His Excellency, the Herzog von Mecklenburg on the 1906 peace talks"For the third time, peace negotiations had been derailed by His Majesty, out of what I can only imagine to be a mistaken impression of what our enemies were willing to surrender. The Italians were a hardy foe (as they had proven aggain and again on the battlefield) and they perceived the Long War as more of a challenge than a direct threat. Despite the long, drawn-out hostilities, there was still a healthy amount of respect and, to some twisted degree, even camaraderie between the clashing Armies and Navies, as evidenced, primarily, by the Christmas Truces and the several occasions of German ships allowing a selective lifting of the blockade. The Italians were not as desperate as His Majesty would have liked to believe; and, after the end of the war, I had the chance to speak candidly with some of their officers and diplomats.
"'Of course we knew we were going to lose the war,' Lieutenant General Ermanno Aebi told me in May 1910, when I had the pleasure and honor of meeting him in Vienna,
'The important thing was to win the peace, not the war. Your Kaiser nearly jeopardised that as well.'"
-From the private writings of Herzog Johann Albrecht von Mecklenburg, Reichskanzler 1902-1920.
July 1906. The Peace negotiations have foundered once again; the Germans are asking for much more than the Italians are willing to give. Spirits are low in the Admiralität
as the war is likely to extend over several more months. Some celebration is had when the R & D department reports that improved compressed air containers for the German torpedoes are now ready to be put into production.
And then spirits promptly fall again as the submarine service reports this month's losses. There is simply nothing to sink
out there; the German submariners just sail around and put themselves in danger for no reason.
Thankfully, the French carry their weight with a summer offensive over the Alps. Considerable progress is made; after more than two years of war, the French are now at the gates of Turin and are shelling Genoa. The German Navy once again seeks to draw the Italians out...
...but the Italians refuse to engage, to the exasperation of Büchsel.
And then, a potential opening. German and French intelligence have collaborated in locating and hosting the known revolutionary and anarchist Paolo Badoglio; they are considering smuggling him back into Italy, where he might foster discontent and discord.
The Kaiser is incensed
and nearly torpedoes the nascent project. The French, however, are adamant: their armies have been dying in the Alpine front for two years and this stalemate needs
to end. They have little concern about the dangers to monarchy this move will create; they want the war brought to a swift close. Von Mecklenburg agrees; and after two weeks of argument, the Kaiser is convinced.Hertha
has the dubious honour of ferrying Badoglio to Sicily, where he is put ashore under cover of nightfall. He is welcomed there by others of his ilk and gets to work, for a time slipping under the radar of the Germans and French.
August: R & D reports the development of new, smaller and lighter boiler designs...
...no change in the 'Italians don't wanna fight' front...
- SMS Medusa
slips the ways. She's a small minnow compared to the Schlachtkreuzer
under construction, but she's welcomed to the navy with open arms. The Kaiser, still moody and discontent at the recent turn of events, is present in the commissioning ceremony and appears revitalised, on the deck of the little cruiser."My knights-errant of the seas,"
he says to Galster and Tirpitz, who are also present. "I know her time is already past, but I'll be damned if she isn't a beauty."
His mood would nosedive in September, when the Italian raiders sortied in a concentrated effort, slipping past the blockade on numerous occasions. And their fleet refused to fight, verdammnt nochmal!
.Go die in a fire
Literally overnight, Italy explodes
in anti-war and anti-monarchy riots. Half of Napoli is burning. And Badoglio is in the middle of everything.
It is difficult to describe the ferocity
of the disturbances of October 1906; the October Revolution, as it has been described by some, was barely contained; and resentment continued to simmer under the surface. The French were ecstatic at the success of the ploy; the Germans...not so much. Von Mecklenburg had
anticipated something along those lines, but the success of Badoglio worried him immensely; and the less said about the Kaiser's reaction, the better.
As for the Italians, they finally
broke. A communiqué was sent to Berlin, asking for peace negotiations to commence.
Von Mecklenburg, for the first time, was hesitant. On the one hand, the military lobbied for a hard position: "They are broken,"
Tirpitz argued. "Let them collapse and we'll pick up the pieces
. On the other hand, the Kaiser was adamant that peace should be agreed upon without delay, for the situation in Italy had to be contained before it spiraled out of control. "This is your making,"
he told von Mecklenburg in an uncharacteristic display of foresight, "yours and the French's. Fix this, or every crown in Europe will fall by the end of the decade."
And so, peace was agreed upon; and, in an ironic twist of fate so common to the political stage, the Germans and French were called in to crack down on the riots their own agent had started.
On the 20th of November, peace was formalised. France would get no territorial gains, but would claim the lion's share of the war reparations; a sum that would bring the Italian economy to its knees for the next five years and wouldn'd be paid off fully until the 1920s. Germany, on the other hand, would stand to gain both more and less.
For Von Mecklenburg, in a shocking twist, adopted a stance that was the exact opposite of the 1901 Russian Peace. He asked for no sums of money or any sort of war reparations from the Italians; instead, he asked for territory.
The entirety of Sardinia, to be exact.
And so, we come to the end of the Long War; a war that raged for 30 months and left its bloody stain in Europe for years to come; a war that was conceived as a diversion and a challenge; a war that was birthed in perfidy, in the finest tradition of old Albion; and a war that granted Germany her greatest prize since the days of Bismarck.
A naval base in the Mediterranean.
Tremble world. Germany is here to stay.
OOC: No autoplay because I am a kind and considerate storyteller. Ahem
. I am pointedly looking at some people here. You know
who you are.