The Great War was a global military conflict lasting from 1941 to 1945 involving all of the world’s great powers, eventually forming two opposing alliance systems: the Allies and Entente. It was the largest, most widespread conflict in human history until the Collapse.
While the treaties that ended the Kaiser's War never listed the Entente as having lost, most of the damage of the war was on Entente land and many soldiers returned to the front feeling that their sacrifices were all for nothing. Many veteran organizations, usually overtly right-wing in nature, arose throughout Europe. From this croixism, named after the Croix-de-France party, is a populist, nationalist ideological movement arose throughout post-war Europe to counter Soviet communism and American international capitalism. Emphasizing on rebuilding national pride and being independent of foreign investment, croixism was powerful throughout war-torn Europe, especially in the “defeated” Entente powers. Fear of socialism, which was believed to be originating from the Soviet Union and the SPD-led German Empire, made many flock to croixism. Croixism, unlike American nationalism, was not totalitarian in nature and most croixist movements only gained power by political maneuvering as opposed to overwhelming support from the masses.
Across the Atlantic, American nationalism was reaching its peak. The threat of international communism was played up, along with anti-European sentiment. The idea of Manifest Destiny, a common tool of political rhetoric since the War on Treason, was becoming more and more popular. With the European empires shown to be too weak to finish a war and defeat communist peasants during the Kaiser’s War, many American nationalists saw the 20th century as a potential “American century.” The seat of Western power was to be forcibly removed from London, Paris and Berlin and placed in Washington. The American government ordered military buildup in America’s borders with Canada and Mexico, and its holdings in the Philippines and Liberia.
In Asia, the Empire of Japan was consolidating its control over formerly Russian Korea and became more wary of increasing American militarism in the Pacific. Renewing its treaties with Britain and France, it hoped to counter American power in the area. It was also worried about a second war with the Soviet Union, which was funding communist partisans in the extremely unstable Republic of China. In the Middle East, a milder, more anti-Soviet version of croixism arose in the Ottoman Empire. Wary of Soviet interests in the Middle East, it propped up the anti-communist monarchy of Persia and advanced its military.
The War in Europe
The Great War began with the German reaction to increasing unrest in the former Austro-Hungarian Empire. The increasing brutality of German intervention, which rarely regarded the sovereignty of the newly-independent states there, made the Germans increasingly unpopular among the former Entente. The British and French, their combined navies still able to challenge the Germans, attempted to blockade the Germans. Both Germany and the United States, whose main trading partner was Germany, were both furious and ignored the blockade. The British and French practiced unrestricted submarine warfare against any vessels inbound for Germany and the Germans actively defended their trade by firing on any ship that attacked said vessels. Eventually, on January 5th, 1941, the British and French had enough and officially declared war on Germany. Both Entente countries launched a combined offensive through the Low Countries (who had pro-German governments and somewhat anti-German populations) to bypass the German Westwall. The Entente made quick gains against the Germans before being stopped at the Rhine.
There the front would barely shift, with the Entente finally being pushed back in the Battle of Hamburg, the bloodiest battle in human history until the Collapse. Brutal street-to-street fighting consumed the lives of nearly two million soldiers on both sides. Hamburg itself would become a monument to Germany’s sacrifice during the war, a pilgrimage site for nationalists until the end of Germany itself.
After the Battle of Hamburg, the Germans quickly regained their territory before they themselves were slowed down in France. Nationalist French partisans, unwilling to see France assaulted by Germany yet again, did everything they could to halt the German advance. Fear of francs-tireurs led to occasional mass executions. Paris finally fell to Germany in June 6th, 1944. From there, plans for an amphibious invasion of the British Isles were drawn up, codenamed Operation Otter, but were scrapped because of impracticality and the American nuclear bombing of Belfast.
The War in North America
The United States under Henry Ford soon declared war on the Entente in February of 1941. Although formally to avenge the death of American sailors who had been killed by the Entente blockade, the declaration was mostly a formal excuse for American expansion at the Entente’s expense. The United States launched Operation Madison, the American invasion of Canada, even before the declaration of war reached British embassies. First the Americans targeted Halifax, a key port that the Americans hoped would cut off the Canadians from the rest of the British Empire. The Battle of Halifax would be one of the bloodiest in the North American theater, forcing the Americans to use poison gas against the Canadian defenders. At the same time, the Americans seized the power plants near Niagara Falls. When Halifax fell on March 1st, 1941, the Americans launched their invasion from three fronts: from Vermont in the Northeast, from North Dakota in the West, and from the Midwest toward Ontario. The primary American objective during the war was to capture Quebec city and the Saint Lawrence river valley, so the country would be cut in two, while the Navy blockades Canada and prevents British intervention.
By the end of 1941, most of the country was in American hands, excepting the northern territories. With a vast majority of the Canadian population under American control, President Ford declared during his re-election campaign that Canada had been thoroughly defeated and announced his plans to aid in Europe and East Asia. After his election, most of the United States military was transferred overseas, engaging in an island-hopping campaign against the Japanese.
The War in the Middle East
The war in the Middle East started for reasons separate from events in Europe. In Persia, pro-monarchy forces backed by the Ottomans and Britain and pro-communist forces backed by the Soviets clashed when the Shah attempted to crack down on all overtly pro-Soviet organizations in the country after the former tried to organize a general strike. In 1937, Persia was in a state of civil war between the Persian Empire and the self-proclaimed “Socialist Republic of Iran”, with both sides supported with intelligence, materiel and “volunteers” from outside powers. The Persian Civil War eventually spilled over Persia’s borders and involved ethnic minorities in both the Ottoman Empire and Soviet Union, causing massive crackdowns in each state. Tensions between the two countries increased as weapons from the other were found in the hands of “terrorist organizations.” When the Soviets invaded Iran in 1939 at the request of the communist government, both sides knew that the tenuous peace between the two powers was about to break. The Soviets eventually declared war on the Ottomans when they found “evidence” that the Ottomans were supporting Caucasian nationalists.
Although the Soviets declared war, the Ottomans were prepared and struck first. With the aid of years of modernization and Entente materiel, the Ottomans cut through a Soviet Union still recovering from the Russian Civil War. The numerical superiority of the Soviet Union’s peasant armies were negated by the mountainous terrain of the Caucasus, where skilled Ottoman mountain troops prevailed. Nationalist partisans, a vast majority of which were probably taking advantage of the invasion, joined the fight against the Soviets.
Emboldened by their victories against the Soviet juggernaut, many nationalists in the Ottoman government pushed for a “restoration” of Ottoman strength. Seeing weakness in the former Habsburg empire, they saw an opportunity to reverse the “decay” that the empire had been suffering at the hands of Austria and Russia for centuries. The Ottomans began funneling weapons and materiel to underdog nationalist groups in order to destabilize the area. The Soviets and Germans played the same game, attempting to counter the gains of the other two. In a move that would be remembered by history as having killed the Ottoman Empire, the Ottomans invaded pro-Soviet Bulgaria in 1941. The Germans and Soviets, natural enemies but fighting their own wars elsewhere, never intervened heavily in the Balkans but agreed to a temporary alliance to counter the Ottoman threat. Both nations pulled back troops from their heavily-defended mutual border and the Germans (and, reluctantly, the Americans) supplied the Soviets with materiel to help them against the Ottomans.
What remained of the Persian monarchists were crushed and the Soviets managed to push the Ottomans back over the border in 1943 and continued to advance through Anatolia and the Middle East. The Battle of Fallujah, fought near the ancient city, was the site of one of the greatest tank battles in the war. By 1944, a socialist “Anatolian People’s State” was proclaimed in Ankara the Ottoman government was forced to flee to Smyrna after the fall of Istanbul. By the end of 1944, the Ottoman sultan was forced to surrender to the victorious Soviets.
The War in the Pacific
Much like their American enemies, Japan wished to increase its power in the Pacific. It wasted no time once the United States declared war on Britain. Launching a pre-emptive strike on the Philippines, the Americans were overwhelmed and forced to retreat from their only colonial holding in the area. The Japanese also attacked the Dutch East Indies after the Netherlands fell to Franco-British forces. With major elements of the Pacific fleet leaving to fight the British and French in the Atlantic, the Japanese had the advantage during the early years. The Battle of Hawaii, an attempt by the British and Japanese navies to finally cripple the US Pacific Fleet, ended in an Entente victory, but the islands remained in American hands after a fanatical defense. The Americans would later repay the Entente in 1942 during the Battle of the Fiji Islands, where the Franco-Japanese fleet harbored there was destroyed.
Once they gained the offensive advantage, the Americans engaged in an island-hopping campaign that strove to cut off the Japanese homelands and India from other Entente-held areas. In Australia, anti-croixist sentiment combined with the possibility of brutal American occupation fueled a popular movement to break away from the British Empire and seek a separate peace, which would eventually culminate in the creation of the Republic of Australia after the war. As the European Entente weakened, American strategy changed to become almost entirely anti-Japanese in nature, with the exception of the Battle of Singapore in 1943.
After the fall of France in 1944, the Japanese moved to occupy the former French colonies, meeting resistance from some French soldiers and native nationalists. With the atomic bombing of Belfast, Great Britain ceased to be a factor in the Pacific War. The Soviet Union, finishing its war with the Ottomans, attempted to regain Corea. Fearing a Soviet-dominated Japan, the Americans moved quickly to end the war on their terms. An unofficial race began between the Soviets and Americans, with the Soviets desperately invading Hokkaido before the Americans dropped another nuclear bomb on Hiroshima. Faced with defeat, the Japanese surrendered to the Allies, with the Americans ultimately gaining Corea and the Soviets gaining Hokkaido.
The Great War marked the end of the European empires of Britain and France and the rise of a new tripolar balance of power between America, Germany and the Soviet Union. The defeated Entente empires were carved up among the victors; instead of ending imperialism like the propaganda machines of the Allies promised, a new era of imperialism began. The three states would spend the next two centuries jockeying for power, secure their empires by any means necessary, spread throughout the stars and eventually destroy one another during the Collapse. Many have asked themselves what would have happened had the Entente been victorious during the war. The only common conclusion is that history afterward would be unrecognizable.