Part XXXIV: April – July 1939
On the 9th of April, 1936, the Reich declares war on the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. After seventeen hours, Luxembourg is annexed by us. This is another precautionary measure I decided to take in order to strengthen my stategical situation against France -- I will elaborate on the military usefulness of Luxembourg in one of the next updates in more detail when the war has started. Instead, notice how quickly I captured Luxembourg: I used an engineer-brigaded HQ division to attack the defenseless province. This is important because otherwise Belgium and the Netherlands would intervene and declare war on me due to an event that fires if Germany is at war with one of the Benelux states. The event, however, can't fire if Luxembourg is attacked and annexed within the day the war is declared, so by using a fast division I prevented an otherwise undesirable chain reaction. The annexation of Luxembourg, a German core province, granted us five points of IC, one point of MP and 69 points of metal production in exchange for a belligerence increase; after annexing Luxembourg our belligerence increased to twelve points.
During the remaining months of peace our air force as well as our army receive some crucial updates to newer models, although we expectedly fail to upgrade all of our divisions. We also try to get Romania into the Axis to have another front for Poland should Warsaw decide to join the Allies, but at some point the chances to invite Romania to the Axis dropped to zero without any explanation -- before this happened I could have tried to invite Romania with a chance of around ten percent, but I decided to wait instead and to increase the chances with the execution of several diplomatic influence missions. This obviously failed as the Romanians are now no longer willing at all to join the Axis; I probably have to wait for the Romanian Nazi coup.
The number of hostile intelligence missions increased again (all were successfully repelled), so I'm giving our intelligence network again a cash infusion, probably for the last time during peace. Because we are increasing beyond level ten, the improvement in numbers is only miniscule, but will give us nevertheless a considerable boost when compared to the intelligence networks of our competitors.
Before we start the war, a final update of our research:
Rheinmetall ---> Early Field Artillery | Werner Heisenberg ---> Faculty of Nuclear Research
It is necessary to research nukes as fast as the historical dates allow, because the United States will certainly do the same. The only thing I worry about is, however, the delivery system. We aren't researching strategical bombers, and haven't researched any rocket technologies yet -- I think that it will be therefore necessary to use Wernher von Braun for one of the technology slots as soon as possible ...
Heinz Guderian ---> Combined Arms Offensive | Mauser Werke ---> Fighter Veteran Initiative
As expected, the Combined Arms Offensive -- a crucial Blitzkrieg doctrine -- was researched just in time. There are still numerous 1939 air doctrine techs available for research, which is worrisome, so I decided to maximise my efforts in researching these. As I don't have a suitable techteam, I use the Mauser Werke to research Fighter Veteran Initiative to improve the organisation and morale of our interceptors. Notice that the two other interceptor doctrines offer the same bonus, but that this technology also offers improved snow and rain attack, so it's the first of the three interceptor doctrine technologies that should be researched.
Hugo Sperrle ---> Night Strikes Doctrine | I.G. Farben ---> Night Strafing Doctrine
And here another doctrine for our tactical bombers. Hopefully a technological edge will compensate for the small size of our Luftwaffe.
Krupp ---> Basic Medium Tank | Kriegsmarinewerft ---> Early Underway Replenishment
This technology will increase our naval range by one thousand points -- which could become useful should it be necessary to invade Norway and for other adventures that would require transportation of troops by sea. Apart from this, we're now able to produce medium tanks; the production queue as well as our light armor divisions in the field will slowly start to update to medium armor.
On the diplomatic stage, the Soviet Union and Japan concluded after the Nomonhan Incident a Non-Aggression Pact which makes a Japanese entry into the Axis even more improbable.
After the final two tank divisions are produced, deployed and reorganized, I dismiss on the 11th of July all corps commanders and appoint new ones according to their usefulness: The Western Front receives -- with the exception of the corps in Freiburg -- commanders with four to five skill points which often even have a useful offensive doctrine. The Eastern Front receives four skill point generals together with some defensive doctrine leaders. Unfortunately, the final interceptor is going to be finished in September at the earliest, but we can't postpone the whole operation just because of one missing interceptor; we must get along with seven interceptors.
On the 13th of July, 1939 all our units are at their designated positions and ready to strike in the West and to defend in the East. The screenshot shows the eventual setup of my army:
We have stationed 105 army divisions in the West. 32 divisions are going to withstand any French offensives from Alsace-Lorraine, the other 69 divisions will be used for the invasion of the Low Countries. I have not only ordered all eight armour and three HQ divisions to the West, I've also shifted divisions around so that only the most modern divisions will be used for the offensive in the West. The gap in Luxembourg is intended and part of my strategy. The HQs have been placed -- for maximal effectivity -- in Wilhelmshaven, Muenster and Aachen, and the two latter provinces have, respectively, six armour divisions stationed that will fulfill the function of spearheads. The whole Luftwaffe as well as the Hungarian air force were rebased to Essen to support our initial advance into the Low Countries.
31 divisions are stationed in the east (not counting the Hungarians in) and their quality is, compared to the divisions of the Western Front, under-average, but still sufficient enough to fight the Polish. I decided to deviate from my ordinary corps setup for the eastern front: Instead of six divisions almost all corps in the east are composed of five divisions. Considering that East Prussia is home of seven IC points the thinning of our forces is in my opinion acceptable: It allowed me to send one defense corps to East Prussia, as I was able to create an additional army corps by separataing one division from the five initial six division corps, creating six five division corps. I've also decided to use the lone division that was initially intended to defend the Yugoslavian border in Czechia under the command of Rommel (five skill points) so that the Polish, should they try to stage any offensives, can't take the provinces without at least a short battle, which would give me some time to react. I've also ruthlessly decided to send the whole Kriegsmarine to the Store Belt, thus blocking enemy access to the Baltic Sea -- the French and especially the British have due to the improved AI of Darkest Hour the annoying attitude of starting amphibious invasions in the German hinterland. To make things harder for them, it is crucial to prevent with my navy any landings in the East by blocking the access to the Baltic Sea. This will save us a lot of trouble in the long term, and I suspect that even the British won't break this blockade unless they decide to send the Home Fleet to Denmark, which doesn't seem probable. Concerning the Hungarian six divisions, I've just evenly placed them at the Polish-Hungarian border and appointed some decent leaders, prayers will be here more important than power or strategy if the Hungarians don't use their IC to produce some more divisions.
My strategy will be discussed in the next update in detail.
After several border incidents at the Dutch-German border, including such shameless acts as Dutch soldiers storming German radio stations and broadcasting insults against our beloved Führer, the government of Germany declared war against the Netherlands in order to protect the integrity of the German border on July 16th, 1939. The Führer officially declared in an emergency meeting of the Reichstag that German army units are shooting back at the Dutch since midnight. Of course, the Reich is an empire of peace and does not aim for any kind of military conquest, so our generous Führer offered the Dutch several proposals for peace with very mild terms, but unfortunately the Dutch rejected all proposals, stating that the secession of the Dutch mainland in Europe to the Reich is not debatable at all.
The rationale behind this is obvious: My plans that I will present in the next update require the defeat of the Netherlands first. Declaring war on the neutral Netherlands raises my belligerence to twenty points -- which is, according to France's interventionism slider, enough to declare war on me and start World War II -- and this is, after all, the ultimate goal. On the other hand, if France declares war on me (which is most likely), this would decrease my belligerence considerably. If I would just declare war on the Allies and then on the Low Countries to start World War II this would lead to a hefty belligerence increase. However, I can't ignore my belligerence like in the historical Poland First approach, as there is the realistic chance that the Polish will stay out of the war. Poland's interventionism slider requires a belligerence of 36 before they can declare war on me. Keeping my belligerence low will allow the Poles to attack me only by joining the Allies, which is a little bit more complicated than just declaring war on me. Apart from this, there is also another advantage of this strategy: France will probably need one or two days to react and to declare war on me, as well as Belgium, so I gain a nice headstart in the beginning that is especially useful if you consider my actions portrayed in the next screenshot. And if France shouldn't decide to protect the Netherlands, it would be even better, as I could invade the Netherlands without any resistance to speak of and place all my units elegantly along the Dutch-Belgian border before the offensive against France. It's a classical win-win situation for me.
After declaring war, I enacted the Partial Mobilization decision. It is important to enact this decision instantaneously after the declaration of war, because the enactment of this decision during peacetime would lead to a twelve percent increase of our dissent (and dissent decreases the overall battle performance of our troops). By enacting this decision in wartime we circumvent the inconvenience of a hefty dissent increase. And as we're, for now, only at war with the Netherlands, it isn't even a tragedy that the reserve unit activation event that automatically reinforces all our divisions by 65 points doesn't provide a full reinforcement. After the Partial Mobilization, the IC need for reinforcements dropped to just 56.37 IC, which is low enough to reinforce all our divisions within one month, the approximate time it will take -- according to my expectations -- before the main offensive against the French mainland will be launched.
This concludes our war preparations and starts World War II. God with us!