Schutzgebiet Westdioscuria

The German Presence on Mars in Space1889 

by Anders Blixt 

The Germany military became interested in establishing a presence on Mars at the end of the 1870s, when they saw what advantages the British had gained from the Red Planet, like liftwood airships that could topple the military balance in Europe. The General Staff wanted bases close to the Astusapes, an area with the precious liftwood.  

Western Dioscuria with the cities of Dioscuria, Protonilus, and Ismenilus seemed to be a proper place in which to place troops and airships. It was reasonably close to Astusapes, while it at the same time did not belong to the sphere of influence of some other major political actor. In the mid-1880s Bismarck offered the three sergals (city princes) protection against foreign enemies together with domestic autonomy in return for German base rights, control over the cities' foreign policies, and trade advantages. The three cities were relatively weak and their sergals feared that they would involuntarily drawn into the triangular power struggles between the Boreosyrtis League, Great Britain, and the Oenotrian League. They saw clear advantages with the German offer and accepted it gratefully; in 1887 the Schutzgebiet Westdioscuria was formally established by the signing of three protectorate treaties.  

Each city, headed by its autocratic sergal, rules itself in all internal matters, but the jurisdiction is somewhat limited for German nationals. For instance, German military personnel is not subject to local law, but to German military law. The cities are very similar in culture and share a common language, the sibilant Dioscurian, making things easier for the Germans. The German Colonial Ministry appoints the senior German official, der Reichskommissar, residing in Dioscuria, with responsibility for military matters of the protectorate and its relations to other political entities on Mars. He has of course also a significant influence on domestic matters and the three sergals usually listens carefully to his advice. The current Reichskommissar is Curd-Friedrich Count von Wartburg, appointed in 1888. 

The Germans treat their foreign dependencies in ways very different from the British or Belgians ones. The purpose of colonies or dependencies is to make Germany stronger and richer and assure her of "her rightful place in the sun", but the best ways to acieve that is usually to treat the natives decently and provide them with hospitals and schools to instill gratitude and to administer the territories in a sensible way. German Colonial Ministry officials view the Belgian atrocities in the Congo and on Mars with contempt and consider it to be a counterproductive strategy in the long run.  

The Germans are very attentive to what uses their industry may have for the resources found in their colonies. Like the United States and unlike Great Britain, Germany is right now in a period of almost explosive industrial expansion at home. No other European country has a faster growth in GNP. The goal is to overtake Great Britain as the biggest industrial power in Europe soon after the turn of the century. The resources of Venus and Mars play a very important role in this process. One facet of the German plans is the extensive mapping and mineral surveys conducted on Mars. German surveyors, commonly escorted by soldiers, turn up in the most surprising locations.  

The military and political establishments in Germany are dominated by the Junker nobility and the ambitious individuals of the rapidly growing bourgeoisie have few opportunities there. Instead they can make their careers in the colonies, where the emphasis is put on competence rather than on heritage. The Colonial Ministry and the military can pick the best from the multitude of applicants that want to go abroad. This has given Germany the most well-run colonial administrations and military forces in the solar system.  

The Germans have also choosen to deal with the natives in their own languages. The official language of the administration of German East Africa is Swahili and in Westdioscuria the German use Dioscurian. All officers and NCOs of the native units and all officials in the protectorate administration must have an adequate skill in Dioscurian. They are also expected to learn about the native culture and how the Martians think, simply because such knowledge makes it much easier to run the administration. Some of the causes for the Sepoy mutiny in India in the 1850s were due to the lack of understanding the British had for their Hindu and Moslem subjects. The Germans do not wish to repeat that mistake.  

This flexible attitude should not be mistaken for softness. The Germans are fully prepared to deal harshly with any attempts to destabilize or threaten their presence on Mars. Since they have guaranteed armed protection to their cities, it will also be provided in doses strong enough to deter any potential trouble-maker. The Hill Martian tribes surrounding the protectorate learned that lesson in the second half of the 1880s, when their raids on outlying Canal Martian villages were avenged with impunity by German forces. The particularily vicious Karshekoat tribe was hunted almost to extinction in 1888 and its scattered remnants had to flee to the Syrtis Lapis area to survive.

Each of the Westdioscurian cities has a locally raised regiment of militia infantry, commanded by German officers, armed with modern German rifles, and with Dioscurian as command language. In each city there is also a company of the 1st Schlesischer Jäger and 1st Marsischer Husaren, both exclusively German battalions. The army and militia units of each city form a brigade, commanded by a colonel. The artillery and machine gun units of the three brigades are exclusively manned by Germans for security reasons.  

1. Schlesischer Jägerbataillon: This Prussian infantry unit was transferred to Mars to secure German interests already in 1882, before the establishment of the protectorate. The uniform is green with red cuffs and includes an Australian style bush-hat. All soldiers and officers carry a zivios, a Dioscurian machete with an ornate hilt, as their special mark of recognition (the officers wear it instead of a sabre).  

1. Marsischer Husarenbataillion: This light cavalry unit, mounted on gashants, was established in 1887. It is trained for reconaissance missions in the harsh Martian wilderness. The uniform is of burgundy color with silver embellishments and belongs to the traditional style of German hussars. The sabre is in Martian style.  

The Martian flottilla of the Imperial German Navy is led by Kapitän zur See (navy captain) Diedrich Fritze. The cruiser Hamburg (commanded by Fregattenkapitän (commander) Lothar Berger) and the gunboat Marienburg (commanded by Kapitänleutnant (lieutenant) Johann Prien) are based in Dioscuria. The kites of the three cities are also under German command. Since there is no naval infantry in the German navy on Mars, jäger units are assigned to the ships when necessary.  

The Marienburg is a brand new ship. She is small, unusually fast and look somewhat like the British Aphid class. There are rumors that her steam engine is of a novel design.  

The German army and navy units on Mars are organized together in the Wehrkommando Mars under major-general Helmut Sauerwein in Dioscuria. He takes his orders both from the Reichskommissar and from the General Staff in Berlin, something that has caused serious friction both between the General Staff and the Colonial Ministry and between Count von Wartburg and Sauerwein personally. Further, the navy officers dislike being commanded by an army officer and that has also been the source of some troubles.

The Germans have serious long term plans about increasing the economic viability of their protectorate. Since the canal connecting them dried out thousands of years ago all transport has to be done by caravan, a method that the Germans consider most inappropriate for the 19th century. Faster and cheaper transports would encourage trade and make it easier to achieve economic growth. The corps of engineers of the German army have begun preparations to build a railroad along the dry canal between the cities. During 1889, the routes will be surveyed by and facilities to make tracks will be established. The construction itself is to begin in 1890. The engines and the cars must also be built on Mars, since it would be too expensive to transport them from Earth, and several engineers are working on solving that problem. When finished, the railroad will be the property of the German state.  

The Martian airship flotilla will increase in size during the next few years; the energetic and imperialistic emperor Wilhelm II does not want Germany to lag behind Britain and France in any aspect. The main limiting factor is the lack of liftwood and major-general Sauerwein plans to send expeditions into the Astusapes to deal with the High Martians and to secure a good supply of the precious timber.  

Copyright © 1996 Anders Blixt 
Space: 1889 is Frank Chadwick's registered trademark for his game of Victorian Era space-faring