Monday, January 11, 2016

Map Monday: Europe After a Central Powers Victory by Blomma

I have three major criteria when picking maps to feature on Map Monday: 1) the map is well done, 2) the scenario is unique and interesting and 3) your reaction on social media when I share it with you is generally positive. Now occasionally I will ignore one of those three points if I feel there is something important to say about the map, like this one:
This is "Europe After a Central Powers Victory" by Blomma. As you can see this is a good map. The colors are nice, the borders are realistic and the art style is more complex then the usual MSPaint jobs you see in our community (no offense, Bruce). That being said...I don't know how plausible the scenario is. Reading up on the short nations descriptions that went with the map and this brief timeline, I find this comes off more like a German-wank then a realistic post-WWI Europe where the Central Powers were victorious.

For one, I don't see Germany annexing all of Belgium. Although their post-war plans for that nation were vague, Germany did try to foster Flemish nationalism and Robert Cowley in his What If? series penned a counterfactual scenario regarding a Germany victory in WWI that had a map of Belgium. Cowley speculated that the Germans would annex some territory in the east, but he believed a "tributary state" (called Flanders-Wallonia) would have been created by the Germans from the rest.

Additionally, the eastern borders don't make much sense. It ignores actual German client states carved out of Eastern Europe during the war; like Poland, Courland, the Don Republic and Belarus. While in some areas local control was minimal, annexing so much territory causes problems. You will need to keep troops to occupy the area and assume the costs of administration. Someone has to pay for this and demanding the locals to do it will lead to resentment and rebellions. The Germans wanted to create buffer states in the east to protect them from Bolsheviks and while the military wanted more direct control, peace-time Germany would have less reasons as time goes on to listen to the army.

So if I have so many issues with the scenario, why did I choose to feature this map? As I said before the map is good and I have been on a WWI kick lately, so this map just caught me in a good mood. Although it has its issues, it sparked some fun imagination of what I thought Europe would look like after WWI. Its for those reasons that I decided that Blomma's map deserved a closer look by others.

Honorable mentions this week go out to "United Arab Republic - Alternate Timeline" by Red_River_Sam, "The Land of Kurultai" by Lynn Davis and Rebecca Stirling's take on Cody Franklin's WWII alternate history. If you still need more maps, I recommend you check out Brillant Maps' "Short History of Colonialism Since 1492 In One GIF" and Greg Miller's article on Soviet era cartography that can be found on Wired.

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Matt Mitrovich is the founder and editor of Alternate History Weekly Update, a blogger on Amazing Stories and a Sidewise Awards for Alternate History judgeWhen not writing he works as an attorney, enjoys life with his beautiful wife Alana and prepares for the day when travel between parallel universes becomes a reality. You can follow him on FacebookTwitter and YouTube. Learn how you can support his alternate history projects on Patreon.

6 comments:

  1. A lot depends on when and how the Central Powers won. Even in 1914 the "September Program" was fairly drastic, but German aims got more radical the longer the war continued.

    The later the victory, the more territorial changes and the more radical the means used to rearrange the map, demographically as well as politically -- by 1918, OberOst was actually carrying out initial "ethnic cleansing" of Poles and Jews from areas it intended to settle with Germans, and the Pan-Germans had become much more politically important in Germany. And by then German troops had reached the Caucasus.

    And, of course, by 1918 Germany was essentially a military dictatorship, and I don't think the generals would have given up effective power immediately. If they'd won and won big, they'd have had the necessary political legitimacy to keep running things for some time, behind a facade of politicians dancing to their tune.

    Puppet states might well have been in some cases an intermediary stage between conquest and full annexation.

    I agree that an outright annexation of the whole of Belgium was unlikely, but of Flanders, possibly. The Germans regarded the Flemings (and the Dutch) as essentially Germans who didn't know it yet, which on linguistic grounds is actually fairly plausible -- the languages are Low German dialects that happened to get a formal structure as literary and national tongues. As the saying goes, a language is a dialect with a flag and an army.

    The Germans intended to annex some French territory adjacent to Alsace-Lorraine, and to carve out military and naval bases on an extraterritorial basis, and to make the rest of France essentially a tributary state.

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  2. The Balkans is a bit unrealistic. After Franz Ferdinand Serbia would have paid a territorial price to Austria, too, possibly even outright annexation. And if Austria takes a part of northern Italy, the Dodekanes will go back to the Ottoman Empire. In addition from the Austrian perspective you want the border on the Po for defensive purposes. And I think Finland would have pushed for a northern harbour.

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  3. If Italy looses, Libya goes back to Turkey.

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  4. It's informative to take a look at the treaties of Brest-Litovsk and Bucharest, which Germany imposed on Russia and Rumania respectively. Both essentially involved taking the defeated opponent by the throat and squeezing until their eyes popped out -- the economic provisions of Bucharest are jaw-dropping, essentially a license to loot the place bare for 99 years. They make Versailles look like a cooing love-feast.

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  5. I must disagree with the fact that Germany wouldn't have annexed all of Belgium and with the fact that eastern borders don't make much sense.
    Actually,GERMANY WOULD HAVE ANNEXED EVEN MORE TERRITORY IN THE EAST,if the Central Powers would have won the war:Lithuania,Belarus and maybe territories in the south of Russia.Annexing more territory not only could cause problems,but also brings new population and new resources to be exploited.As for resentments and rebellions,those could exist anyway,paying the costs of occupation or not paying,but that's exactly why those troops and the administarion are there:to keep the situation under control and to quell the troubles.And regarding the client states founded by the Germans during the war,those states were in fact not clients,BUT SIMPLY PUPPET STATES of Germany(and partially of Austria-Hungary) and they were only a temporary solution until the end of the war.After the war the civilian politicians would have also supported the military point of view because,after such a terrible war,a victorious Germany would have had the opportunity to expand and to become the dominant power in Europe(and,perhaps,not only).
    Concerning Belgium,it's the same idea.Germany would have wanted for sure,to have access to the shores of the North Sea and certainly wouldn't have needed to create a puppet state to annex it afterwards.
    Also,I don't see any change regarding Great Britain.It's very hard to believe that a winning Germany would have let Great Britain exactly in the same position as it was before the war.Almost certainly,the Germans would have imposed the independence of Ireland and even that the English give up Malta,Cyprus and perhaps Gibraltar.
    I also disagree with the saying that "a language is a dialect with a flag and an army".A language is,in general,a sum of dialects and surely it's not enough for a dialect to have a flag and an army to become a language.

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  6. The map is not correct concerning Romania,which would have lost Dobrudja to Bulgaria,as it was stipulated in the treaty of Bucharest.

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