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Thread: In the Age of Superpowers

  1. #21
    Lady of the North Star Demi Moderator Saithis's Avatar
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  2. #22
    Major GulMacet's Avatar
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    Hurrah! Now we'll surely be in St. Petersburg by Christmas and then in Paris by Easter next year! *sings 'Gott erhalte Franz den Kaiser'*

  3. #23
    Field Marshal TC Pilot's Avatar
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    Saithis: I'll say now, it's likely I will not play as Germany throughout the whole AAR. As I envision it, there will be multiple phases, each with its own country taking center stage. Which countries exactly... is not yet clear though.

    GulMacet: Ha! While the Russians have been given a good drubbing, I'm not sure my armies can even march that fast.

    -----


    Chapter I - The Great War - Part VI

    The euphoria over the triumph of the Polish offensive was still filtering through the German populace when Hindenburg and Ludendorff set in motion the next step in the eastward push begun that year. The two generals were now national heroes, idolized by a weary civilian population starving for news of success. In newspapers, in living rooms, in bear halls, and in the Reichstag, they were hailed as military geniuses. The accolades were perhaps overblown and exaggerated, but no one begged to differ, and as time went on, Hindenburg and Ludendorff found that their victory had not only secured control of Poland, it had secured control of Germany itself. Their reputations were unassailable, their plans impervious to criticism, and their support vital for any policy. As time went on, the Kaiser and General Staff would become increasingly marginalized, a victim of the generals' success. As befitted their conquering warlords, the General Staff made Hindenburg Supreme Commander of the East.

    There was still plenty of time for offensive operations before the autumn rains reduced the road networks of Eastern Europe into muddy swampland, and Germany was determined to give the Tsarist empire as little time to recover as possible. As testament to just how grave Austria-Hungary's situation had been in the spring, the Habsburg state was still faced with serious problems in the form of Russian armies in Galicia and Transylvania, and Italian armies in the Tyrol. In the Russian occupation of Transylvania, Ludendorff saw an opportunity; the defeat of Romania left those armies tenuously supplied, forced to rely on the roads south from Lwow and the river Dneister to keep them so. Already, those lines were perilously held, the German army camped in southwest Ruthenia around Chust like a dagger into the Russian gut. Against any such push toward the Romanian border from Chust, General Bruisilov had erected a strong defensive line. Ludendorff was not interested in finding out how strong, instead opting for a wider, though safer, offensive push through Galicia, before plunging southward into Bessarabia. By August 22, the Germans had managed to redeploy thirty-one divisions into the region for the attack, newly resupplied and reinforced in the previous two weeks and eager for fresh victories.


    The German attack begins against the Lwow-Stryj line.


    The Russian force arrayed against the Germans was hardly sufficient to stem the advance. With only eight divisions along the entire arc of the line, there was only so much that could be done to delay the attack. They managed to do so for little over a week. On August 30, a breakthrough was achieved at Stryj. The defenders of Lwow managed to hold until September 6. The German advance now began its leisurely swing in a southward direction. On the 8th, the attack was renewed against Tarnopol. Still reeling from the blows delivered the week before, Russian resistance was negligible; the line collapsed. Divisions were thrown piecemeal in a vain effort to block the tidal wave. As before, German cavalry ranged ahead, three divisions reaching the Dneister at Hotin on September 24, cutting the last link between Bruisilov's armies in Transylvania and the rest of the Russian army.


    Another encirclement.


    Thus ended the opening salvo of a victory just as great as the one so recently concluded in early August, and won at a fraction of the cost of its predecessor. This time, the front had been blown wide open. A path was now clear for a spectacular cavalry raid into Russian territory that would not end until Odessa itself fell. Even better, reconnaissance reports estimated at least thirty divisions were bagged in Transylvania, with some estimates climbing to as many as forty. The German press went wild, plastering banner headlines across their pages. The Reichstag was gripped by standing ovations of the sort sneered upon by the likes of Rosa Luxembourg, increasingly in the minority in opposing the war. With every new Russian unit to surrender to the steadily-closing grip of the German-Austrian onslaught, the power of the Hindenburg-Ludendorff clique grew. Had they felt the desire to make the trip by train, quipped one American correspondent, the duo could have pushed the Kaiser off his throne and taken a seat and the country would have cheered it.

    Successes were not limited strictly to the East, however. In the early days of its entry into the war, Italian forces had swarmed across the frontier, moving like rushing water around every roadblock put in place by the Austro-Hungarian armies. The naval base at Pola had fallen, and Italian forces pressed as far north as Klagenfurt, unnervingly close to Vienna. Three divisions, freshly trained, were rushed to Munich and then further south to meet one already on station in the Alps, placed under the command of General Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck, fresh from his colonial campaign in Tanzania, where, despite the destruction of his forces, Lettow-Vorbeck has show a singular capacity to accomplish much with little. He was to show the same skill when, acting in conjunction with his Austrian allies, he succeeded in recapturing Pola on October 12.

    Until now, the war had been almost exclusively a matter for the army. For all the time and resources expended in its construction, and the resultant diplomatic fallout with Britain, Germany's navy had done little in the past year to justify itself. Too weak to overcome British naval superiority, the Kaiserliche Marine was consigned to port at Wilhelmshaven and Kiel. But as the army began to score victory after victory and the Allied blockade brought increasing strain on the German economy, the calls for action mounted. Honor demanded at least a show of contesting the British naval presence off the northwest coast, and many Germans wished to get their money's worth. The attempt to justify this prudent caution cost Admiral Friedrich von Ingenohl his job. His replacement, Hugo von Pohl, was fully aware of the impossibility of facing the combined might of the British fleet, but knew Germany expected some sort of action. To this end, he seized upon the example of Breslau and Goeben; there was to be no grand battle between fleets, but rather a massive lightning strike into the North Sea to disrupt enemy patrols and perhaps even threaten the British coast with bombardment.

    On September 3, the full might of the High Seas Fleet rumbled out of Wilhelmshaven, an enormous fist ready to punch through any resistance that might get in the way. The Royal Navy, its mighty dreadnought fleet either in port at Scapa Flow or dispersed to enforce the blockade, made no move to engage the High Seas Fleet, instead hurriedly concentrating its forces off the north of Scotland. Admiral Pohl was left bewildered by the conspicuous absence of the Royal Navy, expecting at any moment for lookouts to spot the Grand Fleet moving against his force. Having reached Dogger Bank with no ships to attack, and repelled by the notion of bombarding helpless coastal towns, von Pohl retreated back to Wilhelmshaven within days, accomplishing nothing but diminishing fuel supplies and leaving the British embarrassed yet again.

    On November 7, German cavalry entered the undefended city of Odessa, torching war supplies and generally making a nuisance of themselves before retreating to more defensible positions in Bessarabia. Thus ended German offensive operations for 1915. By all estimates, and certainly compared to the outcome of the previous year, 1915 was a stupendous success for Germany. Austria-Hungary, so close to the brink of destruction, had been saved, Serbia and Romania had been knocked out of the war, Albania conquered, Anglo-French offensives in the west had been stymied, the Italians repelled from Pola, and in the east, Poland conquered and sixty Russian divisions forced to surrender. It seemed the tide of the war had swung dramatically in the Central Powers' favor. As 1916 approached, hopes were high for what the future might bring.


    The front lines at the end of 1915.

  4. #24
    Major GulMacet's Avatar
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    How are the U-Boote doing in starving the nefarious British? Oh, and von Lettow-Vorbeck with the Kaiserjäger in the Alps, fighting Italians? Awesome!

  5. #25
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    No Somme no Passchendaele this time...
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  6. #26
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    GulMacet: How about the U-boats doing? Poorly.

    The sortie into the North Sea was about as adventurous as I've gotten with the navy so far.

    Kurt_Steiner: The Western Front has been eerily quiet this year. Aside from the aerial attacks, the British have repeatedly tried landing troops in Belgium.

    -----


    Chapter I - The Great War - Part VII

    The winter of 1915-16 was a harsh time for Russia and the vast empire's people. It had all begun so well. All the looming problems facing the nation, so starkly revealed in the defeat and revolution of 1905, had for a time been swept aside and forgotten in the rush of war fever and patriotism. Such enthusiasm seemed to be well-founded; though hopes for a quick victory were ultimately disappointed, Russia's soldiers had acquitted themselves well against their Germanic foes. Pressing into Galicia and threatening even Hungary itself, the great bane of all Russia's Balkan ambitions, Austria-Hungary, teetered on the brink of total defeat. The Ottoman Empire's decision to ally with the Central Powers only expanded the horizons of the Russian pan-Slavic dreams. With Britain as an ally in this war, the long-sought hope of Russian arms standing astride the Bosporus was within reach.

    All such hopes evaporated quickly, however, with the crushing defeats delivered to the Grand Duke Nikolai's forces in Poland. Stunned by the sudden reversal, the people struggled to find a reason for their defeat. Indeed, under the merciless assault of the German armies, the grave weaknesses of the Russian armed forces were exposed to light. For all the enthusiasm of the liberal middle classes, Russia's war was to be fought by a vast mob of illiterate peasants, hardly a generation removed from the era of serfdom. Poorly trained and hardly caring for the plight of distant racial cousins in Serbia - or, indeed, having little awareness of the nearest town - the soldiers of the Tsar's armies were unmotivated, save for the threat of punishment meted out all too frequently by arrogant, lazy, or inept, and sometimes all three, officers. Whatever luster there was to military life was soon scoured off by the sting of German machine guns and artillery.

    Worse, Russia was ill-equipped to fight a modern war. Critical supplies and equipment, including guns, ammunition, and uniforms, were in short supply, and the infrastructure of the state was hardly prepared to cope with the increased demands placed on it by the needs of the front lines. The railroads, such as they were, could either supply the armies or supply the cities, not both. Naturally, the Tsar Nicholas II and his advisors chose the former. The results were predictable. Prices rose as goods became scarce. Wages for factory workers, already pitifully inadequate, were either frozen or slashed. The state did not even had a coherent policy for continuing the supply of the army. The need instead was filled by patriotic industrialists and middle class bourgeoisie who worked tirelessly to bring order to a chaotic mess. At the price of many new grey hairs and painful ulcers, the gap was filled. And so long the army continued to advance, the sacrifices were worth it.

    Few were ready to admit that their nation was a ramshackle, backward state run by an inept buffoon of a man and a corrupt, indolent administration. They cheered when the Tsar vowed to travel to the front and assume personal command of his armies so carelessly handled by the Grand Duke. And when General Bruisilov's armies in Transylvania were subsequently encircled and destroyed, they raged all the harder. Accusations of treason and German sabotage began to fly, many aimed at the Tsar's German wife and the scandalous mystic Rasputin from some backwater of the Urals she had allegedly taken as a lover. Calls for drastic reform, reminiscent of those aired a decade earlier, were renewed. Sound, determined administration of the affairs of state, to say nothing of generals capable of leading the armies, was needed, and soon.

    But to the common people of the Russian cities and countryside, and certainly for the common soldier, the solution was simple: end the war. Millions had already been killed or wounded on the battlefield, led to their doom practically unarmed, naked against the elements, only to be beaten and insulted by their officers when their mass charges against machine gun nests failed. At home, food grew increasingly scarce, disease began to emerge, and a continuation of the war seemed to promise only renewed or increased misery. Anger and frustration bred resentment for the regime, and civil unrest began to spread. With each passing day, Okhrana agents warned, the working classes became angrier and angrier, resulting in violent outbursts as mobs stormed bakeries suspected of hording food or workers went out on strike. In the countryside, peasants were now attacking conscription officers, and in a few incidents even attacked noble or zemstvo properties.

    At atmosphere in Petrograd was tense as winter descended in late 1915, promising heightened suffering for the people unable to afford to heat their shabby homes. The demand for drastic action was becoming undeniable. Convinced, or rather deluded into believing, that the root of Russia's mounting crisis lay in the inordinate influence Rasputin held over the Tsarist administration, a cabal of aristocrats and conservative Duma members plotted to assassinate him. Invited to a party hosted by Prince Felix Yusupov, Rasputin was attacked by the conspirators on December 16, 1915. Though the precise details remain shrouded in uncertainty, by the morning the Russian monk was dead, the victim of a savage beating, multiple gunshot wounds, and perhaps even a drowning in the freezing Neva River.

    If the cabal expected Rasputin's death to solve anything, they were soon disappointed. Emotionally devastated by the assassination, the Tsarina arrested the patriotic assassins and arranged for Rasputin to be buried at the Tsarist palace in Tsarskoye Selo. But the bottom had now fallen out of the regime. Unrest was still rising due to the terrible deprivations heaped upon the civilian population by the demands of a war they cared nothing for, but the assassination of Rasputin was the final straw. Factory workers throughout the city began to go out on strike on December 17, their numbers increasing en masse with each day, threatening both critical war production and supplies to the capital in the process. Prime Minister Ivan Goremykin, facing the crisis with neither grace nor skill, demanded the workers return to their posts. The workers responded by calling a general strike, which effectively shut down Petrograd on January 1, 1915. Faced with the defiance of the workers and the danger resulting from the practical isolation of the city from the outside world, Goremykin and the Tsarina agreed to send in troops to break the strikes and restore order on January 3.

    The government's decision had the opposite effect. Presented with orders to disperse the strikers, with deadly force if needed, the soldiers in and around Petrograd wavered. Many of the units stationed in the capital were unreliable at best, having been pulled from the front to recuperate from combat or to stem the rise of dissension amongst the rank and file. Few, if any, relished the idea of marching with fixed bayonets on people, many of them women and children, who wanted little more than food and an end to the war. Indeed, far more agreed with the strikers. Fights broke out almost immediately, with beleaguered contingents and soldiers being swarmed by furious civilians, who heaped insults upon the men and attacked with improvised weapons; shots were fired, blood spilling in the snow. Riots erupted across the entire city and the streets were alive with the sound of gunfire, as soldiers, mounted Cossacks, and police snipers did what they could. The following day, the situation had spun completely out of control. Soldiers, many of who had simply fired harmlessly into the air the day before, refused to march out of their barracks for a second day of bloodletting. The Volinsky Guards Regiment was the first to mutiny, the soldiers arresting or shooting most of the higher ranking officers. A chain reaction followed, as more and more units either refused to obey the regime's orders or actively switched allegiance to the rioters, culminating the spectacular mutiny of the sailors at the Kronstadt naval base and their descent upon the capital.

    With the army no longer to be relied upon, the regime toppled like a house of cards. The arsenal was sacked, police headquarters set alight, while monuments and symbols of Tsarist authority were torn down or vandalized. Government authority was now gone, as armed bands of workers and soldiers roamed the streets, flushing out the last pockets of government resistance. By the end of the day, the last army garrisons had switched sides. Liberal members of the Duma gathered together in the Tauride Palace to form a new, provisional government, claiming sovereign authority of the Russian state and demanding that Nicholas abdicate. At the same time, in the opposite wing of the palace, members from the various socialist and trade union parties formed the Petrograd Soviet, to oversee the administration of the newly liberated city and represent the workers and soldiers. News of the revolution swept through the army at the front like a tidal wave. Whole units, fed up with the war, threw down their guns and deposed their officers. Authority collapsed, and any thoughts Nicholas may have entertained about marching on Petrograd were rendered null by the wave of mutinies. Faced with the unanimous consensus of his general staff and ministers, Nicholas II abdicated on January 6, 1915 and was placed under arrest by the Provisional Government.



    The Provisional Government that claimed to now govern Russia was a classically liberal collective, comprised chiefly of Duma representatives, land owners, and industrialists, and headed by the Georgy Lvov, a prominent provincial landowner who had done much in his years of tireless service to try and generate reforms from the local level upwards. Lvov and his new cabinet, a rickety hodge-podge of Kadets, or constitutional democrats, Socialist Revolutionaries, and classical Marxists, the Mensheviks, had a monumental task before them of satisfying the demands of the vast majority of the Russian populace and restoring a semblance of order to the state. But for all its estimable liberal credentials proven from years of parliamentary opposition, the Provisional Government was sorely lacking in the one respect that mattered most: authority. Its ability to enforce its edicts beyond their wing of the Tauride depended solely on the compliance of the Petrograd Soviet and, moreover, the willingness of the populace to listen. And outside of the cities, no one at all held any authority, matters of life and death now in the hands of the unleashed peasantry.

    Lvov was a decent, hardworking man, but he had little chance to prove his qualities as a leader. The Petrograd Soviet had little patience for the debating club that had set up camp in the opposite end of the palace. In the days immediately following the December Revolution, so-called because Russia still adhered to the Julian calendar, the Soviet rapidly organized the workers and soldiers and restored some semblance of normality to the city operations, all the while flouting the dictates of the Provisional Government. The Entente powers and the United States may have recognized Lvov and his cohorts as the legitimate government, but the Soviet had not; a wealthy landowner like Lvov, though his steadfast effort to save his family estate and local activism left the man with little in the way of money, could not possibly represent the will of the workers. A true champion of the working classes was needed. One man jumped at the chance: Alexander Kerensky, the vice-chairman of the Soviet and a brilliant orator. Swept up by the speeches he made promising an end to the people's misery and a true reworking of the nation’s social structure, the Soviet issued a demand that Lvov resign in favor of Kerensky. Even if Lvov had refused, it would have made no difference. So, on January 24, not even three weeks after the revolution, Kerensky became the second prime minister of the revolutionary government. Appointing himself supreme commander of the army for good measure, Kerensky now dominated the government.



    With the cooperation of the Soviet, Kerensky's new government did better than the last. Quickly, he announced that a Constituent Assembly would be convened in six months to decide the ultimate form of government. Generals and officers were stripped of their authority, which was now to rest in the hands of soldiers' committees. The administration of the capital's essential services was improved, and contact was reestablished with some degree of reliability with the rest of Russia. But as Kerensky bounded from place to place and delivered an endless number of speeches, he continued to dance around the major issues that truly mattered. Nothing was said of land reform, the only issue that mattered to the vast multitudes of peasants, while rumors began to circulate of a renewed offensive in the spring to drive back the German armies, leaving the revolutionary soldiers feeling betrayed.

    But so long as Kerensky enjoyed the endorsement of the Soviet, which was seen by most in the capital as the only legitimate authority, he would remain in control. That control, however, was soon put to the test when a train pulled into the Finland rail station in Petrograd just before midnight on January 30. The sealed, one-carriage train was from Switzerland, having traveled through Germany and through the front lines by special permission of the German Foreign Ministry. Its cargo was a political exile gone from Russia for nearly a decade: Vladimir Lenin. Greeted by a band of workers playing the Marseillaise and a Menshevik representative of the Petrograd Soviet, Lenin turned to the gathered workers and declared, "The piratical imperialist war is the beginning of civil war throughout Europe. The world-wide Socialist revolution has already dawned. Germany is seething. Any day now the whole of European capitalism may crash. Sailors, comrades, we have to fight for a socialist revolution, to fight until the proletariat wins full victory! Long live the worldwide socialist revolution!" Several of the workers booed Lenin while the rest looked on silently. No one wanted to fight the present war, let alone one global in scope. It was hardly the most auspicious start to a renewed political career, but it was a start nonetheless.

    Back in Russia, Lenin quickly set about rallying the scattered, disorganized elements of the Bolshevik party structure and laying the groundwork for the revolution he deemed inevitable and imminent. After his initial stumbling, Lenin soon educated himself on the situation in the country after so long in exile. The weakness of the Kerensky government and the fragility of his popularity were laid bare as the Bolsheviks unleashed a campaign demanding 'peace, land, and bread,' simultaneously courting the soldiers, peasants, and workers. Against these attacks, Kerensky could offer no constructive policy, instead limiting himself to attacks on Lenin as a charlatan demagogue. Coming as it did from Kerensky, it had little impact on the populace. And with the opening of the campaign season and the threat of a renewed fight against the Central Powers, time was running out for the Provisional Government.

    Matters finally came to a head on March 28, when rumors began to circulate that Kerensky had left the capital to rendezvous with several generals and officers formerly of the Tsarist regime in the city of Pskov in preparation for a march on Petrograd and a purge of the Bolsheviks. While Kerensky had indeed left the city, it was to motivate the army for one last, great offensive, not as part of any plot against Lenin and his cohorts. But when he failed to materialize the following day, the worst suspicions seemed confirmed. Already high-strung from over a month of bitter rhetorical duels with Kerensky, Lenin badgered the party's Central Committee into approving a seizure of power the following morning. On March 30, the Bolsheviks sprung into action, dispatching contingents of soldiers and armed workers who had switched their allegiance Lenin's cause to secure the city. While many might not have actively supported the Bolsheviks, almost none were willing to oppose it in favor of Kerensky by now. The March Revolution unfolded almost without a single shot being fired. The remnants of the Provisional Government were rounded up in the all-but abandoned Winter Palace and placed under arrest. Flush with victory, Lenin proclaimed 'all power to the Soviets.' The Soviet Union was born; the communist revolution had begun.



    For Hindenburg and Ludendorff, looking on from their headquarters in Warsaw with no small degree of bewilderment, it made little difference if the Tsar, Prince Lvov, Kerensky, or a Bolshevik cabal controlled Russia. It was still an enemy that refused to give up the fight. The winter snows were melting. It was time to go on the offensive once again.

  7. #27
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    Surely ze Kaiserreich must haff a loyal poopet im die Russland ja? Vee must restore Kerensky ja?

    Awesome update by the way.
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  8. #28
    Pantomacatalasecesionanis ta

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    Some things cannot be avoided...
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  9. #29
    Awesome AAR.Keep the updates coming!(Please?)
    It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn't feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.-Neil Armstrong

  10. #30
    Field Marshal TC Pilot's Avatar
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    H.Appleby: First thing's first, we gotta set up puppets in all that land in between!

    Kurt_Steiner: Would you have it any other way?

    AwesomeSauce123: What timing! I was putting the finishing touches on this update when you posted.

    -----


    Chapter I - The Great War - Part VIII

    When it finally came, the German army's offensive in the spring of 1916 crashed into Russia - now the Soviet Union - like a wrecking ball. Whether the Tsar Nicholas or Lenin ruled in Petrograd changed nothing in the grand scheme of Hindenburg and Ludendorff's strategic vision: the Eastern Front had to be secured before the Central Powers' full attention could be turned west to France and Britain, and the final, victorious conclusion of the war.

    As the winter snows melted away and the Russian roads hardened into a useable state, the German duumvirate carefully redeployed the bulk of the Ostheer from Galicia and southeast Poland northward, to the relatively stable entrenchments of East Prussia. Despite what had been said to the Russian populace of 'land, bread, and peace," the new Bolshevik regime showed little indication they were in a position to make good on those promises. Professional dissidents and political exiles all, they were unprepared for the sudden responsibilities of governing a crumbling empire gripped by radical revolution and internal strife. Germany had no intention of awaiting Russian peace feelers, when or if they were ever extended. Instead, peace would be enforced on at the end of German bayonets, and entirely on German terms. The collapse of the Tsarist regime had opened up new and unprecedented opportunities in Eastern Europe; Berlin could not afford to capitalize on the expanded horizons.

    Continuing to press the Russian armies eastward would accomplish Germany very little, and serve only to stretch the Ostheer over the vast expanse of the Russian nation. A rapid, overwhelming strike at the heart and head of the revolutionary government, Petrograd itself, was needed. The plan devised by Hindenburg and Ludendorff called for a northeastward advance through Lithuania and into Latvia, with Riga as the prize. A further push toward the capital would unfold as circumstances developed. As an additional bonus, the navy could be used to provide support along the coast, and to counter any moves that might be made by the remnants of the Russian naval forces in the Baltic. For its part, Austria-Hungary, despite Italian forces still entrenched in the Tyrol, insisted on expanding on the capture of Odessa by launching its own offensive into the Ukraine, a move that would require only minimal support from Berlin.



    Amassing forty-eight divisions in East Prussia and northern Poland for the task, the German offensive exploded on April 15, 1916. The attacks were concentrated along four points of the line to maximize the speed of advance and the army's striking powe. Against this attack, spread out across nearly 600 kilometers, the Soviet government would muster only twelve divisions. Not only outgunned and outnumbered, these forces, lacking any sort of effective, coordinating leadership and still demoralized from the previous year's setbacks, could offer scant resistance. Whole units threw down what weapons they had and fled, while those still willing to stand and fight were shredded by the weight of numbers and firepower thrown against them. The defenses around Grodno, at the southern end of the offensive, were the first to give way, precipitating a cascading panic that collapsed the entire northern front from end to end.

    Even as word of the German offensive trickled into Petrograd, Lenin's government was faced with even graver news. Though they had succeeded in toppling Kerensky's government, the Bolshevik coup had opened the lid of the forces of reaction inside the country. From Central Asia, news arrived of a revolt of the non-Russian, Muslim population, proclaiming itself an independent state of Turkestan on April 18. Meanwhile, Kerensky remained in Pskov, surrounded by a division of soldiers who remained loyal to the Tsar, or at least their officers. The Bolsheviks failed to rapidly dispatch troops to remove the counter-revolutionary forces coalescing in Pskov, a grave mistake with serious repercussions. With the Germans advancing rapidly, practically unopposed, this new, anti-communist 'White' movement finally took action in mid-May. On May 10, General Anton Denikin unleashed his rebellion in Rostov, announcing the formation of a Volunteer Army. Two days later, Admiral Kolchak, ensconced safely in the Far East, formed a government labeled the Ufa Directory. Russia was now faced simultaneously with a civil war and foreign invasion.



    On May 15, German units marched into Riga. In April, Hindenburg and Ludendorff had refused to promise the Kaiser or the General Staff more than the conquest of Lithuania, insisting that further plans would follow events on the field. As it turned out, the offensive had essentially destroyed any organized resistance in the path of the German march. The road north, if not to Petrograd itself but at least to Pskov and Tallinn, was wide open. Elsewhere, the evident disorganization of the Soviet armies had goaded attacks into the Pripyat Marshes. Brest-Litovsk was seized, and the road to Minsk had been blasted open. Even Austria-Hungary was advancing at good speed toward Kiev. With the successes of the past month, it seemed only a matter of time now until Germany could enforce whatever peace it wished upon the Soviet regime. The offensive continued.


    German progress as of May 23.


    As if to confirm these high hopes, Smolensk was captured on June 17 without serious resistance. The road to Moscow itself seemed laid bare, though Soviet armies in the region between Smolensk-Kiev appeared to be amassing in some strength. Toward that end, a second great cavalry excursion was launched, three divisions racing into the Russian void toward the old Muscovite capital. But such good progress in the east was soon darkened by other news: the Western Front had erupted.

    Between the end of the 1914 offensives and the summer of 1916, the battlelines in France had changed very little, if at all, and little was done to try altering this condition. As infuriating as it was to have enemy armies deep within its homeland, the armies of France simply lacked the strength to drive them back, and their British counterparts could not offer the necessary numbers to fill in the deficiency. Throughout 1915, freshly-trained British divisions, growing around the original core of the five-division British Expeditionary Force, poured across the Channel. Deeply skeptical about the effectiveness of these green troops, the British refused to heed French calls for a grand offensive, even as the Russian armies were battered and destroyed in the east. Instead, the allies contented themselves to tentative probing actions and localized raids. It was hardly work to fill the headlines back home, but it kept casualties low, and allowed the soldiers and generals to ready themselves for the reckoning they were sure was coming. For its part, Germany took full advantage of the Entente timidity, shuttling badly-needed divisions from West to East at the critical moment of Hindenburg's first offensive.

    On June 19, the waiting was over. The Entente struck at both extremes of the line, against Dieppe on the Channel coast and Colmar in Alsace, commanded by Marshals Fernand de Langle de Cary and Foch respectively. Against Dieppe, where ten divisions under General von Below were entrenched, the allies struck with thirty-nine of their own, and with twenty-nine against von Eichhorn's five in Alsace. The offensive was both a complete surprise in Berlin and a complete disaster. Stripped to a bare minimum to reinforce the eastern offensives, the armies of the west were pummeled mercilessly and gave ground accordingly. Trench lines meticulously planned for over a year were overwhelmed within hours. On both sides of the front, the generals screamed for reinforcements. In France, there were none at hand. Worse, resistance in Russia seemed to be hardening, as more and more Soviet divisions appeared as if out of thin air along the flanks of the German advance in central Russia.



    By June 26, the defense could no longer be maintained, and the retreat was called. In vain, Germany hoped the sudden revolt of Irish nationalists in Dublin on June 20 would halt the offensive. It was the hope of desperate men, and the offensive continued all the same. The Entente smelled blood in the water, and closed in for the kill. On July 2, fifty-five Entente divisions surged over the defenses at Chateau Thierry, held by only eleven German divisions; by the 7th, the retreat began there as well. On July 8, the race to Moscow ended, with German cavalry parading outside the Kremlin, but it seemed only to redouble the Entente effort. July 10, Sedan was attacked, thirty-four divisions to eight, Reims the next day. Within a week, both were given up as well. On the same day, Petrograd fell to the Germans, as Foch assaulted Strasbourg and a front-wide retreat was ordered in France, abandoning Amiens, Calais, Laon, and Hirson to the enemy. Already, twelve divisions had been stripped from Hindenburg and rushed west, some to Strasbourg, which was now the key to the German line, and some to Belgium.

    At last, the Entente offensive seemed to be winding down. A doubling of Strasbourg's defenders blunted the power of Foch's attack and ultimately ground it to a halt, while the general retreat in northern France had bought precious breathing space. But, by August 10, the months of patient planning had clearly paid off. From the gates of Paris, the armies of Germany had been hurled back all the way to the Belgian frontier in a span of less than two months, far more quickly and far more decisively than Germany's own massive offensive in 1914. After the triumphs of the first half of the year, a deep gloom fell over the German public. With defeat in the West and the Soviets stubbornly refusing to surrender, the war seemed almost lost yet again. For all the victories of 1915 and early 1916, it seemed there was still much hard fighting left to do.


  11. #31
    Field Marshal Cybvep's Avatar

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    Good stuff. Very engaging. What difficulty level are you playing on?

  12. #32
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    Woooooh! Go Western Allies!

    And nice job in Soviet Russia
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  13. #33
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    It seems that the war may be over by 1917
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  14. #34
    Possibly not. It /was/ mentioned that resistance on the Eastern front was stiffening after all, whatever that means.

    Hopefully Ludendorff and Hindenberg can push through the next two months, and if necessary, the Winter, to push for a quick a resolution in the East as possible. Otherwise... we may have to retreat to the Rhine to prevent an encirclement in Belgium, and buy enough time for a final assault in the East. Once it is finished, then we should be able to redeploy those veterans allowing us to make for a final push, allowing us to capture Paris and end the war.

  15. #35
    Karl Popper Fanboy H.Appleby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hyo View Post
    Possibly not. It /was/ mentioned that resistance on the Eastern front was stiffening after all, whatever that means.

    Hopefully Ludendorff and Hindenberg can push through the next two months, and if necessary, the Winter, to push for a quick a resolution in the East as possible. Otherwise... we may have to retreat to the Rhine to prevent an encirclement in Belgium, and buy enough time for a final assault in the East. Once it is finished, then we should be able to redeploy those veterans allowing us to make for a final push, allowing us to capture Paris and end the war.
    "für Mitteleuropa und der Kaiser!"

    Actually, maybe it is time to switch to the U.S. and come and kick the Hun's rear back to Bocheland.
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  16. #36
    Wait, so we finish off the East front, redeploy to the West for a massive thrust to Paris...

    Where have I heard that before...?

  17. #37
    Karl Popper Fanboy H.Appleby's Avatar
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    Hmm, why not go for the Italian option? It's a bit of a tangent, but it would be a blow to the Entente and allow a second axis of attack into France.
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  18. #38
    The Hapsburgs are then liable to march straight into Rome, which would fire the surrender of Italy. Who won't give Military Access after the war, rendering any troops you may have in Southern France basically encircled and dead meat.

  19. #39
    Karl Popper Fanboy H.Appleby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hyo View Post
    The Hapsburgs are then liable to march straight into Rome, which would fire the surrender of Italy. Who won't give Military Access after the war, rendering any troops you may have in Southern France basically encircled and dead meat.
    So edit the event .
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  20. #40
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    Just caught up. Looks like one hell of a battle for the Western Front is unfolding, even while your armies are marching to victory in the east. It might look bad now, but I am sure that once the USSR is defeated (and it WILL be defeated at the rate your forces are advancing, even with stiffening resistance) you can bring the full weight of the German Army to bear against the Entente in the west and achieve the Final Victory.
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