever improving forms) still used as a heavy bomber and smaller versions as scouts. Planes are at a level much like late WW1, and Germany's Fokker fighters grant them considerable air-power, especially in concert with Zeppelin bombers.
Skepticism does exist as to the efficacy of the Zeppelin fleet, but the uses so far (pacification of a tribal uprising) indicate its phenomenal power to strike fear, and also as a heavy bombing platform, although it is unknown how it would fare against an enemy with air-power. and increasingly viewed as a white elephant.
NOTE - EXCUSE MY LONG ABSENCE, THIS TIMELINE IS ON ICE UNTIL NEXT SUMMER.
NOTE THIS IS ENTIRELY DIFFERENT TO THE OTHER HISTORY THAT SHARES ITS NAME, AND I AM WORKING TO DIFFERENTIATE.