GERMAN SOCIALIST REVOLUTION AND ALTERNATE WORLD WAR II
See also: List of Althists
1914: Europe is on the verge of war. Austrian Archduke Ferdinand is assassinated in Bosnia and Austria issues an ultimatum to the Serbs who are blamed for the action. The “July Crisis” sees nations preparing for war and all political parties are pressured to support their homelands. For the socialists of the Western European countries, the move to war pits political principles of international proletarian solidarity against patriotic fervor.
Friedrich Ebert, the head of the German Social Democratic Party (SPD), is on an extended vacation in Switzerland during the July Crisis but he hurriedly prepares to return home to argue for SPD support of war credits. He knows that there is a strong pacifist sentiment within the party of Karl Marx but he believes it is vital to go along with the bourgeois parties and the monarchy.
Point of Departure
On the way home, Ebert’s car is in a wreck on the treacherous alpine roadways and he dies. In the party debate that follows, Ebert is not there to provide leadership and the party is rent between pro-war and anti-war factions. In the end, the entire delegation agrees to abstain in the Reichstag vote, neither supporting nor attacking the war.
The German military and Kaiser are aghast at the “treacherous neutrality” of the SPD. The Prussian aristocrats have always mistrusted the party of proletarian revolution, despite its recent political move to the center and participation in the Reichstag. The Kaiser decrees that the entire SPD is banned and the party moves underground.
1915-1917: Within the SPD, leadership moves to the left and revolutionary opposition to mounting war casualties and the territorial ambitions of Germany. Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht are vocal in support of a revolution against the monarchy and the party organizes into cells to agitate among workers and soldiers. Strikes begin to break out and are brutally suppressed by the army.
1917: Revolution breaks out in Russia! The SPD announces its support for the new democracy and calls for a democratic revolution in Germany. When the Bolsheviks seize power in the October Revolution, the SPD announce their support for peace without indemnities or loss of territory and socialist revolution in Germany. The German statement is read to the German army negotiators at Brest-Litovsk by the Bolshevik negotiators. The German army is unimpressed and continues pressuring the new Soviet government to accept a debilitating peace treaty. Lenin and Trotsky convince the rest of the Bolshevik leadership to sign the treaty, anticipating general revolution throughout Europe in a matter of months.
1918: Peace in Russia allows the German army to launch a massive attack on the Western Front. The so-called Hindenburg Offensive initially makes great gains, but soon the tide turns against the Germans. The arrival of more and more American troops and new Allied offensives lead to a predicament in the German leadership and a nervous breakdown in the Quartermaster General Erich Ludendorff. He announces that the war is lost, triggering a political crisis. Liberal parties seek to form a new government and reach out to the banned SPD, but the suppressed revolutionary party is in no mood for compromise and takes a page from the Bolsheviks. A sailor’s mutiny in Kiel sparks the November Revolution. Within a few days, workers and soldiers councils have seized power across Germany, and the Kaiser abdicates and flees to Holland.
The liberal democratic government under Prince Max Baden is as incapable of maintaining order as the Kerensky government in Russia. The period of “dual power” begins, with competing claims from the liberal government and the “Raterepublik” for legitimacy. The experiment with liberal democracy ends when the German military seizes power and announces a military dictatorship to suppress the revolutionaries.
1919-1920: A vicious civil war breaks out across Germany as military units are organized into Freikorps. But popular sentiment swings to the left. Tired of war and disgusted with the failure of the military, people want peace and democracy. A military government seems like more of the same, and the German obstinacy in the peace negotiations in Versailles prompt further Allied action (intervention in the Saar and a continuation of the blockade). The Allied Powers announce that they are willing to negotiate with “any democratic government in Germany that will support the ‘Fourteen Points.’”
By the end of 1920, the military is in retreat. Their last stronghold is in Bavaria, where fanatic right-wing nationalists try to form a “National Redoubt” and continue the struggle against the Allies and the Reds. The Freikorps “Schwarze Korps” under formal Corporal Adolf Hitler is the last to surrender after the death of its leader in the capture of Munich. An exhausted peace sweeps across Germany and the “Spartakus Revolution” is finally secure.
1921-31: The peace imposed on Germany is brutal. The ‘Fourteen Points’ of Wilson are abandoned in favor of reparations and territorial gains for the Allies. The economic disruptions are used by the new German Socialist Republic to move toward a centrally planned economy. One priority that is not present is a new German army. A “Volksmilitia” is formed from the Red Guards. Fraternal cooperation develops between the Soviet Union and the German Socialist Republic. Although Germany does not actively participate in the Russo-Polish War, the presence of a second socialist state in the rear is a distraction to the Poles and Warsaw falls to the Reds. A People’s Republic of Poland is formed as a third socialist state (but with substantial underground resistance from the Pilsudskyites).
1931-35: Europe moves toward another war, this time between the Capitalist and Socialist camps. The Depression has hurt the Western European and American states and democracy has been undermined by right-wing demagogues. Fascism in Italy influences England and the United States. Oswald Mosely becomes Prime Minister in the “March on London.” In the U.S., one-term president Franklin Roosevelt is replaced by strongman Huey Long. President Long promises “Jobs, Pride, and the American Way.” Long, Mosely, and Mussolini sign the Anti-Comintern Treaty, popularly known as the “Axis.”
1935-37: France and Spain are battlegrounds for warring ideologies. Spain falls to the Phalangists, but France sees a seesaw battle between Socialist “volunteers” secretly crossing the Rhine and Fascist “volunteers” crossing the English Channel and Spanish and Italian borders. The fuse for a world war is lit when the British Expeditionary Force lands in France and the Red Guards invade in response. Soviet Russia declares for Socialist Germany and America and the fascist states declare for BritaIn and the “Free French.”
1937-47: World War Two erupts across the globe. Japan joins the “Axis” and assaults the Russians from their bases in China. Partisans in Poland (supplied by the Axis) hinders the Socialist war effort and slowly the German-Polish-Russian coalition is battered from all sides. Dramatic armored clashes move the front lines back and forth across France, Western Germany, and Manchuria. A Soviet thrust into Persia threatens Axis oil supplies in the Middle East and Jewish partisans in Palestine rise up to support the Soviets (and fight the anti-semitic Axis).
Finally, in 1945, the war goes nuclear, as the Axis “Manhattan Project” bears poisonous fruit. Berlin is devastated by an atomic bomb, followed by a second at Munich. The Socialist coalition struggles to catch up with its own nuclear weapons and London is hit by the first “People’s Vengeance Weapon.” Two years and almost a dozen cities laid waste, the Socialist coalition surrenders. Intercontinental missiles from the United States were seen as unbeatable from the battered socialist states.
1947-55: The “Final Solution” to the socialist menace takes the lives of millions in the former socialist states. Communists, socialists, Jews, and other “social undesirables” are put in brutal concentration camps where they are starved and worked to death. In America, the “new reservations” are filled with dissidents, including former democratic leaders. Underground cells of Communists. Secret American “Minutemen” and European “Red Choirs” prepare for the day when right wing repression can be toppled by the “Second Revolution.”