The First Great War, also known as the Great War, the 2nd Brothers' War, the World War, or the Three Years' War, was a global war primarily fought in Europe (but also in other continents) that lasted from 23 July 1908 to 17 August 1911. Described as the greatest war to ever befall humanity, it was contemporaneously considered "the War to End All Wars". It led to the mobilization of more than 80 million military personnel, making it the largest war in human history. It was also the most deadly and destructive conflicts in human history and the most deadly war in Europe, with an estimated fifteen million combatants and twelve million civilian deaths as a direct result of the war, while the upheaval, and the chaotic nature of the late war and early post-war era also caused another 20 - 50 million deaths worldwide.
On 21 June 1908, with the assassination of Albrecht von Hohzern, a South German diplomat, by an Italian Assassin in the City of Speyer, Prussia (North Germany), the hostility between the Houses of Habsburg and Hohenzollern, and alongside them the enmity between the Northern and Southern German People reached its peak. After much deliberation, the South German Federation, on behalf of the Bavarian State, issued an ultimatum on 15 July, demanding the return of Bavarian Palatinate, which had been annexed by Prussia in the Brother's War. North Germany's refusal to accept this demand resulted in a joint declaration of war by the Habsburg States on North Germany on July 17th, beginning the second Brother's War.
A network of interlocking alliances enlarged the second Brother's War from a bilateral issue between Germans to one involving most of Europe. By July 1908, the great Powers of Europe were neatly divided into two coalitions: The Pact -made of North Germany, Italy, and France- and the Alliance -made of South Germany, Britain, and Russia. France felt necessary to defend North Germany, not wishing to enlarge the border between the Habsburg Domain and France, and after a skirmish between North and South Germans near Lauterbourg, which caused the death of four French Citizens on 18 July, France demanded the demobilization of South German forces while ordering a partial mobilization themselves. South Germany's refusal to do so resulted in the declaration of war by both Italy and France on South Germany. Britain found the French declaration as an unfounded act of aggression and a valid casus foederis and so ordered partial mobilization while declaring war on France, resulting in a joint declaration of war by all Habsburg States (Illyria, Galicia-Lodomeria, Bohemia, and Hungary) as well. Bulgaria viewed this as an aggression against a treaty of mutual neutrality signed with Illyria, and declared war on the latter. The Bulgarian Declaration of war resulted in Russia coming to the defense of Illyria -and Habsburg- and declaring war on Bulgaria and its allies on 23rd of July, officially turning the 2nd Brothers' War into the Great War.
While originally having three theaters in Europe (The Great Front in the Habsburg-French-North German borders, the Eastern Front between Russian-North German borders, and the Southern Front between Italian, Bulgarian, and Habsburg borders), the war expanded to multiple other continents. In Asia, France and the Netherlands attempted to pacify British colonies in India and East Asia, a Chinese attempt to seize Tsingtau resulted in one of the most bloody and humiliating battles in the entire war, while Japanese ambitions on Pacific Islands pit them first against the Pact and after the successful Chinese invasion of Fujian, the Alliance.
The South German advance into the north was halted in the Battle of the Ruhr, their first serious defeat in the war, and the Hosch offensive, which turned the Great Front into a war of attrition, marked by a long series of trench lines that changed little until only months before the end of the war. Despite repeated invitations to join the war by both sides, the United States staunchly refused to "bother itself" with the war of Europeans, merely warning that whatever side attacking an American ally would be the side the US would fight against.
While most of the war was fought between Britain, Habsburgs, Italians, North Germans, and the French, the war really only started to end when North Germans reached Riga. The threat of North Germans so close to Saint Petersburg with no way for Britain to move troops to reinforce them anytime soon forced Russia to redeploy troops it had invested in the Great Front, and with a huge part of their defense force having left, the South Germans were forced to be put on the retreat. the moment the remaining North German lands were reclaimed, Wien declared that it was willing to cease hostilities. While British and Russian forces were not willing to halt the fight (with British advance in Indochina having just borne fruit), the North German victory in the Battle of Saint Petersburg resulted in a Russian surrender in late 1910. While the war in Europe had reached an effective end (with the Eastern front having been lifted, the Southern front having been stabilized, and the Great Front having seeing no action due to the ceasefire between the main belligerents) the war overseas continued. A Chinese attempt to reclaim Japanese Fujian and the Alliance's refusal to condemn this action resulted in Japan changing sides on February 1911. After signing a treaty with the North Germans in Bangkok, Japan entered the war on the Pact's side after annexing Visayas due to the principle of effective occupation, Japan entered fresh troops in Indochina and Kaiser-Wilhelmsland, aiding the Pact in pushing back a tired enemy. Britain eventually accepted to sign the armistice of Singapur. South Germany accepted to sign the Armistice of Karlsruhe on 17 August 1911 after the capture of Linz by the North German forces, and ended the Great War.
The Great War was a significant turning point in the political, cultural, economic, and social climate of the world. The war and its immediate aftermath resulted in many revolutions and uprisings. The failure of the Pact to enforce equally harsh treaties on the defeated powers (Compare treaty of Wien which fully dismantled the Habsburg reign over Central Europe to the treaty of Singapur which only took small territories from the British Empire) ultimately resulted in the creation -and restoration- of numerous states. Due to the inconclusive victory and the tensions between the members of the Pact (including the humiliated Bulgaria and the revanchist Italy) and a lack of a Political hub between nations to prevent future wars, a second Great War would follow in the next two decades.
2.1. Political and military alliances
2.2. Arms Race
3.1. Speyer Assassination
3.2. Suppression in Venetia
3.3. Ultimatum of July 15
3.4. The Second Brothers' War
4. Progress of the War
4.1 Opening Hostilities
4.1.1. Deployment problems among the Alliance
4.1.2. The Park Campaign
4.1.3. Initial gains by the Alliance
4.2. The Great Front
4.2.1 The Battle of the Ruhr
4.2.2. Trench Warfare Begins
4.3. Opening new Frontiers
4.3.1. The Indo-Pacific Theater
4.3.2. The African Theater
4.3.3. New Belligerents
4.4. The Southern Front
4.4.1. Irredenta Campaign
4.4.2. British Entry to Istria
4.4.3. Russian Participation
4.4.4. The Yugoslav Revolution
4.5. Eastern Front
4.5.1. Initial Action
4.5.2. The Königsberg Campaign
4.5.3. North German Advance
4.6 The Indo-Pacific Front
4.6.1. War in India
4.6.2. War in Oceania
4.6.3. Battle of Dhaka
4.7. The Phony Peace
4.7.1. Liberation of Riga
4.7.2. Treaty of St. Petersburg
4.7.3. The December Armistice
4.7.4. The Portuguese Revolution
4.8.1. Invasion of Fujian
4.8.2. Armistice of Singapur
4.8.3. Battle of Linz
5. The End of War
5.1. Treaty of Singapur
5.2. Punctuation of Macau
5.3. Conference of Wien
5.4. Treaty of Wien
6.1. The Ober Ost Conflict
6.2. The Second Great War
7.1. Ground Warfare
The term "Great War" was first used by Maclean's, a Canadian magazine, that wrote "Some wars name themselves. This is the Great War". Contemporary Europeans also called it "the war to end war" or "the war to end all wars", due to their percpetion of its unparalleled scale and devastation. Among the Germans, the war was known as the second Brother's War and commonly seen as a continuation of the war of 1866-67 with the same name. The French called it the Three Years' War (guerre de trois ans), though it was known as the Second Brothers' War in North and South Germany as well.
The term "World War" was only used to refer to it during the Interwar era. After the second Great War began in 1927, the terms became more standard.
Political and military alliances
For much of the 19th century, the major European Powers, fearing a repeat of the catastrophe that the French Revolutionary Wars and later the Napoleonic Wars had been, had tried to maintain a tenuous balance of power among themselves, resulting in a complex network of political and military alliances. The biggest challenges to this were Britain's withdrawal into splendid isolation, the decline and eventual collapse of the Ottoman Empire, and the post-1848 rise of Prussia under Otto von Bismarck. Victory in the Brothers' War established Prussian hegemony in Northern Germany while the establishment of the two Federations resulted in an official drawing of the line of influence among Germans between Austria and Prussia, which unified northern German States into a formal Federation under Prussian leadership while uniting the southern under the same under Austrian leadership.
In 1870, to isolate the Habsburg Domains and avoid a repeat of the Brothers' War, Bismarck began thawing relations with Russia and France. An informal alliance was built between the three countries with the explicit intention of keeping the Habsburgers in check. Russia's victory in the Russo-Turkish war, which went against North German and French ambitions, resulted in the dissolution of this informal alliance. North Germany did not reopen negotiations for another alliance with France again, but both nations made alliances with the Kingdom of Italy.
The practical details of these alliances were limited and their clauses intentionally vague, since their primary purpose was, rather than to ensure cooperation between the three Empires, an attempt to intimidate the Habsburg Domain. By 1880 and with North German industrial and military power far surpassing any of the Habsburg Realms bordering them, the need for these alliances was no longer met. North Germany's machinations in the 1884 Congress of Berlin and the pursuant Balkan War which resulted in the domination of the Balkans by a highly Prussianized and anti-Russian Bulgaria as well as Franco-North German colonial tensions cooled down relations between the three nations. The influx of Poles into Russian Poland, a natural result of North German "Germanization" of Silesia and Posen, effectively chilled all relations between the two de facto empires and brought Russia firmly into South Germany's corner.
In 1890, the new North German Emperor, Kaiser Friedrich, forced Bismarck to retire. His next chancellors first machinated the creation of the new Polish State out of Russian Poland and then the Orange Free State out of the South African territories held by Britain. The United Kingdom's dissolution of the Splendid Isolation -followed by a treaty made with Japan against Russia- forced North Germany to make a new alliance with France. A Franco-British crisis over North Africa reaffirmed the ancient Anglo-British enmity and resulted in a de facto end of the Franco-Prussian enmity. A Treaty of Mutual Defense -and later Mutual Offense- were signed between North Germany and France, while the informal alliance between France, North Germany, and Italy against the Habsburgs was formalized into The Pact of Rome (Romspakt, Patto di Roma, Pacte de rome), also called The Pact. Alternatively, Britain and Russia signed the Anglo-Russian convention after Russia's humiliation against Japan, and each signed a treaty of alliance with South Germany (and by proxy, the other four Habsburg realms), forming a loose political faction between the three nations that is generally named "The Alliance"
Victory in the Brother's War and the creation of North Germany led to a massive increase in North Germany's economic and industrial strength. Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz and Prince Henry (Kaiser Friedrich's favorite son) who became Emperor in 1908, sought to use that to create an All-German Navy (realised into the Bundesmarine) to compete with Britain's Royal Navy for world naval supremacy. The creation of North German Colonial Empire -and North Germany's increased attention to The Pacific and Africa) resulted into a rationale based on the ideas of US Naval strategist Alfred Mahan, who argued that whoever ruled the sea also ruled the world. Tirpitz had Mahan's book translated into German, while Heinrich himself refused to accept anyone under his command that had not already taken the book to heart.
This resulted in the Anglo-Prussian naval arms race. With the launch of HMS Dreadnought in 1906, the Royal Navy increased its advantage over its German rival, but by 1908, the naval arms race had reached an impasse. Britain was the clear superior navy, but North Germany both had ships of higher quality and an alliance with the third largest navy, which made it the clear superior naval force in a situation of war between the two nations. By 1908, when the Great War started, Britain had forty-two and North Germany thirty-seven ships of the Dreadnought class, as well as a large number of smaller pre-Dreadnought Battleships, Battlecruisers and other types of Capital Ships.
The Naval Arms race wasn't the only point of military tension between the two countries -and their respective allies. In 1905, North Germany improved an increase in its standing army by 170,000 men, Russia committed another 500,000 over the next three years, while France extended compulsory military service from two to three years and The Habsburg Realms -after seeing results in the Habsburg-Italian war of 1907-08) formed a joint Military of all their nations, creating Military Units consisting of all ethnicities of their armies. Between 1867 and 1908, total military spending by North and South Germany, Italy, and Russia increased nearly four times, the largest increases occurring in North Germany (+73%) and Russia (+39%).
On 21 June 1908, Albrecht von Hohzern, a South German diplomat and a minor member of the larger Bavarian House of Wittelsbach, was assassinated by Valentino Perri, a Venetian Anarchist who had escaped to North Germany in order to escape hostilities in the South German-Italian War a year earlier. Albrecht was shot point blank by the assassin while leaving from the South German consulate in Speyer to his home a few blocks away.
While not close at all (it is likely that the Bavarian King had never seen the man in his life), Otto was shocked and upset at this assassination. The reaction among the Austrian people was however, mild and indifferent. A historian later wrote, "The event almost failed to make any impression whatsoever. On Monday and Tuesday [22 and 23 June], the crowds in München listened to music and drank wine as if nothing had happened." Nevertheless, the political effect of the murder of a minor noble and diplomat was significant. A terrorist event charged with historic meaning, it transformed the political chemistry of all Southern Germany.
If the assassination itself had no effect on the Bavarian -and South German- people, the immediate result in Venetia did. Venetians, who had been forced into joining the South German Federation at gunpoint after the South German-Italian war a few weeks ago, were still very agitated. Perri's assassination of Albrecht resulted in celebrations in many cities (including some outside of the Venetian Borders such as Triest). A such celebration in the city of Venice resulted in the death of three more South Germans in the city by drunken Venetian hooligans. The immediate result by the South German Authorities was implementation of immediate anti-riot measures in Venetia. All plans to integrate the annexed territory into a separate kingdom in the larger Habsburg Realm were permanently postponed, 45 Italians were killed by the anti-riot police. More than 75,000 Italians throughout the territory were arrested arbitrarily, where more than 800 died in prison. A further 350 were sentenced to death. Italians, who had enjoyed equal status in the last few months, were demoted to residents in areas that they had been in first.
The celebrations in Venetia enraged the South Germans. On 28th of June, an Anti-North German and anti-Italian demonstration in the capital city of München saw more than 10,000 participants. On 3rd of July, another demonstration, demanding the return and execution of the Italian Assassin, was held in Karlsruhe. This resulted in a counter-demonstration in Wald by North Germans in the Württembergian province of Hohenzollern on 7th of July. The Catholic minority had been ceded to the South German Federation after the Brothers' War of 1866, and had always held pro-North German sentiments. This met suppression by the Württembergian police and Pro-South civilians alike. The last of what was more than 68 protests and riots was held in Stuttgart on 11th of July, against the recent suppression of the people of Pfalz by Prussia, which had been annexed in the war of 1866. At this point, the South and North German people had become so belligerent against each other that pro-unification movements in the respective states were faced with state-sanctioned persecution. Eventually, after an agreement between all Habsburg States, South Germany delivered an ultimatum to the North German Federation on behalf of Bavaria on the 15th of July: Return the Italian Assassin to South Germany, cede Pfalz to Bavaria, or face imminent war. When North Germany declared its refusal of the ultimatum on the 17th, war was declared on North Germany by the five member-states of the Habsburg Realm.
South Germany had called for mobilization on the 14th, while North Germany on the 16th. Both nations knew full mobilization would not occur until at least a full month later, but Habsburg armies moved across the border through three states: Galicia-Lodomeria moved troops to a recently-pacified Silesia, Bohemia moved for Saxony, and South Germany moved for Palatinate and Hesse. A total of 250,000 soldiers were moved in the first two days. At that point, everyone expected a second Brothers' War between South and North German peoples. However, this failed from the start.
A Battle near Lauterbourg (in the South German parts of the border) resulted in the death of four French citizens only a day after the war began. France demanded the demobilization of South German troops in response. South Germany's refusal to do so resulted in the French declaration of War by France. Italy, which had previously been obliged under the Treaty of Tripoli not to hold a military, ordered a full mobilization of their reserves and joined France the same day, declaring war on South Germany just the same on 19th of July. The British Empire declared war on Italy and France on the 21st, claiming Italy's action to be "an act of aggression unbecoming of a Civilized Country" and a valid casus foederis for their alliance with South Germany. The other Habsburg members all declared war on Italy and France just the same. Bulgaria, which had had a treaty with Illyria pledging to mutual neutrality, viewed this as an act of aggression and deeclared war on Illyria -and Illyria alone- on the 21st. The Russian Empire declared war on Bulgaria in defense of Illyria on the 23rd of July. The second Brothers' War had quickly turned into what came to be known as "The Great War".
Progress of the War
Deployment Problems among the Alliance
The original members of the Alliance all suffered from the same problem. While opening new fronts against France and North Germany was certainly possible, the British and the Russians had ensured the Habsburgs that they would reinforce the Habsburg armies invading North Germany from the South. Russia and Britain both suffered from the same problem, which was a lack of viable borders with South Germany. Britain was forced, after failure in securing the British Channel in the early stages of the war, to circumvent Africa and deploy troops navally through the Mediterranean sea. Russian attempts at moving troops from Galicia-Lodomeria was refused by Habsburgs who feared that Russia's historical ambitions towards Galicia and Lodomeria would result in tensions, and thus Russia was forced to move troops through Poland or Romania. Poland had openly refused to allow North German or Russian troops to move through its borders, and was supported by the United States of America and its Continental Association, while Romania had originally demanded Bessabaria in exchange for allowing Russia to move its soldiers through its territory. Following a short, 2-day-long standoff between Romania and Russia, Romania backed down and allowed Russia to move troops to both reinforce Habsburg invasion forces in North Germany and open a front against Bulgaria.
The Park Campaign
Upon entering the Great War, Britain's primary objective was to seize Dunkirk and the ports of Wallonia and use them to move around 4.5 million soldiers through the British Channel and open a new frontier in Northern France. France warned North Germany that if Britain could achieve naval dominance in the Channel this early in the war, they would reach Paris within the month and knock France out of the war. North Germany's Qindao Fleet (which had been anchored in French Ports after returning the bulk of North Germany's Shandong Garrison home) began battle with Britain, while the Northern French Fleet and the North German Homefleet were also deployed to the Channel. The First Battle of the British Channel was fought from July 21 to August 3, and resulted in the destruction of thirteen dreadnoughts and more than seventy other ships from the two sides. Realizing their chance to seize the Channel in two weeks was gone, Britain deployed 4.5 million soldiers and attempted to transport them to Gibraltar from its ports in western Ireland.
France immediately began blocking Gibraltar. Three fleets were moved from Southern France, Tunisia, and Algeria to the East of Gibraltar, while Four more fleets were moved from Western France and the Sahara to the West of Gibraltar. French attempts to hold the British forces off resulted in the most catastrophic naval battle in the First Great War, resulting in the total destruction of five British and French Fleets. Thus, Britain was forced to move its naval force around Africa. The Park Campaign, named after Admiral Garfield Park of the British Empire who was in charge of the Naval expeditionary force, thus began. The British Fleet was again challenged by the North German Crown Prince's Fleet in Schwarzpunkt and Luderitz, and later the Mittelafrikan Fleet in Freienhaus, not to mention by the French Fleets in West Africa, Congo, and Gabon. Later, the Italian and French fleets attempted to Block the Djibouti strait, but this attempt was nowhere as successful as the Battle of Gibraltar, and eventually Britain moved its troops through the Red Sea and after defeating Italy in a decisive naval battle near Malta (that knocked the Italian Navy out of the war permanently), delpoyed the 3 million surviving members of their expeditionary force in Medulin in 19 December. By that point, the Great Front had nearly been established and the British forces were forced to reinforce South Germany, primarily in trenches in Palatinate, Baden, and Bavaria.
Initial gains by the Alliance
The Alliance made significant gains in the initial stage of the Great War. Bohemian troops quickly moved through Silesia -already weakened by the Months of Unrest- until they were stopped at the very gates of Berlin, while Russia moved nearly 4.5 million forces through Prussia and reached Brandenburg in a matter of 23 days. In Western Germany, South German troops, reinforced by Hungarian armies, conquered the Palatinate and reached the Rhineland in 9 August, while France was forced to fall back west of Lorraine. In early September 1908, the World was under the presumption that despite Britain's losses in the Park Campaign, North Germany and France could be knocked out of the war in a matter of a few months. However, Russia and the Hasbsburg's mistake in advancing without maintaining viable supply lines would be their undoing.
Of course, the same could not be said for the other theaters in the War. Bulgaria had knocked Illyria out of the war by early August and was already reinforcing Italian forces in Venetia in September 12 and challenging Hungary for Northern Serbia in September 23. France hadn't even completed its mobilization by early September, while Allied colonies in Africa were nearly completely hopeless. France and Italy overran British Somaliland and were fighting in Yemen, while British Gold Coast and Nigeria were occupied by North Germany in early August, Sierra Leone, Gambia, and Libya by France and Italy in September. French and North German colonial armies had been mobilized and were in the early stages of preparation for an invasion of Egyptian Sudan. Even then, these advances were nowhere near enough, compared to Russian and Habsburg advances in North German and French mainlands.
The Great Front
The Great Front refers to the main European theater of the Great War. While the war was -especially in its latter stages- fought in multiple fronts and in multiple continents, the majority of the combat and casualties happened in the Great Front. Following the outbreak of the war in August 1908, South Germany opened the Western Front by performing large-scale invasions of France and North Germany, then gaining military control of the mines in France Alsace and the industry of the Rhineland. The tide of the advance was dramatically turned in the Battle of the Ruhr, which resulted in a Pact victory in 14 October 1908. Following the Hosch campaign ("The Long March South" in former South Germany), both sides dug in along a meandering line of fortified trenches, stretching from directly northwest of Lorraine in France to the North German borders with Poland in Upper Silesia, which changed little until the fall of Riga in 18 March 1910, when the redeployment of Russian forces to the Eastern Front gave the Pact the upper hand to take back what French and North German lands still under South German control.
The early stage of the Great War, generally referred to as the Malastów Campaign (named after the Habsburg Colonel General in charge of it), ended in the Battle of Ruhr. While South German advance into North Germany had been nearly unstopped throughout Silesia, Pfalz, Saxony, and Posen, they were put to a definitive halt near the Ruhr area. One of the most important North German industrial centers, Ruhr was coveted by the Habsburg to cripple any possible North German war effort in its inception, and thus was better defended. The two armies initially met south of Ruhr on 15 September 1908 where the battle began. In reality, it was one of the fastest-paced battles in the war, as the two sides struck at each other in thousands, each looking for an opening. North German concentration on the left (eastern) flank to wheel through the South German defensive lines south of Ruhr and attack their armies from the rear was countered by the South German army's retreat south. The North German Military advanced further, and was successful in breaking the South German lines, decisively securing the Ruhr area and beginning to push the enemy back towards the Border. Forty North German and forty-five Habsburg divisions fought in this battle, and 400,000 men were killed on the both sides, before South Germany began its retreat south on 14 October, which marked the beginning of the Hosch Campaign.
Military tactics developed before the Great War failed to keep pace with advances in technology and thus had become obsolete. These advances had allowed the creation of strong defensive systems that out-of-date military tactics had no hope of breaking through for most of the war. Barbed wire was a significant hindrance to massed infantry advances, while artillery, vastly more lethal than in the 1860s, coupled with machine guns, made crossing open ground extremely difficult. Commanders on both sides failed to develop tactics for breaching entrenched positions without heavy casualties. In time, however, technology began to produce new offensive weapons such as gas warfare and the tank.
After the Battle of the Ruhr (3-14 October 1908), forces from The Alliance and the Pact unsuccessfully tried to outflank each other in a series of maneuvers typically known as the Hosch campaign (or the Long March South). While North Germany was concentrating on reclaiming the Rhine and Silesia, South Germany was trying to find an opening in the firm lines of their chasers to regain momentum. By the end of 1908, the opposing forces were left confronting each other along a nearly uninterrupted line of entrenched positions from Lorraine in France to the North German borders with Poland.
Both sides tried to break the stalemate; originally (and for most of the war) by increasing the number of fighters in the trenches, but later by using scientific and technological advances. North Germany began using chlorine gas (violating the Hague convention) on the Great Front. Several types of gas soon became widely used by both sides, though it never proved a decisive, battle-winning weapon, poison gas became one of the most-feared and best-remembered horrors of the war. Tanks were developed by the British Empire and North Germany and used in combat effectively after 1910, Originally used in the third battle of Verdun (April 1910) by the British and the second battle of Königgrätz (June-August 1910) by the North Germans, originally with only partial success. However their effectiveness would grow as the war progressed. Both sides produced tanks in large numbers, but it never supplanted the infantry as the primary unit of the two sides' land forces.
As the trenches were built and the Great Front stabilized, trench warfare began to become the norm. Due to the high casualties suffered in nearly every attempt to take or defend a trench, it became increasingly clear to both sides that there was a need of a direct, uninterrupted flow of reserves for the trenches of the Great Front. In the earlier stages of the war when the scientific and tactical developments required for efficient defeat of trenches were not yet developed, both sides attempted to solve the problem by opening new fronts.
When the Great Front first stabilized in December 1908, there were two more fronts in addition to the Great Front in Central Germany (The Southern Front and the Eastern Front). In the next six months, new Fronts would be opened in Africa, East Asia and Oceania. While neither of these fronts would require as many soldiers as the first three (specially the Great Front), each forced both sides to dedicate troops to new fronts that could have been spent in the Great Front instead. While these fronts did not affect the fighting in Central Europe as much as the two sides expected, they resulted in a substantial loss of life for the population of the European Colonies, partially responsible for the social upheaval that the Colonial Empires would face after the war itself.
The Indo-Pacific theater was the third most bloody theater of the Great War. India, as the Jewel of the Empire, was considered a source both for reinforcement and supplies by the British Empire. When the French Empire joined the Great War, it sent its fourth largest fleet, at that point located in French Indochina, to put a blockade on the Bay of Bengal. It was hoped that a second blockade would be put on the Arabian Sea after the pacification of British Aden and Somaliland. With the bulk of the British naval capacity busy moving troops around Africa and into Istria, the French -and later, North German- blockade on the bay of Bengal was a success, though neither country held the hope it could be maintained for a long period of time. It did not, however, see much of a war until early 1909, however.
With the Great Front stabilized, France was attempting to quell any hopes of British reinforcement as they could. One of the many methods taken by the French was the invasion of Burma through Indochina in 17 January 1909. Five infantry and one cavalry divisions breached Indochinese-Burmese borders at 13:45 local time, reaching Kengtung before the end of the day. At the same time, North Germany attempted to bruteforce a marine contingent into Trankebar and the Frederick Islands (OTL: Nicobar Islands), to relative success. At this time, bombardment of coastal British Indian cities, in particular Kalkutta, Chittagong, and Chennai took place, some of which resulted in significant destruction of civilian and military property. Britain's attempts to move troops and munition across Persia failed to a degree because of the lack of proper infrastructure, which itself forced the British Empire to divert its attention from the Great Front into India. The Indo-Pacific front later extended to the South China Sea, Dutch East Indies, China and the two sides' colonial possessions in the region after China, The Netherlands, and Japan's entry to the war.
In early 1909, Japan and China were contacted by the Supreme Military Command of the Alliance. Requests by the Alliance for each country to join the war against the Pact were delivered by ambassadors and military liaisons for more than five months, with promises of territorial gains to Japan and return of North German and French territorial concession to China. Japan was incited by the promise of territorial gains, and invaded Dutch Philippines and East Indies and joined forces with the British attempts to take Herbertshöhe in 10 March 1909, which resulted in the entry of the Dutch Empire in the war against the Alliance as well on 16 March 1909. While the Dutch would mostly also reinforce the Great Front, their main theater of war was in the Pacific, where their territorial gains were in danger of occupation by the Japanese. By the time The Dutch had mobilized enough forces to enter the war in earnest, Japan had completely occupied Philippines and was attacking Borneo island as well.
China entered the war on 29 July 1909. The Chinese ambassador issued the nation's declaration of war on North Germany in Berlin, and the siege of Tsingtau began on 30 July 1909. The Siege, which continued for another 67 days, was fought between 967,000 Chinese troops and the Garrison of Tsingtau, nearly 50,000 in numbers. The siege was resulted in a humiliating defeat for China which lose 437,000 in casualties and injuries and was forced to retreat, followed by the North German blockade on the Yellow Sea and a number of naval battles with Japan near the coasts of Korea. French and North German troops later attacked and occupied Austrian Ningbo, while North Germany and Britain would fight a short battle over Macau in early 1911.
Planning on a quick victory and not having anticipated a large-scale war, The Habsburg Realms implemented Plan II out of a pool of seventeen plans, which was based on thunderous assault of enemy positions at a rapid pace, aided with artillery, with the armies decidedly being a mix of all Habsburg Nations so as to ensure that fraternization among enemies could not occur. The plan counted on quick capture of Silesia, The Rhineland, and if possible, Thuringia to block North Germany from its closest industrial base. Due to this, The Habsburg could only spare one-fifth of their army to man the Balkan and Italian borders. Having signed multiple treaties with Bulgaria and Italy, the Habsburg were sure that they would not face a fight in the south. The Italian, and later Bulgarian entry to the war cut them off guard. In early 1908, while Habsburgs threw nearly three million troops to France and North Germany, the Italians and the Bulgarians implemented two unrelated campaigns, each intent to occupy territory they claimed as part of their rightful national borders. While Bulgaria and Italy each had different names, the series of operations, battles, and skirmishes that began from the two countries' entry to the war, until the Landing in Medulin, are generally referred to as the Irredenta Campaign by historians.
Bulgaria deployed its entire standing army of 500,000, and ordered total mobilization from the get-go, while Italy deployed its small 129,000 man-strong army, and began recruiting troops against their treaty with South Germany only two months ago. At its peak, Italy deployed 3.5 and Bulgaria 1 million troops to the campaign, though later incursions and necessity in different campaigns forced each power to abandon expansion on the Southern Front. Bulgarian attack was thunderous and successful. By 14 August, Bulgarian troops had conquered all of Illyria, finally conquering Zagreb and forcing the Illyrian State to capitulate, while Italy had put most of Venetia under occupation, now fighting for South Tyrol. The largest battle in the Irredenta Campaign was the first battle the two Pact Powers fought in on together, the battle of Laibach in the Austrian Province of Krain, where 780,000 Italians and 1,200,000 Italians fought 2,000,000 South Germans in a battle that eventually resulted in Bulgarian Victory. The city of Laibach would remain under Bulgarian occupation for the majority of the war, even after Bulgarian and Italian expansion was halted, as the British expedition was intent on reaching what was considered the more important front, and thus attempted to fight as few battles as possible. Bulgarian occupation was only lifted after the Armistice of Karlsruhe, though that was because the troops deserted the city to battle Yugoslav rebels in the South Slav frontier of Bulgaria.
At its extent, the territory put under occupation of Italy and Bulgaria included the Austrian provinces of Vorarlberg, Salzburg, and Tyrol, and the majority of the battles in the war were short and brief.
The British Empire finally reached South Germany in the conclusion of the Parks Campaign in 19 December in what is known in British history as the Landing in Medulin. The city of Medulin and the area closest to it had not been occupied by the Bulgarian and Italian forces due to an error in judgement, which resulted in an easy landing of troops by transport fleets. In fact, Medulin and the other regions of South German Istria were under British control effectively for much of the war, and many of the military structures they built for use can still be found in the area. The British entry to Istria triggered the beginning of Pershing's March North, as nearly 2.5 million of the original 3 million-men strong British Expeditionary Force began a rapid march for what was now established as the Great Front. The arrival of the last of the original 2.5 million on 18 January 1909 marked the ending of the Christmas Truce and opened a new chapter in the Great War. The Park Route, that is to say the route taken by the British Empire in the Park Campaign, moved another 8 million troops to the Great Front in the next two years, and the flow of British reinforcement, continuing to arrive even after The Habsburg had ran out of reserves to throw at the meat grinder, only stopped in early 1911, after they had ran out of Fueling Stations in the Park Route and hostile interception by the Pact navies became too hindering for a non-stopped operation.
While Russia had fancied itself as the defender of the 'Slavic People' and had used their subjugation at the hands of the Ottomans as a pretext for multiple invasions throughout the 19th century, the rise of Bulgaria as the dominant power of the region and their increasingly warm relations with North Germany eventually brought the two countries at odds. Russia protested Bulgaria's treatment of the native Serb, Croat, Bosnian, and Herzegovinan population of what came to be known as the South Slav frontier, and had only been stopped from an intervention as early as 1890 by Bismarck's personal machinations. By 1905, North Germany had guaranteed Bulgarian independence, while Bulgaria had itself attempted to wrestle Illyria out of Austria's control for many years. The Illyrian declaration of war was used as a pretext to enter the war, and Russia finally had her case for an invasion.
After a three-day standoff with Romania, the Romanian state agreed to open their borders to Russia and allow the use of Romanian infrastructure for the moving of Russian troops to Romania on July 23rd. While Russia had intended to move 1.6 million troops to Bulgaria -a number larger than the total number of troops mobilized by Bulgaria throughout the war-, the stabilization of the Great Front and (by 1910) the entry of North Germany into their own border caused a series of events that ensured they could never reach the expected number. The entry of Russia to Bulgaria on 17 December coincided with the disastrous Russian defeat in Bromberg, which began the North German reclamation of the Prussian Heartland (West and East Prussia), and by July 1909, they were forced to redeploy nearly 800,000 troops en route to Bulgaria to defend Russian positions in Lithuania.
After the stabilization of the Southern Front, Bulgaria would defeat the Russian expeditionary force in the Battle of Plovdiv on 18 September 1909, push them out of Bulgaria by 3 March 1910, and open their own front in Russia after a naval invasion on 28 October 1910, only seven weeks before the North German victory in Saint Petersburg and Russia's unconditional surrender.
While Russia failed to defeat Bulgaria in war as they had expected, and while they were later forced to pay extraneous sums as reparation, their primary goal against Bulgaria was realised before the end of the war. The "South Slav Frontier" which had been in a state of near-perpetual rebellion since 1893 eventually blew in what is now called the Yugoslav Revolution. A violent revolt in Saravejo that resulted in the mass murder of Bulgarian citizens in the city and the city's governor inspired similar riots, to relative success, Serbia, North Macedonia, and Montenegro. By December 1910, the revolts had become impossible to avoid. Lack of satisfaction, and a series of small-scale strikes in Bulgaria itself forced Bulgaria to move 500,000 of her occupying troops in South Germany to suppress the revolts. A series of brutal acts of suppression resulted in the creation of the Provisional Yugoslav Government in Saravejo, and the creation of the National Yugoslav Army in January 17 1911, causing the Bulgarian Civil War (or, in Yugoslavia, the Yugoslav War for Independence).
The Fall of Bulgarian control over the South Slav Frontier did not, however, come until after the treaty of Wien, which awarded them Illyria and Hungarian Serbia. A series of consecutive defeats in Ni, Pirot, Montana, and eventually Sofia itself forced the Bulgarian Government to sign the treaty of Sofia, recognizing Yugoslavia as an independent State and revoking their core on Serbia, Macedonia, Croatia, or Montenegro. The Yugoslav Government declared existence in Zagreb, but it was not recognized by the Pact Powers or the remaining Allied Powers until the treaty of the Hague, in which Yugoslavia revoked its own claim on Central Macedonia, which was ceded to Greece.
Russian plans for the start of the war called for instant invasion of East Prussia. The numerical advantage held by Russia, as well as the secret treaty between Russia and Austria that ensured a partitioning of North Germany in favorable terms to Russia provided a quick victory, gave the Russian troops the morale required for the initial stages of the Great War. Initially, Russia performed wonderfully. Russia advanced into East Prussia on the day they declared war, with more than 2 million Russian troops advancing into Memel and Allenstein between July 23 and August 10. The Russian advance caught North Germany off guard, and the thunderous movement of Russian troops towards the Brandenburger heartland continued with no feasible opposition. By August 15, Russians were nearly at the gates of Berlin itself.
However, Russia's less developed industrial base, ineffective military leadership, and poor infrastructure resulted in a weak and easily sabotaged supply line. Freikorps units, civilian resistance, and volunteer divisions from Sweden and Poland helped in liberating a thin line in West Prussia (Danzig-Deutsch Krone line), which effectively cut off Russian supply lines and encircled their forces inside North German territory. The Russian defeat in the Battle of Berlin (August 15 - October 12 1908) would be the last advance by the Russian Empire in North Germany.
After Russia's defeat in the Battle of Berlin, Generals of the Infantry Hindenburg and Ludendorff successfully began the process of pushing Russia out of North Germany. With a force near 400,000 men strong, the two officers abandoned the more-recent strategy of predetermined planning and returned to the root of Prussian military, maneuver warfare. The significantly smaller but better trained and equipped North German force successfully defeated Russia in the Battle of Brandenburg, neatly forcing 800,000 Russian troops to surrender to a force half their size and forcing the rest to retreat more than 100 kilometers west. The Königsberg campaign began on 5 January, after the Russian defeat in the Battle of Brandenburg. The original plan was to push Russia, at the very least, back to the city of Königsberg in less than seven months. Due to their success in the battles and reclamation of Prussia, The Supreme Command accepted to increase the deployment to the newly-minted Eastern Front. At its height, the North German forces were 30 divisions strong and reaching 750,000 men, though 243,640 also aided them in form of Swedish and Polish volunteers and Freikorps units. The Königsberg Campaign eventually resulted in the liberation of the capital of Prussia on June 10 and the the removal of Russian forces from Prussia on June 19, a month ahead of schedule.
Following the successful Königsberg Campaign of January-June 1909, North German troops began chasing the Russian forces back home. With the Baltic coasts free, the smaller parts of the North German Home Fleet that were stationed in Baltic naval bases put a blockade on Russian ports in the sea. A naval invasion of Windau put North Germany in smelling distance of the occupied Free City of Riga, which had been put under occupation in 2 January 1909 by Russia, as nine Sea Battalions (45,000), backed by naval bombardment of Russian positions spotted by North German naval aircraft, defeated a defending army twice their size. Using Windau as a springboard, the Baltic Campaign of The First Great War began on August 27 1909. 1.25 million troops were moved from Prussia to Windau, defeating Russian positions in Estonia and Latvia as Ludendorff and Hindenburg's smaller force chased Russia back to Lithuania. The Baltic and Lithuanian Governates were nearly completely under occupation by North Germany by 18 March 1910 (the liberation of Riga), while harsh battles were had just ended in Ukraine.
While a number of small-scale conflicts and skirmishes had occurred in the Indian Subcontinent at the beginning of the Great War, India was relatively safe from the war throughout 1908. British forces had quickly seized and occupied French and North German holdings in India, in particular Trankebar and Pondicherry, while French forces had put a blockade on the Bay of Bengal as early as August 1908. It was hoped by high-ranking Pact Officials that they could concentrate on India after the pacification of British Aden and Somaliland which could act as coaling stations for the Empire's navy on the Park Route.
France attacked India through the Burma-Indochina border on 14 January 1909, followed by a quick naval operation by North Germany that liberated Trankebar and a longer campaign of island hopping in Nicobar. It was hoped that by defeating Britain's largest holding and the jewel of its empire, they could both cripple British morale and its capability to wage war on a global scale. France also hoped to restore the historical French Holdings in Southern India, though even then it was seen as unlikely by any means. While relatively small in terms of scale compared to the larger conflict fought in Oceania, the Franco-British conflict, primarily fought in Burma, resulted in tens of thousands of dead, mostly native Indians, before Britain broke the French Advance in Dhaka.
The war in Oceania originally started as a logical continuation of the war in India. the British naval presence in the Malay Peninsula and Borneo blockaded Indochina and engaged the French navy in the Bay of Bengal in contained conflicts. The entry of Japan into the Great War brought Oceania into relevance. Japan quickly moved through Dutch Philippines and aided in the British campaign against Kaiser-Wilhelms-Land. Grueling but fast-paced battles between small numbers of forces quickly became the hallmark of the Indo-Pacific Front as thousands of troops were killed on both sides to disease, fatigue, and attrition on multiple long island-hopping campaigns that seldom saw military confrontation between the two sides.
The most important and the longest battle of the War in Oceania (The Pacific Front) was the battle of Singapore. North Germany engaged Britain in Singapore as an attempt to destroy its naval capabilities as early as September 1909, originally countered by British, Chinese, and Japanese forces in the city. The Battle continued until late July 1911, at which point the Chinese and the Japanese had gone at each others' throats and Japan had changed sides. Singapore's loss, one of the few losses that resulted in a territorial exchange after the Great War, is seen as one of the most important reasons why Britain accepted to sign an armistice and attend the Conference of Wien.
Battle of Dhaka
One of the reasons why the war did not end at the Treaty of Saint Petersburg (When Russia conceded defeat and surrendered Unconditionally in 1910) was the battle in Dhaka, fought around the same time, in India. The French advance through India had been unstopped, though not extensive, throughout 1909 and 1910. This finally culminated into the grandest battle in the Indian theater in Dhaka, British Bengal. Fought between 3.4 million British and 3.7 million French Forces for 71 days first in, and later in the area east of the city of Dhaka, this war broke the French Advance by forcing more than seven hundred thousand casualties on the advancing Pact Army and resulted in the retreat of the French Forces 230 kilometers eastward towards Aizawl. The British Empire expected to follow through the victory with another crushing strike and expel the French back to Indochina, but native mutinies among Indians, as well as calls for peace back home in the British Isles, resulted in what would inevitably become a second front of trench warfare had the war continued for more than seven months.
The British Victory in Dhaka, despite its importance, failed to result in any success, as the British Empire was forced to fight with her former ally in many of other territories occupied by the two countries, eventually even losing Singapore and being forced to come to the negotiation tables.
The Phony Peace
The Phony Peace (Geman: Scheinfriede) is a term that refers to a period of time between the December Armistice, and the invasion of Fujian by China. This period was known for the small, insignificant number of campaigns and offensives between the two sides in Europe, the Great Front in particular. The name originates from a banner in a protest in Königsberg, North Germany in protest to the official, state-sanctioned statement that 'Peace had been achieved', while conscription and wartime limitations on personal freedom was still in effect.
While an uneasy armistice was established between North Germany, France, The Netherlands, and the Habsburgs, war was not as "over" as the three pact-members had claimed. The Bulgarian-Italian Southern Front was still ongoing, the Indo-Pacific Front had just seen the beginning of its most brutal offensives, and the war at sea, especially in the English Channel, had just been reignited with the bombardment of South London from Calais by the so-called Kaiser-Heinrich-Geschütz (Emperor Heinrich Gun) in a joint North German-French attempt to cower Britain into signing a white peace.
Liberation of Riga
While the liberation of Riga did not cause the Phony Peace, it was indeed an important part of why it happened in the first place. The city was liberated in late March 1910, as one of the main results of Ludendorff's second Baltic Offensive. Ludendorff's 2.25 million men struck in the most successful implementation of North German stormtrooper tactics, beginning after the thaw of the Baltic region's winter in early February, successfully got the attention of the defending Russian forces in Riga, distracting them from the naval invasion that was overseen by Admiral Hosch-Ederber and his Sea Battalions. The battle, which destroyed 12% of Riga, was finally won on 18 March after the Russian forces officially surrendered and were allowed to march towards St. Petersburg with only their banners and none of their munitions.
The liberation of Riga, a well-propagandized event in the Pact that resulted in the return of the Rigan Government-in-exile, realised the last terms of the secret treaty between Sweden and North Germany. Enticed by the offers of taking back lost territory, Sweden officially declared war on Russia on 18 February 1910 (exactly a month before the Battle of Riga ended). With Russian forces already weakened in home and with Ludendorff and Hindenburg's troops less than 500 kilometers away from the Russian Capital, Russia was forced to call back all of the troops it had deployed in the Great Front. A number near 6 million Russians, along with their troops, cleared the Habsburg trenches, putting them under stress as the British flow of reinforcements had been hindered by the Pact's naval operations as well.
The entry of Sweden into the war was nowhere as impressive as many others, but it was still 450,000 troops with a higher morale than Russians who had been secretly trained by North Germans and had been fighting with them as volunteers since early 1909. Support of war against Russia, already beaten, was high in Sweden as many called for the reintegration of Finland at the very least and even further punishment of Russia for the many defeats it had forced on them in the last few centuries. The Finnish Campaign, which was perhaps the first time tanks (the North German type, used first in Königgrätz on June-August 1910) were used in the Eastern Front and on Russia as a whole. A small Panzer regiment, aided by three infantry and one cavalry divisions from North Germany aided 400,000 Swedes in attacking Helinski from three directions. Helinski fell in July 1910, and the Swedish Forces began a march straight for Saint Petersburg, the Russian Capital.
Following the beginning of the Swedish offensive, Ludendorff and Hindenburg moved 2.45 million troops towards St. Petersburg. The North German Emperor Heinrich and his brother Wilhelm both took part (the latter joining the vanguard in the siege of St. Petersburg itself). A feeble attempt to break the siege by the Russians in the form of an assault against the North German sieging forces led by the Russian Tsar himself was twarted effectively. Heeding the treaty signed between the two countries, North Germany allowed the Swedish forces to be the first to enter the city and force the Tsar to surrender the city to the Swedish King rather than the North German Emperor. The fall of St. Petersburg -the Russian Capital- and the imprisoning of its royal family resulted in a conditional surrender by the Russian Empire.
The Conference of Saint Petersburg began on August 1910, and ended three months later November 17 at the signing of the Treaty of St. Petersburg between Russia, the Pact and the Polish Republic. After much deliberation, Russia was forced to cede all occupied territory under "Ober Ost" to the Supreme Command of the Pact -with the undertone that Ober Ost would be carved into multiple satellite states rather than result in any annexation-, cede the entirety of the Grand Duchy of Finland to Sweden (and recognize the Swedish King's claim to the grand duchy), concede defeat and pay the entirety of the sum the Pact had spent in fighting them on all fronts. The latter term of the treaty would, in the next three years, effectively bankrupt Russia and cause the first Russian Revolution in 1914.
The treaty was not seen favorably by Sweden and Poland. Poland had been given minor concession -in particular, Bialystok) as opposed to the original promise of the restoration of the full Russian Partition. Sweden, while intending on acquiring its former Baltic possessions, was more enraged at North Germany's refusal to accept their demand that Russia abandon its claim to Empire (and return to being a Tsardom or even a Grand Duchy).
In the Great Front, the treaty of St. Petersburg resulted in a dramatic decrease in the Alliance's morale. Russia had been part of many important battles in the Great Front, and had defended the trenches just as religiously as the South Germans and Bohemians, the brutality and the ruthlessness of the treaty that had effectively broken the Russian claim to greatness had terrified the Habsburg Emperor in particular, who for the first time feared for his Empire's safety.
Following the signing of the Treaty of St. Petersburg (November 1910), South and North Germany officially signed an armistice on December 3 1910. The terms of the armistice demanded that all fighting in The Great Front be halted between the two sides and the freedom of movement be allowed to troops and civilians on both sides. In addition, the War was to be fully stopped in France, and the war fronts were to be drawn back in the South German-French border, so that France could attempt to rebuild the lands desolated under artillery fire, tank movement, disease, and gas.
The Armistice did not limit fighting in any of the other fronts, in particular the Indo-Pacific Front (between Britain, Japan, China and Netherlands, North Germany, and France) or the Southern Front (between Italy, Bulgaria and the Habsburgs) but it lifted a terrible weight from the both sides' shoulders as the most terrible front of the war was effectively put to an end. Considering the last days before the December Armistice had been continued gains by North Germany that had seen the return of all territory still under Habsburg Occupation, this was most beneficial to the Habsburgs who no longer had to fear the Prussian punishment. Trenches were dismantled by both sides between December 1910 and March 1911, and while a minor offensive by North Germany occured in late July 1911, this was the last of the battles fought between the two sides in Central Europe.
The Portuguese Revolution
The Kingdom of Portugal, despite having been in an alliance with Britain that was centuries old at that point, was firmly in the North German sphere of influence. The assassination of King Carlos in 1908 and his succession by his second son slowly shifted Portugal out of the North German sphere of influence. Despite its lack of military capability, Portugal held important colonies in strategic locations around the globe that the North German brass feared would be used by the British in as a springboard for further battles if Portugal was to return to the British sphere. Despite this, relations between the two countries remained mostly favorable throughout the war.
However, in October 5 1910, just as North Germany was seeing visible victory against Russia, Portugal fell to a revolution. King Manuel fled to Berlin, while a republican government replaced his constitutional reign. In order to eradicate the probability of Britain using Portuguese colonies as a springboard (by treaty or illegally), North Germany invaded and occupied Portuguese possessions in Angola, Portuguese India, and Macau, while advising their ally in South Africa and the Netherlands to further occupy Mozambique and East Timor. The Portuguese parliament protested this act of aggression on December 1910, and the Portuguese Parliament approved an act that would fully commit Portugal to its centuries-old treaty with Britain in January 7 1911. North Germany deployed a 125,000 men strong Expeditionary Force that conquered Lisbon on January 21, executed the Portuguese Leadership and closed their parliament, and restored Manuel to the throne.
While the Phony Peace had been established in the Great Front and while Russia had been knocked out of the war permanently, the Indo-Pacific Theater had yet not resulted in a conclusive victory. Both sides clashed with each other, trying to batter each other out as the attrition and destruction of the war lost each side their own morale. Modern Historians believe that if things had gone as projected in early 1911, the Indo-Pacific Front would definitely be won by the Alliance. While North Germany and the Netherlands were losing troops, equipment, and morale to the attrition and destruction, The Alliance had two aces up in their sleeve. The large pool of untrained soldiers from China that could be used in extensive human wave campaigns and the well-trained Japanese Soldiers. Japan, which had only invested 100,000 soldiers in the war at that point, was projected to be able to mobilize up to 3 million soldiers in a matter of a few months. Aided by their powerful navy, they could have turned the war around conclusively.
While China and Japan were allies in the theater of war, Qing China retained a hatred of Japan that was enforced by their revanchism about Fujian, a territory in Chinese Mainland that Japan had annexed as a colony in the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-95. Hatred of Japan and even more hatred of their treatment of the native Chinese in Fujian had been a main part of Chinese foreign policy towards Japan. It is believed that China always had planned on starting a war to reclaim Fujian. What none expected was for that war to begin while the two were allied in a different war.
Despite being allied, Fujian had been declared "off limits" for the Alliance by the Japanese Empire in the Great War, with explicit statement that any foreigner in Fujian would be shot on sight without warning. China deployed 796,000 soldiers organized in five armies to move into Fujian in 19 January 1911. While Japan attempted to repel the invasion by the small garrison in the territory, it warned China through diplomatic channels that this act of aggression was akin to a declaration of war. The Last of these declarations was by the Japanese Ambassador to the Chinese Emperor himself in 28 January 1911. The execution of the Japanese Ambassador in the palace by teh order of the Chinese Emperor on the same day resulted in the two countries officially and completely closing off all diplomatic channels.
As the battle for Fujian went on -and resulted in minor success by China- Japan requested Britain as the official leader of the Alliance to condemn China for its aggression and force them to call off the invasion. Britain, which had previously ensured China that it would not intervene in a battle for Fujian, could only answer inconclusively. The Secret Treaty between the countries was meant to be held after the Great War, but naturally viewed Japan as a rival in the region and wished to curtail their presence in China. Japan eventually requested a meeting with three powers in the Pact (France, North Germany, the Netherlands) to negotiate a peace between Japan and the other side.
The meeting was held in Bangkok, the capital of Siam which was the only neutral state in the region. After three weeks of negotiations, the Japanese agreed to return all territories occupied in the Dutch East Indies to the Netherlands and return the North German possessions in New Guinea and The Pacific and join the Pact as a member in exchange for retaining the territories it had occupied in the Philippines. The Dutch were opposed to this idea, but a secret treaty between the Japanese and the Dutch was signed that provided guarantees that Japan would return the Philippines to the Netherlands in exchange for monetary compensation in any treaty that ended the Great War in the Indo-Pacific Theater.
Japan officially changed sides on 17 February 1911. The Japanese Soldiers, already in British and Chinese camps, were ordered to open fire on their former allies and escape towards Pact Camps. The Backstabbing, in particular in the siege of Hainan in French Indochina, resulted in a total of 75,000 dead from the Alliance and a condemnation by the United States. Japan immediately aided their new allies in Indochina and Kaiser-Wilhelmsland while an alternative incursion by French and Dutch forces repelled the Chinese attack on Fujian.
Britain had hoped to use the fresh and prepared Japanese forces to their own benefit, but by June 1911 they were visibly losing the war. Japan had already pushed back the front in Indochina towards Burma, had helped Germany retain control of all of Kaiser-Wilhelms-Land, and by that point in time, was near victory in Singapur. The invasion of Brunei by Dutch and Japanese forces, and eventually the fall of Singapore, the most important British possession in The Pacific in 19 July 1911 resulted in Britain calling for peace in the Pacific.
The Armistice of Singapur resulted in a conference between Britain on one side and Japan, France, North Germany, and the Netherlands on the other, while the Empire announced that it was no longer fighting in 'The second Brothers' War'. Negotiations began on 20 July 1911 between Britain and the pact, and for the first time in the great war ever since the first five days of the Great War, The Habsburg Empire was alone.
Upon receiving news that the British had ceased fighting in the war, the North German Federation began the last offensive in the Great War. 350,000 men along with 68 Panzer units and air superiority, marched from the Hesse towards Austria. South Germany fought the invading forces in Baden, Württemberg, Bavaria, and eventually Austria proper, with minimal casualties. The Battle of Linz, fought almost completely 13 miles north of Linz, was the final battle fought in the Great War, and resulted in the largest territorial extent of the Pact in the Great War. Austria called for an armistice (The Armistice of Karlsruhe) upon the fall of Linz. This Armistice, signed on 17 August, officially ended the Great War and all powers began negotiations.
The "End of War" (Kriegsend) is commonly used to refer to the three conferences and peace treaties that officially ended the Great War. While the Treaty of St. Petersburg was also one of these conferences, it is commonly not referred to as a End War Treaty (Kriegsendvertag). The first of these was held in Singapore and officiated the end of the war between Britain and the Pact. The second was the Treaty of Macau (also named the Punctuation of Macau by North Germany and the Humiliation of Macau by China). The last, and the final treaty of the Great War was signed in Wien between all warring powers past and present.
The Treaty of Singapur was signed in the City of Singapore between France, North Germany, The Netherlands, and Japan on one side and the United Kingdom on the other on 29 August 1911. As per the treaty, the British Empire ceded Singapore and Tanjung Pinang and the Riau Islands (which it had earlier annexed from the Netherlands in a treaty in 1900) to the North German Federation, extended the French dominion in India to nearly twice its original size, and accepted to cede the English Channel Islands (including Jersey) to the French Empire. In addition, the British Empire was forced to cede the colony of Gold Coast to North Germany (which had been under effective occupation of North Germany since September 1908), and some territory in Southern Sudan to France. The majority of these colonies were largely undeveloped, and apart from Singapore, none of them were strategically necessary for Britain. The British Empire accepted to sign the offered treaty after only 41 days of negotiation particularly because of the lack of any form of monetary reparation.
The Treaty of Macau was signed in the city of Macau between Portugal, China, Japan, The Netherlands, and France, officially ending the war between China and the Pact. It was signed on 19 September 1911. As per the treaty, China returned Fujian to the Japanese Empire and relinquished all claims on Tsingtau, Ningbo, and Macau. It was forced to pay 60% of its national treasury to the four powers (of which 30% went to France and North Germany, 24% to The Netherlands, and 12% to Japan) and was forced to pay 25% of its national income to each of the signing Pact Powers (7.5% to North Germany, 7.5% to France, 6% to The Netherlands, 3% to Japan) for the next 15 years. Portugal in turn accepted to cede Macau to North Germany and East Timor to the Netherlands. This was the only territorial expansion of The Netherlands in the Great War. The Treaty was signed after 34 days of negotiation.
The Conference of Vienna was attended on one hand between The Pact Powers and the Habsburg Empire, and on the other hand between the Pact and Alliance as a whole, also attended by multiple other countries that had been neutral in The Great War.
The objective of the Conference was to provide a long-term peace plan for Europe and its dominions across the seas by settling critical issues between multiple great powers arising from the events of 1866-1911. The goal was to settle border disputes between the "nations" and "States" of Europe by recognizing a number of nations into statehood, while also ensuring that Russia and South Germany which the victorious powers viewed as the parties responsible for the Great War would be punished accordingly. Multiple countries made territorial gain (North Germany gained the province of Hohenzollern, Italy regained Venetia and Libya, Sweden gained Finland, Romania gained Transylvania, and Poland was extended nearly twice its original size) while 14 new states were created. The Conference of Vienna (Wiener Friedenskonferenz) was held in 19 sessions between 17 August 1911 and 28 February 1912 for 196 days, at which point the The Final Act of the Peace Conference of Vienna (Schlussakte des Wiener Friedenskonferenz) was signed.
The Treaty of Wien, officially known as the Final Act of the Peace Conference of Vienna (Schlussakte des Wiener Friedenskonferenz) was signed between all attending powers in the Conference. The Treaty had 326 articles that focused on territorial disputes, newly set boundaries, colonial exchange, and the matter of reparations. The most important of these acts would result in the following:
The Dissolution of The Habsburg Monarchy: The Habsburg Empire was partitioned and divided. The South German Confederation was disbanded and four new states (Republic of Austria, Free States of Baden, Württemberg, and Bavaria) were created in its place. Hungary and Bohemia were given independence. Hungary lost most of its territory to Romania and Bulgaria while Bohemia was expanded at the expense of Galicia-Lodemeria. Galicia-Lodemeria was completely disbanded and its territories divided between Poland and Bohemia. Illyria was transferred to Bulgaria, but the Bulgarian Empire would later fall apart in the Civil War. All of the states were officially republics, and the Habsburg-held possessions (estates, etc.) were transferred to multiple French, North German, and Italian noble houses.
The Dissolution of the Russian Empire: The Russian Empire was fully dissolved. Its possessions in the Transoxania were reformed into Turkestan, while its possessions in the Caucasus were reformed into Circassia, Dagestan, and Georgia. Its possessions in Moldavia was given to Romania, Finland to Sweden, and it ceded a large swathe of territory (Ober Ost) to North Germany. Russia was rebranded into the Tsardom of Russia and was forced to pay a total sum of 75% of its national treasury to the Pact Powers (60% to North Germany, 37% to Bulgaria, 3% to France) and 25% its national income to the Pact (15% of the national income to North Germany, 9.25% to Bulgaria, and 0.75% to France)
The Portugal Question: Portugal's Colonial possessions were diminished dramatically. North Germany annexed Angola and Macau, The Netherlands annexed East Timor, and France annexed Portuguese Gambia. South Africa returned Portuguese Mozambique which it had occupied during the Portuguese Revolution. A total sum equivalent of $16 million was given to Portugal as reparations.
The Issue of Ober Ost: North Germany ceded some territories in the annexed Ober Ost to Poland and Romania, and pledged to put the rest of the territory as Mandate so that it would become independent (as one of multiple states) in the next 10 years. By 1915, Ober Ost had been dissolved and three new states had replaced it.
The Treaty of Wien was signed on 28 February, 196 days after the War had ended, and was ratified by the signatory powers and created states in the next nine years. The last country to ratify the Treaty of Wien was Ukraine which officially ratified it in 1920.
In the aftermath of the war, the Habsburg and Russian Empires were fully dismantled. Numerous nations regained their former independence or were created. The Romanovs and Habsburgs fell as a result of the war along with their ancillary aristocracies, while the Koháry dynasty lost the majority of their holdings (in Bulgaria, they lost most of the Balkans, in Portugal, most of their colonies). A total number of 18.5 million were killed in combat or due to it the involved countries, not to mention the millions of non-combatants who were killed and the property that was damaged.
Article 20 of the Treaty of Wien recognized that the North German Confederation was responsible for the territories ceded by Russia (dubbed Ober Ost after the military administration in charge of the territories during the war). Large swathes of land marking most of the European territories held by the Russian Empire were now under no state's authority. The Article also demanded that North Germany prepare the ceded territories to be organized into new states with borders drawn across national or ethnic identities. In reality, the plan that was agreed upon by the Conference of Wien would divide Ober Ost into the 6 states of Latvia, Estonia, Courland, Lithuania, Ukraine, and White Ruthenia. Poland and Sweden had originally contested this, each citing earlier treaties with North Germany and older maps from previous histories as a claim to annex territory. Poland's primary plan would restore nearly the entirety of the Russian partition of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, while Sweden had demanded Estonia and (less adamantly) all Baltic coasts of the Russian Empire including the capital, St. Petersburg.
When the treaty of Wien was signed, the official North German policy was not the same as what had been informally agreed upon in the conference. The Government planned on forming German Nations in the Baltic region and Belarus by expelling a large majority of the native population, while Ukraine was supposed to be put under the official administration of a German king. To implement this plan, North Germany required to enforce the expulsion on the natives. The main problem was that the Military had been demobilized, and the general population was not in support of a military operation this early after the most destructive war in human history. The 15.5 million men strong North German Defense Force had been diminished into a small standing army of 1.5 million. The majority of the police action would thus befall to the Freikorps units that had already been established in Ober Ost to maintain the occupation.
This caused a series of ethnic, civil, and political conflicts in Ober Ost that continued for another four years. The failure of North German plans and the establishment of the three nations of Livonia, Ruthenia, and Ukraine (none of which were German dominated, though Germans were a noticeable plurality in the former two) was one of the main causes of the fall of the last Wastrecht-Orenblau government and the leaving of Alfred von Wastrecht-Orenblau from politics in general.
The failure of the Conference of Wien to establish fair and equal treaties towards the losing sides, the rivalries borne out of the war between multiple countries, and the lack of well-established international organizations built for international cooperation ensured that the "war to end war" would not end war by any means. By 1930, all countries had regained the population losses they had suffered, and by 1932, the South German states had reunified despite treaties barring them of doing so. The emergence of a new Socialist sphere of influence (primarily in the Balkans) and National Militarist totalitarian ideologist in many major or strategic countries (Turkey, France, Italy, Russia, South Germany, Japan, and China) would recreate the international cliques that started the First Great War.
The Second Great War [OOC: Which I am not making a factbook for tyvm] itself is a term used to refer to a number of consecutive -but largely unrelated- wars fought in Europe and its dominions. The first of these wars, the War of Liberation, was fought between the Third Socialist Internationale [Yugoslavia, Albania, Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, and Hungary] and the Second Pact of Rome [Italy, South Germany, Turkey, and Ukraine] over ideological disagreements between 1932 and 1934. This was was nearly concluded by a Pact victory when The second of these wars, the Second Napoleonic War, began. The Napoleonic War was fought between The French Empire and the nations of Europe [The Netherlands, Britain, North Germany, Italy, Catalonia, Spain, South Germany, Yugoslavia, and Poland] when France, in an attempt to restore the First French Empire, invaded its neighbors. The French expansion was not halted until they had capitulated The Dutch, Catalonia, Spain, Italy, South Germany, and Yugoslavia, with the most important parts of Western North Germany also under their occupation in 1939. This war itself was accompanied by a third Brother's War between North and South Germany, and a war between the Pact of Rome and the "Civilized Nations" (which was an unofficial series of democratic or monarchist nations in Europe). The War was finally ended in the Conference of Potsdam after the French unconditional surrender in Paris in 1941 and the Conference of Potsdam a few months later.
The Great War began as a clash of 20th-century technology and 19th-century tactics, with the inevitably large ensuing casualties. By the end of 1910 however, the major armies now numbering millions of men, had modernized and were making use of telephones, wireless communication, armored cars, tanks, and aircraft. Artillery underwent a revolution as well. In 1908, cannons were positioned in the frontline and fired directly at their targets, but by 1911, indirect fire with guns (also mortars and machine guns) was commonplace, using new techniques for spotting and ranging, notably aircraft and field telephone. Counter-battery missions became commonplace and sound detection was used to locate enemy batteries.
Much of the combat involved trench warfare. Many of the deadliest battles in human history occurred in the Great War. Such battles include The Ruhr, The Park Campaign, Battle of Verdun, First, Second, and Third battles of Königgrätz, Laibach, Singapore, Dhaka, and St. Petersburg. The North Germans employed the Haber process of nitrogen fixation to provide their forces with a constant supply of gunpowder. Artillery was responsible for the largest number of casualties and consumed vast quantities of explosives. The large number of head wounds caused by exploding shells and fragmentation forced the combatant nations to develop the modern steel helmet, led by the French, who introduced the Adrian helmet in 1915. It was quickly followed by the Brodie helmet, worn by British Imperial troops, and in 1916 by the distinctive German Stahlhelm, a design, with improvements, still in use today.
The most powerful land-based weapons were railway guns, weighing dozens of tons apiece. The North German version were nicknamed Big Berthas, even though the namesake was not a railway gun. Germany developed the Paris Gun, able to bombard Paris from over 100 kilometres (62 mi), though shells were relatively light at 94 kilograms (210 lb).
Trenches, machine guns, air reconnaissance, barbed wire, and modern artillery with fragmentation shells helped bring the battle lines of World War I to a stalemate. The British and the North Germans alternatively sought a solution with the creation of the tank and mechanised warfare. The British first tanks were used during the Battle of the Verdun on 1 April 1910. Mechanical reliability was an issue, but the experiment proved its worth. Within a year, the British were fielding tanks by the hundreds, and were contested by the North German Panzer units. The conflict also saw the introduction of light automatic weapons and submachine guns, such as the Lewis Gun, the Browning Automatic Rifle, and the Bergmann MP18.
North Germany deployed U-boats (submarines) after the war began. Alternating between restricted and unrestricted submarine warfare in the Atlantic, the Kaiserliche Marine employed them to deprive the British Isles of vital supplies. The deaths of British merchant sailors and the seeming invulnerability of U-boats led to the development of depth charges (1909), hydrophones (passive sonar, 1909), blimps, hunter-killer submarines (HMS R-1, 1910), forward-throwing anti-submarine weapons, and dipping hydrophones (the latter two both abandoned in 1911). To extend their operations, the North Germans proposed supply submarines (1909). Most of these would be forgotten in the interwar period however.
Fixed-wing aircraft were first used militarily by the Italians in Libya on 23 October 1900 during the Italo-Turkish War for reconnaissance, soon followed by the dropping of grenades and aerial photography the next year. By 1908, their military utility was obvious. They were initially used for reconnaissance and ground attack. To shoot down enemy planes, anti-aircraft guns and fighter aircraft were developed. Strategic bombers were created, principally by the North Germans and British, though the former used Zeppelins as well. Towards the end of the conflict, aircraft carriers were used for the first time,.
Manned observation balloons, floating high above the trenches, were used as stationary reconnaissance platforms, reporting enemy movements and directing artillery. Balloons commonly had a crew of two, equipped with parachutes, so that if there was an enemy air attack the crew could parachute to safety. At the time, parachutes were too heavy to be used by pilots of aircraft (with their marginal power output), and smaller versions were not developed until the end of the war; they were also opposed by the British leadership, who feared they might promote cowardice.