Alfred Heinrich Karl Wastrecht-Orenblau (23 April 1847 - Present), created Frieherr von Wastrecht-Orenblau in 1876, was a North German Statesman who served as the first Minister of Colonial Affairs for six years, establishing the North German Colonial system that is still followed to this day, the third minister of Foreign Affairs for North Germany for four years, ad then was appointed as the Realm's Chancellor of North Germany following a Nationalist-Liberal victory in the election of 6 September 1897. The Sixth Chancellor of the North German Federation, Wastrecht-Orenblau brought a new age in North German diplomacy and polity, overcoming the conservative pragmatism of Bismarck as well as aggressive Domineering policies of Chancellor Wustenberg.
Alfred Abraham Karl Wastrecht-Orenblau was born at Bonn, Westphallian Prussia. His father Abraham Orenblau a lower-class laborer and his mother Margret Wastrecht an egalitarian liberal who, while not in the revolutions of 1848, had indeed voiced her support in favor of freedom of speech, of assembly, and of female enfranchisement. The union of Abraham and Margret resulted in the two of them taking "Wastrecht-Orenblau" as their shared surname, partially to mock the tradition of long, hyphened surnames taken by the German nobility at that time. His brother Karl (Karl Margret Orenblau) would in future become a professional officer of the Prussian (later North German) Army.
Alfred would continue to live in the post-1848 Western Germany for the majority of his young life, liberalism, constitutional monarchism, and nationalism (all three popular ideologies at the time) influencing his growing political opinions. He was conscripted into the Prussian Military on 1865 at the age of 18.
Only a year after his conscription, the Brother's war began. The unit Alfred was in was assigned to contain Hanover, and so Alfred, along with more than 9,000 other soldiers, quickly dealing with the Hanoverian army which outnumbered them two to one, before being reassigned to the Campaign of the Main.
From 27 June (Battle of Langensalza) to July 26th, Alfred fought in most of the battles as part of the Army of the Main. Participating in the Battles of Hünfeld and Dermbach, followed by a march around the Rhön and another battle in Kissingen and Hammelburg on 10 July. As the Bavarians escaped to Würzburg, the Prussian Army turned westwards and aimed for Frankfurt. They crossed the Spessart, defeated Hesse at Laufach/Frohnhofen (13 July), and later Austrian and Hessian troops in Aschaffenburg (14 July). the VIIIth Federal Corps was forced to retreat westwards, which gave Prussia the troops it needed to march for Frankfurt and Darmstadt. Prussians, Alfred included, occupied Franfurt two days later, before following the Federal troops towards the Left bank of the Main. In the Battle of Hundheim (23 July), the Battles of Werbach, Tauberbischofsheim (both 24 July) and Gerchsheim (25 July) the VIIIth Corps was defeated by the Prussians, who followed to defeat Bavaria again at Helmstadt and the following day at Rossbrunn. Alfred was injured in Rossbrunn, taking a grazing gunshot that was treated by the newly created Red Cross. When the Prussian Army hailed out of the war victorious, Alfred was taken as a "war hero" and promoted to Feldwebel.
Following the creation of the North German Federation, Alfred was reassigned to the recently acquired North German Ghana, assigned to the garrison in Fort Fürstenstein (Renamed from Prinsensten) as the early stages of colonizing North German Gold Coast had just begun. Fort Fürstenstein was the most eastward fort in the small Danish strip of forts, and the closest to the regions in Togo, which the North German Empire had plans on establishing, at the very least, naval bases and coastal forts in. Wastrecht-Orenblau was assigned, multiple times, to settle agreements and treaties with the native people of Togo, in three separate situations having been forced to deal with other contingents who had tried to kidnap a Native chief and literally force him to sign a treaty of protection at gunpoint.
Wastrecht-Orenblau returned home from his military career in 1870. With five years of service and a modest number of medals and decorations under his belt, Hans had saved enough money to enroll in the University of Bonn where he would study in Public Finance, Urban Development, Political Science, and Global Trade. Having already realized the importance a colony could mean to a rising Great Power -outside of the vague ideas of national prestige-, he knew he needed education to back his now-forming opinions.
While Wastrecht-Orenblau formed his own mix of liberal, nationalist, and imperialist political thoughts, he still participated in political struggle. Early North German Politics were not quite as much open as they would be by the time he'd become a politician, and so most of his "activism" was starting his own newspaper (Norddeutsche Leidenschaft) where he and a few like-minded individuals published, along other content, articles in support of North German unity, the benefits of colonialism, and the struggle for full liberal emancipation of rights for all North Germans. While in no way a well-known publication, Norddeutsche Leidenschaft would eventually come to be the main media for the North German National Party, the Imperialist wing of which was de jure led by him even during the Wustenberg Chancellery under an informal agreement between the four gentlemen who originally founded the party. When, in 1875, Karl von Wustenberg (Minister of the Interior, later 3rd Chancellor of Germany, Minister of Foreign Affairs), Hans Schmidt (later Minister of Colonial Affairs) and Herman von Omnitz-Klau (later Minister of the Treasury) brought up the creation of a new Party to combat the Reactionary-Conservative Political Establishment, Alfred was quick to join, and even quicker to pool his own resources -meagre as they were- into the operation.
His true claim to fame came as one of the thirty people aboard the North German gunship SMS Kronprinz Friedrich that made land in Banan (Real Life Banana, DRC) and discovered the Congo Basin. The same exhibition later realized that Congo had a considerable amount of minerals and resources that the Empire could use. While Alfred wasn't the individual who put Schwarz-Weiß-Rot on the newly discovered land, he indeed was one of the most important individuals in the process of convincing the North German Government to claim it.
Wastrecht-Orenblau returned to North Germany on 18 July 1876 to bring the news about the newly discovered Congo to the German Government. While two others (Gustav Nachtigal and Alexander Wettin) were in favor of informing the Bundesrat or the Reichstag about this discovery, Alfred knew better. He brought the matter, alongside his own drafts for the colony in Gold Coast to the Head of Government himself in a daring petition that The Iron Chancellor, probably out of amusement, accepted. Despite Bismarck's personal opposition to forming a colonial empire, Adolf was successful in making the older, shrewder politician to see his point of view. After five meetings, The Chancellor Bismarck caved in and sanctioned secret operations for securing the coasts between Congo River and Schwarzpunkt bay (IRL Pointe-Noire bay) and immediate expansion into Central Africa. To his credit, Alfred had ceased to mention that a small settlement had already been built by some of the explorers, who were indeed planning on moving 25 more settlers (14 men, 8 women,3 children) by the time Alfred had ended his talks with Bismarck.
The Chancellor brought the topic of colonies to the Emperor, and managed to get his approval to create a new Ministry in the North German Government, probably in order to have the younger politician take the fall if it failed, Bismarck appointed Wastrecht-Orenblau for the Ministry. Wastrecht-Orenblau was made Frieherr von Wastrecht-Orenblau in 1876 for his part in the creation of a colonial Empire,, and put int office in 19 February 1877.
Wastrecht-Orenblau's term as the Minister of Colonial Affairs was initially a myriad of expanding the Gold coast possessions into a legitimate colony and using expensive medicine and heavy shipping to built forts in the Congo Coast so as to prepare for the colonization of the Congo. In 1878, Bundesrat agreed to increase the budget for Colonial affairs, which opened possibilities for more colonial ventures. The request of a Bremen Merchant (Adolf Lüderitz) to colonize Southwest Africa (neighboring the British Cape Colony), and the founder of the Society for North German Colonization (Carl Peters) for a charter in East Africa (near the Great Lakes region) were accepted, while the possessions in the Gold coast expanded Eastwards to take over Togo and later move further inland. Similarly, an agreement with the Dutch Empire ensured that the eastern parts of New Guinea Island would be secured for the North Germans, who later began colonization in 1880. Eventually, these would hint in the French and British Intelligence. Threatened by North Germans expansion in Africa, the British Empire quickly came to crush the kingdom of Zululand as well as the Oranje republic and Transnaval, while the French Empire began expanding from their coastal territories in Guinea and Madagascar, as well as Algeria, which had -until then- been accepted as a formally independent nation.
These hostile expansions caused a phenomenon called the Colonial Drift. While a number of 29 Colonial Drifts occurred during the latter part of Alfred's term as Minister of Colonial Affairs, five actually turned into full-blown crises, two directly related to North Germany herself.
The first of these occured in 1881. A dispute between French settlers from Dahomey and German Gold Coast about whether or not the settlement of Grand-Popo was French or North German led to a violent gunfight that killed 6 and injured another 9 on the two sides, succeeded by the Germans which proceeded to establish their own borders by taking some coast territory from the French. French and North German Governments each brought in their military: The North German Ironclad SMS Schöne and the French Ironclad Dominateur faced off in the Coast of Guinea while the nearest forts of the two sides readied to open fire upon each other in any minute. French and North German governments met in Geneva, Switzerland and began negotiations while the two ships each called for reinforcement (that was of course refused in the interest of not adding to the flames of hostility). Eventually, Germany agreed to pay a sum of 75 million dollars for the destruction and death caused by North German Settlers in exchange for a change in border that would redraw them as the Settlers had originally claimed.
Similarly, a crisis occurred in South West Africa: Following the final hours of the British-Boer war of 1879, the British Empire began expanding north towards the shared border of Kavango-Zambezi; which had been settled as the official border between "Norddeutsche-Sudwest" and Portuguese Angola. Eventually, these expansions came to the point of eruption in 1883, when the three Empires each claimed the territory as theirs. The British, plannning on disconnecting Norddeutsche-Sudwest from any possible colonial ventures that might reach its northern borders, claimed the territory of Kavango-Zambezi as part of British South Africa. The Portuguese similarly demanded Borders to be redrawn, and also claimed the by-then unclaimed Zambia, citing that they had claimed the land by right of conquest after establishing Mozambique and Angola. North Germany, of course, claimed that the territory was rightfully North German as the only Settlers in the region were North German. This treaty was settled by a redrawing of the borders of Kavango-Zambezi that only put those areas under German rule that had German settlements in them, while handing over the remaining areas to Portugal and Britain, dependent on what was closer to whom. In exchange, the Angolan enclave in the Congo region would be ceded to North Germany.
The increase of these crises, which led to the Conference and Congress of Berlin, gave Bismarck the reason he wanted to finally sack Wastrecht-Orenblau out of his office. Claiming that his blustering and bold policy of colonization had given away North Germany's chances of carving a larger Empire and had caused numerous crises across the world, Bismarck had Adolf replaced with Hans Oberlitz, a politician closer to his own political opinions. To his credit, he had been correct in his assumption, while Wastrecht-Orenblau set the essential precedent on North German colonial policy, his initial actions had cost the government millions of Marks they could have used for better ventures.
In hindsight, Wastrecht-Orenblau wrote later, any hope of their influence in German Politics had been truly and utterly hopeless at the time. With Kaiser Wilhelm completely supportive of Bismarck's domination of the Realm's governance and Bismarck's increasingly authoritarian and self-centered method, no other Party could have achieved much. When Wastrecht-Orenblau's term as Minister of Colonial Affairs passed, he returned home to Bonn. Five months later, after making sure the National North German Party had a popular base there (and in the rest of Westphalian Prussia), he began his new plan.
During the eight years between 1885 and 1893, Wastrecht-Orenblau moved seven times. Knowing that to win North Germany, he'd only need to win Prussia, he mapped 'political spheres of influence'. Leaving Schleswig-Holstein, Saxony and Rhenish Prussia to his fellow party leaders (respectively, Wustenberg, his brother Johann Orenblau, and Schmidt), Alfred moved from Bonn to Potsdam; from Potsdam to Stettin, from Stettin to Posen, from Posen to Danzig, from Danzig to Königsberg, and from Königsberg to Berlin itself, staying in each city for less than a year, only purchasing new printing offices for his Newspaper while holding public rallies. On Danzig and Königsberg in particular he focused twice as much, knowing the two highly important Trade Cities would bring his voice to places he had missed or been careless about in previous ventures.
The National North German Party's popularity increased, as did the popularity of liberalism, nationalism, and imperialism. When Kaiser Friedrich first dismissed Chancellor Bismarck, there were 3 Liberal Parties and 2 Nationalist Parties apart from NNP in the election of 1890, where the Liberal Party and the Liberal Radical Party had a large popular basis the two nationalist parties were mostly unknown and NNP surpassed them by at least 35 seats. three years later and with the Reactionary-Conservative Coalition falling apart, Nationale Norddeutsches Partei had the third highest number of seats, and had formed a government with the Catholic, Centrist Center Party. Wustenberg, the leader of NNP, was put in the office of Chancellery. His government included five Centrist politicians and three Nationalists, one of which Alfred von Wastrecht-Orenblau as the minister of foreign affairs.
Following the policy set by the Schindler-Hosen government, Wustenberg's demands from his foreign secretary were obvious. A modified version of the policies followed by Oswald von Reich, Alfred's began expanding the North German Sphere of Influence. He specifically helped improve the relations with Denmark, which had been chilly since 1864, and subsidized and funded their war against Sweden-Norway in 1893. In order to bolster the North German-French relations -which had been chilly in the latter years of Bismarck's reign-, his government signed a treaty of mutual defense and assistance with the small Catalonian State, informally guaranteeing its independence to put North Germany in a better light to the French Empire. Similarly, The Kingdom of Netherlands, a Lesser Power in Europe with a large colonial Empire in Oceania (which directly bordered the Norddeutsch-Pacifica) was brought into the North German sphere of influence. By allowing them to use the North German islands in the Pacific as a springboard, Wustenberg effectively pitted Netherlands against the British-aligned Spanish Empire in the Dutch-Spanish war of 1896 over the Spanish colonies in the Philippine Islands. This put Spain in a weak spot, allowing the rapidly rising Japanese Empire to dominate and conquer the isles of Luzon in the next few months, brightening Japanese-North German relations while Spanish and British opinion of North Germany soured by the second.
Eventually however, he was laid off the spot and replaced by Eberhard von Thile when Wustenberg's government fell apart from 1897.
In Dreikanzlersjahr, and a loose coalition of Conservatives and Liberals (Liberale partei and Norddeutsche Konservative Partei), and then a coalition of Catholics and Reactionaries (Zentrum Partei and Norddeutsche Volkspartei) formed and fell apart, and eventually after weeks of street battle, political upheaval and a non-functioning government, Nationale Norddeutsche Partei formed a coalition with Liberale Partei, and with the suggestion of both parties, Wastrecht-Orenblau was appointed by Kaiser Friedrich as the Sixth Chancellor of North Germany.
Alfred von Wastrecht-Orenblau
6 September 1897 - Present
6 September 1897 - Present
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Karl von Wustenberg
6 September 1897 - Present
Minister of Justice
Klaus von Merkel
6 September 1897 - 12 January 1902
Minister of the Navy
6 September 1897 - 14 November 1906
Minister of the Post
6 September 1897
Minister of the Treasury
Herman von Omnitz-Klau
6 September 1897 - Present
Minister of Colonial Affairs
6 September 1897 - 27 February 1907
Wasterecht-Orenblau's term has been one of effective reformist, liberal domination. Only days after taking office, Wastrecht-Orenblau put forth a bill that, with a majority, banned use of paramilitary by Political parties, fining them heavily for their now-unofficial paramilitary wings, an act that put an effective end to the street battles between Reactionaries, Nationalists, Socialists, and Social Democrats.
As promised to the liberal minority, the New Government dramatically decreased its authority over the national culture. The censorship laws on media that had been effective in Prussia and then in German Empire since the 1860s were lifted effectively in 1898. Freedom of the press, at least in a limited form -as the local government still imposed its idea of public order and decency on papers and later film- was established, which saw massive support from the nation's liberal and academic demography. Following with that, the ban on Trade Unions were modified in 1900 to allow non-socialist unions to function, without giving them any government-supported authority. This, of course, brought disagreement from both Reactionaries and Anarcho-Liberals, but the Nationalist-Liberal domination still overcame that.
The Wastrecht-Orenblau government lifted the ban on political public metings in 1902, though the ban had been mostly ignored even as early as 1889. He brought arguments in favor of enfranchisement of women, which saw support from the Emperor and (even moreso from the) Empress, but the North German legislature was not as concerned about women's suffrage as the British were at the same time.
And eventually, in 1906, Orenblau succeeded in, after months and months of negotiations, persuade the Emperor to completely abolish the Tree-class franchise system of the Kingdom of Prussia by direct edict in his jurisdiction as the King of Prussia, allowing equal voting by secret ballot to be held, something that decreased conservative influence in the country dramatically.
Wastrecht-Orenblau continued the tradition of German Welfare. While in no terms a reactionary, he was a nationalist and a liberal and therefore opposed Socialism and Anarchism, though the second -thankfully- had little presence in the North German realm. An ardent supporter of Private Property, Alfred slowly decreased the level of control the Government had over resources, eventually returning everything the 1867 Constitution had nationalized to the Private Sector other than the Railways and public transportation, citing that it was a matter of national security and necessary for the event of war. The Welfare State, which was bolstered and improved by using resources from the Colonies, was expanded to cover the Official Colonial citizens (1899), Colonial Settlers (1900), Class I (1901), Class II (1903), and Class III natives (1907), though due to that he had to increase taxation.
In colonial affairs, Wastrecht-Orenblau used a modified version of the French The mission civilisatrice. The so-called "Mission to Civilize" modified German colonial policy. It was clear that the native population of the territories claimed by German as of 1884 far outnumbered the North German settlers in those regions, and similarly the North German people living in the colonies were in no mood to tolerate their own disenfranchisement. The Wastrecht-Orenblau government, represented by Hans Schmidt in the Ministry of Colonial Affairs, began a process of assimilating those natives that lived closest to the North German settlements. As early as 1897, Citizens of German colonies were divided into five classes:
Colonial citizens: Any Person of North German origin, fluent in German Language and part of North German Culture that lives in a City in one of the North German Colonies.
Any Person of North German origin, fluent in German Language and part of North German Culture that lives in a Settlement in one of the North German Colonies
Any Non-African Native person that does not qualify as a Colonial citizen but lives in a Colonial City.
Class I natives: Any Native resident of a Colonial City that adopts North German culture, primarily uses German language in their lives, wearing Western clothes, and converts to Christianity.
Class II natives: Any Native resident of a Colonial Settlement that adopts North German culture, primarily uses German language in their lives, wearing Western clothes, and converts to Christianity.
Class III natives: Any native that does not qualify as class I or II.
Incentivizing natives to abandon public use of their culture while heavily punishing native acts of insurrection or aggression, the Wastrecht-Orenblau government adopted welfare for Class I natives in 1901, after the Dutch officially announced their new Colonial Policy that, among other things, considered it the "ethical duty of the Dutch People to bring about the welfare of their colonial subjects", and later provided for Class II and eventually Class III natives too by 1907. Debates on giving citizenship and enfranchisement to Class I natives was debated, but it has not thus far seen much support. In addition, North German policy enforced heavy-handed government intervention in Class III native regions. These policies, along with the improvement of the colonies' infrastructure, slowly secured North Germany a small, but functioning Colonial Empire that while nowhere near the French or British Empires, still brought about prestige for the Empire.
Military and Civilian Research was focused on during the Wastrecht-Orenblau chancellery. For example, With the Realm in an official state of hostility with some of its neighbors, as well as the recent invention of airplanes by a company in the United States, The Government opened negotiations with the Wright company for purchase of some of their airplanes, eventually opening Norddeutsche Flugzeugfirma (North German Aircraft Company), 51% of the stock owned by the Government, to begin experimenting on, and building, the North German military and civilian sectors airplanes.
In Foreign Policy, Wastrecht-Orenblau's reign was a mix between the Pragmatic Bismarckian politics and the Loud gunboat policy of Wustenberg. While North Germany continued to form a coalition across Europe -particularly working with France, which had seen their relationship with Britain tank due to the resulting crisis in the Fashoda Incident, where the British Empire put a stop to France's attempts in colonizing the Independent Egypt that was in the British Sphere of Influence. With a rise in Franco-British animosity and a decrease of the historical Franco-Prussian enmity, Wastrecht-Orenblau's policies were favorable to the French Emperor Napoleon IV, and the Franco-Austrian enmity was slowly put to relevance again after its short respite during Napoleon III's reign. Napoleon IV's impatience only played into North Germany's hand, as South Germany had under recent administration made a series of diplomatic blunders that had decreased its prestige to the modern world.
The first major crisis faced by the Wastrecht-Orenblau government was The North African Crisis, also called the Crisis of 1903, where -after tensions between Spain and France over the Kingdom of Morocco; France, North Germany, and Japan on one side and Britain, Russia, and South Germany on the other came to violence in November 1903, almost starting a Continental Conflict between the six powers which was, thankfully, averted by accepting the status quo.
Wastrecht-Orenblau resides in the State Chancellery in Berlin, though he has long since bought a home near Bonn to retire to once his political career is over -much as he hopes that is not the case in near future. He married Helen von Wastrecht-Orenblau (nee Schwarz), a North German Settler he met in Neu Oberlitz (North German Gold Coast) while he was stationed in Fort Fürstenstein, and has a son (Adolf), now 32 years old, who himself left to live in America following the First Moroccan crisis in 1903. He is of normal height and weight, without any known harmful habit. He still maintains a military habit in exercise and time management.
He is known not to be a disciplinarian or a man of authority however. Seldom wrathful or emotionally aroused -even in debate-, Alfred himself is a supporter of citizens' rights, but he is not innocent of many flaws men of his time also possess.
- Granted the title of Frieherr in 1876
Kingdom of Prussia
Order of the Black Eagle, Knight with Collar in Diamonds
Order of the Prussian Crown, Knight 1st Class
Johanniter Order, Commander of Justice
Landwehr Service Medal, 1st Class
Kingdom of Hesse
Ludwig Order, Grand Cross
Order of Philip the Magnanimous, Grand Cross
Kingdom of Mecklenburg
House Order of the Wendish Crown, Grand Cross with Crown in Ore
Order of the Griffon, Grand Cross with Swords
Cross for Distinction in War
Kingdom of Saxony
Order of the Rue Crown, Knight
Grand Duchy of Brunswick
Order of Henry the Lion, Commander
The Bulgarian Empire
Order of St. Alexander, Grand Cross
Order of Danilo I, Grand Cross
Royal Order of the White Eagle, Grand Cross
Kingdom of Denmark
Order of the Elephant, Knight
The Ethiopian Empire
Order of the Star of Ethiopia, Grand Cross in Silver
The French Empire
Legion of Honour, Grand Officer with Star
Order of Glory, Grand Officer
Order of Saint-Charles, Grand Cross
The Kingdom of Greece
Order of the Redeemer, Grand Cross
Kingdom of Italy
Order of the Annunziata, Knight
Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus, Grand Cross
Order of the Crown of Italy, Knight
The Japanese Empire
Order of the Paulownia Flowers, Grand Cordon
The Dutch Empire
Order of the Netherlands Lion, Grand Cross
Royal Order of Leopold, Grand Cordon
Kingdom of Norway
Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav, Grand Cross
Silver Imtiyaz Medal
Order of Glory
Order of the Osmanieh, 1st Class
Order of the Medjidie, 1st Class with Diamonds
The Portuguese Empire
Order of the Tower and Sword, Grand Cross with Collar
Kingdom of Iran
Neshan-e Aqdas, 2nd Class
Order of the Lion and the Sun, Commander
Kingdom of Romania
Order of the Star of Romania, Grand Cross
Order of the Crown of Romania, Grand Cross
The Russian Empire
Order of St. Andrew the Apostle the First-Called, Knight with Diamonds
Kingdom of Siam
Order of the White Elephant, Grand Cross
The Spanish Empire
Order of the Golden Fleece, Knight
Order of Charles III, Grand Cross with Collar
Order of Isabella the Catholic, Commander 1st Class
Kingdom of Sweden
Royal Order of the Seraphim, Knight
The British Empire
Royal Victorian Order, Honorary Grand Cross