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Thread: Siegerkranz - Germany's Place in the Sun

  1. #701
    Nice opening of the war, but as I correctly assume, Peter is rescued by Germans ?

  2. #702
    That would explain the presence of Günther Prien, yes.
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  3. #703
    British Unionist trekaddict's Avatar
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    I. Heute wollen wir ein Liedlein singen,
    Trinken wollen wir den kühlen Wein
    Und die Gläser sollen dazu klingen,
    Denn es muß, es muß geschieden sein.

    Refrain
    Gib' mir deine Hand, deine weiße Hand,
    Leb' wohl, mein Schatz, leb' wohl mein Schatz,
    Leb' wohl, lebe wohl
    Denn wir fahren, denn wir fahren,
    Denn wir fahren gegen Engeland, Engeland.

    II. Unsre Flagge und die wehet auf dem Maste,
    Sie verkündet unsres Reiches Macht,
    Denn wir wollen es nicht länger leiden,
    Daß der Englischmann darüber lacht.

    Refrain

    III. Kommt die Kunde, daß ich bin gefallen,
    Daß ich schlafe in der Meeresflut,
    Weine nicht um mich, mein Schatz, und denke:
    Für das Vaterland da floß sein Blut.

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  4. #704
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    Words that I thought someone like trekaddict would never post here!
    Nice Liedchen.

  5. #705
    British Unionist trekaddict's Avatar
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    The song was written when the Kaiser was still called Wilhelm II. Mind you, the Bundeswehr still sings the Panzerlied too, so that's acceptable as well.
    "That's right, Adolf. The British are coming." - The Eleventh Doctor
    "My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right." - Carl Schurz
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  6. #706
    59. Over the Border

    3. Panzerkorps Area of Operations
    West of Leeuwarden, Occupied Netherlands
    6 August 1941


    Walther von Brauchitsch and Fedor von Bock agreed on most things, though Brauchitsch was more inclined to the rapier thrust than the broad-front advance that Bock embraced. One thing they agreed on was that there would be absolutely no glory attached to the conquest of the Low Countries; it was simply an unpleasant chore that must be done to open the door to France. Thus, the two of them commanded the field forces on this extreme right end of the German line; even Rundstedt to the south had a more glorious assignment than them, acting as the shield in case the French decided to cross the Rhine.

    Brauchitsch commanded the seaward wing, entrusted with the capture of Groningen. Slightly inland, Bock was moving for Eindhoven, with the two armies set to converge on Amsterdam. Brauchitsch had the one armored corps not allocated to the Belgian thrust, Rommel's corps, and he used it to good effect. Within minutes of receiving the formal order from Berlin, and knowing that no such word had yet reached Amsterdam, he had been on the radio with Rommel and the armor had been moving over the border. Rommel had contacted him at six in the morning to inform him that his headquarters was in Groningen and he was continuing the advance to the IJsselmeer. Brauchitsch could hear the ambitious Rommel's unspoken thoughts: if he advanced quickly enough, he could seize the Afsluitdijk and race into Amsterdam ahead of any other German elements. Brauchitsch, still recovering from a heart attack over the summer, lacked the energy to restrain Rommel, and besides, if it worked, everyone benefited.

    Rommel's relentless drive, outside the scale provided for in the operation order, drove his chief of staff, Fritz Bayerlein, insane, and snarled units all along the front line. Organization was breaking down as columns attempted to use the network of dikes to advance, only to bump headlong into each other. Thus, Johann Volkmann's introduction to the western war was as a traffic-control officer. He took mulishly to this, at first waving traffic through himself, then grabbing platoons from divisional police companies to do it for him. After three days, he finally got far enough forward to see what the corps had actually accomplished, looking out at the great man-made lake of the IJsselmeer at a point significantly south of the long dike that enclosed it, Rommel's objective. He looked incredulously at the area the general had told them to expect to attack - a four-lane road stretching twenty-odd kilometers, an obvious chokepoint, and the kind of killing field normally avoided by the German armor. All it would take was one Dutchman with a detonator and the will to undo the work of the past couple decades, and the IJsselmeer would be open to the sea once more, the dike breached, and the corps stymied.



    When he reported this back to Bayerlein, the general nodded tiredly. "Been telling him that since he thought of it," he said wryly. "No changing his mind, he's convinced the Dutch will never expect us to move that fast. And he's right. Prisoner bag, as of this morning, is forty-five thousand. Forty-five thousand prisoners in two days!" Bayerlein shook his head, standing and stretching before staring moodily out the window of the old royal residence Rommel had adopted as his momentary headquarters. "It won't work, Volkmann. It would require Winkelman to be an idiot. A blind idiot." He sighed. "Well. Thanks for your report. Tea?"

    Johann nodded. "Yes, please, sir." Bayerlein nodded to an orderly and sat down behind a desk that doubtless dated back past Bonaparte. "Well. Here's the rub, Volkmann. There's a position at Kornwerderzand. I think it's probably another Westerplatte. You know, Dutch dug in ears-deep, machine-guns everywhere, and no choice to dig 'em out but the bayonet, and we're damn short on bayonets in this corps." The tea arrived, they nodded, and a moment of silence followed as they drank. "Here, look," Bayerlein continued, gesturing at a map on the desk. "This position controls the north end of the dike. If we can't break it, we can't advance, so what I want from you... I want you to take a platoon from one of the divisional scout battalions and investigate it. Funck's got the Seventh over there, he's already been told to cut you a platoon and, if he can spare it, a couple Stugs to support you."

    Johann looked at the map. The likely emplacements were on the south side of the causeway, and did indeed pose a threat to advancing across the dike. The problem with this damned country was that everything was flat - there was no way to conceal an approach march, and if they dug in, chances are their emplacements were flush with the ground or hidden behind one of the interminable series of dikes that they seemed to think were a substitute for roads. There was no way to finesse an operation like this; brute force really would have to do. "Just a platoon, sir?" he asked, glancing over at Bayerlein, who shrugged. "I doubt he can spare much more, we're still feeling out to the sea along the front, but His Eminence wants this taken care of quickly." Bayerlein looked Johann square in the eye. "Frankly, Volkmann, if you can map it out, chances are you'll have an armored battalion on your tail immediately to punch through."

    He nodded, lost in thought before he straightened. "All right, sir, I'll grab my glasses and head out."

    The battalion in question turned out to be considerably closer than expected. Oberstleutnant von Manteuffel had brought a mechanized battalion almost to the causeway in expectation of precisely the same operation Rommel had in mind, and was in the back of a halftrack, arguing on the radio with one of his company commanders, when Johann arrived. Johann waited patiently for him to finish the argument, then Manteuffel looked up at him impatiently. "General Bayerlein have something for us?" Manteuffel asked, tearing a hunk of bread and eating as he did, glancing apologetically at Johann before offering him part. "No, thank you, sir, ate at headquarters."

    "Probably better'n we're eating, I bet." Manteuffel grinned. "So the General give word to break across the causeway yet?"

    "No, sir. General Bayerlein thinks... and I agree, sir... that there's a rat's nest on the south side." Manteuffel nodded, turning to yell out of the halftrack. "Schacht! Post!" A Hauptmann came running, submachine gun cradled lightly in his arms. Volkmann recognized the type - he was the type, one of the new breed of officer commissioned in the last few years. He even vaguely recalled him, a rifle platoon leader in Poland. "Schacht, your company's attached to Hauptmann Volkmann here for the afternoon. Says there's a position next to the causeway. Want you to clear it out. Once you've done so, get on the horn and we'll roll. Got it?" Manteuffel glanced at Johann, who began to protest that his mission was reconnaissance, then shut his mouth. "Anything more to add, Volkmann?"

    "No, sir." He hesitated, then corrected himself. "Ah, sir, if you could keep your mortars available, I'd greatly appreciate it." Manteuffel nodded once, then swigged from his canteen. "Good luck, gentlemen, see you in Amsterdam."



    The company moved out; Johann was unused to riding in a halftrack to get to the battlefield, the unique swaying motion different from a tank's. Schacht noticed, grinning. "They say it's like a camel," he yelled over the engine, eyes scanning the flat land ahead of them. They both rode standing, and Johann noticed Schacht always kept one hand locked on the bar around the halftrack's open top. "I can imagine," he replied, not bothering to turn to face Schacht but scanning ahead of them with his field glasses. He saw no telltales that would give away the Dutch position, and they were within eight hundred meters of where it was supposed to be.

    Two halftracks back, a vehicle suddenly exploded. "Alle raus!" bellowed Schacht, and Johann joined the general rush to dismount. The halftracks were immediately caught in a hail of machine-gun fire, and they threw themselves flat pell-mell behind the vehicles. Schacht, to his credit, was definitely a fighting soldier, crawling forward and yelling for the company to organize by squad, find a target, and start suppressing. Johann shimmied along beside him, out of his element, the MP38 cradled in his arms unfamiliar. If it had been a tank, he would have swept this field, but as it was, all he could do was look around.

    He saw a puff of smoke to their left, and he jerked Schacht's elbow and pointed at it. Schacht nodded, cupped his hands, and yelled, "That's great, but there's fuck-all we can do unless we can get moving!" Two more halftracks went up, and Schacht waved at them, gesturing them back. Johann knew how painful that must be - to send their only vehicle support away - and inwardly cringed. He was not a rifleman, he was a tanker, damn it!

    Schacht shimmied forward, toe and elbow propelling him below a low undulation in the till. "Pedersen! Get your platoon on line, lay down fire. Asser, your platoon, ready to bound on my order. Eugen, line with Pedersen!" Johann was in awe - how Schacht could lay there, rolling side-to-side, yelling and gesticulating in apparent calm, was totally beyond him as the bullets whipped overhead and kicked up dirt around them. The mid-sized guns - five-centimeters, he guessed by the sound - had fallen silent with the halftracks' precipitate retreat... complete with their radios, he realized belatedly. If these fortifications were to be cleared, they would have to be cleared by the infantry.

    Schacht ignored Volkmann's apparent panic and rolled to one elbow. "Asser! Forward!" Obediently, a ragged line of men half-rose and stumbled forward a handful of steps before flinging themselves down again. Some of them would never rise, the machine-guns sweeping their position ensured that, but bound by painful bound, the company moved forward a few meters at a time. It took them a nightmarish half-hour, but they began to close with the Dutch defensive positions. Johann Volkmann took stock of what remained, and was astounded to realize that of the men who had exited the halftrack, four out of five had actually made it this far.

    They saw the first bunker finally, a casemate dug out of the till and reinforced with concrete. It was closed, but the trenches between the positions, Johann saw after popping his head up for a moment, were uncovered, timber-lined. Schacht smiled grimly, glancing over at him and half-yelling. "We can get in that trench, we've got 'em," he yelled, no one speaking at less than a bellow after half an hour under fire. Johann nodded mutely, watching Schacht fumble with a grenade. "Asser! Grenades and charge!" he roared, and reared back, sidearming the stick grenade forward. Johann watched it skip across the dirt before tipping over into the trench, and heard panicked shouts from within. Along Asser's section of line, two dozen grenades went forward. The ground shook, tilting sixty degrees to Johann's view as the grenades went off in a chorus of cracking explosions. Moments after the explosion, a ragged, cheering line of men came to their feet, sprinting forward and diving into the trench line.

    They made the trenches, and it became a far more even fight: the grenades had done no damage to the defenses, but instinct was to shy away from the explosions, and they had given the infantry time to close with their opponents. In the close confines of the trenches, the fixed defenses were useless, while the quick-firing new rifles proved a decisive advantage at this range. It had been expected to come down to the bayonet. Fortunately for all concerned, it did not. The Dutch retreated southward along the trench line, fighting stubbornly, but outnumbered two-to-one as Schacht's other platoons were able to advance. Even reinforcements from another trench line to the west, facing the water, were unable to stop the advance.

    Hauptmann Schacht did not live to see his victory. Leading from the front as always, he was one of the first into the central casemates, with the five-centimeter guns. The defenders were loath to part with their artillery, and at this one point in the line, it did degenerate into hand-to-hand combat. When Volkmann found him, the popular, ambitious young officer was thrown half-back over one of the guns, his head an open mess that had scattered all over the polished concrete floor. A Dutch gunner was slumped against the wall opposite him, gray loops of intestine in his lap and blood dribbling from his lip, apparently bayoneted a half-dozen times.

    It was Leutnant Asser who broke Johann's reverie. "Sir?" the platoon leader asked nervously. "What do we do now?" Johann looked up from the mess on the floor. "Only one thing we can do, Leutnant. Signal battalion, get the tracks up here. Detail a couple men... lay out the bodies." He closed Schacht's eyes, taking a deep, shuddering breath. "Least we can do is get 'em ready for the burial detachment."

    All along the German line, disaster befell the Western powers. Within seventy-two hours of the war's breakout, the main German armored force punched through to link up with the small, specially-trained glider force at Eben-Emael, splitting around Brussels to plunge through the Flemish coastal plain and engage the French on French soil. Five days after the declaration of war, the French were in retreat at Calais, the British Expeditionary Force still hastily organizing in London, and Brauchitsch fighting at the southern end of the Afsluitdijk against still resistance. On the morning of the ninth, the Interior Ministry radio station triumphantly announced the accession of the Duchy of Luxembourg as a member-state of the Reich. That afternoon, Marshal Bock himself arrived to take possession of the Huis van Doorn, the Kaiser's onetime residence in exile, and lay a wreath at its door.



    The fate of the Low Countries was sealed; it was now only a matter of time before France itself felt the full strength of the Kaiser's army. In Paris, posters went up in every arrondissement, proclaiming "La Patrie en danger!" Old men, the memories of the Great War rising in their minds, rushed to volunteer stations, and boys whose autumn should have been occupied with school instead begged to be allowed into the fight before it should end.
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  7. #707
    Pantomacatalasecesionanis ta

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    Ghent is too unprotected for my liking...
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  8. #708
    Human Enewald's Avatar
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    Poor Frenchmen. More to become a part of the lost generation... a lesson not properly learned...

  9. #709
    In a weird turn of events, post-land war update replies first!

    Quote Originally Posted by Kurt_Steiner View Post
    Ghent is too unprotected for my liking...
    Nah, that 21-division cluster in Liege is operating on the Bedford Forrest principle: War consists of getting there first with the most. Note also the stack advancing into Ghent from Antwerp.

    Quote Originally Posted by Enewald View Post
    Poor Frenchmen. More to become a part of the lost generation... a lesson not properly learned...
    There will be plenty of French blood shed, but in perspective, because the war is so short, the "lost generation" casualty figures are smaller than the body count just for the Battle of the Somme. As Mr. de Lassan will illustrate shortly, what will wind up happening is that French and Belgian units simply begin disintegrating and, when lucky, going home.

    Quote Originally Posted by trekaddict View Post
    The song was written when the Kaiser was still called Wilhelm II. Mind you, the Bundeswehr still sings the Panzerlied too, so that's acceptable as well.
    Grr. Now you have me digging to see if any of the Fallschirmjäger songs I know are still in use. "Auf Kreta" is obviously inappropriate here, since nobody writes a marching song about a vacation destination.

    Quote Originally Posted by trekaddict View Post
    I. Heute wollen wir ein Liedlein singen,
    Trinken wollen wir den kühlen Wein
    Und die Gläser sollen dazu klingen,
    Denn es muß, es muß geschieden sein.

    Refrain
    Gib' mir deine Hand, deine weiße Hand,
    Leb' wohl, mein Schatz, leb' wohl mein Schatz,
    Leb' wohl, lebe wohl
    Denn wir fahren, denn wir fahren,
    Denn wir fahren gegen Engeland, Engeland.

    II. Unsre Flagge und die wehet auf dem Maste,
    Sie verkündet unsres Reiches Macht,
    Denn wir wollen es nicht länger leiden,
    Daß der Englischmann darüber lacht.

    Refrain

    III. Kommt die Kunde, daß ich bin gefallen,
    Daß ich schlafe in der Meeresflut,
    Weine nicht um mich, mein Schatz, und denke:
    Für das Vaterland da floß sein Blut.

    Refrain
    The miracle here is that I can still puzzle my way through this; I haven't actively tried speaking (or reading!) German in something like five years.

    Though fair warning, expect flag rank for Prien (probably in the epilogue, after the end of this madness); the U-Boat losses are much lower in this war, and the U-waffe's much more survivable due to a much heavier production effort prewar and two more years' worth of research time.

    Coming up: "O Absalom, my son..."
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  10. #710
    60. "O My Son, Absalom..."

    Headquarters, 1. Garde-Panzerkorps
    Ypres, Belgium
    16 August 1941




    Generalleutnant Erich von Manstein was a happy man. His corps, in parallel with Generalleutnant Geyr von Schweppenburg's 2. Garde-Panzerkorps, had proven that the Guards were not a ceremonial entity. They had paced Guderian, Hausser, and Kleist in the great race into northern France. Thus, today he was quite pleased to receive his nominal superior, the over-arching commander of the Guards, Prinz Wilhelm. The Prince had arrived at the head of a surprisingly small entourage, though, Manstein noted with disapproval, he did travel with his wife - so close to the lines that one could still hear artillery fire!

    The Prince, smiling and gracious, dismounted from his staff car and offered his wife his hand, waving to Manstein in place of a salute, accompanied by a sheepish grin. The Prince was royal and soldier enough to know that perhaps a field headquarters was not the place for a woman. Still, Manstein decided to make the best of it. One did not gain a marshal's baton without favor in high places, after all!

    "Highness, Princess, welcome to Ypres." He bowed to Dorothea, Prinzessin Wilhelm, heels clicking. "I regret that word did not reach me that you were coming, Princess, else we would have more appropriate entertainment laid on! Highness, I have prepared a detailed briefing in the map room, if you would care to accompany me...?" Dorothea raised an eyebrow and replied for them. "If my husband trusts me here, he can surely trust me in the maproom." Wilhelm stifled a laugh and gestured toward the Cloth Hall, where Manstein had set up his headquarters. "Sorry, General, but I'm afraid my hands are tied. The maproom, if you will."

    The briefing was simple enough: in the past week, Brussels had been subjected to the Krupp twenty-eight-centimeter rail guns, Brauchitsch, following Rommel's spearhead, had secured Queen Wilhelmina before she could be evacuated to London, and the Netherlands had surrendered. The last Belgian resistance was centered on Namur, and there were a handful of French divisions cut off on the beaches at Dunkerque, begging for any aid the British might provide. The front, meanwhile, was advancing to Amiens, with Hausser predicting an entry into Paris without the infantry - the French defense seemed simply not to be there. Generalfeldmarschall von Blomberg's infantry, fresh from occupying Brussels, were turning to finish the Belgians and advance into France, with contact confidently expected around Valenciennes.

    "Most astonishing of all," Manstein concluded, "is the Marshal. He's bagged six French divisions attempting to rescue the Dutch Queen. Admirable move on their part, of course, but chivalry does not win battles." Wilhelm raised a hand, somewhat timid since Manstein was a career soldier and twenty years his senior. "Excuse me, General, but you've told me precious little I didn't already know. What of the Guards?"

    Manstein smiled cryptically. "Well, Highness, we are deep in Belgium, the front line is forty kilometers to our south in France, and there's every reason to think Arras will be in our hands... and by ours, I mean Mackensen and 'Totenkopf'... by nightfall. I think we're quite well-positioned, actually. We have a choice..." Manstein sat on the corner of the map table, hands hooked on his knee, boot deliberately casually cocked as his ceremonial spur clicked back against the table. "We can either move on Paris, maybe beat the other armored corps, or swing southeast and meet up with Generalfeldmarschall von Blomberg in Valenciennes. I recommend Paris. The hotels are better." Manstein's face split into a broad grin at his joke, but the Prince shook his head. "No... the French won't fold just because we take Paris. Not this time. We have to wreck their force. Turn southeast."

    Manstein frowned, but nodded. "It shall be as you wish, Highness." The Prince nodded, slapping his thigh before standing. "Well! Excellent job, General. Now, is there any chance I can visit the front?" He put a subtle emphasis on the "I," glancing sideways at his wife, who had the good grace not to glare back. Manstein nodded. "Certainly. I'll arrange a visit -"

    "No arrangements, General. I would like to go now, no warning, no preparations that could alert the French to my presence." The prince was polite but firm, and Manstein nodded unhappily. "As you wish, Highness. I'll signal for a K-wagen. Your car would stand out." The Prince nodded in approval, and Manstein made the phone call.

    At nine in the morning, Generaloberst Prinz Wilhelm von Preussen and a small convoy of vehicles including Generalleutnant Erich von Manstein rolled into France to visit the Garde du Corps in their positions northeast of Bethune. To the northwest in the line was Hausser's 1. Panzerkorps, to the southeast, 1. Garde-Panzerdivision. The Garde du Corps was a unique unit, nominally regiment-sized, but in reality a full division, the best-equipped and best-bred unit in the Reichsheer. When they heard that the Kaiser's firstborn had arrived, they raised a cheer despite themselves. Prinz Wilhelm insisted on going close enough to see Frenchmen, and that was the moment at which things unravelled.



    Manstein had excused himself, remaining at divisional headquarters, where he thought a proper operational-level commander should be, when a report came flying back that the Prince had been hit. He did what he had to do, immediately grabbing up whatever resources he could and speeding to the battlefield. It seemed that the French had launched an armored counterattack, trying to throw the Germans into panic. This attack had been led by the French 1.re Division Curassee de Reserve, a unit equipped with heavy Char B1 tre tanks meant to pierce trench fortifications. These lumbering machines were no match for the Panzer IV, but they were at least capable of scoring the occasional kill against the German armor.

    The company which Wilhelm had been visiting had been distracted by the Prince's arrival, and the French caught them in lager. They bounded back to form a line and counterattack, with three tanks lost, and it was not until they had taken accountability that they had realized that the Prince, the Kaiser's firstborn, was forward of their positions. Those were the circumstances under which Manstein found them, in the midst of a counterattack. He could do little other than urge them forward impatiently. Forty-five minutes after the French offensive had begun, it had ended ignominously: of the hundred and forty tanks the French had at the beginning of the day, thirty-eight pulled back south of Amiens at day's end.



    For Germany, and for Erich von Manstein, the price was perhaps too steep. Prinz Wilhelm von Preussen died of a half-dozen gunshot wounds shortly after German forces, led personally by Manstein, recaptured their initial line for the day. He had lain bleeding for fifteen minutes, burned and, as Manstein saw when he hurried to the Prince's side, terribly conscious the whole time, clutching the tread of one of the blown-out Panzer IVs. "My daughters," he croaked out as Manstein cradled him, grabbing Manstein's shoulderboard. The effort of moving his hand from the tank to the gold-braided epaulette was all the Prince had left in him, and Manstein sat numbly, certain his career was over.

    At headquarters, a reporter asked him what the Prince's last words had been. Manstein's jaw firmed, and he turned to face the reporter. "On to Paris," he said, eyes set.

    In Berlin, the reaction was one of absolute shock. As word rippled out from the Bendlerblock, flags seemed to dip spontaneously to half-mast. At Charlottenburg, the Kaiser sat behind his great mahogany desk, staring out at nothing, tears running down his cheeks. Only one person dared approach him, the Kaiserin, Cecilie. Where nothing else had drawn them back together in private, Wilhelm's death did. In the hours following the announcement of the Prince's death, Kaiserin Cecilie became the acting ruler of Germany, the interface between the grieving Kaiser and the government.

    Remarkably, King George VI of Britain issued a statement on the Prince's death, praising a gallant young man who had served his country well, even if he had been on the other side. It was not a sentiment endorsed by his Prime Minister, but George had once been a decorated officer at Jutland, so he understood the risks of being a royal on the battlefield.

    The Prince's body was too ruined for public display, no matter what cares were taken, so he was interred beside his grandfather in the Antique Temple only three days after his death. His funeral route from the Berliner Dom was lined by the entire populace of Berlin, it seemed, and Speer, acting in the Kaiser's name, commissioned a statue of the young prince as Siegfried to be erected at Bayreuth and unveiled at the next Wagner festival. The Kaiser had no word of it, but would stand in silent, somber reverence at its unveiling in April 1943.
    Last edited by c0d5579; 31-10-2010 at 03:44. Reason: Because the Kaiser's desk being at a flagpole makes no sense.
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  11. #711
    Oh no!

    The frogs!

    war is was though...

  12. #712
    British Unionist trekaddict's Avatar
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    Oh dear....
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  13. #713
    Human Enewald's Avatar
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    Hmm... intriguing surely!
    Do you have anyone left who could died fighting Stalin?

  14. #714
    Pantomacatalasecesionanis ta

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    Valenciennes, always Valenciennes!
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  15. #715
    Major Kasakka's Avatar

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    HA! That Wilhelm took the just fate for all of the vile aristocracy stomping over the working classes of Europe =D Viva la France!
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  16. #716
    Too bad, but a nice flavor to the story war is cruel and it was his own decision to do it....nevertheless I hope that von Manstein stays, if it is only for his brilliance in commanding...but I think that public opinion or the Kaiser's opinion will go against him. Nice story about the attack in Holland. As already said, Winkelman realized the onslaught of the Germans and in real life did surrender when threatened with bombing. Therefore, in this timeline he would certainly surrender if Wilhelmina was captured etc. Wonder what will happen to her, for she was the one to let Kaiser Wilhelm II to live in Doorn etc. so I would expect some courtesy (queen of Holland within the empire or something like that...)

    Nevertheless great story keep continuing like that...I like the way you use your maps as well...

    Tim

  17. #717
    General reply regarding the Prince's death:

    The more I read, the more I come to the conclusion that the Crown Prince's children are far more admirable men than the Crown Prince himself. Prince Wilhelm married for love over the objections of his grandfather and gave up his succession rights, and enlisted in the Wehrmacht despite the hopelessness by that point of a Hohenzollern restoration. Louis Ferdinand was imprisoned by Hitler as a consequence of the July 20 plot (I suspect in a different world, Kaiser Ludwig would have been Beck's figurehead...). Prince Friedrich naturalized as a British citizen after the war. Compared to this, most of what the Crown Prince did was... well, hairdressers and opera singers.

    And apologies to Dutchie for the improbable assault across the Afsluitdijk; it's the only way I can think of to get from Frisia to Holland on the HoI2 map. It could be done, but it would be an exceptionally risky operation on par with Market-Garden and would require not only surprise and initial success, but momentum to exploit. It does seem the kind of thing that would appeal to Rommel for precisely those reasons.

    Timmie, Manstein was among other things an excellent politician in real life. There are two possible results here: either the Kaiser casts him into the outer darkness because he was responsible for the Prince's death, or he builds a legend of how he led the counterattack and held the dying Prince Wilhelm in his arms on a French battlefield. I won't spoil things regarding Manstein's career, but I will point out that in real life, Manstein's corps was one of those earmarked for Sealion.
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  18. #718
    61. Breaking the Line

    Headquarters, 8. Armee
    Saarbrücken, German Empire
    17 August 1941


    The arrival of a Mercedes staff car heralded the presence of General von Leeb. A hawk-faced little man in a colonel's uniform greeted his visitor personally, smiling in anticipation. "General von Leeb," he said, ignoring the aides and drivers, "I believe we have a chance at getting in this thing."



    Leeb, suspicious, frowned. "Herr General, our orders are to sit on this side of the border, and you know what sits in front of us. I'd rather be over there, too, but..."



    Gerd von Rundstedt waved away these objections. "Bah, nonsense, I know very well what sits in front of us." His smile turned vaguely predatory. "Come, let me introduce you to my wireless officer, he will explain everything. Michaelis! Brief General von Leeb!" They had by now entered what had been the hotel's ballroom, now transformed into a command center liberally decorated with wireless sets and maps. Oberst Michaelis, an exceedingly bookish-looking man who looked totally out of place in field-gray, taped his glasses and hesitated before beginning his briefing.

    "Ah... Herr General..." Rundstedt gestured impatiently for him to hurry his explanation. "Yes, yes, get on with it!"

    "General... wireless intercepts from the French side of the border... as you certainly know, each unique radio operator has what is called a 'fist' that indicates their identity as surely as fingerprints. Frequent rotation of wireless operators is one way to reduce the likelihood of 'fist' identification. The longer the cycle between operator duty, you see, the less likely it is that a given operator will be identified. Attempts have been made by both sides to automate this process and remove the operator from the loop, and some of the 'Enigma' work is quite promising in that regard..." Rundstedt cleared his throat, stamping his heel lightly, and Michaelis brushed back his receding, overlong black hair and bobbled apologetically. "Excuse me, Herr General." Leeb looked impatient, unimpressed, and Michaelis hurried on.

    "We have been watching wireless traffic from the French side of the border, and have come to the conclusion that there are one-third as many radio operators on the French border as there were three weeks ago. We have identified nine unique divisional signals in the Strasbourg area, which as you know is directly facing us here. Of course, it is possible that it is a deliberate misdirection -"

    "Thank you, Oberst, that is quite enough." Rundstedt smartly marched over to the great sector map showing the units under his command. "So that's what I wanted you to hear - nine divisions, and they're pulling west as many as they can. The Froggies are already thinking about withdrawing. If we hit them now, we can chase them out of that line completely!"

    Leeb frowned, examining the map. "So what do you have in mind?"

    "Simple, really. We march from here, take Strassbourg -" Rundstedt's arm swept over the map. "Your forces in the south hold steady until I give the word, just lend us your cannon. When you get the signal that I'm in Strassbourg, why, then you roll up the southern end of the line, and you borrow my guns." Seeing Leeb's doubtful expression, Rundstedt's voice took on a gentle, pleading tone. "Willi, there are no batons on this side of the river, and the French are already thinking about pulling back. This is our chance." Leeb considered - if the notoriously lazy Rundstedt was behind this plan, chances are that it had a good chance of working. Anything that had old Gerd out of bed before ten was probably a sure thing.

    "All right," he said quietly. "But, Gerd... this has to work, or Blomberg will have our heads."

    "It will, Willi. It will."

    ---



    The sudden transition from sedentary defense to furious offense by the forty divisions marked as the defenses facing the Maginot Line was one of the surest indicators of the Reichsheer's high state of training; the fact that all forty divisions could be focused against one sector of the French line was another. The Maginot defenders were a curious mix: the divisions of old men and boys the French had begun throwing together were fighting alongside modern armored forces, which slowed Rundstedt's offensive considerably. The SOMUA cavalry tank, against which the Panzer IV had been designed, was concentrated here, not on the decisive battlefield to the north, and inflicted severe casualties on Rundstedt when allowed to concentrate. Two factors saved his forces: the level of chaos created by Stuka and tube artillery in the French lines, and the dogged insistence on packet commitment of the French armor. An occasional SOMUA troop would sally and attack, only to run eventually into a nest of German eighty-eights, but there was never a concentrated spearhead approach as Guderian had drummed into five years of Panzerschuler.



    All along the front, the German generals began to fear that a re-enactment of 1914 was upon them, despite the fact that they were deep in enemy territory. On the seaward wing, the Panzer forces began their version of the "race to the sea," albeit against an anemic French resistance and a missing British Expeditionary Force. On the Rhine frontier, the battle of Strassbourg raged furiously for two long weeks, with the German forces clawing out the French defenders bunker by bunker. Its outcome was never in doubt, and casualties were light because of the experience of the Great War, mandating only an oblique approach to fortified positions, it was just time-consuming. In the center, Hausser's planned rapier thrust into Paris was blunted by what the French hailed as a second "miracle of the Marne." The truth was that Hausser, upon coming up against the mass of French reserves in the suburbs north of Paris, had deliberately halted to await the arrival of the German infantry from the Low Countries. Though Manstein had urged the Prince to strike for Paris, it seemed the Prince's vision of destruction of the French field army would win the day.



    In Normandy, the French defense unravelled completely. General Henri Giraud, the French frontier commander, was chased from Flanders back across Picardy into Normandy, then encircled. As at Calais, the French begged for English assistance; this time, a fraction of the French forces were evacuated, including General Giraud himself, a fact which would have tremendous repercussions for the French government.



    General Giraud's rescue came at a price for the British, one which Churchill personally found intolerable. It left the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, the former King Edward VIII, stranded in France. They were found by German armor at Cherbourg, expecting to be picked up even as German tanks entered the town, and were brought back to Guderian's corps headquarters, where they were held as guests until instructions from Berlin arrived about what to do with them, by which time Paris was once more under German guns.

    The stage was thus set for the Battle of Reims, called the "Agony" by both sides, as the Germans finally concentrated their forces, and the French troops withdrawn from the frontier rushed to stem the bleeding in Flanders.
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  19. #719
    British Unionist trekaddict's Avatar
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    Ouch......The Frenchies are doomed, but just how many German soldiers will they drag with them into the grave?
    "That's right, Adolf. The British are coming." - The Eleventh Doctor
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  20. #720
    Yeah, note to self, don't try to help kids with homework and write update at same time. Not my best.
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