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Belgium Put the Kaibosh on the Empereur by Kurarun Belgium Put the Kaibosh on the Empereur by Kurarun
This is something I made for the Map of the Fortnight contest over on alternatehistory.com. The challenge was to make a map showing a scenario which is the reverse of a scenario from our timeline. The map shows a scenario in which France invades Germany via the Low Countries in the early 1900s, as a sort of reverse Schlieffen Plan.

The point of divergence from our own history is prior to the Franco-Prussian war - specifically France buys some of the breech-loading steel cannons that historically gave Prussia such a great advantage in the Franco-Prussian war from our timeline. It's not enough to win the war, but it's enough to prevent it going quite as disastrously as it did historically, so the Emperor isn't captured by the Prussian forces and the Second Empire continues on after the war.

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The Franco-Prussian war was won before it was fought. Whilst France's soldiers sported the superior Chassepot rifle, this was the largest of only a few advantages the great power had. Prussia, meanwhile, had the advantage of the superior breech-loading steel artillery provided by Alfred Krupp, and whilst France had purchased some similar "Kruppstahl" cannons under the insistence of Emperor Napoleon III, most of France's artillery remained tried and tested muzzle-loading bronze designs. In addition to this, Prussia's use of railways to quickly mobilise and manoeuvre its forces had no equal in French military doctrine, and Prussia's army was the only one in the world with the benefit of a dedicated General Staff.

The Prussians beat France back from the border, and got so far as to besiege Paris. Though they never marched on the city themselves, their previous victories and the untenability of the French position led to a French surrender, and the transfer of Alsace-Lorraine - now Elsaß-Lothringen - to Germany.

France had been decisively defeated, but it was not out of the game for good. The French Emperor, Napoleon III, immediately set about analysing why France had lost, and how it could remove its disadvantages. A French General Staff was created, and French military doctrine was radically rewritten for a new age of warfare.

The Emperor was not only concerned with military doctrine and the nature of the army's equipment, but also with geopolitics. Traditionally France had one of the largest armies in Europe, but was unable to bring it to bear against any one foe due to its central position. In the run-up to the Franco-Prussian war, the Prussian Chancellor Otto von Bismarck had diplomatically isolated France, ensuring they had no allies to come to their defence. Though Napoleon III died in 1873, his campaign to break up von Bismarck's Dreikaiserbund - an alliance of the German, Austro-Hungarian, and Russian empires - continued with his son Napoleon IV, who helped break up the Bund in 1875, and obtained a mutual defence pact with Russia in 1879, in order to counter the dual alliance of Germany and Austria-Hungary. This broke France's isolation, and Napoleon IV instantly began diplomatic overtures with Italy and Britain, hoping to ensure the neutrality of both in the event of a war between France and Germany. These diplomatic ties improved greatly once Kaiser Wilhelm II dismissed Otto von Bismarck as German chancellor in 1890 - the Kaiser pursued a much more aggressive foreign policy than the Iron Chancellor von Bismarck had, alienating many nations who were leaning towards the German camp.

In the years between 1900 and 1910 tensions between the Franco-Russian bloc and the German-Austro-Hungarian bloc grew, as dissent in Austro-Hungarian Bosnia - supported by Kingdom of Serbia - threatened to bring Russia (Serbia's ally) and Austria to war. The French Chief of Staff at the time, Joseph Joffre, decided that France's current preparations for a potential war with Germany were inadequate, and so oversaw a radical change in French military strategy. Reasoning that German fortifications in Alsace-Lorraine were too formidable to attack from the front, Joffre formed a plan of attack whereby a number of French armies would march through neutral Belgium and the Netherlands, catching the German defences off-guard and surrounding them. This plan was further modified over the years, eventually becoming Plan XVII.

The opportunity for war came in 1911. Austria-Hungary claimed it had evidence linking a number of Serbian nationals to a series of terrorist attacks and assassinations in Bosnia, and demanded their extradition. Serbia refused to extradite a number of the alleged terrorists, leading Austria-Hungary to declare war, ostensibly to protect its territory from foreign terrorists.

Germany backed up Austria-Hungary's invasion, and said it would defend Austria-Hungary if any nation attacked it as a result. Russia, seeing itself as the protector of all Slavic nations and having provided Serbia with much aid in the past, declared war on Austria-Hungary and Germany, calling in its major ally, France.

Plan XVII was then put into action, with troops being mobilised and moved quickly into position for the initial assault. Unfortunately for France, it had underestimated many things - the effectiveness of the Russian army, the willingness of Britain to go to war over the issue of Belgian neutrality, the efficiency of Germany's own mobilisation plans, and the effectiveness of the Belgian and Dutch troops to name but a few. On paper the Plan looked perfect - almost infallible - but no plan survives contact with the enemy, and this is all the more true for plans as audacious and radical as Plan XVII.
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:iconnealman11:
NealMan11 Featured By Owner Nov 29, 2014
if the French lose will the Germans expand even further into French territory or just defend the Fatherland?
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:iconkurarun:
Kurarun Featured By Owner Nov 30, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I doubt Germany would annex any French territory after this war - they already have Elsass-Lothringen after all, and I doubt the British would allow it. They might occupy some of France, and there might be some Saarland equivalent that they'll administrate as a *League of Nations mandate, but there's no real reason why they'd keep it.
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:iconnealman11:
NealMan11 Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2014
Also, will you continue this scenario?
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:iconkurarun:
Kurarun Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I think I will at some point, but I generally only make maps for the Map of the Fortnight contest over on AH.com now, so it'll have to wait until a challenge that works well with this timeline comes up I'm afraid.
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:iconnealman11:
NealMan11 Featured By Owner Dec 1, 2014
Yeah I guess so but I feel a better punishment over the for France would be releasing one of the old Gallic countries like Brittany, Occitania, or Picarde.
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:iconrogueleader1000:
RogueLeader1000 Featured By Owner Nov 13, 2014
I think I might write a timeline to this scenario.
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:iconkurarun:
Kurarun Featured By Owner Nov 13, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Go ahead - I might make more maps set in this world, but I don't think I'm going to write a full timeline of it. :)

I have been meaning to respond to your long post discussing what this world might be like after this alternate WWI - I do have ideas of what this world would be like after WWI, but I haven't had the time to do research and see which bits are plausible and which bits aren't, I'm afraid.
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:iconrogueleader1000:
RogueLeader1000 Featured By Owner Oct 25, 2014
France is pretty much doomed. Though I must applaud you sir: this is the most original World War I althistory I've seen in a while. Even if America gets involved, the most they could do would be to take British territory in America like Canada. However, considering that Woodrow Wilson was a complete Anglophile, he will probably overlook anything bad that the Germans and English do. This war will split Americans however: Anglos and German Americans will support the Allies, while the Irish and French descended will support the French and Russians. Overall, it will be a very...interesting situation for all involved, though I see the French getting pushed out of Germany and the Low Countries by the German military relatively quickly. It will be hilarious to see Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg greet the Germans as liberators. Heck, Luxembourg (and possibly Belgium and/or the Netherlands) may join the German Empire voluntarily!:D (Big Grin) 
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:iconkurarun:
Kurarun Featured By Owner Oct 26, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thanks! I'm not sure how original the concept itself is - it's mostly just France and Germany swapping circumstances - but I'm glad you like it! :)

I'm not sure I ever thought extensively about what might happen to America in this timeline. I'm not sure Woodrow Wilson would be in office, but the point of divergence was small and less than a century ago, so it's possible. If someone who was less of an Anglophile was in office I could see America joining the Franco-Russian side in hopes of defeating the British Empire in the Americas. I imagine they'd be quite successful in that, but might lose all their gains once their side loses in Europe.

That might have rather interesting effects - in OTL the fact that Germany held enemy territory when it surrendered in WWI led to dissatisfaction with the government and the "stab-in-the-back" myth. If a similar thing happened to America I could see some similar conspiracy theory evolving and justifying a more nationalist, authoritarian government.

I'm not really sure what would happen after that. I've already speculated that France, Russia, and Austro-Hungary might undergo revolutions/coups post-war themselves, so it seems like the 1920s might be a time of revolutions like 1848, with a mix of socialist and nationalist/fascist movements gaining/attempting to gain power in various countries across the world. That would certainly make WWII exciting. :D

I'm not aware of the politics at the time or what the popular sentiment was, but I doubt the Netherlands and Belgium would become part of Germany, though I could see Luxembourg being integrated after Germany protects them against the "French menace". Some sort of local defensive alliance and/or economic pact would be possible and interesting, though. I could see a quasi-EU starting out as an economic organisation initially covering Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany.
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:iconrogueleader1000:
Definitely see Belgium and the Netherlands falling into the German sphere. Assuming the Eastern Front goes about how it goes in our timeline, and Poland, Belarus, Ukraine, the Cossack States, Lithuania, Finland,  the Baltic Duchy, Georgia, and possible Azerbaijan and Armenia all get German-backed independence, the makings of Germany's Mitteleuropa may actually be put into place. Though its almost certain that Luxembourg will join the Empire they narrowly avoided joining only a few decades before.

The interesting idea of the war ending in a draw, with a Central powers victory in Europe, but and American/Entente victory in the Americas would lead to an interesting scenario. It could lead to a fait accompli situation, where the British would be unhappy about the situation, but with a tired military and no way to invade the U.S., would be forced to accept U.S. dominance in the Americas as unavoidable, while America would have to accept the situation in Europe. In this world, assuming the lack of a Woodrow Wilson analogue and his inane 14 Points, there would be little to no support for self-determination or the League of Nations (though a League may still form). America would be more politically isolated in the aftermath, but will be more militaristic and self-reliant, especially without the British to ensure the Monroe Doctrine anymore. America may, for example, go on and annex Haiti and other Caribbean nations to prevent German or British influence. The Japanese will still have their Anglo-Japanese Alliance, and thus would join the Central Powers in the war effort, taking the war to the Russians and the French. The Japanese getting all of Sakhalin Island and French Indochina could have interesting ramifications for the east. If America becomes a British enemy, the Anglo-Japanese Alliance may never break. Meanwhile, America will become even more anti-Japanese, but may yet not lose the Philippines, though I can see Philippine independence cancelled, and the islands integrated instead.

As for Italy and the Ottoman Empire, Italy stayed neutral in the war initially and was against going against the British who supplied most of their coal. With the British on the Central Powers side, the British may be able to convince the Italians to join the war on their side. Thus, an invasion of Southern France will hurry French capitulation. Out of that invasion, the Italians will get Corsica, Savoy, Nice, and some French colonies. The Ottomans only joined the war in OTL due to German pressure to obligate an alliance that had been made before hand. I can see the Ottomans still joining the war on the Central Powers side, though I don't see them doing that much better against the Russians. At least they won't have to worry about the British supporting insurrections in their territory. Bulgaria will still join the Central powers as well, to regain Vardar Macedonia (modern day nation of Macedonia, which was Serbian at the time. With the British backing the Central Powers, who knows how Romania may swing. They may wait out the war till the very end when it was obvious that the conflict will swing one way or another. I see them joining the Central Powers to take Russian territory (specifically Bessarabia). Portugal will follow their British ally, so no surprise there. Greece will almost certainly back the Allies, seeing as there will be no conflict between the Germanophile King and his Anglophile Prime Minister.

The war will go badly for Russia and France. The Great Game between Britain and Russia will end decisively here. The British will seize the chance to renege on all the agreements they have made with the Russians and seize Afghanistan and control Persia. A British invasion into Central Asia may not follow, but Britain will establish itself as suzerain in southern Central Asia. The French Empire will cease to exist. It will be divided up between the British and the Germans, and Italians, and the Japanese more than likely. While continental Russia will almost certainly lose territory to Germany, and France will possibly lose French Flanders to Belgium, along with the rest of the  Nord-Pas-de-Calais  region, and will also probably lose territory to the Italians, whether they will lose territory to Germany or Britain is an open question. I do however predict a fascist-like revolution in France, and a communist revolution and civil war in Russia, though how successful either one of those will be will depend on how much Germany is paying attention.

I also predict the dissolution of Austria-Hungary as well due to all of its internal issues. No doubt Germany will step in to keep the peace, and keep the Italians out. Germany would most likely annex the territory of our time Republic of German-Austria  and other mostly German areas, like the Burgenland (including Ödenburg) and Pressburg (modern day Bratislava). Germany may give Italy Trentino (not the German Southern Tyrol) as its mostly Italian, but will probably want the Austrian Littoral and Slovene lands to have a port on the Mediterranean. Bohemia and Slovakia will probably not merge and will remain German puppet states, especially since Bohemia will be indefensible with its borders. Galicia and Lodomeria will be split between Ukraine and Poland to keep their puppets happy, the Triune Kingdom will be united into Croatia, and Romania will probably get all of the Romanian regions of the Empire, especially if they joined the Central powers. Bosnia will probably go to Croatia.
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