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The Basilisk: Victory for the Central Powers.
In this universe, the Central powers emerge victorious from the First world War, this page is meant to examine a possible scenario of how that might have happened, and to provide speculation on what the consequences might have been. If the subject matter offends you, please do not continue reading, if you believe something is wrong or would have occurred differently, please explain it in a civilized manner, without becoming (for lack of a better term) butthurt.
The first marked point of difference from actual history was in 1861, where instead of finding other sources for cotton and ignoring the offers for a trade agreement, the United Kingdom accepted trade with the Confederate States of America, and indirectly propping up the Rebel war effort. The American Civil War still ends in 1865, as despite the wealth coming in from British trade, the Confederacy still had no where near the industrial capability and manpower enough to take on the Union, and it was defeated in much the same way as in our timeline. The relationship between the Confederacy and the United Kingdom served to engender animosity between the victorious United States and the British commonwealth. The collapse of Southern American agricultural infrastructure led to a recession in Britain, France, and many more trading partners of the United Kingdom.
Formation of Germany:
The Kingdom of Prussia was largely unaffected by Southern agricultural failure as it had developed other methods of acquiring the resource. It quickly rose to greater prominence among the other European states due to its thriving economy, and for the second half of the 1860s it became a creditor nation to the rest of Europe, financing most of the loans for faltering economies in places like Britain, France, and Spain. By 1869 the French Empire was completely unable to even pay interest on the loans, and Prussia took that as a reason to declare war. Prussia forcefully annexed the Southern portions of Germany forging evidence that they'd conspired with the French, while defeating the disorganized French land forces handily. As in our timeline, the new German Empire annexed Alsace Lorraine in the war. Shortly after this, the French Empire collapsed in on itself and revolution retook it. The German monarchy wasn't completely solid though, some states in the South still saw themselves as independent peoples and held a greater loyalty to the Pope than the Kaiser, and as a result, revolts racked the South of Germany for years after.
German-American Relations & Alliance:
One of Prussia's largest debtor nations during the recession of the 1860s was the United States of America. Prussia, and later Germany, issued massive loans and invested great sums of money into the United States. The Americans used these funds to reconstruct the Southern economy and prevent future revolt. This reconstruction was much more effective than in our timeline, and the South became a very prosperous agriculture region over time, with a new system of agriculture based on individual contribution to the US government, who had repossessed more than 50% of privately owned land in the South. Racial division still existed and black people were not treated fairly in this, seeing almost none of the benefits of having been freed from bondage, and still existing in a quasi-slave state, this time with the government as owner. To repay the German investment, the US declared Germany a "Most-Favored Nation" Which granted them special rights to trade with the US. After reconstruction completed, The United States was fully able to repay the German creditors, the only Nation able to truly deliver on that. This strengthened the bond between the Americans and Germans, the German people perceiving Americans as trustworthy and dependable friends to the Reich, and the American people seeing the Germans as defenders of liberty in a time where it was under siege. By August of 1875, tensions in South Germany had reached the tipping point. Massive rebellion broke out in Bavaria, and Baden-Wurttemberg, which the German army would have had already had a difficult time defeating. The rebel states were backed with investment from the British commonwealth, and fought almost exclusively using British guns and supplies. Clashes in the northern end of the provinces continued with neither side gaining a serious advantage, until March of 1876, when the American Ambassador to Germany in Munich was assassinated by South German militants. The American government, fearing they would look weak, responded by unilaterally declaring war on the German south, joining the side of their German imperial trading partners. The Americans sent a grand force of 200,000 men to aid Germany, and with their combined efforts, the Southern rebellion was crushed within the year. In the peace treaty, known as the treaty of Munich, the Germans and Americans declared a Mutual Defense agreement for any time either one is attacked. This functioned to upset any effort by other European states to undermine the authority of Germany and America, but it also seriously hurt the balance of power. Germany and America could take on any single nation and win, including the United Kingdom.
British Participation & the mounting of European tensions:
It wasn't just lingering resentment that drove the British and Americans further into animosity, the relationship in the last decades of the 19th century was downright antagonistic, threatening war numerous times. The British refused to acknowledge America's Monroe Doctrine which forbade the practice of holding colonies in the Americas and often specifically tread on this right, including in 1879 when the British claimed the recently Purchased Alaska and Hawaii as lands rightfully belonging to the United Kingdom. This nearly erupted into World War when a lost Canadian British regiment unknowingly crossed onto American soil and accidentally entered the town of Juneau near the British-Columbian border. When they were denied entry, the confused regiment threatened the residents at gunpoint and quartered themselves in the town's lone hotel. After a period of 5 days where British soldiers nearly exhausted the supplies of the citizens, a militia gathered at the hotel and boarded it up, this action led to a shootout that lasted all day, culminating in 19 Canadian soldiers, and 28 Alaskan citizens being killed, and dozens more being wounded. Eventually, the British regiment ran out of bullets and promptly surrendered, and was expelled back to Canada. When word of the skirmish reached the larger government authorities of both powers, they mobilized for war. The two nations, along with their allies stayed on edge for months, but, thankfully, neither side was willing to fire the first shot and tensions eventually cooled. Americans were antagonistic in their own way too, like an 1883 incident where American outlaws, widely speculated to have been payed by the US government, raided sugar plantations in British Jamaica. This force was only stopped after putting a pretty large number of Jamaican farms to the sword. They were hung as traitors to the British Commonwealth, but the Americans contested that as they had been American citizens, they should've been the ones to do the punishing, and how British executions undermined America's authority as a government. This was another time when the world stood on the tips of raised hairs, and like with the Juneau siege, neither side wished to fire the first shot. Other continental nations tried valiantly to maintain the peace, but it was a difficult and demanding job to stop world superpowers from colliding. By far the most active theater of competition was East Asia, where the European powers vied for Asian resources, and skirmishes between European and local forces were an almost everyday occurrence. The French and the British put themselves into similar situations in China, eventually sequestering their colonies into the South and West of China, while the Germans colonized portions of the North and East. The Americans however took a much more inflammatory approach to Asian colonialism however, officially claiming no ports or lands, yet extending their sphere of influence thinly across most of mainland China, and nearly monopolizing authority in Taiwan. This expansionist policy tread upon British and French possessions causing great distrust, and even annoyed their German allies but not to a serious extent. These tensions cemented the solidarity of Britain and France against the Americans, although not in writing, the two nations saw themselves as allies, and the Americans and Germans as enemies.
American Imperialism & the Foundation of the Modern Orient:
Although all of the western powers had their hand in the Eastern cookie jar, the power with the most influence was undoubtedly the United States. They had firm bases in Taiwan, and mainland China, but by far the greatest area of influence was the Empire of Japan. Like in our timeline, the Americans created trade with the Japanese and through that influence brought Japan into the modern era as a real industrialized power. But like with China, American influence went far beyond that. American trading posts and military fortifications littered the Japanese coasts and waterways like the Feudal castles of hundreds of years before. Japan's industrial status came as a product of American expansionism, and was forged as a counterpoint to the colonial power of the west. America's imperial power wasn't remotely like the subjugation of peoples in Africa and Asia commonplace in the 19th century, it was much more closely aligned with the old model of imperialism, used by nations like Portugal in the 15th and 16th centuries. American power was concentrated in certain coastal areas, and the rest of the nation was solidly under Japanese control. Over the course of decades from first contact, Japanese home-rule began to take greater and greater precedence compared to American traders. This waning influence culminated in the 1890s when the governments of Japan and America announced joint ownership and taxation privileges on American outposts on Japanese soil. This would lead later on to hostilities though, as the Japanese and the Americans had a quite different idea of what was considered Japan. In places like the Ryukyu Islands, specifically in Okinawa, Americans had free reign over their outposts and trading stations, while Japan claimed them. Later in the 19th Century, Japan also experimented with imperialism in China, cutting out a zone for themselves up and down the Yangtze river. As Japan grew greater and greater influence, it became the unofficial Hegemon for the entire region. Chinese and especially Korean government officials looked for Japanese assent whenever they would implement policies. Western industrial influence had declined by 1900 in favor of much closer and cheaper Japanese production, creating a situation where the far east was utterly dependent on Japan for any kind of industrial goods. Even at this late stage, America was still profiteering, Japan got the majority of their raw materials by way of American controlled trading ports, and so long as joint ownership was in place, America was collecting on it. Also, trade was steered toward the still American controlled Ryukyu Islands, and as such, Japan was making even less from it. This was a relationship that decades later would lead to hostilities, but at this time, the Japanese were just content with enforcing hegemony in east Asia.
The Scramble for Africa:
The Scramble for Africa was not much different, the same powers vied for control in the same ways, with one exception, American Liberia is never set free, it is reconstituted as an American colony after the Civil War, and many ex-slaves are sent there to administer it. The Americans claimed Sierra-Leone as part of their Liberian area of influence, and this decision was backed by German recognition. Germans claimed the Congo as their territory and didn't accept Belgian sovereignty in any way. This was because in the early days of the Congo's discovery, the agents who discovered the river were primarily Germans, technically under commission from Belgium. Germany claimed this land although it was not ever seriously enforced. However this engendered hostility between Belgium and Germany, that culminated in Belgium's role in World War I. (I'd like to draw attention to just how brutal Belgian leadership in the Congo really was. Seriously, an estimated 12 million Congolese were killed in a space of only a couple of decades from being worked to death by Belgian leadership.) The United Kingdom became the largest owner of land in this Africa, like our timeline, and were ultimately thwarted in their goal of owning all of east-Africa by the Germans in German East Africa. As in our timeline, a war broke out between the Ethiopians and Italians. Americans and Germans sent aid to Italy to fight this war, while the British and French sent aid to Ethiopia. After losing several crucial battles, the Italians surrendered. Though Ethiopia was put deeply in debt to the United Kingdom. America and Germany supported the Afrikaners in their numerous revolts against the authority of the United Kingdom. More specifically, the Boer wars were fought by South African men, on British soil, with American Materials. This eventually led to the British forces being outmaneuvered by the Afrikaners, the British losing the Second Boer War, and South Africa gaining independence.
Russia, Turkey, and Austria, or Three Old Men:
During the last half of the 19th century and the first decade of the 20th, the formerly great powers of Eastern Europe were in decline. Revolutions raged across their borders and the search was on for some factor to unify their desperate coalitions of races and religions against a common foe. The Turkish leadership fell into disrepair following an 1897 coup attempt. The Syrians, the Kurds, the Greeks, the Armenians, and other groups tried to thwart Turkish sovereignty. The Ottoman Empire couldn't do anything to stop the Ethnic violence for four years until a Greek regiment occupied Constantinople and forced the Turkish leadership based there to agree to terms. The Turks gave up everything west of the Bosphorus except for Constantinople, and some of the surrounding territory out to Edirne, and declared limited autonomy for other ethnic groups still living within the Empire's borders. This arrangement worked out Amicably for the Greeks, but not nearly as much for the other Balkan states. For one, Bulgaria wasn't granted an inch of land in the terms, and Serbia lost Kosovo to the newly formed Albanian State. Greece also gained control of the entire Aegean sea in the agreement, which severely hurt Turkish trade. The Russians didn't fair much better. Although they didn't necessarily lose any land, they were forced to create parliaments, and disband the systems of serfdom that had held the population together for almost a millennium. Russian infrastructure crumbled, and concurrent estimates suggested Russia would lose its status as an Eastern European power by 1920. The Russian peasants clamored for something better though, and these sentiments would drive the adoption of a radical new system years down the line. Finally, Austria. It was a fractured kingdom led by a family of inbred royals utterly divorced from the realities of their populace. Its provincial possessions were consistently in a state of revolt, and its leadership was utterly ill equipped to deal with that. It leaned on Germany for its protection numerous times during this period, paying for the German military to enter Austrian land and remove whatever rowdy group of subjugated natives was harassing them then. The Austrian economy was essentially propped up by foreign aid from Germany, America, and Italy, and its greatest contributions were in the sciences and philosophy, having very little to do with actual industrial progress, and with military prowess. Nevertheless, these three nations strove for something to hold themselves together, and like often happens in desperate situations, mild tensions erupted into full blown war. in 1900, the Turks went to war with the Russians over a strip of land 3 miles across. Despite the minuteness of the objective, all the great powers sent their aid to one side or another. Germany, America, and Austria sent economic aid to Turkey, while Britain, France, and Spain sent aid to Russia. The war was over in a matter of weeks, but the divisions it created helped shape the coming two decades. It put Russia decidedly into the camp of France and Britain, and sent the Ottomans decidedly to the other side. It also gave the Eastern nations enough aid in terms of military supplies and civilian supplies to hold themselves together for the time being.
Other Mounting World Conflicts:
The most important conflict of the 1890s was the Spanish American War, in which Spain gave up all of there colonial possessions to the United States after a short period of conflict. In this Universe, Americans held onto Cuba instead of releasing it. The biggest change in the war though was the involvement of the British in sending aid to Spain. No matter how much they gave away though, the American naval and land forces were too powerful for Spain to handle on their own, and the United Kingdom didn't want to start a world war just to save a few Spanish Islands. British revolts in India and Ireland for independence were almost constant, these rebels were supplied by the enemies of Britain and were a serious drain on the Island's economy. Other flash-points like the Venezuelan border dispute happened and cooled down, but none ever actually erupted into a full-scale war. During this time Russia fought a war with Japan for the Kuril Islands, despite their concurrent weakness, the Russian navy was just barely able to defeat the Japanese, and the Kuril Islands became part of the Russian empire. This defeat cemented hatred of the Russians in the Japanese mindset. As Russia allied with France and the United Kingdom, Japan threw in their lot with Germany and America in hopes that a war might grant them their territory again.
Some Damned Foolish Thing in the Balkans:
In 1908 war broke out between Bulgaria and Turkey, against Greece, Serbia and Albania. The result did nothing to change the odd borders, but did cost many thousands of lives and divided the Balkans into sides. Another War in the Balkans occurred in 1913, this time with Bulgaria annexing Northern Macedonia which had previously belonged to Serbia, and Greece making a treaty early and leaving Serbia to be besieged by the Bulgarians. Finally, in 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated by Serbian nationalists in Bosnia believed to be linked to the Serbian government. Most of the same reactions were present as in our timeline, except the Americans also signed the blank check to Austria. Russia, feeling their ally to be threatened by Austrian incursion, mobilized their military, Germany preemptively declared war, and the War to End All Wars began.
The War Proper
1914: The beginnings
Germany implemented its Schlieffen plan, and conquered Belgium, and made it a good way through northern France before being stopped at the Battle of the Marne. Also during this time, American forces occupied and annexed Canada, British colonies in the Caribbean, and landed their army in New Zealand. Russian forces failed to repel Germans and Austrians on their frontier provinces, and massive Russian casualties began to ensue. The Italians did not go to war with the Entente, and instead remained neutral. Serbians put up a strong resistance against Austria and despite great attempts in this period, it remained free. Japan raided and conquered most of the British and French outposts in Asia, and Japan began the policy of Coastal warfare, destroying British loyalty in colonial regions by taking control of only strategic port cities, where most of British power lay.
1915: The Trench
The War in the western front ground to a standstill, massive armies were reduced to nothing in a matter of days or weeks, no side could conceivable advance any farther without incurring more casualties than they could sustain, the real horror of the First World War was now revealed. Elsewhere in the World things were bleak for the Entente, American armies had begun the slow march to occupy Africa, and the Entente had neither the resources, nor the manpower to combat this. As a result, they made an effort to press all of their colonial people into servitude to extract as much resources as possible before the lands were occupied. America and Britain fought a crucial battle off the coast of Bermuda where the British fleet was rammed into a coral reef and the larger British fleet surrendered. America quickly extended their control all across the Americas and the British lost any position from which to assault the US mainland. Russian armies were pushed out of Poland and tried to form a barrier on the Polish border, but failed. British control of Malaysia and Singapore was relinquished to the Japanese, and their campaign of Coastal warfare continued to make progress. Australia fell under American control without a fight as soon as the American fleet was sighted in Sydney harbor. The Austrian army wore through the Serbians and pushed into Belgrade. The Serbian government was pushed back. The American army continued their advance down the west coast of Africa, linking up with Cameroon by the end of the year.
1916: Rebellions and Setbacks
Early in the year both the Indian and Irish independence movements rose up and retook land. With British land and naval forces so committed to fighting in France, there was no room to send forces to quell the rebellion, begrudgingly the British pulled their forces from the rebellious regions and brought them to other fronts. The Danish sold their colonies to America after a recession had driven the Danish government into bankruptcy. Americans docked their North Atlantic Fleet at the Faroe islands, positioning it to raid the British coasts. The Germans began to make progress on the western front with a new offensive, but months of rigorous fighting over small amounts of land drove the German army to a halt by September, but the French had been equally weakened by it, and could not mount a counter-offensive. The Russian Army was pushed back beyond the Baltic States and by the End of the year, the Germans, were nearly to Petrograd. The Japanese forces made the decision to try and conquer India, but could not get very far. By the end of the year, The Entente seemed to have stabilized their decline, but just barely.
The Americans used Ireland and the Faroe Islands as launching pads for invading Britain, the Germans expanded the submarine program to massive new levels, and the only waterway Britain still controlled was the English Channel. American forces were finally able to land in Germany, and with the massive aid of the American army, the Central Powers were able to break the French line, and by August, take Paris. Britain tried to pump more and more resources into French survival but it was not enough to stop the invasion. The death blow to the French theater came from two crucial naval battles lost by Britain, the first was a battle on the channel with America which the Americans narrowly won and forced a British retreat, the second battle was during the retreat where the British navy was encircled by American and German naval forces and after a fierce fight was brought down. Now Great Britain had no real way of getting troops across the Channel and no real way of getting enough food to meet demand, rebellions started all over Britain from Welsh and Scottish nationalists, to English Communists. The British armies in France deserted on mass, some dissipating into the French population, and some crossing the channel on secret boats to Britain. In the East the Russian Capital fell and revolution caused the Russians to accept the terms for peace which the Central Powers had offered. Americans had now taken control of all of British and French Africa, most saw the much lighter rule by the Americans as liberation rather than subjugation and actively welcomed them, while some others saw it as the same kind of imperialism that had kept them in chains in the first place. Serbia finally falls to Austria, and Austria sets up a puppet government there.
1918: Truces and Treaties:
The British mainland is invaded, all hope for a favorable peace is lost. In march all the belligerents sign a treaty in Central Powers occupied Cardiff that causes The Entente to lose alanchuramost all of their African Colonies to America and Germany, the French were allowed to keep Madagascar, and the British kept Rhodesia, but as it was landlocked, it was essentially independent from that point on. They also lost all of their possessions in The Pacific and the Americas to the United States, including Canada. Despite some German preferences, not an inch of French land is taken from the mainland. Belgian Congo becomes an American possession despite German insistence. British India and Ireland are formally recognized as free and sovereign states, and Australia and New Zealand are turned into American subject states. Most importantly, this treaty is extremely harsh on Britain, claiming their aggression was the root cause for the war, extremely heavy reparations were forced upon Britain that they could not pay without completely devaluing their economy.
After the war many things changed. Fascism rose to power in several states in Europe including Italy, Spain, Britain, and was just barely suppressed in Germany. The Ottoman and Austrian empires collapsed merely 2 and 3 years after the end of the war into their various constituent parts. Turkey fought a war with Greece right after the collapse, which the Turks lost, resulting in Greek control of the Bosphorus and the western portion of Anatolia. Wars raged throughout the 1920s between the Hungarians, the Balkan Slavs, and the Romanians over control in the former Austrian Empire. Germany, America, and Japan came to an agreement in 1924 over the German pacific Islands. America would gain the Islands if they would relinquish full control over all of their outposts to Japan. This led to several disagreements over boundary, and America kept their post in Okinawa, the only one left at this point. The Soviet Union won their revolution in Russia and retook the newly independent Ukraine and Baltic states. Africa was largely dominated by local tribes with much lighter rule from the Americans and Germans. India controls all of the former territory of the British Raj, Muslims are routinely executed and there are frequent civil wars between Muslims and Hindus, Islam is also Illegal. Japan controls Korea and Manchuria both obtained by military seizure. Jews from Eastern Europe moved to Palestine to escape pogroms and declared themselves rulers of Israel, which is comprised of the lands of the Balfour declaration. The United Kingdom radically militarized and became an extremely totalitarian regime with the royal family having been disposed of as a threat to power. They invaded France in 1936 on the base of their claim from the 100 years war centuries before, and annexed it. Despite some pressures, the American-German alliance remains strong. The United Kingdom threatens to invade Ireland with a grandiose goal of a new Imperialism. At present it is 1938 and the world again stands on the brink of war. The United Kingdom masses its newly formed navy at the port of Liverpool and stands ready to invade ireland. Its army stands at the border to Germany, and the German military may not be strong enough to repel it. The basilisk of war spreads its horrible poison all across Europe.