The Central Powers was one of the two sides that participated in World War I. They fought against the Allies, and consisted of Germany, Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria. The name Central Powers is derived from the location of these countries; all four were located between the Russian Empire in the east and France and the United Kingdom in the west.
After four years of fighting, the various Central Powers surrendered throughout the fall of 1918. Their defeat served as the foundation for domestic conflict, particularly in Germany, which eventually begat the Nazi Party and World War II.
Central Powers in Southern VictoryEditThe Central Powers also called the Quadruple Alliance was, along with the Entente, one of two major alliance systems vying for world dominance in the early twentieth century.
Founding Members Edit
The following countries were among the founding members of the Central Powers and remained its major members throughout the early twentieth century.
Italy EditItaly, which like Germany was unified in the mid-late nineteenth century, was courted by Otto von Bismarck in his attempt to build an anti-French coalition, and it became a founding member of the Central Powers but remained neutral in the Great War. Nonetheless, Italy extended recognition to the Republics of Quebec and Ireland and the Kingdom of Poland during the war, before most other neutral and Entente countries did the same.
Italy also remained neutral in the Second Great War.
Later Members Edit
Joined before the Great War Edit
Joined during the Great War Edit
- Brazil (1917)
- Chile (1915)
- Irish rebels (by 1916)
- Paraguay (1915)
- Poland (1916)
- Quebec (1917)
Joined during the Second Great War Edit
Governments created by the Central Powers or their members Edit
- Finland (by 1943)
- Ireland (1918)
- Liberia (1822; prior to formation of the alliance)
- Poland (by 1916)
- Quebec (1917)
- Ukraine (c. 1918)
Nations which belonged at one time but later withdrew Edit
When Otto von Bismarck unified Germany in 1870, one of his main foreign policy goals was the isolation of France. To that end he approached the recently unified Italy, a rival of France, as well as Austria-Hungary; although the latter had been a one-time rival to Germany's ruling Hohenzollern dynasty, France's ally Russia was an even greater concern to the Hapsburgs.
After the Second Mexican War, Bismarck instructed Ambassador Kurd von Schlozer to approach United States President James G. Blaine to appeal to his country's desire for revenge against the Confederate States, another French ally and at whose hands the United States had been recently defeated. The US allied itself with Germany, and by extension with the other two members. The alliance was greatly beneficial to the United States as German advisors gave recommendations on social, military, and economic reforms to gear the nation toward winning a major war. These reforms became hallmarks of the emerging revanchist, nationalist ideology of Remembrance. The alliance expanded as both Germany and the US entered into defensive alliances with other countries.
Great War Edit
The Quadruple Alliance faced its first major crisis in 1914, when Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary was assassinated by Serbian nationalists in Sarajevo. Austria-Hungary threatened war with Serbia if a number of ultimata were not met. Serbia, emboldened by Russia's promise to support it, refused to meet these ultimata, and war between Austria-Hungary and Russia broke out. The United States and Germany supported Austria-Hungary, while Russia's Entente allies supported it, and the Great War began.
Central Powers forces battled the Entente on the continents of Europe, North America, South America, and Africa, and across the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Germany introduced poison gas and the United States introduced barrels, both of which revolutionized warfare and in the latter's case paved the way to the USA's victory. The Central Powers also supported the Red Rebellion in the CS, the Rising in Ireland and the Russian Revolution, which forced Russia to withdraw from the war. The Central Powers created the Kingdom of Poland and the Republics of Ireland and Quebec.
Central Powers diplomats continued to recruit new members, including Chile and Paraguay in 1915, but their greatest success came in 1917 near the end of the war, when they convinced the Empire of Brazil to join the alliance. This allowed an American-led fleet with Brazilian and Chilean elements to cut the food supply lines between Britain and Argentina, forcing Britain to surrender.
By the end of 1917 the Central Powers had won the war after all four major Entente nations were forced to withdraw from combat and ask for terms.
Interwar Years Edit
After the war, the victorious Central Powers imposed harsh peace treaties upon their defeated enemies but soon lost the will to continue enforcing them. At the same time, relations between the United States and Germany cooled. In the United States, the Socialist Party ended a period of dominance by the Democratic Party, and maintaining a strong military was a much lower priority for the Socialists. In Germany, political turmoil as Kaiser Wilhelm II aged and ailed had a similar effect. During this time, several members of the alliance withdrew. The United States supported an anti-Hapsburg rebellion in the Mexican Civil War of the 1920s, and Germany supported the Monarchy of Alfonso XIII in the Spanish Civil War of the 1930s. Both were defeated by their Entente-backed opponents.
Second Great War Edit
In 1941, upon the death of Kaiser Wilhelm II, the Entente launched a coordinated assault on Germany and the United States, beginning the Second Great War. Both countries lost territory early in the war before (mostly) stabilizing their fronts, then reversing their fortunes in 1943. Repeating their successes with the three Catholic countries in the Great War, the Central Powers created allied governments in Finland and Ukraine by supporting anti-Russian rebels in those areas. They also supported rebels against Entente governments whenever and wherever possible.
In the Great War there was a great amount of cooperation between the two major allies, but in the latter war this is not the case--at most they occasionally cooperate on minor naval operations in the Atlantic. Nonetheless, the Central Powers prevailed in the Second Great War, as Germany destroyed the capital cities of Russia, France, and Britain with superbombs, and the United States brought its superior military resources to full use, completely overwhelming the Confederate States.
In the aftermath of the war, Germany and the United States completely dominated their respective continents, though Japan controlled the western Pacific rim in the same manner, while Russia and the British Empire remained strong enough to avoid total subjugation.