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Thread: Eine Geschichte des Grossdeutsches Reich - Germany/Road to Doom's Day

  1. #1

    Eine Geschichte des Grossdeutsches Reich - Germany/Road to Doom's Day

    So I'm on vacation, and have an idea about a HoI2/RDD German strategy I'd like to test. Unfortunately, I'm two time zones away from my HoI2 computer, but still itching to do something with it. Instead of playing, then, I'm going to begin with the prewar history of Germany, to explain the historical differences.

    Until I get there, then, what we have is prologue. Lots o' prologue.

    Oh, and FWIW, planned settings are all middle-of-the-road, except for techteam and IC inheritance, which will be on, if I ever get around to, you know, actually getting to playing this.


    Eine Geschichte des Grossdeutsches Reich
    A History of the Greater German Empire
    Hans Keppler
    Gottingen, 1985
    Trans. by William Fredlund
    Austin, 1995

    Translator's Note

    Doctor Keppler's classic introductory history to the German Empire has never been properly translated; among many of my colleagues, the idea of translating Keppler has been hotly debated because of the occasional complexity of the German text, which is not always suited to the American reader. Nevertheless, I have decided to embark upon this monumental task for a number of reasons.

    First, and perhaps most important, is to dispel many of the war-period myths surrounding the German war machine and to shed light on the inner workings of the German Empire both before and during the wars. The average American reader has, thanks to Hollywood, come to view Germans either as mythic, Teutonic supermen, or as bumbling Bavarian beer-swillers. Because of the Kalter Krieg, very few have had occasion to travel to Germany itself.

    Second, Doctor Keppler was among the first historians to have access to primary records of the period. His access to official Kriegsministerium, Schutzstaffel, and Party records was at the time unprecedented, and while many have since mined sources that Keppler lacked access to, his initial notes are in many ways the foundation upon which these later works are built. To paraphrase Newton, if later authors have plumbed deeper, it is because they worked the mines of a giant.

    Third, Keppler's German is an excellent introduction to the style of formal German documents, both in the period and today. This style in many ways apes the Kaiserlich period in its formality and ponderousness, tempered by the Party's inimitable, opinionated style. Reading it in translation is therefore a service to the beginning or amateur historian of the period.

    Before beginning with Doctor Keppler's work in detail, a word on its author may be required. Hans Keppler was born in 1953 at the Garrison Hospital, Potsdam, to SS General Georg Keppler, who had during the war commanded several SS armored divisions prior to being diagnosed with a brain tumor in 1942. The elder Keppler spent the remainder of the War Period in a series of administrative posts with the SS troop office. He died in 1966, just after his son had been admitted to the SS military academy, the Sepp-Dietrich-Schule in Berlin's Lichterfelde Barracks. Unfortunately, a riding accident in 1957 disqualified Hans Keppler from active service with the military branch of the SS. He studied history at the Party-sponsored university at the school of political instruction (German NaPoLa, for Nationalpolitisch Lehranstalt), NPEA Potsdam, the most central of the Party political schools and therefore the best-equipped. Keppler received his M.A. in 1973, with a thesis on the subject of the transformation of the German military from 1935 to 1940, proceeding on to doctoral studies the next year, with his doctorate in history coming in 1976, continuing his magisterial thesis. Given the paucity of teaching positions in the late 1970s in Germany (to which the present author can attest, as a guest lecturer during the early detente period), it is likely that his father's connections assisted him in finding a teaching position at the non-Party University at Gottingen.

    In 1980, he applied to the Chancellory for access to the archives, citing the long lapse of time since the War Period, the spate of wartime leaders' deaths in the late 1960s and early 1970s leading to oral history failing, and the flood of wartime accounts such as Guy Mouminoux's The War Years Remembered, which, while they may accurately portray the individual's experiences, do not give an accurate picture on the larger scale. To his own surprise, he received permission, and began his research. A History of the Greater German Empire is the result.



    For my father, his comrades, and the thousands who shouldered the burdens of returning Germany to greatness.
    H. Keppler, 1985



    It is commonplace to begin histories of the Wars by specifying the dire straits in which Germany found itself following the World War; which is to say, the economic and social injustices forced upon Germany by the victorious Allied Powers at Versailles in 1919, and the disastrous consequences of unrestricted capitalism in the Western Powers, which dragged Germany to the precipice of social collapse and beyond at the end of the 1920s. It is equally common to specify that the cure to Germany's ills was the action of a handful of men; namely, the President, Paul von Hindenburg, the Chancellor and Leader of the German Reich, Adolf Hitler, and the Chancellor's associates in the National-Socialist German Worker's Party, in numbers that increase as their significance decreases. Men of this second rank include Heinrich Himmler, Rudolf Hess, and the various now generally nameless ministers of the early Reichsministeries. Names like Raeder, Guderian, Manstein, and Udet joined this first rank as war heroes, but even now awareness of them fades.

    However, this view neglects the importance of the vast, faceless bureaucracies over which these men, who have become faceless themselves, presided, and the contributions of an army of engineers and theoreticians directed by these bureaucracies. A comprehensive understanding of the interaction of technology and government in the formative years is beyond the scope of this work, but a basic awareness of the importance of industry and research during the period is vital to understanding Germany's success during the Wars.

    As an example, the Air Ministry sponsored an engineer named Zuse in the development of a mechanical computer in the middle of the 1930s; by decade's end, Zuse's Department Z of the Air Ministry was an entire basement floor of the Air Ministry's Prinz-Albrecht-Strasse headquarters. Zuse found himself responsible for projects as diverse as cryptography and airplane-mounted radar. Unfortunately, because of the relation of his work to the safety of the Reich, his work was not made public until very recently, with the public availability of the "Zuse" personal computer.

    Documentation is our only guide in instances of this kind, where the principals, because of their natural sense of honor and their restriction by the government, are unable or unwilling to speak about their roles. This makes modern access to government records of paramount importance to the serious historian, and it is upon this new evidence that this history rests.
    Last edited by c0d5579; 04-07-2012 at 21:43.

  2. #2

    Table of Contents

    Last edited by c0d5579; 04-07-2012 at 21:52. Reason: Update

  3. #3
    Part I: Prologue

    1. Germany from Napoleon to Hindenburg


    Modern German history is conventionally agreed to have begun with the campaigns of Friedrich der Grosse during the Seven Years' War, which solidified the position of the Kingdom of Prussia as the dominant power in northern Germany, the south being relegated to the Habsburg emperors. Prussia was accorded the status of "kingdom," a title denied to the other powers in Germany, and its elector-prince referred to as King of Prussia, rather than King in Prussia, his former title when subject to Imperial dominion. Prussia was, therefore, the star around which the modern heart of Germany revolved; however, this was an honor quickly contested. Upon the death of Friedrich der Grosse, his nephew, Friedrich Wilhelm II, inherited the throne. Friedrich Wilhelm II was called "the fat good-for-nothing" by his own people; he, with the Austrian Emperor Leopold, failed to defeat the armies of Revolutionary France along the Rhine, and the Prussian King's willingness to negotiate with the French Republic meant that Prussia lost all respect in the eyes of her neighbors. Prussia was gladly shot of fat Friedrich in November of 1797.

    His son, Friedrich Wilhelm III, inherited a realm which had utterly expended both the wealth of the Baltic and the prestige of Friedrich der Grosse. The new King of Prussia reduced spending and began a reform of the kingdom, but was not his great-uncle, and after the Battle of Jena in 1806, was forced to reduce Prussia to a mere duchy of Napoleon's continent-spanning Empire. Friedrich Wilhelm III is better remembered for his ministers and marshals than himself; it was under Friedrich Wilhelm III's rule that Prussia was led by such men as Hardenberg, Scharnhorst, and Gneisenau, and the concept of a General Staff formed.

    The General Staff's purpose was to plan wars before they occurred; it was founded under Scharnhorst and nurtured by Clausewitz, who had seen the effects of poor staff-work on Napoleon's armies in Russia, in the years following the French Emperor, who finally and for the last time toppled from power after the Battle of Waterloo, where Field Marshal Bluecher's appearance saved the British under Field Marshal Wellington. With the formation of a full-time planning department dedicated to future wars, the General Staff relied less on individual than collective talent, and would be responsible for the next century's triumphal parade of Prussian victories.

    Figure 1: Prussian Expansion in the 1800s (from English edition)

    In 1815, after Waterloo, Germany was partitioned into two vaguely defined spheres of influence between Austria in the south, and Prussia in the north. Conflict between Vienna and Berlin was historically inevitable, and Prussia had gained much more from the Napoleonic Wars than Austria, which had lost its preeminence in 1806 with the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire, instead becoming the Dual Monarchy of Austria-Hungary, with the Austrian half momentarily dominating. The Kingdom of Prussia continued to exploit its advantageous position in the north throughout the reign of Friedrich Wilhelm III, forming the German Customs Union (Zollverein - trans.) in 1834, excluding Austria from all north German trade.

    In 1840, King Friedrich Wilhelm III died, having greatly expanded Prussia despite his own limitations. He was succeeded by his son, Friedrich Wilhelm IV. The new King was content to allow guidance of German affairs to pass momentarily to Austria in the first half of the 1840s. Prussia was as caught up in the revolutionary fever of 1848 as the rest of Europe; the Frankfurt Parliament of 1849 went so far as to offer Friedrich Wilhelm IV the crown of the North German Confederation, which he rightly refused, saying that he would not accept a crown from a revolutionary mob without the consent of his fellow rulers. In 1850, however, he promulgated Prussia's first constitution. This Constitution strengthened the Junkers and landowners, who had suffered most from the depredations of Napoleon, and laid the foundations for the future German Empire.


    Figures 2-4 - King (later Emperor) Wilhelm I, left, Minister-President (later Chancellor) Otto von Bismarck, center, Chief of the General Staff Helmuth von Moltke, right

    In 1858, Friedrich Wilhelm IV suffered a debilitating stroke, after which his brother Wilhelm I assumed the reins of government, first in a regency and then in his own right as King of Prussia in 1861. Wilhelm was abetted in his rule by the great Otto von Bismarck, his Prime Minister. Bismarck, aided by Field Marshal Helmuth von Moltke, guided Prussia into a series of successful wars, first of which was against Denmark over Schleswig-Holstein, then Austria, leading to the annexation of all of Austria's north-German allies and the complete destruction of Austria's political influence in Germany, and finally in France.

    Figure 5: The Foundation of the German Empire

    It was in France, at the Battle of Sedan, that Prussia fully avenged the Napoleonic invasions of the first part of the 19th Century. In 1871, the French under Napoleon III were forced to recognize a unified Germany and yield their claims on Elsass and Lothringen. In the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles, Wilhelm I, King of Prussia, was crowned Emperor of Germany. He spent the remainder of his 27-year reign in peace, his Chancellor guiding Germany successfully from European crisis to European crisis.

    Figure 6: The Second Reich

    However, the peace could not last forever. The trend of late-19th Century diplomacy was to building systems of alliances designed to countervail each other, with the Entente (Britain, France, and Russia) structured to surround the Central Powers (Germany, Austria, the Ottoman Empire). Bismarck had hoped to draw Russia into his own system of alliances, but decided instead to align with Austria. Even so, his policy of maintaining Russia's neutrality would have kept Germany's eastern border clear during a future war with France.

    In March of 1888, Wilhelm I died at the age of 90 and was succeeded by his son, Frederick III, who was ill upon coronation and died within ninety-nine days of assuming the throne. He was in turn succeeded by his son, Wilhelm II, in June of the same year. Wilhelm II and Chancellor Bismarck conflicted from the beginning, and by 1890, the Chancellor had been forced from office. Where Germany had felt one strong hand guiding her for the past thirty years, Wilhelm II appointed a series of chancellors, some stronger than others. Four men held the office between Bismarck's retirement and the World War, none of them of Bismarck's caliber. As an example of this, none of them were able to persuade Wilhelm to maintain Bismarck's 1887 Reinsurance Treaty with Russia, driving Russia into the arms of Britain and France.

    With one important exception, Wilhelm II's other advisors were also not in the category of his grandfather and namesake's. In 1905, the Chief of the General Staff, Alfred von Schlieffen, conceived the plan later bearing his name, which was revised in 1906 by Schlieffen's successor, the younger Helmuth von Moltke. This plan conceived of the invasion of France in a lightning advance by way of the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg; however, Moltke's revisions consolidated the plan to neglect the Netherlands and stiffened Schlieffen's proposed elastic defense of Elsass-Lothringen. There were several significant drawbacks to the Schlieffen Plan.

    First, if one conceives of Belgium as a pipe, by which a steady stream of men were to be delivered into France, the pipe was incapable of carrying the volume of men and supplies needed to complete the plan. Second, the General Staff operated in a political vacuum, neglecting the British willingness to preserve Belgium. Third, it neglected the lack of fundamental technological changes since the elder Moltke's experiences at Sedan, changes which would not occur for another thirty years; it is a fundamental law of warfare that for every measure there is a countermeasure, but in the early decades of the 20th Century, countermeasures had not been found for the measures of the 19th Century. Fourth, the plan was set to a fixed timetable, and therefore improvisation was discouraged at the very moment where it was most required. These weaknesses showed the general decline in the quality of thinking in the General Staff; considerable debate has gone into whether the Schlieffen and Moltke Plans could have worked as planned except in a perfect universe.

    The exception to the decline in general quality of ministers from the first to the second Emperor Wilhelm was naval. Prussia had never been a naval nation; Germany, as a great power, was entitled to a naval interest. The modern Reichsmarine* owes its existence to the dynamic Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz, who persuaded the Emperor to establish a modern navy to compare with Britain and France. These countries, jealous of their historical advantage, protested, but construction proceeded regardless both of diplomatic consequences and the strains placed upon the German economy. Under Tirpitz, the Imperial Naval Cabinet was created, and the Empire saw its first battleship enter service just in time to be outdated by the famous HMS Dreadnought in 1906. Post-1906 construction was therefore focused on the dreadnought-style battleship. In 1914, because of his influence, Germany, though a latecomer to naval warfare, fielded seventeen modern battleships and fifty or so other capital ships.


    In 1914, the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated by Bosnian nationalists in Sarajewo. This led to a chain of events, well-documented in many sources, that culminated in a general European war, whose outcome is well-known. Southern Imperial pig-headedness and Wilhelm II's belief that he must support his allies in Austria led to the attempted execution of the Schlieffen Plan in France, and the ensuing debacle on the Western Front. Similarly, Tirpitz's navy proved incapable of dislodging the Royal Navy from the North Sea. However, the Russian Front was a different story.

    Generaloberst Paul von Hindenburg and his chief of staff, General Erich Ludendorff, commanded an under-strength army facing the massive Russian forces under Generals Alexander Samsonov and Paul von Rennenkampf. Hindenburg's forces won a series of spectacular victories, which they were unable to exploit properly because of the extent of forces committed in the West. Unlike in the West, the Russian Front stabilized with Germany essentially in control of all of Poland.

    The eventual political solution of the Russian Front is also well-known at this point: the deliberate overthrow of his brother-monarch Nicholas II of Russia by Wilhelm II's intelligence organs, acting by way of the radical Lenin, and the collapse and communization of Russia in 1917 and after. Hindenburg and Ludendorff were elevated to control the war effort in the west, leading to the war's end phase.

    At the same time, frustrated by Germany's diplomatic efforts in the New World, America came into the war, lending the Entente Powers a new strength just as Ludendorff and Hindenburg began their radical series of offensives that moved the front line forward for the first time since 1914. These American soldiers acted as human shields for the British and French, who were on the verge of mutiny after four years of their only goal being not to lose.

    In November of 1918, the World War came to its shameful end, with the German soldier encouraged by foreign influences to mutiny against his comrades and officers. The Emperor abdicated, and Germany surrendered, expecting that the Entente Powers would accept a negotiated settlement. They were sadly mistaken.


    At Versailles, five years to the day after the assassination of Franz Ferdinand, the victorious Allies, under advice from the American President Woodrow Wilson, charged Germany, starting with the abdicated Wilhelm II, with a series of crimes so extraordinary that a new body of law had to be invented essentially out of whole cloth in order to build such a case. Germany was forced to yield large pockets of land to France, to Denmark, and to Poland, a nation which had not existed until the German Emperor had graciously demanded their liberation from the Russians at Brest-Litowsk in 1917. It was an early indicator of the perfidy of this new Polish state that even where citizens of a district might cry out to remain with the German Reich, they were forced, often at bayonet point, either to remove themselves, or to call themselves Poles.

    The Allies' determination to bleed Germany to death continued: after destroying the Double Monarchy of the Habsburgs, they refused the natural union of German-speaking Austria and Germany proper, insisting that the two must remain separate nations. In a final, clear territorial proof that the goal of Versailles was not to end a war, but to end a nation, all of Germany's sparse Pacific territories were granted not to their natural owners, such as the Chinese, but to Japan.

    Economically, Versailles was aimed at destroying the industry which German workers had spent a hundred years to build. The Saar region was seized by the French and illegally occupied for fifteen years, with its coal output seized by the French and the German people left to freeze. The most optimistic American estimates of reparation payments claimed that France would be enriching herself at Germany's expense until 1988; German authors estimated it at 2020 instead.

    It was Germany's worst moment.


    * First of many 1914-1936 changes from OTL. This is intentional.
    Last edited by c0d5579; 20-02-2013 at 15:49. Reason: Spelling and punctuation

  4. #4
    2. The Weimar Republic

    Figure 7: Germany during the Weimar Republic


    Modern historians have tended to disregard German history between 1919 and 1933, despite the fact that the Weimar government was the closest thing to a duly constituted government to be found in Germany during the period. Foreign historians have preferred to pretend that German history has been one unbroken string of tyranny, despite the obvious falsity of this claim. German historians have preferred to pretend that the dark period of Weimar never happened, in order to cover what they see as the shame of the post-Versailles period. Party historians have preferred to pretend that the "wilderness period" from the founding of the Party in Munich to the January 30th Revolution never happened. As a result, the fifteen-year period between war's end and the Party coming to power is a generally neglected period in the Reich's history.

    When the Emperor departed German soil in November of 1918, the Reichstag found themselves nominal rulers of Germany, albeit with no experience in ruling. At the same time, Sowjet-style soldiers' and sailors' councils had permeated what remained of the Reichsheer and the Reichsmarine. The Reichstag's leaders, especially Friedrich Ebert, were far more sympathetic to the departed Emperor than to the socialist firebrands and Spartacists. The Western powers considered the Ebert-ists to be the more legitimate of the two competing governments, and were the ones bound to the treaty table of Versailles.

    By January of 1919, the Reichstag had established itself as the sole government of Germany. Demobilized soldiers had formed into the heroic bands called "Free Corps," not so much in support of the democratic principle, as in protection of the sacred soil of Germany, both in Bavaria and in Silesia. It was due to the Free Corps that as many Silesian Germans were able to return to the Reich rather than being trapped in Poland after partition. The Free Corps acted as a second army, since Versailles restricted Germany to a mere hundred thousand soldiers, no tanks, no machine guns, no aircraft - in short, an army more befitting a Swiss canton. The Free Corps movement had one critical disadvantage, however: large bodies of soldiers, without formal association with the government nor with a party, were a powder keg.


    The keg exploded in 1920, when Wolfgang Kapp attempted to seize the city of Berlin. The emasculated Weimar army proved incapable of restraining the plotters, and the Ebert government was forced to call upon the trade unions in order to maintain the government. The government, now beholden to the unions, found itself chained by these obligations throughout the 1920s. Without employment, without goods to trade or a firm economic base, and bound by massive reparations to France and obligations to pay workers' benefits, the Ebert government was forced to devalue the Papiermark, and later the Rentenmark, to a cripplingly worthless level. The French occupation of the Ruhr and associated actions by patriotic German workers in 1923 exacerbated the inflationary problems, with the average German worker no longer able to afford food, employment plummeting, and confidence in the government at a nadir.

    Figure 8: Defendants at the Munich Putsch Trial, 1923; General Ludendorff and later Chancellor Hitler are standing adjacent at center, Ludendorff in uniform and Pickelhaube, Hitler in overcoat

    In 1923, the future Fuehrer and Chancellor, Adolf Hitler, at the head of the National Socialist German Workers' Party (NSDAP), attempted to rectify the weak Bavarian government and establish a strong central government that could address the issues of Versailles. He was supported in this by government and Free Corps troops, equipped from government arsenals, and assisted by General Ludendorff of World War fame. Accidents of timing led to the attempt's failure and the trial of its leaders, including General Ludendorff and the future Chancellor*.

    * I have chosen at this time not to address the remarkable personal history of the Fuehrer and Chancellor; I pray that my audience will indulge me until the events leading up to the January 30th Revolution may be fully explained. - H.K.

    Figure 9: Jazz and provocative dancing - symptoms of the decay of the 1920s


    By the end of 1923, however, Germany was starting to stabilize. The Stresemann-Ebert government had created a second shadow army, coordinated by the Reichswehr, from former Free Corps members, established a stable new currency and paid off Versailles using the hyperinflated 1919 Reichsmark, and begun establishing normal diplomatic relations with France and the Sowjets. It was hardly a promising climate for as visionary a party as the National Socialist Worker's Party. It was a false dawn, however: the Weimar years were a period of decadence and decay, where every artistic extravagance was indulged and the fine German traditions of the 19th Century neglected. Wagner was thrown over in favor of Al Jolson, Goethe for Fitzgerald. American and French fashions came to dominate Germany, and the traditional German way of life was endangered by rampant foreign influences.

    Examples of this can be seen especially in the realm of cinema. Wiene's 1920 The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, an Expressionist nightmare of hodgepodge forms and confused plot, is a perfect example, as are the ridiculous anti-Semitic* diatribes of Paul Wegener dealing with the legendary Golem of Prague. Germany was not totally lost, however: During this period, the future Chancellor wrote his famous three-part political masterpiece, beginning in 1924 in Landsberg Prison: The Struggle for Germany (1925), The Challenge of the 20th Century (1926), and What Is To Be Done? (1927). In these three volumes, he laid out the challenges facing Germany in a clear, lucid fashion, with his program for dealing with them following.

    He was released from prison in late 1924 after serving eight months of his sentence, and began the process of moving the NSDAP into the mainstream German political consciousness. It was not an easy time for the NSDAP to do so, as Germany was ostensibly recovering, albeit slowly, from the crippling weight of Versailles, and the conservative wing of German politics was littered with splinter parties, some represented by such luminaries of the first quarter of the 20th Century as Admiral Tirpitz; in 1925, the conservative wing managed to elect Field Marshal von Hindenburg as President of the Republic after Ebert's death. General Ludendorff, embittered by what he saw as Field Marshal Hindenburg's second abandonment of him in his trial (the first being in 1918, when he attempted to persuade the Emperor to continue the war), left active political life behind just when the NSDAP could most have used his aid. For the Party to obtain recognition, let alone power, seemed unlikely. However, the NSDAP had a greater ally: economics.

    Figure 10: Massive unemployment led to the further radicalization of German politics as masses of people, such as shown, drifted from speech to speech.


    The economic success of the 1920s was made possible by rampant speculation, both in Germany and abroad; when this collapsed nearly simultaneously with the death of Germany's most respected politician, Foreign Minister Stresemann, Germany was plunged into chaos once more. In the space of four years, from 1929 to 1933, Germany had four chancellors, with the average administration lasting slightly more than eleven months. The most stable of these was the Bruening administration; however, Heinrich Bruening, brought in as an alleged financial expert, was powerless to assist Germany to recover from economic crisis.

    Matters came to a head in 1932: President von Hindenburg was re-elected to the Presidency of the Republic, whereupon first Franz von Papen, a former cavalry officer, and then the Minister of Defense, General Kurt von Schleicher, attempted and failed to form coalition governments. The NSDAP wisely chose not to become entangled in their flailings. In January of 1933, then, President Hindenburg was forced to turn to Hitler as the only clear, reasonable, rational voice in Germany, and invited him to form a coalition government.

    On January 30, 1933, Germany was saved from spiraling further into the Depression, and the Third Reich began its laborious birth.

    Figure 11: Chancellor Hitler addresses Germany for the first time as Chancellor, February 1, 1933


    * Yes, you read that right. "Ridiculous anti-Semitic diatribes" in a German publication in a Hitler timeline.

  5. #5

    3. The Consolidation of the Reich

    Figure 11: Chancellor and President during the Day of Remembrance, 1934

    The Hindenburg Years

    The first years of the Party's rule in Germany were tumultuous; Chancellor Hitler inherited the financial and political crises of 1929-1933, and as a former non-commissioned officer, the military establishment was leery both of his support and his judgment. Many in the High Command were unaware of the political maneuvering of 1923 and the attempted Munich putsch.

    Even without the problems facing the Reich in 1933, the situation was further complicated by the actions of a Dutch halfwit, Marinus Van Der Lubbe. Van Der Lubbe was a member of the Communist Party, already on the verge of suppression because of its obstructionist policies earlier in the decade. Less than a month after Hitler's appointment as Chancellor, he ignited a fire in the archives of the Reichstag, which spread to consume the entire building within hours. Van Der Lubbe's guilt was beyond doubt, as he was found on site with incendiary materials in hand. However, investigation showed that he was not the sole conspirator. A network of Bulgarian and Sowjet intelligence agents unravelled over the next few weeks, and the Reich's police organs were kept busy even as the Chancellor organized another round of Reichstag elections. The Potsdam Reichstag was the result.

    On March 21, 1933, the Reichstag convened in the Potsdam garrison church, the heart of the old Prussian army. Hitler, in tailcoat and homburg, opened the session by welcoming his old commander, President Hindenburg, to the assembly. It was a surprisingly mild speech for a man known more for his predictions of doom and disaster if Germany did not change its ways; this was, perhaps, because the Chancellor recognized that the change was already underway. The President called for the passage of an Enabling Act, allowing rule without resorting to the Constitution. Hindenburg and Hitler together argued that the act was required to do away with the parliamentary deadlock that had marked the past four years since the economic crisis of 1929 began. The Enabling Act was approved by a narrow margin, and for the moment Potsdam became the seat of the Reichstag.

    With the assistance of the German military, the government acted quickly, ordering the disbanding of the socialist and communist parties, citing their role in the Reichstag fire. The Party, along with the German National People's Party (Deutsche National Volkspartei, or DNVP) and the German veterans' organization Stahlhelm, formed the legitimate organs of government in the Reich.

    Certain elements of the Party viewed this as a license to excess. The Sturmabteilung (SA), the Party's own uniformed organization, first forced the Stahlhelm into an unwilling merger, then absorbed all other veterans' organizations, youth movements, and even some trade organizations. By January of 1934, the SA under its leader Ernst Roehm, a former Army captain, had gone too far, issuing a memorandum demanding that it absorb the German army as well. Outraged, General von Blomberg brought the memorandum to a cabinet meeting to present to both Hitler and Hindenburg, neither of whom had been warned ahead of time. A transcript survives of the meeting. It makes clear that Blomberg had timed his presentation well; Hindenburg was by now thoroughly senile, and Blomberg caught him on a rational day.

    BLOMBERG: Herr Reichskanzler, Herr Reichspraesident, this is intolerable. Have you read what this Roehm is demanding?

    HITLER: Now, now, Herr General, Herr Roehm is a loyal and trustworthy comrade of long standing, who served in the War, and in the defense of Germany after. I am sure there is an explanation, whatever it is.

    HINDENBURG: Herr Hitler, this memorandum is totally unacceptable. The sacred honor of the German soldier subjugated to a jumped-up staff captain, known to follow such unspeakable practices, such a thing is unimaginable. Quite apart from the General's objection, I demand that we do something about this nonsense.

    HITLER: Herr Generalfeldmarschall, you are absolutely correct. I had not seen this memorandum until now. Quite shocking. Totally unacceptable. I will deal with it. Herr General, I trust that I may have the full cooperation and support of the German army? I assure you, the German army has my full cooperation and support, in this as in everything else.

    BLOMBERG: Of course, Herr Reichskanzler. You shall have the full support of the German army, starting with myself.

    HITLER: Thank you, Herr General. I apologize for this untoward business. Now, Herr Minister von Neurath, I understand that the Olympic Committee has heard our request?
    Party records are unclear about the exact measures which the Chancellor took to reprimand Staff Chief Roehm; however, it is known that by midsummer, the SA had gathered the resources it believed it required to overthrow Hitler and Hindenburg. This time, Heinrich Himmler and Hermann Goering, who between them controlled much, though not all, of the German police, were the ones who brought the matter to the Chancellor's attention, and the Chancellor's reaction was swift and decisive.

    On the night of June 30, 1934, elements of the German army and police arrested leaders of the SA and a wide variety of other political agitators of all stripes. Most of them were executed, including Roehm, over the next three days. President Hindenburg, apparently satisfied with the outcome, sent the Chancellor a telegram of congratulation once the matter was concluded; unfortunately, the President outlived the plotters by a mere month, dying on August 2, 1934.

    Figure 12: The Funeral of President Paul von Hindenburg at the Tannenberg Memorial, 1934

    The President's Funeral

    Hitler traveled to the Tannenberg Memorial and Hindenburg's funeral together with the seniormost members of the branches of government most concerned with Germany's rearmament, his military leaders and their Party equivalents. A great deal was covered during the journey, which took the best part of a week because of the many stops for towns to pay their respects to the departed Field Marshal. Transcripts survive of the meetings; because of their length, they make for difficult reading, but are fascinating in their implications for the future German military.

    The first military decisions taken were simple. Germany was not yet ready to violate Versailles openly, and must for the moment do everything covertly, as had been done for the past fifteen years. Reichsfuehrer-SS Heinrich Himmler, in his role as chief of police in Bavaria, had a potential solution, the so-called "Green" Reichsheer, formed of the Bavarian border police, ready for development. The Chancellor and Defense Minister Blomberg agreed that the "Greens" were a viable route, and, with great difficulty, persuaded General von Fritsch, newly appointed as chief of staff of the Reichsheer, to accept a liaison between the Army and the SS and police organs to coordinate their training. Fritsch placed strong restrictions on this Army-SS cooperation, for which Himmler had already prepared, offering the Stahlhelm chief Paul Hausser, a retired lieutenant-general, as the ideal liaison between the two organizations. Hausser, a Prussian officer in the old tradition, was acceptable to Fritsch from past professional exposure. The presence of a General Staff officer such as Hausser as liaison was considered sufficient by Fritsch to ensure that the SS and police (or "Blacks" and "Greens" from their uniform colors) would be proper soldiers.

    Germany's air and naval situations were more complicated. Germany was forbidden by Versailles to field an air force of any size, and the Chancellor was inflexibly set against the Rapallo agreement of the 1920s, which sent German pilots to the Sowjets for training and familiarization in exchange for modern technology. Blomberg, Goering, and Hitler agreed wholeheartedly on the need to separate the air service from army control, and in 1933 the Air Ministry was formed. However, it was impossible to field an air force without offending the Western powers, and the Chancellor was as yet unsure of his chances in that arena. Generals Walther Wever, the Air Ministry chief of staff, and Erhard Milch, the former head of the state air line Lufthansa, were in violent disagreement with Generals Ernst Udet and Albert Kesselring. The Wever camp believed that German aviation should focus on large aircraft requiring a minimum of aircrew and the potential for covert development from civil aviation; the Udet camp argued in favor of smaller aircraft with fewer material demands, pointing out that the potential for covert development was just as viable in the current climate of air record setting. This particular debate was not resolved during the journey to Tannenberg, with the Chancellor instead ordering parallel developments for his consideration.

    Finally, Admiral Erich Raeder, as the commander of the Reichsmarine, presented his position: Germany could not possibly face any of the Western powers at sea, but an aggressive building plan could reconcile this by the mid-1940s. Hitler, recalling Tirpitz at the beginning of the century, gave his assent and privately noted that he had already planned on withdrawing from most of the stipulations of Versailles anyway. Raeder was directed to begin staff studies; Hitler freely admitted that his understanding of the sea was weakest of the three areas considered.

    The President's funeral was the most spectacular ceremony seen in a country lately devoted to lavish ceremonies; even the President's onetime subordinate and later adversary, General Erich Ludendorff, attended. As the President's eulogies went on, it fell to the Chancellor, as the second man in the government after the President, to make the summary oration. Hitler's speech was surprisingly brief, given the speeches that had come before it, but it held its share of surprises, not least of which was the Chancellor's subdued tone.

    Germany had never seen a man like Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg before him, nor will we again, certainly not in our lifetimes. In war, he turned back the Slavic horde and avenged the irreparable harm done to the German people by Poland four hundred years before his own birth. He stood as a shield against every ill facing the German people on two fronts, and when a lesser man would gladly have withdrawn into quiet contemplation when he could lay down his sword, he reluctantly chose to lead in peace, answering the call of a people who saw no hope in the continued liberal excesses of the time.

    There will never be another President Paul von Hindenburg. Under his guidance, Germany was not yet able to get to her feet, but certainly took the first faltering move to rise from her knees. The German people owe his memory the greatest of debts, having asked him to shoulder burden upon burden upon burden. He stood as a giant among us, stooped like Atlas under the weights which we, the German people, chose to place upon his shoulders, never once complaining as we laid stone after stone of worry upon him.

    It is in tribute to the leader in peace that I hereby announce that the office of President will remain vacant; may his spirit continue to guide us from the lofty plane upon which he rests. It is in tribute to the leader in war that I add the heroes' cross to our flag; may it fly over our triumphant arms in a spirit worthy of Herr Reichspraesident Generalfeldmarschall Paul Ludwig Hans Anton von Beneckendorff und von Hindenburg.

    I commend his spirit to the Reich which he served until his last breath. Herr Major von Hindenburg, command the burial party. Herr Generalfeldmarschall Ludendorff, command the flag party, let the flags be fully furled in mourning for three days.
    General Erich Ludendorff was thus promoted, the office of President left vacant, and the flag of the Reich transformed in a brief five-minute speech on a gloomy Prussian afternoon in August of 1934.

  6. #6
    Part II: The Men Who Would Be Kings

    1. Chancellor and Fuehrer Adolf Hitler

    Figure 13: Chancellor and Fuehrer Adolf Hitler, pre-war official portrait


    The family of the future Chancellor were native to northwestern Austria; while parish genealogies tracked his family only as far back as a Johann Georg Hiedler, born during the Napoleonic period, searches by the Reich's archivists during the 1930s indicate that the family had been settled in the region since the Reformation, living a pastoral life as shepherds. A rumor current in the 1920s and 1930s stated that the Chancellor's grandfather was a Czech named Jan Nepomuk Hiedler; however, this was found to be a transcription error on the part of a parish clerk in the 1870s. The "Nepomuk" was originally "Neumark," though Johann Georg and Johann Neumark were admittedly half-brothers.

    The Chancellor's parents were Alois and Klara Hitler. Alois was a low-level bureaucrat in the Habsburg government in Braunau-am-Inn, wherein the future Chancellor was born on April 20, 1889, and Klara had been his maid for several years prior to their 1885 marriage. They had several children, of whom only two, Adolf and Paula (born 1896) survived, though Alois and his first wife, Franziska Matzelberger, had a son, also named Alois (born 1882), who maintained a beer house in Berlin until his death in 1956, and a daughter, Angela (born 1883), who remained active in the German-Jewish Friendship League until her death in 1949.

    Figure 14: Adolf Hitler as a child


    Hitler's family did not remain in Braunau forever; in 1892 they moved to Passau, in Bavaria, a fact which was later used to assist in the Chancellor's acquisition of German citizenship. In 1894, they again moved, this time to Leonding, just outside Linz, where Alois served out the last year of his service with the Imperial customs service before retiring to Hafeld in 1895. The child Adolf Hitler began his education in nearby Fischlham, though he admittedly spent much more time absorbed in self-directed study of history and philosophy than in his formal schooling. The family moved several times again over the next few years based on his father's poor agricultural skills: Lembach in 1897, then Leonding again in 1898. Finally, the future Chancellor settled in his studies for several years at a Benedictine school. It is unclear whether the strict environment, the frequent moves, or the death of his brother Edmund in 1900 led to the well-known, remarkable seriousness of the future Chancellor.

    Hitler's academic marks were consistently poor; later interviews with his teachers showed a consistent frustration with the obviously talented boy's performance, and eventually he was asked to leave the Realschule in Steyr in 1905. Alois had died in 1903, so he was provided an orphan's pension sufficient for him to continue his self-directed studies, which increasingly focused on the issue of German nationalism and the difficult question of defining German-ness.

    Figure 15: Wiener Staatsoper, as painted by Adolf Hitler


    The first years of the future Chancellor's adult life were spent in Vienna, the capital of the Habsburg dual monarchy. It is here that he first became aware of the Slavic problem and the difficulties facing the polyglot Habsburg nation. In a famous passage from The Struggle for Germany, he describes his first awareness of the issue:

    There were very few Slavs in Linz; few resettled from Bohemia or other areas of the Empire to the Austrian countryside. Such as lived in Linz were so unremarkable in their carriage and manners that they excited little or no comment, their only distinguishing feature being their private conversation in their own languages. I did not then see the dangers posed by pan-Slavism or the dilution of German-ness. Upon hearing of the Slavic nations' actions, and of their treatment of the Jews, my feelings toward them bordered on abhorrence. Once, early in my time in Vienna, I was nearly driven from the street by a parade of carriages driven by Polish nobles, the distinguishing characteristic of nobility in Poland being the ownership of enough land to touch both edges with arms outstretched. I looked upon these grubby, boisterous "nobles" and asked myself: Is this a Slav? I carefully watched the parade of alternatively dirty, unwashed brutes and haughty better-than-thous in their coaches, which were elaborate, but probably all that they had to their spendthrift names, and the longer I did so, the more the question rephrased itself in my brain: Is this a German?
    The Vienna years were not kind to the future Chancellor; documentary evidence, long suppressed, indicates that he spent most of it living on the charity of friends and patrons, though he was sufficiently talented an artist that he did not seek permanent regular employment but lived off of commission work. Examples of his early work have become increasingly rare and sought-after in the decades since his death. Though he lived there for the better part of a decade - from 1905 to 1913 - he never cared for the city, describing it as "a dirty provincial town writ large, where the locals gather at the opera, rather than the market, to trade their dirty provincial gossip." He left Austria in 1913 to move north, longing to live in a "real German city."

    He had originally intended to settle in Munich; however, he found that the city was already saturated with artists, though he did manage for the first time to attend the Wagner celebration in Bayreuth in the summer of 1913. He continued north, eventually finding himself in Danzig painting seascapes during the summer and autumn of 1914.

    Figure 16: Crowd assembled outside Danzig's Junkerhof to hear declaration of war; Chancellor Hitler magnified in detail


    The declaration of war in August of 1914 moved Adolf Hitler to apply both for German citizenship and for service in the relatively young Deutsch-Ordens-Infanterie-Regiment, whose name appealed to his sense of romance and adventure. He gave his birthplace as Passau, claiming that respect for his father's Austrian citizenship had prevented him from acting thus far on his natural inclinations. Both citizenship and enlistment were accepted in the patriotic fervor of August, 1914, and he found himself rushed through training prior to being sent east into the swampy land around the Masurian Lakes.

    Most of the regiment during this period was in the same state as Private Hitler, whose obvious intelligence attracted his superiors' attention and got him posted to company headquarters as a runner, a task requiring greater initiative than the average rifleman required. The future Chancellor boarded a train in the divisional muster point of Eylau, then debarked in the early hours of 10 September, 1914, part of the first reinforcements sent to General Hindenburg, who was at the platform to receive his new soldiers. It was the first glimpse that Hitler had of the future President, and one which he would mention in their first official meeting as President and Chancellor nineteen years later.

    Hitler's behavior during the Battle of the Masurian Lakes led to his receiving the Iron Cross, 2nd Class, an uncommon honor for a man who had been but three months a soldier at the time of the award's approval. According to the citation, he was responsible for the identification, surprise assault, and capture of a Russian machine-gun dug into a wooded position, a risky, perhaps reckless move for a man who was at the time carrying orders for three of the four platoons in his company on his person.

    The 41st Infantry Division, and Hitler's regiment with it, spent 1915 in relative quiet compared to the Western Front, as the majority of fighting during the year was on the southern end of the Polish Front. During this time, he continued to develop his instincts toward Slavs in general, and the Poles and Russians specifically. In 1916, however, their quiet was interrupted when they transferred south under Field Marshal von Mackensen in his successful campaign to remove Romania from the Entente. Private First Class Hitler took over for a short period as a squad leader and was by all accounts a competent soldier; however, he did not distinguish himself as he had in Poland. It would not be until 1917 that he again had an opportunity to thrust himself forward, this time in the West.

    Figure 16: Corporal Hitler (far left) and comrades of the Deutsch-Ordens-Infanterie-Regiment (1. Elaessisches) Nr. 152, during furlough in spring of 1917

    In February of 1917, the Central Powers had essentially a free hand on the Eastern Front. The Tsar had abdicated and Russia was in the throes of collapse. Recognizing this, most of the forces which had been sent to Romania were deployed west instead, the 41st Infantry Division occupying a section of trench in the Aisne-Champagne sector. Corporal Hitler commanded a machine-gun section equipped with the new MG08/15 on the promontory of the Chemin des Dames during this period.

    In April, the French launched a million-strong attack in this sector, against roughly half as many German soldiers. The Germans, dug into the fortified ridge of the Chemin des Dames, were well-prepared for the French assault; nevertheless, the continued, endless waves of French soldiers, especially after the bloodbath of Verdun the year prior, led some Germans to agree with one junior officer's assessment: "My God, they've thrown the whole works at us!" If there was ever a doubt of Corporal Hitler's courage, it was erased now. Machine-gun crews were treated roughly under the best of circumstances, and the grim, quiet corporal's haranguing his section to "fire until the barrels melt," as one comrade remembers him commanding, earned him the Iron Cross, First Class, and the recognition of his battalion commander, who recommended him for the corps storm battalion upon its formation, where he spent most of the fall of 1917 in training.

    The spring offensive of 1918 saw the future Chancellor carried forward and back as the tides of battle dictated, wounded and invalided back before the great American efforts of the Meuse-Argonne and the war's end. A gas attack left him temporarily blinded, leaving him in a field hospital when word of the Armistice came to him. Of the two hundred and fifty men in his company at war's beginning, forty-two returned home.

    Figure 17: Adolf Hitler, early 1920s


    Corporal Hitler was considered soldier enough that he was one of the few retained at war's end; he was one of the soldiers sent to Munich by the Ebert government to suppress the Spartacists, where he first came into contact with former Army captain and Free Corps leader Ernst Roehm. After the rebellion was put down, Munich was widely viewed as a hotbed of political radicalism, and Corporal Hitler, who had proven himself so ably during the war, was transferred to the political intelligence section of the Bavarian military district, sent to observe a tiny splinter party of the time called the German Workers' Party (Deutsche Arbeiterspartei, or DAP - trans.). He eventually enrolled in the Party as Member Number 55. In 1920, he left the army in order to pursue his political work full-time, though he maintained both his contact with military circles and his respect for the military institution.

    Adolf Hitler began speaking and developing a platform for the Party in collaboration with other early pioneers such as Anton Drexler and Dietrich Eckart. The three of them agreed that the party's appeal must be broadened, and its platform carefully differentiated from other "workers' parties" such as the socialists or communists, which led to the decision to rename it the National Socialist German Worker's Party (NSDAP). By the end of 1921, however, Drexler and Eckart had ceded sole leadership of the Party to Hitler, whose word was now law, allowing the Party to move with a political agility uncommon in German politics of the period; as the Englishman Kipling said, "Whether down to the Pit or up to the Throne/He travels fastest who travels alone."

    To protect the Party from disruption at its rallies and meetings, the Fuehrer sanctioned the formation of a uniformed organization, the SA, first under Emil Maurice, then Hermann Goering, the World War I aviator and heir to ace Manfred von Richtofen's Flying Circus squadron, who had joined the Party in 1922. Goering brought the Party a measure of wealth and respectability, both of which it would need in 1923, during the Army's failed attempt to push the Party into a coup.

    Figure 18: Munich's Odeonsplatz during November 1923 putsch attempt


    In October of 1923, his former superiors in the Army, in the person of the current military district commander for Bavaria, Major-General Franz Ritter von Epp, approached Hitler and General Ludendorff separately to request their assistance in an attempt to do away with the democratic government in Berlin, starting in Munich and proceeding northwards. The future Chancellor gave reluctant approval, and his assistant Roehm began gathering in paramilitary forces for a throw of the dice.

    On the evening of November 8th, the Party's forces seized the Buergerbraukeller, where the Bavarian regional cabinet of Gustav Kahr's administration was meeting. After a brief speech and protracted negotiations with Kahr and his associates, Hitler himself left the Hall to report back to General von Epp; during this time, General Ludendorff accepted Kahr's parole and the Bavarian cabinet were released. Kahr mobilized the official forces of the government, and the next morning, instead of a peaceful march to the city center, the assembled uniformed branches of the various nationalist parties found themselves facing uniformed police armed with machine guns. Despite this, and knowing the risks of marching into the teeth of the machine guns - having manned one himself during the War - Hitler gave the fateful order: "We march!"

    When the police opened fire, both Goering and Hitler were wounded; Goering remained on the field to cover his chief's withdrawal, and Hitler sped away to report the disaster of Germans fighting Germans to von Epp while General Ludendorff marched, completely unharmed, into the police ranks, where he was respectfully but firmly arrested and detained. Kahr had meanwhile issued orders for his arrest, and he was arrested on November 10, 1923.

    The future Chancellor was charged with treason and tried beginning in February of 1924. It was the wider German public's first introduction to the future Chancellor. He was his own defense lawyer, speaking eloquently on the dangers of socialization and communism, pan-Slavism, and the dilution of German culture in the face of the inescapable tide from the east. It was an impressive performance, and likely the reason that rather than execution or life confinement, he was sentenced to a mere five years of comfortable imprisonment, of which he served eight months. He spent that period writing, or rather dictating to his private secretary, Rudolf Hess. Both General Ludendorff and General von Epp were shuffled off by the Army, and neither of them would see active military service again despite careful attention to their careers by the Chancellor.

    Figure 19: Adolf Hitler reviewing Party parade, 1930


    The Fuehrer of the NSDAP was released from prison in December of 1924 with a full pardon. He was, for the moment, prohibited from speaking in public, and contented himself with organizational duties. This afforded him continued opportunity to write and to develop the Party as a national organization. The Party was at this time a voice in the wilderness, warning of the consequences of rampant capitalism, renewing relations with nations to the East, and calling for the reunion of all traditionally German lands, including the Baltic lands once controlled by the monastic state of the Teutonic Order, the full domains of the Habsburgs, and, of course, Schleswig and Elsass-Lothringen. It was not a popular message, for all that it needed to be heard, and the German conservative nationalist political landscape was littered with splinter parties competing for scarce Reichstag seats.

    All of this changed, as has been discussed elsewhere, with the collapse of 1929. The Fuehrer was by this time speaking publicly, and had mastered the various national elements of the Party into a cohesive whole, even spreading branches outside Germany in traditionally German territories - correspondence from the period shows postmarks from Vienna, Danzig, Memel, even Riga and the nationally German colonies along the Volga.

    The Chancellor had, in short, come a very long way from the low-level bureaucrat's son and itinerant painter of the pre-War years.
    Last edited by c0d5579; 30-12-2009 at 06:11. Reason: Formatting to match other sections

  7. #7
    Field Marshal Nathan Madien's Avatar

    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Boynton Beach, Florida
    Wow...this is awesome! Keep up the good work!
    "In America, anybody can be President. That's one of the risks you take."
    -Adlai Stevenson

    The Presidents: The Vietnam War Edition
    President of the United States in 1962: Henry M. Jackson (Democrat-Washington)

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Nathan Madien View Post
    Wow...this is awesome! Keep up the good work!
    This is what happens when I'm left sitting for an extended period. Thanks, incidentally - though really, so far it's kind of written itself, hardest part is finding pictures. The "Men Who Would Be Kings" on Himmler and Goering are going to be fun - I dread trying to find swastika-free pics of those two.

  9. #9
    2. Reichsmarschall Hermann Goering

    Figure 20: Reichsmarschall Goering reviewing Luftwaffe parade


    Hermann Wilhelm Goering was born to Heinrich and Franziska Goering, a curious mix of upper-middle-class and peasant that was made acceptable to Heinrich's family by the fact that Franziska was a second wife. He came from a distinguished Swiss-German family, related to such luminaries as Carl and Jacob Burkhardt and Ferdinand von Zeppelin. Heinrich had honorably served the Wilhelmine Empire in a variety of posts, ranging from as a cavalry officer to diplomatic service, culminating in the governorship of German Southwest Africa.

    Hermann was one of five children - brothers Albert and Karl, and sisters Olga Therese and Paula Elisabeth Rosa. The family lived as permanent guests of a relative and friend, Hermann Ritter von Epenstein, who assisted with their upbringing after Heinrich Goering retired from the diplomatic service in 1898. The Goering children grew up in one of Epenstein's two castles, Burg Veldenstein and Schloss Mauterndorf. The two Hermanns, Goering and von Epenstein, grew close during this period, and von Epenstein paid for Goering's education in Ansbach before sponsoring him at the beginning of his military career.

    Figure 21: Cadet Goering at Karlsruhe


    After attending the Cadet School at Karlsruhe and the commissioning program at Lichterfelde, Hermann Goering was commissioned as a lieutenant in the 112th Infantry Regiment. He served adequately but without distinction in the period leading up to the war; however, due to ill health, he was hospitalized during the winter of 1914 and decided to seek a position as a pilot-observer in conjunction with his friend, later General Bruno Loerzer. The two of them experienced difficulties with the transfer, but these were eventually resolved after the future Reichsmarschall claimed his first air-to-air victories in October of 1915, which earned him the Iron Cross, First and Second Classes.

    Figure 22: Oberleutnant Goering in 1917

    The war years brought him both triumph and injury; in the course of three years of flying, he achieved twenty-two air-to-air kills and received the highest Imperial war award, the Pour le Merite, in May of 1918. He was wounded several times, at least once seriously, and was placed in command first of Fighter Squadron 25 (Jagdstaffel or Jasta, 25), then, after the death of both Manfred von Richtofen and Wilhelm Reinhard, of Fighter Group 1 (Jagdgeschwader, or JG, 1; JG1 - trans.). His opponents were frequently fulsome in their praise of the future Reichsmarschall; many visited Germany on his invitation in the 1930s.

    His relations with his subordinates were less fruitful. He was, according to pilots who served with him, arrogant and difficult to work with. His inheritance of the two castles from von Epenstein in 1917 and his extravagant tastes exacerbated the problem, leading to the fact that he remained the only member of JG1 who was not invited to reunions until he achieved political prominence in the 1930s. Even his greatest detractors, however, agreed that the future Reichsmarschall was a paragon of chivalry. Individual pilots once serving under him benefited greatly from Goering's often excessive personal patronage until well into the 1920s, despite the fact that he himself had limited means for much of the period.

    Figure 23: Junkers F.13 airliner of the type flown by Goering


    After the war, Oberleutnant Goering was carried on the ranks of the Reichswehr, though as a reserve officer he did not collect the pay attached to said rank. Instead, he spent the first years after the war as an air transport pilot, which gave him a wide variety of overseas connections that would prove essential to the Party in later years. During this period, he met his first wife, Carin, and they married in 1923.

    More importantly than Carin von Kantzow, he met the future Fuehrer and joined the Party in 1922. He impressed Hitler with his connections and his obvious robust physique, tremendous strength, and force of personality, which earned him command of the nascent SA. Of Goering's control of the SA, the Fuehrer later commented, "He is the only one of its heads that ran the SA properly. I gave him a disheveled rabble. In a very short time he had organized a division of 11,000 men."

    Goering was one of the early leaders of the Party, and was present throughout the events of the Munich Putsch of 1923. He was severely wounded during the final confrontation in the Odeonsplatz; because he was still carried on the rolls as a Reichswehr officer, his involvement was quietly ignored and his injuries treated at the military hospital in Munich. Like General von Epp, Goering accepted a deal with his Reichswehr superiors, disappearing from the country as soon as his condition allowed and not returning to Germany until 1927 when President Hindenburg issued a blanket pardon for all of the Munich Putsch participants.

    From January 1924 to 1927, he stayed abroad, despite the death of his mother and and Carin's continuing ill health. He became depressed during this period, often retreating to his Austrian estate at Mautenberg to go hunting, his one great pleasure after flying. During a 1925 visit to Rome, he was fortunate enough to meet the Italian Duce, Benito Mussolini, who expressed an interest in meeting Hitler upon his release from Landsberg.

    Figure 24: General Goering in 1932


    Goering's immense personal magnetism gained him one of the Party's few Reichstag seats in the 1928 election. He held on to this position into the economic collapse, and in 1932 was elected President of the Reichstag; however, these years wore heavily on him. Carin died in 1931, just days before her birthday. He would later name his great hunting lodge, Carinhall, in her honor.

    He was one of two Party men, the other being Wilhelm Frick, who was a minister in the January 30th cabinet in 1933, and he was the new Chancellor's primary aide in the months following. General Goering, now promoted and paid as an active-duty lieutenant general, proved to be a surprisingly shrewd parliamentarian, managing the Party's efforts in the Reichstag with an unexpectedly deft hand and channeling debate on the Enabling Act of 1933 into a productive form.

    In the years between January 30th and the War Years, Goering continued his intimate involvement in Germany's progress: in April of 1933, he became Minister-President of Prussia, heir to Bismarck's first significant office, with its concomitant police powers. He augmented the excellent Prussian police apparatus through his old SA connections, coming into conflict both with the current head of the SA, Roehm, and the southern police apparatus under Reichsfuehrer-SS Heinrich Himmler. Himmler and Goering together found the critical evidence needed to convince the Chancellor of the danger of Roehm's behavior in mid-1934.

    The Chancellor rewarded General Goering handsomely for all of this; his was the guiding hand in the establishment of the Air Ministry in 1934, though he himself was not directly involved in the Wever-Udet debate, and in 1935, he became the first commanding general of the newly formed air force (Luftwaffe - trans.). Additionally, he became Minister of Forestry at the same time, allowing him endlessly to indulge his passion for hunting.

    General Goering was, then, a man of tremendous personal force in the early 1930s, dynamic and driven. He was not regarded as a thinker by the Party intellectuals, but rather as a flamboyant strongman without great ideas of his own. The Chancellor himself disagreed with this assessment, making Goering his appointed heir in 1935; Goering was the only one of the early Party comrades to make the journey from November of 1923 to January of 1933 with Hitler.

    The two sides of Goering's personality - blundering strongman and quick-thinking man of action - can be summed up by single anecdote: during the 1934 Austrian Crisis, he accidentally revealed a map of Germany including both Austria and the Italian Tyrol to the Italian foreign minister, Count Ciano; he covered this intelligence blunder by laughing and proclaiming "Hunting knows no borders!"
    Last edited by c0d5579; 31-12-2009 at 03:43.

  10. #10
    3. Reichsfuehrer-SS Heinrich Himmler

    Of all of the men who guided the Reich in the 1930s, none is more of an enigma than Reichsfuehrer-SS Heinrich Himmler. The epitome of the faceless bureaucrat, he nonetheless managed an organization responsible for such vastly disparate facets of German society as veterinary medicine, postal service, and the police organs. Barely commissioned before Versailles, he nevertheless was one of the prime movers behind one of the most effective of the "private armies" of the War Period. A man who achieved no great recognition walking down the street out of uniform, he created an organization which permeated every club, every school, and every corporation in the Reich. Uninterested in personal aggrandizement and living fairly frugally through his entire life, he presents a striking contrast with the flamboyant Goering.

    Figure 25: Heinrich Himmler in 1907


    Of all the leaders of the Reich in the 1930s, Himmler had the most unremarkable boyhood. Born at the very turn of the century, he was the second of three sons of Gebhard and Anna Maria Himmler and the godson of Prince Heinrich of Bavaria, whom his father had tutored. The boy Himmler was an avid pupil, by all accounts, and perhaps unsurprisingly given his later career interested both in chess and stamp-collecting, a fitting hobby for the future master of the Reich post. In 1910, he was enrolled in the Gymnasium where his father acted as headmaster, a relationship which proved awkward for young Himmler in his interaction with other students. He excelled at his studies, focusing intently on classical music, and was only thirteen when the war broke out. Like nearly all German youth of the period, he was fascinated by the war and longed to join in when the time came. He begged for his father to use his influence and find him an officer's position; in 1918, upon his graduation, he was posted to the 11th Bavarian Infantry Regiment.

    Figure 26: SS-Oberfuehrer Himmler in 1928


    Despite his dreams of martial glory, the future Reichsfuehrer was never an athlete like his protege Heydrich or his rival Goering. He found military training arduous, though he was sure that he would be an excellent officer. Unfortunately, the November Armistice meant that he was unable to put himself to this test. Devastated by what he saw as a betrayal of Germany by her own leaders, he withdrew to an apprenticeship on a farm for a season before enrolling in the Munich Technical Institute (Technische Hochschule - trans.). Wartime propaganda in the English-speaking countries would deride him as a "chicken farmer;" this neglects the fact that the Reichsfuehrer was, unlike many in his generation of the leadership, an educated man who had in fact practiced his trade.

    He became involved with the Party in 1922, believing that the SA would provide him his longed-for experience in uniform. The SA lived up to his expectations. In 1923, he was one of the SA men who advanced into the Odeonsplatz behind the Fuehrer. As a minor member of the SA, he was largely ignored by the authorities in the further investigation, which allowed him to continue Party work unhindered when Hitler, Hess, and Goering were personae non grata in Germany. It was in this capacity that his talent for organization attracted notice. He was never regarded as a charismatic speaker, but unlike many of his superiors, he was a thorough, systemic man. Thus, he was invited into the Schutzstaffel (SS*) as a clerk in 1925.

    His systematic approach to life in general and to his duties specifically led to his rise in the organization. By 1929, he had succeeded the founders of the SS in its leadership. When he became Reichsfuehrer-SS, the SS organization had 280 members, compared to a nominal 15,000 in the SA, and had no budget to speak of. Its distinguishing feature was the wear of black caps and neckties where the SA wore brown - hardly the mark of a supposed "elite corps." The new Reichsfuehrer took care that this would not remain the case. Membership restrictions were first tightened, and regulations enforced, leading to a momentary decline in membership, but the appearance of elan led to the reality, and by the end of 1930, the SS was growing to a national presence within the Party.

    1932 saw the introduction of the now-famous black SS dress uniform, and 1933 saw its final severance from the SA with the promotion of its leader to SS-Obergruppenfuehrer and Reichsfuehrer-SS. This same period saw the rise of his protege, Reinhard Heydrich, within the SS, and the creation or absorption of a number of external Party organs into the SS. After the January 30th Revolution, the SS assumed still further duties, absorbing the Bavarian police as Goering assumed control of the Prussian police, giving him true legal enforcement powers. The combination of Party investigative organs, Prussian police, and Bavarian police brought to light the Roehm conspiracy of 1934, and the Reichsfuehrer-SS found his status with the Fuehrer firmly established.

    The Reichsfuehrer-SS, as has been seen elsewhere, was one of the organizers of the Tannenberg plans of 1934, which provided the Reich with a surreptitious source of manpower and training facilities. His organization intertwined with and absorbed the Stahlhelm organization by the middle of 1935, effectively and finally subordinating Lieutenant-General Hausser to the SS.

    * Translator's note - in German publications, the "SS" is by law rendered as a pair of lightning-bolt-like runes called "Sigrunen." Because these characters are unusual in an English-speaking typeface, the earlier "SS" is used here.


    Evaluating Heinrich Himmler as a man is difficult because he vanished so effectively into the institutions of which he was a part. However, he assumed control of the SS with 280 members; by the time of the January 30th Revolution, they numbered well over a quarter million members, both active and "supporters," who were entitled to an SS number without further membership commitments in return for financial aid. Himmler was also the man responsible for the "discovery" of Reinhard Heydrich, Otto Skorzeny, Jochen Peiper, and a half-dozen other men who would become men of the first rank in the Reich's leadership both during the War Years and later. If the early Reich leadership are to be measured by their successors, then Himmler stands clear above his rivals.

    Figure 27: Heinrich and Margarete Himmler shopping


    In keeping with his apparent ordinariness, the Reichsfuehrer-SS married only once, to Margarete Bode, a woman seven years his senior, in 1929 after a three-year courtship; they had met rather prosaically, while sheltering in a doorway to avoid a rainstorm, and both agreed that they fell in love on sight. They ceased living together in the late 1930s, but never divorced and apparently remained on quite cordial terms, perhaps cemented by their daughter, Gudrun, whom the Reichsfuehrer-SS was utterly devoted to; a story from the late 1940s indicates that the Reichsfuehrer-SS's daughter was escorted throughout her courtship by SS journalist Wulf Dieter Burwitz by a bodyguard from the Reichsfuehrer's personal guard. The one skeleton in Heinrich Himmler's closet had not yet appeared by 1935, and even when it appeared, it was quite nothing at all when compared to the Roehm excesses, or Goering's legendary appetites: The Reichsfuehrer-SS carried on a discreet but well-known relationship with his secretary, Hedwig Potthast, by whom he had two children, his son, Helge (1942), and a daughter, Nanette (1943).
    Last edited by c0d5579; 01-01-2010 at 06:50. Reason: Fun facts about the most boring man ever to kill millions...

  11. #11

    This may be an AAR, but it may as well be a history of the NSDAP and 1920's/30's Germany, as well.

    Don't know anybody who's done this much research for an AAR before.
    Nationality: Yankee
    Religion: Mahayana
    Ideology: Liberal
    Issues: Laissez Faire; Free Trade; Atheism; Pacifism; Full Citizenship.
    Cash Reserves: Low
    Militancy: 2
    Consciousness: 10

  12. #12
    Well yeah - like I said, I'm two time zones away from the computer that I can play on. I can Wikipedia all day long on this machine, though. :P

    Actually, I've left a number of things out, like the Austrian Crisis of 1934, where the Austrian Nazis attempted a Three Stooges-inspired coup wherein they shot the Austrian president and seized the state house, but failed because the SS and SA were too busy bickering to take over the country. SS launched a coup attempt, the SA told the police. It's moments like that, and the real-world Ciano/Goering "hunting knows no borders!" incident, that make you wonder just what were they thinking?

    Plus, the point here is that there are timeline differences. I'll sum them up pretty quickly here.

    Hitler's youth and family were both surrounded by Jews, despite his real-life statements in Mein Kampf; between the wars, his sister apparently taught in a school for Jews, for instance, and there's some evidence that his patrons, such as they were, during his artist days were Jews. His company commander in the Great War... you get the idea. Goering was even less of a habitual anti-Semite going into the 1920s; his godfather and possible namesake, Hermann von Epenstein, was from a Jewish family. The foaming-at-the-mouth racism of the Nazi Party is still there, it's just directed eastward, thanks to Hitler's enlistment in a Prussian regiment that served in Poland early in the war. Yay Jew, boo Slav.

    Second, because young Hitler showed every sign of being fairly impressionable, and his political "awakening" as he described it was abook about the Franco-Prussian War in his childhood, and I've already put him in a West Prussia-based division during the war, he has a much stronger attachment to the idea of the German military than in real life; this is why Ludendorff finally gets his purely ceremonial baton and why the red-white-black tricolor is supplemented with an Iron Cross (the actual war flag 1933-1935), but not replaced by the swastika flag as in our timeline. I don't believe I'm giving anything away when I say that when I finally get around to playing this thing out, Blomberg and Fritsch keep their jobs.

    As for people who have done heavy background for an AAR, I strongly recommend clblabin's incomplete but very background-rich Kingdom, Power, Glory. There's a lot more depth there per background post than in mine, largely because I want to get as much background done before I get the game running.

  13. #13
    So wait, Hitler doesn't hate the Jews in this timeline? Because if so, hurray for Germany!

  14. #14
    Both slavophobia and anti-semitism were threads in Austro-German politics in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries; the first Pan-Slavic Conference was, after all, held in Prague in 1848, the Year of Revolutions, and was specifically directed against both Habsburg and Romanov monarchies. Pan-Slavism was one of the bugbears of the German-speaking empires, and may have been the reason that Wilhelm II let the Reinsurance Pact with Russia lapse, because of Russia's stated interests in the Black Sea and Balkans. Reports of pogroms in the Pale of Settlement excited more than a little disapproval in countries to the west, and as I've pointed out, there are plenty of incidents from the formative years of the most influential early Nazi leaders showing that they didn't have to hate the Jews. So yes, it's perfectly reasonable that Hitler, like many nationalist politicians in the German-speaking countries, was an ardent slavophobe, who mingled admiration for the actions of the Jews and their efforts to integrate themselves into German society ("True, Herr Goldschmidt isn't exactly German, but he's such a nice man, and his son's just home from the army!"), as compared to the Poles, Bohemians, Yugoslavs ("I know what a Slav is, but tell me, have you ever met a Yugo, meine Herren?") with their insistence on separate national identities.

    Anyway - I was going to do a "Men Who Would Be Kings" for Hess, but everything I've seen says that Hess was Hitler's dirty-jobs man, and no more. He's even less likely than Bormann to be considered worth mentioning from fifty years further into the timeline.

  15. #15
    4. SS-Obergruppenfuehrer Reinhard Heydrich

    On the surface of it, Reinhard Tristan Eugen Heydrich was ill-suited to be described as among the first rank of Party leaders in the 1930s; he only joined the SS and Party in 1931 after scandal ruined a promising naval career. However, despite his relative youth, he more-or-less single-handedly created the Party's internal intelligence organ, expanding it into foreign service by the January 30th Revolution. He was a restless, hard-driving man who was described by Chancellor Hitler as "the man with the iron heart," and his personal energy was only exceeded by his great good fortune, as his wartime record and at least one significant assassination attempt prove.

    Figure 28: The children of Richard and Elisabeth Heydrich; Reinhard is standing


    Richard and Elisabeth Heydrich were cultural figures in Halle; his father was an opera singer, composer, and founder of the Halle Conservatory, while his maternal grandfather, Hofrat Kranz, was founder of the Dresden Conservatory. As a result, from a young age Reinhard Heydrich developed a passion for music that would follow him even in his governorship of occupied territories. Born in 1904, he was the eldest of three children, with a sister, Maria, and brother, Heinz. Richard Heydrich, his father, was an ardent German nationalist, believing in Germany's divine right to Schleswig, Elsass-Lothringen, even Habsburg Austria, and his children absorbed these beliefs from birth.

    He was only ten years old at the beginning of the Great War, enrolled in the Reform Gymnasium, where he was considered a star pupil. It is said that he was a victim of other students in the school, and deliberately walked with one foot in the gutter, the other on the sidewalk, in order to cultivate an air of toughness and to strengthen his legs. He was too young for military service even at war's end, but he nevertheless lied about his age to enlist with one of the earliest Free Corps associations, Maerker's Volunteer Rifles. He returned from his minor role in suppressing the Munich Spartacists to discover that his family, like many others in the Reich, was destitute after the obligations placed upon Germany by Versailles.

    Figure 29: Naval Cadet Heydrich


    Heydrich entered the naval cadet program at Kiel in 1922, hoping for a career as a naval officer. He was commissioned in 1926, accepting assignment to one of Germany's oldest battleships, the pre-dreadnought Schleswig-Holstein. During this period, he cultivated the friendship of an officer twenty years his senior, Commander Wilhelm Canaris. Canaris and Heydrich would remain lifelong friends, drawn together by a love of music and a sharp native intelligence; Canaris needed the young signal officer for a variety of reasons, not least of which was his covert role as an intelligence officer. Unfortunately, an indiscretion in 1930 with a shipyard owner's daughter led to Heydrich's court-martial. Canaris privately described Heydrich's dismissal from service as "one of the most difficult decisions on which I was ever consulted."

    Discharged from the Reichsmarine, newly married to Lina van Osten, the 27-year-old Heydrich traveled to Berlin for an interview with the Reichsfuehrer-SS, hoping for a job in the SS communications office. He hardly expected the outcome of this interview.

    Figure 30: Reichsfuehrer-SS and RSHA-Fuehrer, 1938


    The Reichsfuehrer-SS had been asked recently by the Fuehrer to establish a Party intelligence organization; the previous organization, run from Munich, had proven singularly incapable of managing the Party's increasingly scandal-prone SA wing. Most likely in idle conversation, Himmler asked Heydrich how he would go about achieving this task. Much to the Reichsfuehrer-SS's surprise, the former naval officer immediately sketched out the outlines of the future Sicherheitdienst (lit. Security Service - trans.). The Reichsfuehrer-SS brought Heydrich into the SS immediately, paying him a salary even before his SS membership papers had been complete.

    He began his meticulous review of Party security by establishing a central intelligence index. This index, at first confined to Party members, quickly expanded to the whole of Germany and, before the Party came to power in 1933, to the Party branches outside Germany. It was therefore a relatively simple matter for Heydrich to walk into Bavarian state police headquarters and assume control. Within months of the January 30th Revolution, he controlled all German security police except for Prussia's, which answered to Hermann Goering.

    Heydrich was intensely suspicious of Ernst Roehm and the SA, especially given Roehm's increasingly violent statements on the dissolution of the existing Reichswehr and Heydrich's well-known attachment to the institution, if not the individuals, of the Reichsmarine, a service about which Roehm was totally ignorant. When the SD leader had established that there was indeed a conspiracy afoot within the SA to replace both Party and Reichstag, Heydrich lost no time in informing his superiors, thereby saving the Reich from likely social-communist terror.


    Reinhard Heydrich was energetic even beyond the very extensive duties which service placed upon him. When the SS was derided as a collection of "asphalt soldiers," Heydrich very publicly took up two separate, very different training programs to show that an SS man, no matter his age, was the match for much younger men in the other services. In 1935, at the age of 31, he completed the Army's mountain warfare training program, earning the right to wear the coveted Edelweiss pin on his cap*, which established him as the godfather of the SS mountain troops. He completed the Luftwaffe's basic piloting course in 1940, during the War Years, and flew a number of missions before being ordered in no uncertain terms by the Fuehrer to return to his normal duties.


    * In real life, Heydrich was a rabid athlete, a proficient outdoorsman, and a competetive skier; given that he really did fly himself around and serve as a fighter pilot until told to cut it out, that one of the SS. Geb.-Div. "Nord's" component regiments was given the Heydrich cuff-title, and that Alfried Krupp got the bronze medal for rowing in addition to being an engineer and manager at Krupp of Essen, I see no reason for the equally overachieving Heydrich not to have begun his campaign against the "asphalt soldier" stigma by marching up a mountain.
    Last edited by c0d5579; 01-01-2010 at 01:48.

  16. #16
    III. The Pillars of Germany

    1. The Military

    On February 25, 1935, the German national Day of Remembrance, Chancellor Hitler made a speech which revolutionized Germany's military situation. It was much more the typical speech expected from the Chancellor than his Tannenberg speech four months previous.

    Gentlemen of the Reichstag, allow me to congratulate you; in two years we have begun to right the economic nightmares imposed on us by the Western powers at Versailles, and the collapse of the Western-driven money madness of the 1920s. We have come together through danger from within and the loss of a great man. That is not, I fear, enough.

    Germany is today bound east and west by nations which bear it historical ill will. As we speak, Germany's enemies sharpen their knives; I assure you, they do not do this to offer us a slice of their pie. I do not - nor do the Generals - and nor should you - believe for even a moment that the fine gentlemen in Paris, Prague, and Warsaw train their yearly class of conscripts to believe that Germany's historic right to exist should be honored. I believe that these men wait for a moment of historic weakness, and I swear to you that I will not preside over Germany for that moment of weakness!

    No, no, a thousand times no - if Germany's neighbors and enemies, for they are unfortunately one and the same - train their young men by the year to war upon command, as a man who loves peace, and loves his nation, I must insist that Germany do the same. As a former front soldier, I abhor war in all its forms, and heartily wish that Germany may live a thousand years without needing to draw the sword, but I believe that the sword must be there to be drawn. Germany will not be viewed as a nation worthy of the world's respect until the soldiers perpetually peering from France over the Rhine see our banners fluttering proudly once more.

    To this end, I have asked General von Blomberg to prepare recommendations; they are sound, and I choose to act upon them.

    First, Germany hereby withdraws from the military restrictions placed upon it by the shackle-treaty of Versailles.

    Second, I hereby order that every able-bodied male between the ages of eighteen and forty report to his local police administrator to register for potential national service.

    Third, I hereby announce the re-formation of Germany's air force, independent and equal to the Army and Navy. I have authorized General Goering as the Minister of Aviation, and requested that he begin creating a truly German Luftwaffe.

    Fourth, the Reichsmarine is no longer bound by any naval treaty signed previous, designed as they were to keep Germany weak and subservient to the interests of the Western powers.

    Fifth, as the supreme authority in the Reich, it gives me great pleasure to make the following promotions.

    Generaloberst Werner von Blomberg... please take this baton in recognition of your loyal service and your assistance in the past two years. Thank you, Generalfeldmarschall. Please exercise the same care in your combined staff position that you have in your army role.

    General der Infanterie Werner von Fritsch... Generalfeldmarschall von Blomberg has warmly praised your abilities, and requested that you be his replacement as the commander of our army. It is a heavy burden which we now place upon you, Generaloberst von Fritsch, and I expect you to bear it well.

    Admiral Erich Raeder... you have proven more than capable of arguing the Navy's case in the past few months. Thank you, Generaladmiral. I trust that you will choose your new ministerial staff as wisely as you appealed to the Reich's interests at sea.

    Generalleutnant Hermann Goering... clearly, no man in the Reich has the interests of the Luftwaffe ahead of you. I hereby promote you General der Flieger, and make you the Reich's first Air Minister.

    Gentlemen - with men such as these leading our soldiers, we will be invincible. We will drive the rabble from our doorsteps, we will secure Germany against all threats, we will be strong again - upon this, you have my sacred word, as Chancellor and Fuehrer of the German Reich!


    The German army was restricted to 100,000 men with no arms heavier than man-portable by the Treaty of Versailles, with no General Staff and no conscription. The result was a simple renaming of the General Staff to the "Troop Office" (Truppenamt - trans.) and a dedicated effort to circumvent the Treaty by every measure possible. Documents declassified in the 1950s showed that the Weimar Republic had negotiated the use of Soviet training facilities during the 1920s in the Rapallo Agreement; however, favorable terms with the Sowjets were inimical to the new Chancellor, which meant that German rearmament must be carried out within Germany itself.

    In order to accomplish this, vast public works projects were commissioned, leading to the construction of the Reich's great highway system, the growth of civil airports easily converted to military aviation, and the expansion of the Reich's port facilities. All branches of service benefited from these measures, but none more than the Reichsheer, which gained access to a vast reserve of men inured to hard labor and used to military discipline. The Chancellor's announcement of conscription was therefore much less surprising than it might have been; much of the groundwork had been laid while President Hindenburg was still alive.

    However, the Army was unable to conceal actual physical armaments with the same ease. The result was that in areas allowed by the Versailles restrictions, the Reichsheer was one of the best-equipped armies in the world. It boasted more motor vehicles, strictly in a transport role, than the United States with its Detroit automobile manufacturing plants. German soldiers carried the same infantry rifle as their Great War predecessors, but their support weapons, such as machine guns and mortars, boasted all of the lessons learned during the Great War. The MG34 was easily the most capable infantry machine gun of the period, and the Reichsheer issued them at squad level. The German soldier was equally well-armored, for the period, with a helmet clearly designed for use off the parade ground.

    The emphasis on battlefield, rather than parade, performance, was a hallmark of German training during the period. The Reichsheer, for all its small size in 1935, was a well-trained, battlefield-oriented force designed to test out ideas which its officers, especially up-and-coming men like Generalmajor Heinz Guderian, promoted with the great upward movement of the officer corps in early 1935, had created. Guderian, promoted as part of the great upward movement of officers in spring of 1935, was a proponent of the idea of armored spearheads, and took an active role both in the staff exercises of 1935, and in the initial field exercises that followed.

    In March of 1935, Generalfeldmarschall von Blomberg sent the Chancellor a memorandum outlying the Reichsheer's plans and goals for expansion. It is worth quoting in its entirety, albeit without appendices or references.


    As you commanded in our February correspondence, I have completed a review of the Reichsheer's capabilities and requirements for the foreseeable future.

    The protection of Germany itself requires no fewer than thirty infantry divisions organized into five field commands, each of two corps. This is an establishment minimum, rather than a recommendation; after consultation, the General Staff recommends an additional twelve-division infantry reserve. These requirements, because they are for national defense, do not have to be of the highest quality, nor must they be equipped for full mobility.

    In order to create a credible foreign policy instrument, Germany requires a force of no fewer than six cavalry divisions organized in two corps. I have attached a staff study expressing a minority opinion which I feel has considerable merit, which recommends that the cavalry force be replaced or supplemented by a fully armored force.

    The Austrian and Swiss frontiers are thoroughly unsuited to operations by conventional infantry and cavalry forces. Therefore, in keeping with experience during the War, I recommend the formation of no fewer than six mountain divisions organized in two corps. The training school for these units already exists in the Bavarian Alps; to accommodate all six divisions will require either intensive peer training, or an expansion of the training infrastructure to appropriate size.

    Field exercises carried out under General von Hammerstein-Equordt indicate that a force well-equipped with transports and sufficient provision for said transports is superior to an equivalent-sized foot-transported unit, even accounting for manpower losses to operate and maintain transports. At present, German industry is not configured to produce sufficient quantity of transport vehicles, and will not be in the near-future.

    The General Staff has conducted a study showing that Germany is incapable of meeting fuel requirements for projected forces from existing production. Therefore, we commend to the Foreign Ministry that petroleum-rich countries deserve special attention.

    If you require anything further from my office, please do not hesitate to ask. I remain

    Your Servant,
    Field Marshal
    Hitler's reply is both terse and memorable: "Double. Armor. Approved. 50 divisions by 1937. Chancellor."

    Figure 31: DRMS Admiral Graf Spee


    The Reichsmarine was bound as firmly by Versailles as the Reichsheer; however, unlike the Reichsheer, the Reichsmarine could not in effect wave their hands and conjure divisions of already trained soldiers. The fleet at the time of Hitler's Remembrance Day speech consisted of two aging battleships built before HMS Dreadnought, a number of Great War-era cruisers, and various coastal vessels. It was in response to this that the Chancellor had, as early as 1933, accepted that new ships must be laid down. The first faltering steps in the rebirth of the German navy were all coastal patrol vessels, which could charitably be called destroyers in any other fleet.

    The Reichsmarine looked forward to three excellent new armored cruisers, Deutschland, Graf Spee, and Admiral Scheer, and further construction to follow, with the new warships projected to enter service beginning in 1936. However, refereed staff exercises at the new Oberkommando der Reichsmarine (OKRM) showed that under no circumstances would even this expanded fleet be sufficient against current Royal Navy forces in the North Sea, Germany's natural rival in the region. The general recommendation among the staff officers involved was that every measure possible be taken to make the Reich's surface ships more effective ton-for-ton than their British rivals. The immediate consequence of this was intensive gunnery practice; longer-term, it led to the Seetakt radar system and the Langeschwert torpedo.

    The Royal Navy, watching this construction program with alarm, pressured the MacDonald government to act diplomatically to end the surface-fleet construction program. The result was the Anglo-German Naval Agreement of 1935, a document which suited the Fuehrer to sign, but which he made quite clear to Admiral Raeder that he had no intention of honoring, reinforcing as it did the restrictions of Versailles in even more stringent terms. In broad strokes, Germany was restricted to a fixed percentage of the Royal Navy, specifically 35%, with no submarines and no aviation vessels.

    The Chancellor immediately violated the agreement by instructing Admiral Raeder to pursue submarines as an alternative strategy; Raeder immediately passed the instructions along to newly promoted submarine officer Kapitaen zur See Karl Doenitz, who had argued strongly against a surface fleet development. Doenitz accepted the assignment, which would bear fruit beginning in 1936.

    Figure 32: A flight of Dornier Do-17 bombers in a training exercise


    Despite having no infrastructure as of 1935, the Luftwaffe benefited from the nationalization both of Hugo Junkers GmbH, and of a variety of civil aviation clubs to provide experienced pilots. The Junkers move was prompted by the eminent engineer's widely reported statements in favor of the Sowjets, and the civil-aviation nationalization by the centralization and rationalization of Reich policy in general; the thought was that a single organization could better manage national issues than hundreds of competing regional clubs.

    A variety of projects put forward during the "silent" years 1933-1935 were pushed through to maturation in time for the April 20, 1935 Fuehrertag parade, with a dozen Dornier Do-17 bombers overflying the capital at low altitude, escorted by a flight of four apparent fighter planes. What outsiders had no way of knowing was that the four fighters were the only four existing prototypes of the new Messerschmitt-designed Bf-109, and that this first flight was very nearly their maiden flight.

    The Luftwaffe benefited from its dashing image and the natural appeal of flight; however, it suffered dramatically from political infighting, far more than the other services. General Erhard Milch, acting commander while General Goering's attention was on other matters, and Lieutenant-General Walther Wever, chief of staff, advocated a large-bomber force, focused on delivering a payload deep into the Sowjet Union. Major-Generals Ernst Udet, a Great War ace and a pilot who, unlike Goering, had stayed in uniform through the dark years of the 1920s, and Albert Kesselring, who had come late to aviation but was a passionate and frequent pilot, argued in favor of a force focused on short-range missions supporting the Army in the near battlefield. Udet argued that smaller aircraft were less resource-intensive, that training periods were shorter since primary trainers were already single-engined, and that more aircraft could be fielded quickly using this approach; Kesselring believed that Germany's air strategy must be to support the Reichsheer, as the likelihood of bombing distant objectives such as Wever's ideal "Uralbomber" was meant to do simply did not exist. A small but vocal third party, led ironically by a former fighter pilot, Major-General Kurt Student, director of the Luftwaffe's training branch, followed Sowjet experiments and the thinking of American General Mitchell, believing that aircraft could be used for delivery of soldiers directly to the battlefield.

    Frustrating all of the factions involved, the Fuehrer agreed with all of their points. Since he made quite clear that he had no plans to raise new squadrons until existing units were fully modernized and trained, he saw no difficulties in planning for all three eventualities.

    Figure 33: Border Police during training exercise, 1936


    The German police became an extension of the military as a consequence of the cooperation between SS, who had absorbed the police as part of the January 30th Revolution, and Reichsheer, with border police units routinely mobilizing for Reichsheer field exercises. Their precise role was widely debated during the middle of the 1930s, with the eventual agreement that upon mobilization large numbers of police would simply change from a green uniform to a gray, exchange caps for helmets, and march as infantry under Reichsheer command.

    The German police force was, and remains, generally divided into three categories. Regular uniformed police were known as Ordnungspolizei, or Orpo, and comprised the vast majority of cross-trainees with the Army. They were especially invaluable to the Reichsheer in border postings, where their intense local familiarity might give a momentary tactical advantage. Plainclothes criminal-investigation police belonged to the Kriminalpolizei, or Kripo. As might be expected, the Kripo were rarely called upon to function as soldiers, and were widely viewed as the most essential to the continued health of the Reich, therefore the least disturbed in wartime. Special political and security police, fewest in number and totally immune to Reichsheer involvement, were known in the 1930s as the Sicherheitspolizei, or Sipo, an organization combined with the State Secret Police (Geheime Staatspolizei or Gestapo - trans.) in 1941.


    More to follow, I just can't wrap my head around the Reichsheer, Reichsmarine, Luftwaffe, and Polizei sub-headings right now. Speechwriting gives me a headache. :P

    EDIT - Done. Finally.
    Last edited by c0d5579; 05-07-2012 at 00:31.

  17. #17
    Incredible posts so far.

    I will most certainly follow this.
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  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by TemplarComander View Post
    Incredible posts so far.

    I will most certainly follow this.
    Wherein you discover that I am a better writer than I am a player.

    Seriously, thanks, and I'll see if I can't at least get the "Pillars of Germany" (military, industry, science/education/research) completed before I head home next week. Then comes "Opening Moves." I'm kind of excited about this one.

  19. #19
    Dauphinois ŗ la Noix Karaiskandar's Avatar
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    Wow I almost missed it!
    Subscribed of course.
    Pretty impressive work so far.
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  20. #20
    First Lieutenant MidEvil's Avatar

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    Well I must say that if your game play is half as good as your wrighting then we are in for some nice screenshots

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