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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

AtlanticFriend

Captain
Jan 2, 2018
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CHAPTER 122 - FALSE START




August the 25th, 1939, a railway tunnel near the Mosty train station


“Flank them!” shouted Savka behind his shoulder, waving his Schmeisser in the direction of a knoll fifty meters to the East, a little further up the slope. “Get on top of it and flank them!”

No response. Savka dared not raise his head to see if Matucek's group was obeying : somewhere near the tunnel, the Poles had brought a machine-gun in position, and its servants seemed determined to mow down every Abwehr “Irregular” imprudent enough to provide them with a clear target. From the cover of the ballast heaps, next to the railway signal station, the rest of the Polish security detachment was taking potshots at Savka's dispersed men, effectively pinning down his section. He heard bullets hit the ground a meter above him, spraying him with dry dirt and grass blades. Thank God he had not attacked at dawn, Miklas Savka thought bitterly, like that stupid Wehrmacht officer had insisted. If they had, half the men of the 369th Volunteer company (Slovak) would have been killed by now, like that poor Jan, the company's young radio. He had been half-running, half crawling to reach Savka’s position when the Polish machine-gunners had fired their first volley. The bag containing the radio set had done little to stop the 7.5mm bullets which had ripped Jan’s skull to shreds and precipitated his body down the hill. Savka had barely had time to register what had happened that Polish riflemen had forced him to hug the grassy slope.

The crack of a rifle from his right told Savka that Matucek's platoon had managed to reach the knoll, gaining a foothold on the tunnel's approaches. That seemed to further enrage the Polish defenders, which redoubled their fire on the men crawling up the slope. The night offered little protection from Polish bullets, but at least it concealed the Volunteers' moves while the Polish enemy – border guards and a small army detachment – were exposed by the floodlights that ran from the signal station to the tunnel itself. The darkness had allowed the Abwehr team to reach the Poles' outer defensive perimeter undetected, and to silence a couple of sentries guarding a yard track where half a dozen cattle cars were parked. Two Slovakian sections had rapidly taken cover behind the cattle cars, and a third was on the move when a Polish searchlight had given the game away. The Slovaks’ initial volley of fire had gunned down a patrol of Polish soldiers, who had been caught in the open as they returned to the Jablonkow train tunnel. By then, the Poles had realized this was not a simple ambush, and they were doing their best to turn the approaches to the tunnel into a killing field.

Savka had hoped the Polish commander would send some of his men to dislodge the Volunteers from the yard track, which would have offered his men to get the Polish soldiers in the open instead of having to reduce their defensive positions. But the Polish commander had not taken the bait – either the man was too cautious to risk his men this way, or he was cunning enough to know that in a couple of hours the sun would reveal the position of each and every of Savka's men, making them easy pickings for his riflemen. Savka was no fool either. He had no intention of being on that damn slope when dawn broke. So either Matucek's men could storm their way into the tunnel to out-flank the Polish positions, or the whole company would have to regroup and go on the defensive until the German main attack began. Savka checked his watch – it was, like all the company's clothing and equipment, a civilian model – and estimated that his men still had twenty minutes to capture the tunnel. After that, their only options were either to fall back on the village of Mosty, and hope the Wehrmacht's 7th Infanterie Division would come to their rescue, or to make a run for the safety of the border – if there still existed such a thing.



Polish riflemen defend the Jablonkow tunnel

On the knoll, Karol Matucek was receiving much-needed reinforcements as a dozen men, panting from their uphill rush, threw themselves on the ground next to their comrades. A few others, Matucek could see, would never reach the knoll: their now-dead bodies, stopped mid-stride by some lucky rifleman, were tumbling down the hillside. He winced: he knew he would need every man to silence the main Polish position at the entrance of the tunnel. One by one, the Abwehr commandos fished out their potato-masher grenades. As if on cue, their comrades hidden among the cattle cars opened heavy fire on the Poles, drawing the attention of the enemy machine-gunners. Matucek took a deep breath and hurled his grenade towards the tunnel.


The German side of the border, August the 25th, 1939


“Gone?? What do you mean the Slovaks are gone?” blurted Groscurth. “They deserted? Folkersam, answer me!”

It had been a wild day, with orders and counter-orders being shouted through every phone and radio, and the Abwehr Major had only gone to bed an hour ago. The shrill ring of the phone call had caught him in the middle of a dream, and the harassed officer was now struggling to reconnect to reality. To make matters worse, the connection with the improvised barracks – actually a middle school that had been taken over by the Wehrmacht two weeks before – seemed fraught with distant but annoying explosions of parasites.

“They left the barracks, Major!” shouted the young Brandenburger lieutenant. “The whole company! They left the barracks and now there's gunfire across the border! Major, they are attacking!”

“They are.. Wait, what?!”

“They are attacking! They are attacking the Poles!”

“No! Why ?!” Groscurth felt an icy thrill running up his spine. “The offensive order has been rescinded three hours ago!”

“Yes sir. All our commandos got the information. But the Slovaks were on a night march exercise, with full gear, Major. So I stayed there to inform them of the delay as soon as they returned, but...”

“But what?”

“They never showed up, sir!”

“When were they supposed to return from that night march?”

“An hour ago, sir. The barracks are empty. They marched with all their weapons and ammunition. And for the past fifteen minutes we've been hearing gunfire coming from the direction of Mosty.”

“Mosty? Wait a minute… Wait a minute...”, groaned Groscurth, reaching for the Geheim-stamped dossier he was supposed to keep with him every minute. Impatiently, he spilled its contents on the small table and fumbled through the documents. “Mosty… here…Mosty. What the Hell! What are these Slovakian idiots doing? It was supposed to be a dawn attack anyway! Even if the attack hadn’t been postoponed their company was to wait till five!”

“I know, Herr Major” said the officer. “I reviewed the attack plan with their officers yesterday.”

“And you say you're hearing shots?”

“Yes sir, sporadic at first, but now it is fully on, sir, sounds like a small battle. Can't you hear it over the phone? I think our Slovaks crossed the border and, well, I’m pretty certain they are attacking Mosty as we speak, sir.”

“Grüss Gott” said Groscurth. “They’ve gone crazy!”

“What should I do, Herr Major?”

“Stay put, Folkersam” replied Gorscurth. “Contact the 7th Infanterie and tell them we need them to double their patrols along the borders. They're to be on the lookout for Slovakian stragglers or for Polish soldiers. Any Slovak they find is to be arrested and brought back to you for interrogation without delay. In the meantime, try to raise them on the radio. They have to be recalled, Folkersam. Any way you can think of!”

“What about headquarters, sir?”

“I'll inform the higher-ups” said Groscurth with a heavy sigh. “Wish me luck, my young friend, for I am about to tell the Admiral the Abwehr might just have started the very war the Führer wanted to postpone.”

Groggily, the Major walked to the bathroom and poured cold water in a basin, splashing some repeatedly on his face and rubbing his eyes to rid them of their bleariness. If Lieutenant von Folkersam was right, and at the moment Groscurth saw, alas, no reason to doubt the Brandenburger officer, some idiot Slovak had taken to himself to start the Second World War a full week in advance. If the Slovakian company wasn't stopped rapidly, not only would the Polish high command be made aware of the presence of German commandos near Mosty, and of their objective, but there was a severe risk the ongoing small-scale engagement could escalate. The possible consequences were horrifying: the Polish high command could attack preemptively, for starters. The Western allies, which had formally guaranteed the integrity of Polish territory the week before, might also attack. If nothing else, the Poles were now bound to beef up their security along their southern border, when everything had been done, so far, to keep them focused on Danzig and the Corridor. Three days ago, a company of naval infantry had been discreetly disembarked from the visiting Schleswig-Holstein, with the help of local Nazis working for the Free City harbors. These men were now hidden in a series of warehouses operated by German front companies. With every passing day, the risk of the Polish intelligence and police discovering the Reich’s war preparations ran higher. And now, this? Those stupid Slovakian hotheads had to be stopped before they derailed the entire German timetable.

Suppose they gave a war, and we came too early ? thought Groscurth as he picked up the phone again. His adjutant was going to need to place a series of phone and radio calls. Urgently.


The Polish airspace over Mosty, August the 25th, 1939


“Over there!” shouted Drawitz, shaking the pilot’s shoulder while pointing his finger to the right, where a column of pale smoke rose. In his binoculars, Drawitz could see two groups of men moving down the slopes leading to the Jablonkow Pass, alternatively running and dropping to the ground. Small point of light erupted as rifles cracked.

“They’re falling back towards Mosty” said Drawitz. “Get us over the village, quick!”

With a grunt, the pilot brought the Fieseler barreled towards Mosty as Drawitz pushed open the small window pane adorning the Storch’ large windshield. From a bag tucked between his knees, he fished a handful of hastily-done weighted messages, simple rags wrapped around a rock and tied up with a color ribbon. Inside the rag, a piece of paper said, in crude Slovak, “Everybody stop and return” - Folkersam had not given Drawitz much time to prepare. Not that he had needed much anyway. Drawitz had immediately grasped the gravity of the situation. The Slovakian commando had to be recalled within the hour, before they ruined the war for everybody else. While two of his NCOs frantically prepared the recall messages, Drawitz had called the nearby Luftwaffe base to commandeer an observation plane and a pilot. There had been some initial reluctance – Rutze, the only available pilot had just returned from twelve crazy hours of ferrying officers from one Wehrmacht unit to another, to postpone Case White, but Drawitz’ plane had finally taken off minutes before sunrise.

Through the large windshield, the darker mass of Mosty approached rapidly. Just outside the Polish village, around a large building that had to be the local train station, Drawitz could see groups of men spread in hastily-prepared defensive positions. Their civilian clothing confirmed it was the Slovaks. Further east, a dozen of their comrades were running towards Mosty, half-turning back to fire blindly at their pursuers.

“Get ready!” shouted the pilot over the sound of the engine, as he brought the Storch down. Drawitz felt his stomach rise as the plane dropped next to roof level, the wind howling like a demon through the

small aperture. As he dropped a handful of messages, Drawitz saw the village rush past him. Just in front of him, something whirred past his cheek and shattered one of the windshield’s panels. As the startled lieutenant turned to his right , he saw shreds of tissue hanging from the Storch’s wing.

“The dumb fucks are shooting at us!” shouted Rutze, pushing the gas throttle all the way up. Already the Storch was gaining altitude, banking left towards the border.

“Make another run!.

“Are you crazy!?” yelled the pilot. “No way!”

“Make another run! I order you!”

Shooting Drawitz a glance of pure hatred, Rutze brutally swerved right, spilling half the content of the Abwehr officer’s bag in the cockpit, and threatening to do the same with his stomach. Behind him, in the cramped observer-gunner compartment, Drawitz felt a dull thud as a leather case banged against the fuselage. Drawitz briefly wondered if the plane had been hit again that the Mosty train station reappeared in his field of vision. The pilot balanced the Storch which flew over the Slovakian soldiers like a meteor. One hand clasped on his mouth, Drawitz dropped another handful of messages through the open pane.

This time, either no shot was fired, or no bullet connected with the passing Storch. Perhaps, Drawitz thought as he struggled to contain the foul bile rising in his throat, these idiots had finally seen the Luftwaffe markings.

“Happy now?” shouted Rutze.

Drawitz nodded agreement as he fought back the urge to retch. He felt he had done his best, and right now his only wish was to return to ground level, and vomit in peace.


The Polish airspace above Mosty, August the 26th, 1939


Chorazy Adrian Wieciski squinted at his target. At this distance, it was no bigger than a dragonfly, a little bigger than a dark ‘plus’ sign which contrasted sharply with the dawn-colored clouds that drited over Mosty. Not that he needed more. Over the past two weeks there had been countless reports of German observation planes crossing the border, flying over nearby Polish towns and military facilities., no doubt helping the Germans map the current defensive positions. Much to Wieciski’s chagrin, so far he and his Air Force comrades had only been ordered to patrol the area and be seen, in the hope that the presence of Polish fighters would deter the incursions. That made little sense to Wieciski. With Nazi unrest mounting in Gdansk, and the German radio spewing saber-rattling propaganda, did the fools in Warsaw really think a couple of PZL fighters bearing witness to the Luftwaffe’s airspace violations would serve any deterring purpose? Of course, neither his or his comrades’ calls for direct action had been heeded. Some Air Force bigwigs had even suggested the PZL flew unarmed, to avoid any “incident” with the Germans. Thank God, Wieciski thought, at least that stupid idea had been nipped in the bud by his base commander. “I’d rather have my boys up there being able to do something, thank you” the old man had said to the assembled pilots. “If there are incidents, I want you, not them, to shoot the last bullet”.

And an hour ago, an “incident” had finally happened. The 68th Infantry regiment’s headquarters had signaled that their detachment guarding the Jablonkow Pass train tunnel – a vital artery of communication for the entire military district – was under attack. The reports were sketchy – it was night and the soldiers could not identify their attackers, which they estimated at a reinforced company, maybe more – but it was serious enough to warrant putting Wieciski’s squadron on alert and send air patrols along the German border. Wieciski and his wingman Zawatski had been sent as artillery observers, since their P-11s fighters were the only ones of the squadron to be equipped with radio sets. Wieciski’s unit was supposed to abandon its aging PZLs for newer, French-built Moranes that awaited for them in Toulouse, but at the last minute the War Ministry had changed its plans. Given the rapidly escalating tensions with the German Reich, the General Headquarters had decided it was not the time to fritter away the Air Force’s meager resources by immobilizing much-needed squadrons for weeks. If the balloon went up, better P-11s in the air than Moranes on the ground, the squadron commander had said, a logic Wiecinski thoroughly approved.

Not that it mattered all that much now. His PZL might not be the most modern of fighters, it still was more than enough to deal with small observation plane. Tilting his P-11’s wings left and right to catch the attention of his wingman, he brought his plane next to Zawatski’s. Raising his right hand, he made the signal for attack. While Zawatski would block the Fieseler from reaching the German border, Wieciski would go for the kill. As Zawatski asked for confirmation, Wieciski repeated the attack gesture, chopping the air twice in the direction of the lumbering Fieseler. This was Polish airspace. There had been an attack on Polish territory. What was there to hesitate about? Without waiting for his wingman to acknowledge the order, Wiesciski pushed the gas throttle and released the safety for his plane’s machine-guns. It was time for the hunt.

The first sign that something was very wrong was when Drawitz caught a gleam of light a little further to their right. He had been leaning his head against the still open pane, letting the cold air soothe his nausea and dry his sweat-drenched face, when something silvery had appeared to their right, gaining on them without effort. The Fieseler’s sudden left turn told the Abwehr officer everything he needed to know: the pilot had seen the gleam of light too, and it wasn’t a good sign.

“Keep your eyes on it, Leutnant!” shouted Rutze as he traded a little altitude for speed. But just as Drawitz turned on his seat to see where the silvery plane was, he heard something like a distant rumble and felt the Fieseler shake, like a car hitting a pothole. Drawitz could feel the Fieseler vibrate, which struck him as odd since they seemed to have lost speed. Somewhere behind him, something was making a fluttering sound, like banners at a Party rally.

Wieciski snarled. He had been perfectly aligned for a kill when the German plane had suddenly plunged left. As a result, his opening salvo had largely missed, ripping away part of the fabric fuselage and knocking out one of the Fieseler’s landing gear. The Fieseler was now losing more and more altitude, yiw-yawing left and right in a series of sharp turns that Wieciski’s faster plane could not match wighout stalling. Slamming his hand on the instrument panel in frustration, Wieciski lowered his speed as much as he dared. He could feel the regime of the Bristol engine dying down to a low rumble, and the PZL’s gull wings starting to protest the loss of lift, but he ignored it. He wanted that kill too badly now. He could still have it. His face contorted into a mask of silent rage, he focused on his prey.



Sergeant Wieciski's PZL P-11 as he approaches Mosty

Rutze had no illusion about their chances to make it. He had neither the firepower to scare his pursuers away, nor the horsepower to outrun them. The only thing he could do was to dodge their attacks as well as he could, and radio for help. Perhaps the fighter boys would send a couple of 109s to their help. And perhaps not. Or perhaps the Polish pilots would get recalled – fat chance of that happening, Rutze thought. He shot a quick glance at the Abwehr Leutnant and noticed with perverse satisfaction his passenger was pale as a ghost.

Serves you right!, Rutze thought. If we make it alive I swear I punch his lights out.

With that comforting thought, Rutze made another violent turn right, in a desperate attempt to get closer to the border. The deadly cat-and-mouse had brought the Fieseler back over Mosty twice already, since every time Rutze headed for the German border the second Polish fighter rushed in to block the way, forcing the Storch back into Polish airspace.

Wieciski had expected that turn. Whether the German pilot was conscious of it or not, he made each of his sharp turn after the same interval of time, veering either left or right in a desperate attempt to shake off the PZL. And this time the Polish pilot was certain that his enemy would make a run for the border. As soon as he saw the Fieseler’s silhouette change, the Polish pilot let his plane glide slightly to the right, and speed up a little to compensate for the upcoming recoil of the fighter’s 7.92 machine-guns. When he pulled the trigger for a short burst, it was almost a perfect shot: the shells ripped the Storch’s right wing, sending the frail plane into a slow, almost peaceful spiral. A few seconds later, the stricken Fieseler crashed in a beets field, two kilometers away from Mosty.

On the ground, Private Bunich jumped on his feet and joined his comrades’ loud cheer. Having fought – and survived – his first battle, the young soldier felt light-headed. Hadn’t they routed the enemy? Bunich was pretty certain he had killed several of the attackers. The railway tunnel he had been tasked to guard was intact, and judging by the swift advance of the lead squads, the Germans had been driven out of the village as well. Had it been Germans though? The corpses he had seen had not worn real uniforms, but rather an assortment of hunting jackets and trench-coats. Perhaps, Bunich thought, it had been Germans alright, just not German soldiers. The plane, though, had clearly been a German one. He had seen the black cross. Did it mean war with Germany after all the tensions in the North? Then would it mean he’d be decorated for his actions? Now that he thought of it, he definitely had killed half a dozen enemy soldiers, he was quite sure of it.

“Bunich, dammit snap out of it!”. The shrill voice of corporal Prybor brought Bunich back to the here and now, and the young soldier snapped into a sharp salute. War hero or not, Bunich knew better than to get on the wrong side of the burly NCO. As every soldier of the 4th Podhale rifles regiment knew, there was bravery in front of the enemy, there was madness, and then there was Prybor-assisted suicide.

“Since you like air duels so much” barked the corporal, pointing at the small trail of smoke where the German plane had crashed “why don’t you take two lads with you and check the wreck over there?”

“Yessir!”

“And Bunich? Keep your eyes peeled. I’d rather not lose a good rifleman to some half-dead German shooting him in his dying breath.”

“No sir!” replied Bunich with a wry smile. Feeling on top of the world, the young soldier slid his rifle on his shoulder and slid down the grassy slope towards the rest of his squad.



Bielsko, the 21st Mountain Division Headquarters, August the 27th, 1939


“They said what??” asked the man in a colonel’s uniform.

“The esteemed General Ott said it was an isolated act of madness” said General Kustron, lighting a cigarette. “He says a hothead leading a local Slovak militia, which he insists has no link to the German Army, went insane and led his men into this crazy attack.”

“They must think we are insane”, blurted out one of Kustron’s aides, “if they hope we could believe a single word of that fairy-tale”

“Oh, but we do believe a lot of words they say, we do indeed” said the colonel, eliciting polite laughter from the other officers.

“Speaking of which… what does our source say?” asked Kustron.

“Our source says a lot of things” replied the colonel. “And first and foremost that a lot of German units were placed on high alert last week all along the border. Oddly enough, the same units received a lot of orders yesterday, though our…. source… will need more time before we can know what it was all about.”

“Our listening posts concur” said Kustron. “There has been a lot of radio activity two days ago.”

“And what about the plane, sir?” asked the aide. “Has the pilot gone mad as well?”

“He said the pilot had come to check what was going one and may not have realized he had ventured into our airspace” said Kustron.

“What did you tell him, General?” asked the colonel.

“I told Ott the wreck had caugh fire immediately after the crash, as you advised” replied Kustron.

“Any reaction?”

“Not really, beyond lamenting the loss of the pilot and passenger, and asking for the bodies to be repatriated as soon as we’d be able.”

“Then we’ll have to burn them a bit, just to keep the pretense” said the colonel. Kustron’s aide winced. He had little sympathy for his German counterparts, but he found the idea of burning the corpses of fallen soldiers distateful.

“Did he broach the subject of the plane or did you?” asked the colonel.

“He did, but it seemed to me his only concern was to convince us the plane was strictly on a reconnaissance mission, to find out what was going on at Mosty.”

“No mention of lost documents?” asked the colonel, pointing out to the half-burnt leather briefcase whose contents had been spread on a nearby table.

“None whatsoever” replied Kustron. “Not even an oblique reference to personal papers. He kept saying the plane’s downing was an unfortunate but understandable incident.”

“Well...” sighed the colonel. “Either General Ott is an amazingly good card player, or he really has no idea we have found this in their plane's wreckage.”

Scattered across the table were more than fifty type-written pages, as well as two maps. Each page began with a series of tampons in Gothic font. The first tampon simply read “Secret!”, in large letters. The second read “No diffusion allowed without written authorization from ArmeeKorps-II”. As for the third one, it read “Case White: timetable for land operations in Poland” and bore the signature of General der Kavallerie von Kleist, 20th Panzer Corps. The documents outlined the general plan of invasion. Unsurprisingly, the Jablonkow Pass was listed among the objectives to be taken in the early hours of the invasion. As for the maps, they showed the concentration of forces along each of the Reich’s borders.

“So… are they the real thing?” asked Kustron’s aide. “It seems too good to be true.”

“I believe the documents are authentic” said the colonel. “Our pilots told you the German plane almost managed to escape them. The dates on the documents fit with the moment we know for a fact the German puts their units on high alert. The attack on Mosty fits with the timetable. For some reason, though, there was no follow-up anywhere, and Mosty was an isolated attack. Perhaps Ott was telling the truth about that, come to think of it. Or perhaps there was a terrible mistake somewhere. Our source should tell us more in a few days.”

“And in the meantime?” asked Kustron. As the commanding officer of the Silesian district, he did not share the colonel’s affected nonchalance. The way he saw it, Poland might not have much time before the real German attack.

“In the meantime?” replied Colonel Jozef Beck, Poland’s Foreign Minister. “In the meantime I’m bringing this to Warsaw, general. That will allow our intelligence experts to establish if the ink and paper match the ones used by the German headquarters. And the government needs to act upon this.”

“But what do we do here?”, Kustron insisted. “Now that we know, or think we know, of their plans.”

“Take every defensive measure you think is necessary” the colonel said. “That much is your prerogative, and even an isolated atack on Mosty gives you the perfect excuse to do so anyway. But I insist, gentlemen, that not a word be uttered about our little discovery. Impress upon the soldiers who searched the plane that it is a matter of life and death. Burn the aviators’ corpses and hand them back to the German as soon as they look well-done enough. General Kustron, you and your men have done your country a great service. It is now up to me and the rest of the government to make the best use of the weapon you have given us.”


Warsaw, August the 27h, 1939


“And you tell us this is genuine?” asked Field-Marshall Rydz-Smigly putting down the last page of the document on his desk. In from of him, Beck nodded.

“Intelligence says it is” he confirmed. “What we are looking at is the German plan for the invasion of our motherland.”

“The bastards” grumbled General Stachiewicz, slapping the map he had been studying. “They’re throwing practically everything they have at us. We’re going to be outnumbered three to one from the Baltic to Silesia.”

“Can we stop them?” asked Rydz-Smigly, passing his hand on his bald skull. It had been a very hot day, and the accumulated heat now seemed to radiate through the walls of the presidential palace. “Wasn’t plan Zachod devised for precisely such a situation?”

“No” said Stachiewicz flatly. “When I devised Plan West, it was estimated we would face no more than sixty-five German divisions. These documents show they’ll attack with eighty-two. And look at the size of their army corps in Eastern Prussia! That alone opens up a whole new front to defend. We need to revise Plan Zachod completely.”

“Can it still be done?”

“Not everywhere, no. We could bolster up our defenses significantly in key sectors, but that would mean abandoning large swaths of territory to the Germans – particularly the Gdansk corridor, which now looks doomed to fall.”

“I’ll never concede the Corridor without a fight!” snapped Rydz-Smigly. Beck and Stachiewicz traded a look: it was no secret Rydz’ owed his almost-dictatorial powers to his carefully-cultivated image as a soldier’s soldier, the ever-vigilant sentinel keeping both the German Reich and the Soviet Union at bay.



One of the many political posters glorifying Eward Rydz-Smigly, Poland's First soldier and Second man of the government

When Poland’s great national hero, Marshall Pilsudski, had passed away in the spring of 1935, Rydz had used his image of patriotic intransigence to appear as his natural successor and resist then-President Moscicki’s attempts to restore power to civilian institutions. To further consolidate his power, the new “Marshal of Poland” had encouraged the creation of a political movement, the Camp of National Unity. Known under its colloquial name of Ozon, the CNU had spent the past four years sidelining Moscicki and the partisans of a return to a more parliamentary-like democracy, as well as weakening any politician they deemed not ‘Smiglyist’ enough. Beck, though himself no shrinking violet when it came to Polish nationalism, couldn’t but help draw a parallel between the CNU’s political trajectory and the one of the now-defunct Czech Party for National Unity.

They too wanted a new Caesar, he mused. They too had a Field-Marshall to hide behind. That didn’t work out so well, now did it?

“If we want to endure, we’ll have to pick our battles, sir” warned Stachiewicz. “If we try to defend everywhere at once, we’ll just fritter our forces away and be vanquished within months. We need to buy us some time.”

“I wholeheartedly agree with the Field Marshall” Beck said, raising a hand to silence Stachiewicz. “We cannot simply renounce to defend the Corridor. That would be seen abroad as conceding the validity of the Germans’ claims to it. General Stachiewicz said we need to buy time, and I also agree with it. We do need time. But not just for slowing down the German onslaught, no. This time we’re going to buy, I propose we give it to those who can make the most of it.”

“Meaning?”


“The Western allies” said Beck. “For the past year I have been wrecking my brain trying to find a way to bring them back to us, to make them understand our, ah, acquisition of some of the former Czech territory was a necessity for our defense.”



The Polish army occupies Zaolcie

The annexation of coal-rich Czech districts in the aftermarth of the Sudetenland crisis had, as Beck knew, been a major cause of discord with France and Britain. Both countries’ ambassadors had made it known to Beck their respective government’s extreme displeasure at seeing Poland making what in their eyes was a land grab even as Chamberlain and La Rocque were flying to Münich to try to negotiate. The French ambassador Léon Noël, had warned Beck the unlawful annexation of Zaolcie, and the forced displacement of its Czech inhabitants, would make it difficult for Warsaw to complain if one of its neighbors accordingly claimed a morcel of Polish territory. That had not prevented Paris to follow suit when Chamberlain’s government had formally guaranteed the integrity of Poland’s territory, a move which had prompted the German Chancellor to claim the Free City of Danzig and a corridor to physically attach the old Hanseatic city to the rest of the Reich. Despite of the ongoing tensions, which had been simmering for almost a month now, the two Western governments remained distant. They green-lighted arms contracts, and never missed an opportunity to warn the German Reich against attempting another land-grab, but there had been no tripartite talks on what support France and Britain would give. The Polish ambassadors and military attachés in Paris and London said they were met with the utmost politeness, but never with real warmth. In this respect, Beck saw the German war plans as a true godsend.

“There is a real opportunity for them here” nodded Stachiewicz, which had picked up the maps again. “For two weeks at least, The Reich’s western border will only be guarded by… what, twenty, twenty-five divisions? Even France alone would enjoy that magical three-to-one superiority, at least in the first ten days. They could punch holes through the Germans’ entire western front.”

“And when the German generals realize their western front is about to collapse, they’ll transfer units back West” nodded Beck.

“And we’ll find ourselves facing more or less the number of divisions expected by Plan West” concluded Rydz-Smigly. “That is the right decision, Beck. But are you certain you can bring the French and British on board?”

“I am confident we can” said Beck. “I shall only make two requests. First, I need General Stanchiewicz to allow me to borrow Major-General Jaklicz.”

“Jozef?” said Stanchiewicz, puzzled. “I can certainly arrange that, but why him specifically?”

“Because”, said Beck, “not only is he, I am sure, a fine officer, he happens to have served – and here in Poland, no less - with the two Frenchmen we need most: the President of the French Republic, and his closest military advisor.”

“He knows de La Rocque personally?” asked Rydz-Smigly.

“And de Gaulle as well. Jaklicz was attached to the French Military Mission during the battle of Warsaw, back in 1920. For reasons of simplicity, I guess, he also was the liaison officer with the Inter-allied Mission where de La Rocque worked. It was a generation ago, granted, but I am sure neither man has forgotten the time he spent here.”

“Why haven’t used him already as an emissary?” mused Rydz-Smigly.

“Because, sir, we didn’t have much diplomatic tribute to send him with” said Beck. “Now we have the German war plans. And to make sure the Allies know we’re serious, there is another thing I’d like to give them, with your assent.”

“And what is it?”

“The source” said Beck, flatly. “I want your authorization to tell our Allies we are deciphering German military and diplomatic communications, and to give them access to our cipher operations.”

Beck let that hang over their heads. What he was proposing was to share with France and Britain were the Polish intelligence service’s crown jewels. For the past six months, a crack team working for Poland’s Cipher Bureau, headed by Professor Marian Rejewski, had managed to replicate the way the improved Enigma machines coded messages used by the German embassies and military units. The process had been long and painful, having originated seven years before, when the French and Polish military intelligence had first traded the first Enigma material. And it had been shrouded in secrecy. In all, twenty people at best knew the “source” for much of the intelligence gathered about Germany was not a high-level mole planted deep within the Reich, but a patient, ant-like work of deciphering.

“That is a lot to give” stated Stachiewicz. The operation was known to no more than thirty people, most of them members of the code-breaking team. Whenever the French military attaché talked about the Enigma material given in 1932, the Polish Intelligence bureau said it had been a dead end. True to its name, the Polish officers said, the German machine was unbreakable.

“And we’ll ask a lot for it” replied Beck, turning towards Rydz-Smigly. “If the government agrees”

Wiping the sweat from his skull, Rydz-Smigly looked at the German documents. The plan aimed at the capture of Warsaw before December. And that was “a conservative estimate”, according to the German planners. Stachiewicz’s admission that Plan West needed to be entirely rewritten, and that even then Poland might still succumb within months, was just as chilling. The decision, Rydz-Smigly thought, was therefore an easy one.

“Tell General Jaklicz to pack his bags now. And find one of the Cipher lads to go with him. They leave today, by the first Paris-bound plane you find. Tell to pack light, for they are going to carry the hopes of an entire nation with them.”


-------********-------​


Game effects :

France has guaranteed Poland’s independence, and now holds a convenient casus belli which I’ll use in the next update.

Poland is not part of the French alliance, but will join the Britain-led Allies as scripted.



Writer’s notes :


The Jablonkow Incident did happen OTL on August the 25th, 1939. It was supposed to be the first attack against Southern Poland, aimed at capturing intact a much-needed train tunnel while the rest of the Wehrmacht started Case White. That fateful day, however, the German Chancellery was informed Poland and Britain had just signed a mutual support pact, and Hitler postponed Case White. All the units returned to their barracks… except an Abwehr commando which, for some reason, never got the orders to stand down and proceeded to attack the Polish train station as planned. The attack failed, and the Germans managed to exfiltrate the attackers. The day after, General Ott, commanding the 7th Infantry division, did offer apologies to the Polish general commanding the sector, blaming the attack on a madman. As you can see, I barely altered History here.


Field-Marshall Rydz-Smigly was, in 1939, the dictator of Poland in all but name. This power he had somewhat inherited from Marshall Pilsudski, having supported his 1926 coup, and he consolidated through the Movement for National Unity (Ozon, in its Polish abbreviation). In OTL, he was “content” to be the Chief of Staff of the Polish Army, and let a non-political general take the helm of the Polish government, fully knowing that he held greater influence than the Polish president himself. Here, I tweaked things a little: the 1936 compromise results in the Polish Field-Marshall holding both civilian and military powers, but still having to accept some of Mosciski’s partisans in the government, such as Beck.


Plan Zachod (Plan West) was the Polish plan for defense against a German offensive. Though extensively revised after Germany’s de facto annexation of Slovakia, it suffered from several flaws, mainly its failure to identify the possibility of a strong German offensive from Eastern Prussia. The plan was devised by General Stachiewicz in his role as Chief of Staff of the Polish Army.


The Czech district of Zaolcie was indeed grabbed by Poland in the aftermath of the Sudetenland crisis. I have decided to make this Polish land grab a bigger issue for the Western allies than it apparently was in OTL.


The Camp for National Unity (Ozon in its shortened Polish form) was the political movement organising behind Rydz-Smigly’s martial figure. I found it interesting that, as in Czechoslowakia, there was a far-right movement coalescing around the idea of national unity. As it happens, I unknowingly drew the parallel further when I wrote the Sudetenland chapters some years ago, tying a military figure (then Czech Field-Marshall Sirovy) to a vaguely Fascist “National Unity” movement. Those who want to learn more about the tenets of “Ozonism” will find that they regrettably borrowed some of the Nazis’ racial ideas.


François de la Rocque and Charles de Gaulle both served, at the same time, in war-torn Poland. De Gaulle was part of the French Military Mission to Poland, which helped reorganize the Polish Army and advised Polish officers, notably when it came to logistics. The mission still existed in 1939, but in this ATL the souring of Franco-Polish relations after the annexation of Zaolcie has reduced it to a mere diplomatic outfit. At the same time (that is, during the Soviet-Polish war), de La Rocque was a member of the Inter-Allied Military Mission to Poland, a Franco-British initiative which did little since it arrived after the great battles of the war.


For days I looked for a real Polish officer who would 1) have been in Warsaw in 1920-1922, 2) have been young enough to get to know de Gaulle and La Rocque on a personal level back then and 3) would not have risen to a major position (like, Minister of Defense) in the coming decade, as I don’t think this fitted the whole “secret messenger” aspect of the mission. Colonel Jozef Jaklicz is the closest thing I could get: he was a staff officer in the beginning of the Polish-Soviet War, at 26 he was more or less the right age to mingle with de la Roque (35 at the time) and de Gaulle (30), and he ist have spoken French fluent;ly since he was sent to the Ecole Militaire after the war.


As is well known, the Polish intelligence service did manage the first breakthrough into Enigma signals. The Polish work was partially based on cooperation with France’s Deuxième Bureau, which in 1932 gave Poland some early Enigma material. Rejewski’s team managed to build Enigma replicas, which in OTL would eventually find their way to Great Britain and be one of the stones upon which the Bletchley Park code-breakers would elaborate. In OTL, Poland told their Western allies about their breakthrough in July, 1939. Here, I have them delay the information a little since things are not all that well with France and Britain.
 

stnylan

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Ah well, who can account for the actions of madmen? :D
 

TheExecuter

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So, a lot of sound and fury...but what will it signify?

Will France go on the offensive?
 

AtlanticFriend

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So, a lot of sound and fury...but what will it signify?

Will France go on the offensive?
No suspense there: there will be a little French blitzkrieg, or, to use the right language, some guerre-éclair!

This chapter I wanted to write so as to offer a narrative explanation for my knowing, as a HoI player, that the Wehrmacht is about to leave only a thin line of units along the French border. The next chapter will, I hope,
further reinforce that link between story and gameplay.
 

roverS3

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I've made it... finally... I've read it all... so many updates, and the big war is just about to start... Too bad all the pictures of the old updates are gone, as your choice of pictures in the latest 'rebirth' episodes has been quite interesting. I'm also quite impressed with your English, having noted the English level of the average French student at my university. The few mistakes you make (not counting typing errors) are few and far between, and actually highlight how well the rest is written. (while reminding me that you are French after all... in the most endearing way)

The sheer amount of perspectives and characters is somewhat mind-boggling, and your 'dramatis personae' updates were quite helpful in keeping up. It's great that you came back to this and continued where you left off. @El Pip is right that rewriting old updates will slow down your output of new updates, and is, in my opinion not worth it. I like when long AARs evolve with the writer's, hopefully increasing, knowledge, interests and writing skill level, and you started this 12 years ago... that's a bit crazy, and I can't help myself imagining 'Odin' continuing for that long... If it did I'm sure it's updates in 10 years time would be of a vastly different calibre than the first. Despite this stretch of time that was, for me, condensed in a couple of months of intermittent and binge- reading, the tone of this work is remarkably consistent. I applaud you for getting to this point, resurrecting this world-spanning tale, and hopefully, some day, bringing it to a satisfactory end.

As for the crusade of the Albigeois, mentioned just a few episodes ago, I listened, not more than a week ago, to a particularly moving performance-lecture by a local Historian/Archeologist at 'Montségur', while on Holiday in the 'Département de l'Aude'. The Holy Graal theories aren't backed up by any evidence, and the true story as it is currently understood is plenty interesting on it's own...

En avant toute pour la guerre-éclair du Général de Gaulle! Les troupes françaises à Berlin avant Noël...:D
 

AtlanticFriend

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I've made it... finally... I've read it all... so many updates, and the big war is just about to start... Too bad all the pictures of the old updates are gone, as your choice of pictures in the latest 'rebirth' episodes has been quite interesting. I'm also quite impressed with your English, having noted the English level of the average French student at my university. The few mistakes you make (not counting typing errors) are few and far between, and actually highlight how well the rest is written
First of all, @roverS3 , many thanks for reading and many more thanks for commenting!

I owe everything to 1) the old "The Hobbit" videogame I bought when I was thirteen and which included the book, 2) my old public alma mater of Poitiers whose teachers worked diligently to turn us into fully bilingual sentient beings, and 3) Mad Magazine.

(while reminding me that you are French after all... in the most endearing way)
I am one accordion and striped shirt away from Ultimate Frenchness. ;)

The sheer amount of perspectives and characters is somewhat mind-boggling, and your 'dramatis personae' updates were quite helpful in keeping up.
That actually was a crucial issue for me, as I didn't want to end up with a caricature with a handful of all-knowing, all-powerful heroes do everything right, and whoever opposes them is either stupid or evil or both. For one thing, I usually find such ne'er-do-wrong characters tend to weaken any plot, as they force the author to either grant them superhuman skills or knowledge, or to dumb down whatever foes will oppose them. Since I knew I would not enjoy writing dozens of chapters about unbeatable French commandos/intelligence officers/diplomats/whatever, magically able to influence events in every country, I wholly embraced the other term of the alternative : having lots of characters,of every ilk.As an added bonus, it gives me the opportunity to use many historical characters, some minor, other more prominent, and to indulge in the guilty pleasures of Might-have-been.

It's great that you came back to this and continued where you left off.
You can blame @El Pip for that (and quite probably a little writer's vanity on my part as well). But you know the funny thing? When I came back I thought I'd go for much shorter chapters, to wrap this up as soon as possible. And each time, I end up with much longer updates. For the last chapter, for example, I was mulling maybe one additional page showing one Wehrmacht officer forgetting the briefcase in the Storch before the Abwehr commandeers it.


@El Pipis right that rewriting old updates will slow down your output of new updates, and is, in my opinion not worth it. I like when long AARs evolve with the writer's, hopefully increasing, knowledge, interests and writing skill level, and you started this 12 years ago... that's a bit crazy, and I can't help myself imagining 'Odin' continuing for that long... If it did I'm sure it's updates in 10 years time would be of a vastly different calibre than the first. Despite this stretch of time that was, for me, condensed in a couple of months of intermittent and binge- reading, the tone of this work is remarkably consistent. I applaud you for getting to this point, resurrecting this world-spanning tale, and hopefully, some day, bringing it to a satisfactory end.
It IS totally crazy: I started this when I was 36, and now I see the Big Fifty rushing towards me. At this rate I can only hope the famous French Paradox will keep me around long enough to be able to type "The end" before I kick the bucket! ;)

As for the crusade of the Albigeois, mentioned just a few episodes ago, I listened, not more than a week ago, to a particularly moving performance-lecture by a local Historian/Archeologist at 'Montségur', while on Holiday in the 'Département de l'Aude'. The Holy Graal theories aren't backed up by any evidence, and the true story as it is currently understood is plenty interesting on it's own...
That's the kind of mystery that really gets me, like the treasure of Rennes-le-Château, or the Templars' secrets. It is intriguing how some things can fall into the cracks of known History and become legends on their own.

En avant toute pour la guerre-éclair du Général de Gaulle! Les troupes françaises à Berlin avant Noël...:D
"A Berlin! A Berlin! On rasera la moustache d'Adolphe!" (or not)
 

roverS3

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I owe everything to 1) the old "The Hobbit" videogame I bought when I was thirteen and which included the book, 2) my old public alma mater of Poitiers whose teachers worked diligently to turn us into fully bilingual sentient beings, and 3) Mad Magazine.
That seems like a decent way to learn English. Small question, since you're french, do you still watch American movies dubbed, or do you go out of your way to find them in 'Version Originale' with or without subtitles. Coming from Brussels, having dutch/flemish as a mother tongue, and having always watched movies in their original language with subtitles, I'm always baffled by the fact that most cinema's in France won't give you a choice. I still remember that time when, as a kid having rarely seen dubbed movies, I watched a dubbed James Bond movie on French television at my grand-parents'. I was bent over laughing the whole time, especially this phrase stuck with me: "Mon nom est Bond, James Bond", just say it, and listen to how ridiculous that sounds...

I am one accordion and striped shirt away from Ultimate Frenchness. ;)
:D

That actually was a crucial issue for me, as I didn't want to end up with a caricature with a handful of all-knowing, all-powerful heroes do everything right, and whoever opposes them is either stupid or evil or both.
Interesting... somehow this reminds me of one of my beloved characters... though I go to some lengths to make sure she remains believable, and to make sure her enemies aren't dum-dums, I often ponder whether 11 isn't too good at what she does. My greatest fear when writing the 11 updates is that she becomes a caricature of herself... I feel like having her get trapped in that train would contribute in showing that she's neither infallible, nor omnipotent... she's been lucky though... but luck usually doesn't last for ever... especially when you're roaming around deep in occupied territory... There can only be so many close calls.

When I came back I thought I'd go for much shorter chapters, to wrap this up as soon as possible. And each time, I end up with much longer updates.
That happens to you as well... I think it's both a bane, and a blessing, of writing narrative AAR updates... on the one hand it takes up a lot of time, on the other, it allows you to flesh things out.

"A Berlin! A Berlin! On rasera la moustache d'Adolphe!" (or not)
Je m'attendait à sa décapitation, mais lui raser la moustache, en public, serait probablement un pire châtiment pour le führer...
 

El Pip

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A most interesting update I was entirely unaware of the Jablonkow Incident, so this had been both educational and entertaining (more than usual). It reminded me somewhat of the Mechelen incident, though a much more compressed timescale and hopefully with a better outcome.

You have also reminded me that Inter-war Poland was not the most savoury of places, quite aside from all the bits you highlight there was their unfortunate habit of breaking the terms of licence agreements or just outright stealing their technology. I occasionally wonder that if they had been a bit nicer then they might have got a better result, for instance there were quite a few modern weapons that Britain and France outright refused to sell or even demonstrate to Poland because they knew it would be stolen and any licence ignored. Sadly I am forced to conclude that, fun as the idea of Polish S35s and Matilda IIs is (just imagine the shocked Panzertruppen :D ), it probably wouldn't have made a huge difference.

Some guerre-éclair from France is a very different matter, so I look forward to the upcoming scene about how the French react to this opportunity.
 

TheExecuter

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Yep, the main failing in Poland's demise is the British and French decision not to fight for her.

Without a French offensive against the Ruhr, Poland is doomed. And if Poland is doomed, the Allies lose their best chance to defeat Germany early.

British and French strategy was absolutely jnane in 1939 and 1940.
 

AtlanticFriend

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That seems like a decent way to learn English. Small question, since you're french, do you still watch American movies dubbed, or do you go out of your way to find them in 'Version Originale' with or without subtitles. Coming from Brussels, having dutch/flemish as a mother tongue, and having always watched movies in their original language with subtitles, I'm always baffled by the fact that most cinema's in France won't give you a choice. I still remember that time when, as a kid having rarely seen dubbed movies, I watched a dubbed James Bond movie on French television at my grand-parents'. I was bent over laughing the whole time, especially this phrase stuck with me: "Mon nom est Bond, James Bond", just say it, and listen to how ridiculous that sounds...
I have always wondered how Darth Vader sounds dubbed in Quebecois French. "Viens-t'en avec moué, Luc Marcheciel, et insimble, nous gouvern'rons c't'ostie d'univers!"

Interesting... somehow this reminds me of one of my beloved characters... though I go to some lengths to make sure she remains believable, and to make sure her enemies aren't dum-dums, I often ponder whether 11 isn't too good at what she does. My greatest fear when writing the 11 updates is that she becomes a caricature of herself... I feel like having her get trapped in that train would contribute in showing that she's neither infallible, nor omnipotent... she's been lucky though... but luck usually doesn't last for ever... especially when you're roaming around deep in occupied territory...
Heroes (or anti-Heroes) are IMHO the author's (ad readers') worst enemies, particularly when they're recurrent. The more infallible and über-badass they get, the more they dampen the plot and the story's tension. What's the point of the story when the bad guys basically face Superman or his human equivalent? In such stories, I always end up rooting for the villains, provided they're not of the strawman persuasion: at least they have to work to get things done.

That happens to you as well... I think it's both a bane, and a blessing, of writing narrative AAR updates... on the one hand it takes up a lot of time, on the other, it allows you to flesh things out.
Yep. And when you have to flesh things out, that is a good exercise for the brain. How does character A know of event/plot B ? How can event B play up in a plausible manner? That's when I am glad to have so many books and documentaries at my disposal.

Je m'attendait à sa décapitation, mais lui raser la moustache, en public, serait probablement un pire châtiment pour le führer...
At the outbeak of WW1 shaving's Emperor Wilhelm's moustache was one of the common boasts from French conscripts. Before they were introduced to trenches, machine-guns and the other horrors of an industrial-era battelfield, of course. I suppose there was a German/Russian/British/Austro-Hungarian equivalent, which fared a similar,shell-shocked end.
 

AtlanticFriend

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A most interesting update I was entirely unaware of the Jablonkow Incident, so this had been both educational and entertaining (more than usual). It reminded me somewhat of the Mechelen incident, though a much more compressed timescale and hopefully with a better outcome.
I will readily confess I wanted to use the Mecheln incident variant to explain away how I, as the French GHQ, can attack Germany with the absolute certainty I will only face very inferior forces. And I'll also confess my immense pride at having dug up an historical event that the Pipmeister had not been aware of! ;)


You have also reminded me that Inter-war Poland was not the most savoury of places, quite aside from all the bits you highlight there was their unfortunate habit of breaking the terms of licence agreements or just outright stealing their technology. I occasionally wonder that if they had been a bit nicer then they might have got a better result, for instance there were quite a few modern weapons that Britain and France outright refused to sell or even demonstrate to Poland because they knew it would be stolen and any licence ignored. Sadly I am forced to conclude that, fun as the idea of Polish S35s and Matilda IIs is (just imagine the shocked Panzertruppen :D ), it probably wouldn't have made a huge difference.
I didn't know about the licence-misuse issue. For a while I wanted to play with the idea of French-bought PZL fighters, but it would not have made much sense as the Armée de l'Air is not lacking indigenous planes as it is, and could turn to Italy for modern planes if need ever be. Depending on how well Case White goes, Morane- and Caudon-equipped Polish squadrons might pop up.

Some guerre-éclair from France is a very different matter, so I look forward to the upcoming scene about how the French react to this opportunity.
This time France has 1) a more powerful industrial base, 2) a tank proponent closely advising the government, and 3) a solid experience of mobile warfare against Soviet Spain. That gives me a real opportunity to lauch the Artois battle plan and make a strategic move against the Ruhr. What I am mulling right now is what would France's political goal be. But before I let slip of my Divisions Cuirassées and their accompanying infantry, I intend to give you the Wehrmacht's perspective on French preparations (there's no way the German army can be enitrely blind to the fact a storm is brewing in th West), and use an idea that I had a decade ago, when I started this AAR. I will allow me to showcase a certain piece of matériel which in OTL served no useful purpose, and took almost no part in the battle for France.
 

AtlanticFriend

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Yep, the main failing in Poland's demise is the British and French decision not to fight for her.

Without a French offensive against the Ruhr, Poland is doomed. And if Poland is doomed, the Allies lose their best chance to defeat Germany early.

British and French strategy was absolutely jnane in 1939 and 1940.
"Why die for Danzig?" is a question many Frenchen and Britons, including at the government level, genuinely asked in 1939. Today we have the advantage of perfect hindsight vision, but at the time, with the horrors of WW1 barely twenty years before, and the horrors of the Nazi regime not fully revealed I guess the choice did not look so clear for many in the Western democracies (including the USA).

Here I made a German invasion of Poland the final red line for a French military intervention, more as a matter of cold analysis than of traditional Pro-Polish sentiment. The Polish Second Republic is definitely not the ideal ally for France, after the Zaolcie annexation and given the growing power of the Ozon party, but better fight a more powerful Germany with Poland than without. And as I described in the last chapter, Poland has two nice gifts to woo France and Britain.
 

El Pip

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I didn't know about the licence-misuse issue. For a while I wanted to play with the idea of French-bought PZL fighters, but it would not have made much sense as the Armée de l'Air is not lacking indigenous planes as it is, and could turn to Italy for modern planes if need ever be. Depending on how well Case White goes, Morane- and Caudon-equipped Polish squadrons might pop up.
The Poles were notorious for producing knock off copies of everything they got their hands on. Then getting very angry when other countries refused to sell them anything. If the Poles do get French fighters it will be second line stuff that the French are 'happy' (or as happy as you can be) for the Poles to produce bad copies of.

and use an idea that I had a decade ago, when I started this AAR. I will allow me to showcase a certain piece of matériel which in OTL served no useful purpose, and took almost no part in the battle for France.
One of those absolutely barking mad French super-heavies?
 

Hightemplar

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With Poland already seeming screwed (unless the French can draw away enough Germans), what happens when the Russians attack from the east?

Also the Char 2C, a quick Wikipedia search tells me that it was designed in 1917, making it rather out of place in 1939 (although the Germans still use Panzer Is so it might still be useful

Lastly congratulations on the world cup (I would like to point out New Zealand is undefeated at world cups since 1982)
 

El Pip

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You are reading my mind! The next two updates will feature the Char 2C.
So not the FCM F1? Shame, that was a proper land battleship. I'm intrigued as to what you will have the Char 2Cs getting up to over, two whole updates.
 

AtlanticFriend

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So not the FCM F1? Shame, that was a proper land battleship. I'm intrigued as to what you will have the Char 2Cs getting up to over, two whole updates.
I'il do my best to use them realistically, given their supposed role and their capabilities in a 1939 context!

The update is under construction, and should cover the Westerplatte, the Western declarations or war, and the early Franco-German front (with extra 2C-ness).
 

AtlanticFriend

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Jan 2, 2018
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Also the Char 2C, a quick Wikipedia search tells me that it was designed in 1917, making it rather out of place in 1939
Yep, that old war elephant is a Great War design, modernized in 1931. I think I have found a suitable role for it in this story.
 

Bullfilter

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An epic and enjoyable mixture of tactical action and strategic considerations! Thanks for that, and props for the research that went into it. :)
 

AtlanticFriend

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An epic and enjoyable mixture of tactical action and strategic considerations! Thanks for that, and props for the research that went into it. :)
I probably am obsessing too much on research, which is a side effect of my having next to zero, and I do mean zero, idea of how most technical stuff works. And of my being fully aware of the fact. As a result, many a writing session has turned into a sterile hour of research while my inner writer and my inner nit-picker fight to the death.

The current update I'm working on is a textbook example, as I spent unreasonable time trying to figure out 1) whether I should write 'von Leeb' or 'Leeb' in a dialog involving two German officers (I'm going to use the French rule on that) 2) what altitude would a Henschel 126 fly at for recon mission and 3) whether the observer in said Hs-126 could swivel the camera around or not during the mission.

The somewhat good news is, writer and nitpicker came to a workable arrangement and the first of the two 2C updates should be churned up soon-ish (7 pages written, 3 or 4 more to go)