Prologue Under the careful administration of Chancellor Otto Von Bismarck, Prussia rose from one of the German states to the unifier of almost all of them. With his tact and Germany’s resources, the new German Empire was able to assert itself on multiple continents, gaining large holdings in Africa and the Pacific Rim. He further secured Germany’s newfound power through strategic alliances meant to keep the peace in Europe amidst the tensions of colonial expansionism. Though he would later be forced from his position due to disagreements with Kaiser Wilhelm II, the legacy of Germany owes much to the pragmatic man and his realpolitik. Under Leo von Caprivi, Bismarck’s successor, Germany’s diplomatic machine crumbled, with only the alliance with Austria remaining solid. When the old Prince Hohenlohe succeeded Caprivi in 1894, this allowed an extremely ambitious foreign minister, von Buelow, to assert his policies. Wilhelm being the impetuous, aggressive type, was soon quick to give von Buelow immense leeway in foreign affairs. Wilhelm called for a large naval buildup, but this necessitated a stronger industrial base – von Buelow was able to ensure the Emperor coerced the weak Hohenlohe to strive for maximum economic production, even if the population would decline due to the sheer pace of converting agrarian land tor industrial use. With an enlarged military, Germany made sure a lid was kept on dissent. As the years went by, von Buelow glossed over his Emperor’s irresponsible, belligerent remarks and provided an image of Germany peacefully rising. Germany’s productivity surged in the period from 1895 to the turn of the century. With Hohenlohe’s health rapidly declining and with a close relationship with the Emperor, it was not surprising von Buelow had his eyes on the Chancellory itself, seeking to control German domestic as well as foreign policy to make sure his grandiose global ambitions could be realized. Such was the influence von Buelow had on the Emperor (being far more agreeable than Bismarck had ever been, for better or worse), that he was able to declare war on the Low Countries in 1899, with Wilhelm lending full support. “Germany’s peaceful rise” was over. War of 1899 Overview Day 1, 1899: Germany declares war on Belgium, Holland, and Luxembourg. Day 5: Germany occupies Luxemburg. Day 9: Germany seizes much of the southern Netherlands, cutting off supply lines between Dutch and Belgian forces. Day 112: The Dutch campaign stalls due to lack of sufficient manpower, though Germany slaughters hundreds of Dutch soldiers and captures thousands more in Tanzania. Day 169-185: Another battle across Tanzania claims 9000 Dutch and Belgian casualties. Most of the slain or captured Dutch forces are actually of Indonesian origin. The desperate plan by the Dutch and Belgians to squeeze Tanzania from both sides to force concessions from Germany fails. Day 178-187: After holding out for half a year, an assault on Amsterdam destroys large sections of the city and results in 19,000 being captured or killed. Amsterdam is occupied by Germany, and within a few weeks, all of the Netherlands follow. Day 199: An attempt by the Dutch to avenge the loss of their capital with an attack on Tanzania ends in disaster, with over 4000 lost or captured. Day 230: The German Invasion of Belgium begins with a seizure of the eastern part of the countryside and Germans camping all around Brussels. Day 285: After a lull in the campaign and the capture of trivial objectives, an assault on Brussels burns several blocks to the ground and kills hundreds of Belgian soldiers. The city holds, but it is apparent that the city won’t be able to hold for long. Day 306-321: Intense fighting rocks the Belgian Congo as Germany musters enough forces for an offensive in Africa. Artillery and cavalry charges slice through the southeastern part of the Congo. Day 307-316: An assault on Brussels wears the numbers of young men guarding it down even further. The strain of the assault costs hundreds of young Germans their lives, but Germany occupies Brussels (and in the next few weeks, all Belgium) with minimal losses. Days 333-337: The central Congo is seized from the Belgian forces, thus cutting the territory in half. Day 345-352: The Dutch portion of Papua New Guinea is occupied in a costly battle, solidifying Germany’s position in the Pacific. Treaty of London (1900) The war had progressed with such speed that the French and British, the two powers most concerned with German expansionism, had not been able to form a coherent response to the bloodshed. As debates raged in Paris and London’s parliamentary halls, however, German forces had effortlessly cut through three countries’ forces on three continents. When it looked as if the British and French might finally reconsider their neutrality, the Emperor was quick to call for peace… and sure to invite the two powers. In a move of surprising humility, von Buelow invited the British and French to submit their grievances and their proposals for a postwar order. Naturally, the status quo antebellum was unacceptable to Germany… but similarly, the idea of a Germany able to freely rampage across Europe did not register well with the Anglo-French delegation. Von Buelow was able to come up with appropriate compromises to satisfy the other parties, as well as consolidate Germany’s gains. Germany’s benefits from the Treaty were readily apparent: the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Flanders were annexed into Germany. Wallonia, the Congo, and the Dutch East Indies (later Indonesia) were granted independence; the Belgian government was exiled to the Congo and the Dutch to Indonesia. While a simple legal fiction, the message was obvious: Germany had no intention of leaving its new territories in Europe. While it outright annexed occupied Indonesia, it nominally returned the occupied Congo to the new Congolese state… though in reality, it continued to exert considerable influence in regions of the country. Germany clearly came out ahead in the 1899 conflict, and so it fell to what to do with its two western rivals… For Britain, perhaps the most pressing matter was the German annexation of the Belgian coast, which gave the latter a clear shot at the British capital. Von Buelow’s compromise was simple: Britain would acquire the entirety of the Belgian coastline, as well as some of the Dutch. This would prevent German forces from being stationed there, and similarly provide Britain with a continental base to monitor German activities. Overseas, the British were also granted some of the Belgian Congo and the Dutch East Indies. The French were naturally not as easily placated. While the Royal Navy gave Britain the extra insurance it needed against aggression from Berlin, France was now right in the German crosshairs with the Low Countries under German rule. Von Buelow had a suitable compromise: Wallonia would be ceded to France. That wasn’t enough insurance for the French, however, so Germany made an even bolder move: it said that it would not balk at a preventive alliance between the French and British to check Germany if it were to attack either of them. The compromise pleased the French, who signed the Entente Cordiale with the British. While the provisions were re-worded so unapproved German aggression anywhere in Europe would invite the intervention of both powers, the Kaiser’s Government accepted this… its focus was abroad now that it had enlarged its European holdings at the expense of the Benelux. With concessions made and negotiations concluded, the new millennium began on a peaceful note… there would be no war over the Lowlands, despite how uncomfortable the prospect had made the British and French governments.