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Call Kenny Loggins, you're in the DANGER ZONE...
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Dec 5, 2008
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The Eagle, the Wolf and the Sun:
The History of the Pact of Steel

For the first time, a thorough research project with the support of the Großdeutsches Reich's Education and Historical Ministry, the Italian's Ministry of National Education and the National Archives of Germany, Italy and Japan have flung open their doors to the premier students of the world's most serious conflict and allowed them to assemble in a cognitive work that will surely rank amongst the greatest historical works of the most famous authors of all time--Herodotus, Thucydides, Livy, Caesar, Mahan, Massie, and others.



Table of Contents


PROLOGUE, 1919 - 1935
A. The Immediate Post-War and Interbellum Period, 1919 - 1929
B. Icarus and the Sun: The Crash, the Great Depression, and the End of Locarno, 1929 - 1935
C. Forging the Spear: Interbellum Army Developments
D. Anchors Aweigh: Interbellum Naval Developments
E. Where Eagles Soar: Interbellum Air Force Developments

I. THE CALM, 1936
1. Of Doves and Hawks: Foreign and Domestic Politics
2. Death in the Afternoon: The Spanish Civil War
3. Ever Learning, Ever Improving: German Reich Research and Development
4. Plows into Swords: Reich Military Expansion
5. Arming the Legions: Italian Military Expansion, Research and Development
6. Shield or Sword: Wehrmacht versus Abwehr

1. Stocking the Powder Keg of Europe: Foreign and Domestic Politics
2. For Whom the Bell Tolls: The Spanish Civil War
3. Advances for the Reich: German Research and Development: the Heer
4. Advances for the Reich: German R&D: the Kriegsmarine, Luftwaffe and Industrial Improvements
5. Hardening the Legions: Italian Research and Development
6. Burying the Versailles Treaty: German and Italian Military Expansion

1. The Peace that Almost Was, Part I: Foreign and Domestic Politics, January - April
2. The Peace that Almost Was, Part II: Foreign and Domestic Politics, May - December
3. Left Out In The Rain: The Munich Treaty and the End of Czechoslovakia
4. Tigers and Blüchers, Part I: German Heer Research and Development
5. Tigers and Blüchers, Part II: Kriegsmarine and Luftwaffe Research and Development
6. Tigers and Blüchers, Part III: German Industrial Research and Development
7. Paracadutisti and Factories: Italian Research and Development
8. Powder for the Pan: Expansion of the Wehrmacht and Italian Military
9. Bringing the Blüchers to Life: The Premier German Battlecruiser

1. War By Other Means, Part I: Foreign and Domestic Politics, January - April
2. War By Other Means, Part II: Foreign and Domestic Politics, May - August
3. War By Other Means: Part III: Foreign and Domestic Politics, September - December
4. "Now I Have the World in my Pocket": Germany, the Soviet Union and the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact
5. Fallschirmjäger and Kreuzerkrieg, Part I: Heer Research and Development
6. Fallschirmjäger and Kreuzerkrieg, Part II: Kriegsmarine Research and Development
7. Fallschirmjäger and Kreuzerkrieg, Part III: Luftwaffe and Civil/Secret Research and Development
8. Training as Bloodless Battles, Part I: Italian Army and Navy Research and Development
9. Training as Bloodless Battles, Part II: Italian Air Force and Civil Research
10. Something Wicked This Way Comes: Axis Military Expansion
11. Right Hand Man: Rise of the Right in Europe and America

1. The Eerie Calm: Foreign and Domestic Politics
2. Artillery, Panzers and the Type XXI: German Research and Development
3. But What About the Regia Aeronautica?: Italian Research and Development
4. The Dread Business: Axis Military Expansion

1. Spinning Out Of Control: Foreign and Domestic Politics
2. The Rockets' Red Glare: German Research and Development
3. It Is Good Enough: Italian Research and Development
4. Goering's Dream: Axis Military Expansion
5. Caesar in Hellas: Operation Naxos





1. Foreign and Domestic Politics
2. German Research and Development
3. Italian Research and Development
4. Axis Military Expansion

The War at Sea, FEB - JUL 1942
1. Opening Salvoes: Operation White Eagle and Operation Catherine, Feb 1942
2. Operation Catherine Continues: Good Money Chasing Bad, Feb 1942

3. Operation Catherine: The End of Bloody February, 22 February - March 1942
4. Uboote Heraus! Unrestricted Submarine Warfare February - July 1942
5. Jutland, Revisited: April - May 1942
6. To Our Last Night Ashore: June - July 1942

1. Operation Bauhinia: The Invasion of Hong Kong, 11 - 14 July 1942
2. Operations Malay Tiger, RY: The Malaysian Peninsula, British Borneo, and the Ocean Islands, July - September 1942
3. The Pacific Adventures of the Royal Navy
4. Operations Straya Kiwi: The Elimination of the ANZAC



Causes of the Soviet War Declaration



Crimea, Caucus and the Failure of the Italian Army

The Early Envelopments

The Pripyet Marshes Offensive

The Baltic Offensive





Italy in Arabia

Reemergence of the Allies (NP)


A. The Links That Bind: German Command System and Order of Battle, 1936
B. Mussolini's Legions: Italian Command System and Order of Battle, 1936
C. Wehrmacht Strength Report and Division TO&E, 1937
D. Italian Military Strength Report and Division TO&E, 1937
E. Axis Governments and Laws, 1936 - 1950
F. Wehrmacht Strength Report, Order of Battle, and Division TO&E, 1938
G. Italian Military Strength Report, Order of Battle, and Division TO&E, 1938
H. Axis Military Equipment, 1936 - 1950
I. Major Nation Industrial Capacity and Manpower, 1936 - 1950
J. Major Nation Army Strength Comparisons, 1936 - 1950
K. Major Nation Naval Strength Comparisons, 1936 - 1950
L. Major Nation Air Forces Strength Comparisons, 1936 - 1950
M. Major Nation Technology Comparisons, 1936 - 1950
N. Axis Armies Order of Battle and Division TO&E, FEB 1942
O. Luftwaffe Combat-Coded Aircraft Strength, FEB 1942


Author's Note:
This is going to be a mixed "Gameplay/Roleplay" Historical AAR. I, as the player, will not be doing (much) gamey stuff; I find it rather repugnant to min/max divisions or anything like that, but I do recognize the limits of the game. Since this is my third attempt at a real AAR, do please go easy on me! I will be avoiding talking directly about what my actual in-game choices are as far as diplomacy, technology and intelligence are when I make them because technically these sorts of events would not actually cause an effect until later (for instance, when a technology pops, or influencing public opinion overseas). Hopefully, I can keep people entertained and intrigued!

Basic Game Info: HoI3:TFH 4.02 Normal/Normal, playing as Germany, Italy and (though not until 1941) Japan.

Mods: I am indebted to CaptRabius for his Historical Flags mod. I created for myself an APP-6a mod, to replace and clarify some of the original counters that were in the game. Finally, I have modified this game to reflect a sort of Butterfly effect start, but with no more changes than could be executed via a "light" CGM start for GER and ITA, and with no removal of any of the starting units (though a custom OOB and deployment has been arranged). Other slight efforts have been to reduce the cost (to all nations) for diplomacy and to move the garrison techs to the Infantry techs.

Some of you may (if you were around seven years ago) have read some of my first attempts to do something similar: Das Morgengrauen or Der Aufstieg. They failed through my computer dying or my own mental health declining. I am pleased to say that this time I've already played through 1943, and have at least started writing through 1940. My update goal is at least once every two weeks, but at worst every three weeks--I'm in the middle of starting a new job and trying to get hired on permanently, and so that's cut quite deeply into playtime... don't worry, according to my status page, I have over 27000 words on 64 pages... and that's without pictures or any charts (of which I have two, so far).

Finally, for a few of the guys that I left hanging, most especially @loki100, @KLorberau, @Axe99 and so many others: I have returned!

A DISCLAIMER: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author's imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental. Furthermore, all images, charts, artwork or other digital media are employed under a Fair Use for comment and remain the property of their respective owners.
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Good luck with your endeavour, I will be tuning in!
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This should be a very interesting AAR, I wish you good lcuk and sure I will gladly read the updates! :)
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PROLOGUE A: The Immediate Post-War and Interbellum Period

“This is not a peace. It is an armistice for twenty years.”
- Marshal Ferdinand Foch


The signing of the Treaty of Versailles on 28 June 1919 has largely been seen by any responsible historian as the farmers of Western Europe and the United States sowing the seeds of a future war. Indeed, the sheer scale of the destruction of much of Belgium and Northern France combined with the loss of over 13 million casualties on the Western Front alone convinced the leadership of France that they should never face a resurgent Germany. The internecine bickering amongst the victorious powers, especially the United States, caused much of the desires of the French to pull Germany apart to fall short.


Front row, from left: Italian premier Vittorio Orlando, British PM David Lloyd George, French premier Georges Clemenceau and U.S. President Woodrow Wilson meet at Wilson's Paris home before the signing of the Versailles Treaty. Wilson’s calls for a more just peace would fall on deaf ears through much of the discussions.

The reality is that the Treaty of Versailles was not the true defeat of the German people that it was made out to be. In strategic terms, the rejected attempt by Austria to attach itself to Germany in 1918 was a bit of a loss, but the creation of Poland left Germany with no border with the Soviet Union. Germany, having only been a unified nation since the victory of Prussia over France in 1871--a mere 47 years--was not broken up into the former principalities. While the Weimar republic was stripped of Elsass-Lothringen by France, Schleswig-Holstein to Denmark (through a fair plebiscite), Memel by the reemergence of Lithuania (with no plebiscite), Danzig to Poland (by the Versailles treaty) and some small territories annexed by Belgium; Germany was left a unified nation. Despite France occupying the Saar and Belgium the Ruhr for various lengths of time, the German nation was not under the bootheel of a foreign army. All foreign colonies were stripped from Germany’s empire; however, much of those were rather worthless territories (at the time) anyways. This did not keep those who sought power in the fledgeling democracy from blaming the treaty for any--indeed, all--of Germany’s ills.


A graphic describing how tiny the Germans were compared to other European powers. While certainly overstating some particulars, it was relatively accurate.
Other key tenets of the Treaty of Versailles were supposed to strip Germany of a powerful military as well as the General Staff. Terms restricted Germany to a maximum army strength of 100,000 troops organized into seven infantry and three cavalry divisions; her navy was reduced to six pre-dreadnaught battleships, six light cruisers, twelve destroyers, twelve torpedo boats and a total available manpower of 15,000. No air forces, submarines, tanks, nor chemical weapons were permitted; indeed, when the Truppenamt was considering the means by which the Reich would rearm, German memories of their own gas being blown back upon their own troops made any imprecise weapons distasteful.



Political cartoons satirizing the apparent cost to Germany, and the feeling that there was no ability to get forward momentum to move past the war.

The initial cost of reparations were such that much of Germany balked at the bills wrapped around their nation’s neck as those of a noose. Three levels of bonds were levied upon Germany: A, B and C. A and B bonds totalled nearly RM50 billion (US$12.2b) payable in gold, ore, ships, products or other durable goods and were required to be paid. C bonds covered the other RM80 billion and were supposed to simply placate the civilians in France and Great Britain who were demanding massive indemnities against Germany, not necessarily ones that were likely to be repaid. The reparations, combined with the Weimar attempting to abrogate by passivity the terms of the Treaty, led to rampant hyperinflation of the Reichsmark, leading to an exchange rate of US$1 to over RM4.3 trillions. Indeed, these figures caused so much disruption to the economy that the right-wing had little trouble presenting their case to the Volk. Even with the renegotiations of the Dawes and Young Plans, as well as the final dissolution of the 1932 Lausanne Conference, there remained embedded in the Volk’s collective consciousness that Germany was so thoroughly raped that they were very receptive to those who claimed to be able to rebuild the nation’s honor.


Chart depicting the relative value of the Reichmark. The currency became so irrelevant that the people were using banknotes to wallpaper their homes or simply to burn for heat.

The Treaty of Versailles was not the only interbellum agreement which lead to the consternation of those former Central Powers nations. The Treaty of St-Germain-en-Laye had codified the breakup of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and reversed Austria’s attempt in 1919 to unify with Germany. Indeed, a key article, Article 88, specifically prohibited Austria from intentionally compromising its independence. This particular treaty also created the successor states to the Empire’s former kingdoms: Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Yugoslavia, southern Poland, and Romania. Some territory was ceded to Italy, though it was not as much as they had desired and would pull at the Italian political consciousness for some time. This process was compared in principle to the task facing the powers at the end of the Napoleonic wars: should Europe attempt to “turn back the clock” and reinvent several former “kingdoms”? The answer, this time, was such that the nations were formed with no basis for historical cultural affinities which led to such problematic states as Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia. Indeed, it was this lack of insight which the Reich would seek to address in the future.


The territorial outcome of the Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye and Triannon. New nations were created overnight with no thought to the ethnic or cultural ties on the ground, giving the future generations more reasons for conflict rather than bringing peace to the Continent.

Those other nations involved in the wars would all go on to receive their own variation of the Versailles treaty. Bulgaria would be humiliated by the Treaty of Neuilly-sur-Seine in 1919 and Hungary had her punishment codified in 1920 by the Treaty of Trianon. Both treaties stripped lands and money from two relatively poor nations. Bulgaria lost her access to the Aegean which was awarded to Greece by the victorious powers. Both were under similar restrictions to the Germans with regards to the ban of artillery and aircraft as well as a limit on the number of men under arms. The correction of these would be a goal for the Reich: Bulgaria wanted German and Italian assistance to recover Dobruja and Thrace.


The Kapp Putsch resulted from the attempt to lower the influence of armed gangs in Weimar Germany. With the Reichswehr rejecting the orders of civilians appointed over them, a clear path to authoritarianism was laid.

The political situation in Germany had degraded to a point at which in 1920, with tacit approval from high-ranking Reichswehr officers, an attempt at a putsch erupted in Berlin over an attempt to disband two Marinebrigade: Loewenfeld and Ehrhardt. A complete rejection of the civilian control of the military, coupled with the statement from General von Seeckt that “Reichswehr does not fire upon Reichswehr!” led to a situation in which the government was toppled from Berlin. The government, on the run, declared a general strike; in some cases, violently opposed by the Reichswehr. The success of the strike led to the downfall of the putsch, though many of the putsch’s organizers’ demands ended up being implemented regardless. With the Reichstag elections, the SPD and Democrats lost nearly half of their previous votes, leading directly to the rise of the DVP (which would later join with the NSDAP) and the left-wing USPD. This general strike led to yet another general strike and a communist uprising in the Ruhr; whereas the previous putsch had been dealt with gently, the Red Ruhr Army was brutally suppressed through extrajudicial executions and open combat by the Reichswehr. In the end, the Marinebrigaden would be disbanded, though many of their officers and soldiers would be accepted into the Reichswehr or into the Geheimdienst and Deutsche Frei Legion.


The signing of the Treaty of Rapallo, 1922. This treaty was almost Bismarckian in the understanding that bringing the strength of the Russian bear (regardless of what it was presently called) to the side of Germany--or at least preventing them from joining the game--kept Germany more secure in the long term.

The Treaty of Rapallo, signed in 1922, brought Germany and the Soviet Union back into normalized relations. As a successor to the failed Genoa conference--which failed when France demanded that the Bolsheviks assume the Tsarist debts--the Germans and Soviets agreed to renounce their combined financial and territorial demands against one another. This effort, backed enthusiastically by the head of the Truppenamt, General von Seeckt, would see Junkers, Krupp and other German companies begin to build factories producing aircraft and artillery in places such as Fili and Rostov-on-Don. It also led directly to the establishment of a Tank School in Kazan and an Aviation School in Lipetsk, as well as assistance in the formation of the Soviet General Staff. This modernization of the Soviet forces would assist in the Soviet Union’s desire to rearrange their western border with Poland after the failure of their war in 1921.


The March on Rome, 1922. Benito Mussolini at the head of his Squadristi, marching upon Rome with his Fascist party forced the weak King Vittorio Emmanuale III to recognize that their power was preferable to that of the Socialists and Communists who sought to depose him.

That year also saw the rise of Benito Mussolini in Italy where he would eventually assume near-dictatorial control. The end of the Great War made Italy a member of the Allies in their victory, but by and large, the nation was a defeated power. Economically devastated by the war, her share of the reparations as well as unsatisfying allocations of territory had not solved any problems. A change in the American policies regarding immigration made the situation worse when Italy was unable to vent some of her excess population to the United States. In 1920, after a general strike which was broken only after the intervention of the Blackshirts (Squadristi) of the Fascist party in Italy, Benito Mussolini, with the encouragement of the United States’ Ambassador to Italy, Richard Washburn Child, began preparations for bringing his power to bear on the central government. With weak leadership in the frail body of King Victor Emmanuel III, who refused to order a military defense of Rome against the march, Mussolini marched at the head of nearly 30,000 Squadristi (though the number swelled as the march passed through towns or cities occupied by fascist sympathizers). Upon Mussolini’s arrival in Rome on 28 October 1922, the king bowed to the inevitable and named a new government headed by Mussolini.


A group of Italian Communists. Though powerful (and numerous), they concentrated on direct action which diluted their efforts and turned at least some of the populace against their cause.

This had not been a certain development: initially, socialists had the numbers and the power. The problem was that their rank-and-file was embroiled in their efforts at “direct action:” shutting down factories and forcing local government to close. Further, they lacked the brutality which marked the vicious fighting that was the hallmark of both the Communists and the Fascists. After the March on Rome, Mussolini usurped more and more authority and power until 1925 when he instituted his one-party dictatorship.


The Washington Naval Conference, 1921-2. The conference would lead to three different agreements: the Four-Power Treaty between France, Great Britain, Japan and the United States regarding the respect towards in the Pacific and the dissolution of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance of 1902; the Nine-Power Treaty confirming the Open Door policy in China and the most important Five-Power Treaty which limited naval arms.

Worldwide developments included the decisive Washington Naval Conference, which resulted in the treaty of the same name. Great Britain, recognizing their public would never again agree to such an expensive undertaking as the naval arms race that had preceded the Great War, was discussing amongst several nations their desire to host a naval arms limitation conference. The Americans in the Harding Administration decided to jump the British game and so the conference was held in Washington, encouraged by the Cipher Bureau, better known as the “Black Chamber.” This nascent intelligence service had completely broken the Japanese diplomatic codes and were relatively capable with the British and French codes, giving the Americans a decisive advantage when it came to the negotiations. This conference proposed a ten-year “holiday” on capital ship production other than aircraft carriers, a limit on per-unit cruiser tonnage to a maximum of 10,000 tonnes and armament (8” or 203mm), as well as an agreement amongst Britain, the United States and Japan to not fortify any Pacific islands. A limitation on the total tonnage of capital ships was set at 5:5:3:1.75:1.75 to the British, Americans, Japanese, French and Italians, respectively. Limits were placed on the size of aircraft carriers (though not on “light” carriers) and carriers in commission at the time were declared “experimental.” One final outcome was the abrogation of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance, at the insistence of the United States and the agreement to not fortify the islands there.


From left to right, Gustav Stresemann, Austen Chamberlain and Aristide Briand during the Locarno negotiations. The Treaty of Locarno in 1925 was seen by most Eastern European as a collective agreement which would guarantee the security of the Western powers and force Germany to look East for territorial gains at their expense.

The failures of the Treaty of Versailles were becoming more readily apparent by 1925. In a series of seven agreements between the United Kingdom, France and Germany collectively called the Treaty of Locarno, Germany’s western borders were settled “in perpetuity.” The United Kingdom’s main desire was to see the two implacable enemies of France and Germany reach some common ground and hopefully improve their relations over time and prevent future wars in Western Europe. The Soviet Union and Poland both viewed this detente with suspicion or outright anger: Poland, under Piłsudski, viewed the whole event as a farce which guaranteed Germany’s western border and left them free to expand to the East. The Germans were also accepted into the League of Nations, largely seen as Germany being welcomed back into the community of nations as a functional member of the world.

Author's Note: You thought I was joking about the word counts?! HA! Also, those word counts don't currently include the captions I'm placing in there. There is another political/international news update, and one prologue update to give a bit of focus to the Army, Navy and Air Forces changes that I've made before I get into the actions of the game itself. Enjoy!
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Very nice overview of the post-war treaties.
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Very nice start, a detailed overview of the political situation, interesting. I already like this AAR, and will be coming back for more...
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Another return after a long hiatus! We should form a "Prodigal Sons Society" for old-timers.

Great introduction to the AAR - a man who starts with a Low political cartoon cannot be bad.
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Great stuff Wraith, thanks for the tag, looking forward to it :cool:. Also, good luck with that job :).

Good luck with your endeavour, I will be tuning in!

Hear hear.

Will follow with interest.

Thank you, fellow forumites. I appreciate your support and look forward to meeting your expectations!

This should be a very interesting AAR, I wish you good lcuk and sure I will gladly read the updates! :)

Very nice overview of the post-war treaties.

Very nice start, a detailed overview of the political situation, interesting. I already like this AAR, and will be coming back for more...

If there's one thing that I enjoy, its making politics interesting. Hopefully my new job will allow me to impart that interest to others.

Another return after a long hiatus! We should form a "Prodigal Sons Society" for old-timers.

Great introduction to the AAR - a man who starts with a Low political cartoon cannot be bad.

I second the motion! I enjoyed that particular cartoon, because unlike the first one, it was one that seemed to convey best that Germany was slammed hard.
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Off to an interesting start. Am looking forward to see how you apply this approach to the game.

Basic Game Info: HoI3:TFH 4.02 Normal/Normal, playing as Germany, Italy and (though not until way later) Japan.
Also, how you intend to (if I read this part of the first post correctly) play more than one of the three countries in question. In succession, by rotation, or some other approach?
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Off to an interesting start. Am looking forward to see how you apply this approach to the game.

Also, how you intend to (if I read this part of the first post correctly) play more than one of the three countries in question. In succession, by rotation, or some other approach?

Well, at the time I had two computers. Then I built a desktop, and so now I have three... So, all at once. Yes, I have more than one copy of the game. My fiancee sometimes walks in and give me this look of pure disbelief and annoyance.
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Well, at the time I had two computers. Then I built a desktop, and so now I have three... So, all at once. Yes, I have more than one copy of the game. My fiancee sometimes walks in and give me this look of pure disbelief and annoyance.
Ah, ok, now I get it! Well, interested to see how that works :)
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Well, at the time I had two computers. Then I built a desktop, and so now I have three... So, all at once. Yes, I have more than one copy of the game. My fiancee sometimes walks in and give me this look of pure disbelief and annoyance.

This, I have dreamt about this... I can only imagine how much longer your games are, and it's not as if a standard playtrough is a walk in the park to begin with.
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PROLOGUE B: Icarus and the Sun: The Crash, the Depression and the End of Locarno


A view from a Berlin cafe, 1929. The Era of Good Feelings had brought a spirit that Humanity had
turned the corner and was gaining traction towards a more harmonious sentiment.

The years of 1928 and 1929 marked what some historians referred to as the “Era of Locarno.” World peace seemed well within grasp, the League of Nations was recognizing the height of its power and authority. The signing of the Kellogg-Briand Pact of 1928--which outlawed war as a tool of national policy, and called for those nations who resorted to it to be met by the combined power of all other nations--meant the illusion was stronger than ever. Germany’s democratic government seemed to be coming to grips with their left and right wings, and return to a level of wealth not seen since before the Great War. Behind the illusion, however, traditional power politics were still in play. The French continued to maintain the largest army on the Continent and to build the Maginot Line. This illusion collapsed quite suddenly in late 1929.


The view of Wall Street, 29 October 1929. Over the course of four days, the market would lose
over 40 percent of its value, roughly $30 billion, with $14 billion of those losses coming on 29
October alone.

The progress made in Europe shredded itself 29 October with the crash of the US Stock Market. The resulting losses to banks, who had funded a significant portion of the German reparations, demanded repayment and this collapsed the German economy, leading the world down the black hole of Global Depression. The loss of government revenue made the French occupation of the Rhineland untenable, and so the French withdrew their troops in 1930. With their economy failing, the people in the Weimar Republic became disillusioned with impotent leaders and began turning more and more to the far wings of the left or the right. Poll results for the DVP and later the NSDAP grew, and by 1932, Adolf Hitler was only defeated by Paul von Hindenburg in a run-off election for the Presidency. Two months later, Franz von Papen was nominated by von Hindenburg to form the government, but this was purely through the intervention of General Kurt von Schleicher. General von Schleicher was widely viewed to be von Papen’s puppet master. Indeed, he replaced von Papen as Chancellor within months in the tumultuous Reichstag.


Results from the German national elections of 1932. Only slight drops would occur in the last
elections of November for the NSDAP.

Governments in France and Great Britain deemed the cost of supporting large militaries uncontrollable without decisive intervention in 1932. Together, they proposed the World Disarmament Conference, hosted in Geneva starting in February; representatives from all the world’s major powers came. The entirety of the conference was dominated initially by the Germans. Their unwavering demands of the rest of the nations of Europe to either disarm to their levels or allow them to rearm were flat-out refused by France. Germany prepared to leave the conference, but an eleventh hour intervention by Great Britain on Germany’s behalf with France led them back to the negotiating table. France then refused to continue their discussions. Foreign Minister Louis Barthou later remarked in a note delivered to the conference after he had departed in disgust that France would look to her own security and abandoned the conference themselves.


A postcard from the World Disarmament Conference in Geneva.


A political cartoon reflecting the sentiment of the outcome
of the World Disarmament Conference.

On 30 January 1933, President Paul von Hindenburg, having yet another Chancellor recalled by the Reichstag, turned to his former rival for the Presidency, Adolf Hitler, to lead a new government. Hitler was only a month into his Chancellorship when a fire broke out in the Reichstag building; a young Danish Communist with undiagnosed mental handicaps and nearly blind, Marinus van der Lubbe, was arrested near the scene and claimed to have been the sole perpetrator. Four other prominent Communists were also arrested; among them, Georgi Dimitrov was the head of the Comintern “Special Activities” for Western Europe. Only van der Lubbe would be convicted and sentenced; the other conspirators were released. It would only become clear after the declassification of archives decades later that the other conspirators were released through the intervention of General von Seeckt at the behest of the Soviet Union. The response, however, was dramatic: President von Hindenburg was pressured into passing the Reichstag Fire Decree, granting emergency powers to Chancellor Hitler. By March 1933, the Enabling Act was passed into law by the Reichstag, granting Adolf Hitler the dictatorial powers he desired so intently.



The Reichstag burning, top. Two of the supposed conspirators, Lubbe (left) and Dimitrov (right).
Had the information regarding Dimitrov’s status been known at the time, it likely would have fed far
more serious concerns regarding the state of the Reich.

With the various power apparati in his control, Hitler formed his power clique. Initially bound by the whims of the President von Hindenburg, Hitler was forced into accepting as Vice Chancellor Franz von Papen. For his foreign minister, Konstantin von Neurath joined the cabinet, and as his Minister of the Interior, Hitler managed to convince Papen and von Hindenburg to permit Wilhelm Frick to head the agency. As one of the few members of the NSDAP party, the fact of the matter was that the Interior ministry was not as important as it was in other European nations; Frick, on the other hand, decided that he rated a more important position. He had his sights set on the intelligence portfolio. The head of the Abwehr, Kaptain zur See Conrad Patzig, had already developed good working relationships with the Reichsmarine and Reichwehr officers appointed under him; he distrusted the NSDAP’s own SS and SA leaders. It was the conflict between Patzig and his Abwehr and the SS “intelligence” bureau (the Sicherheitsdienst or SD) and especially their chief, Reinhard Heydrich, that caused so many headaches in those first few months of 1933.


Kaptain zur See Conrad Patzig (left), showing his debonair style which would have compared him
to Admiral Betty in the Royal Navy. His vehement disgust for Reinhard Heydrich (right) led to
significant problems for the NSDAP in their first few months in office.

Heydrich’s personal feelings towards the Abwehr were generalized towards blaming them for the defeat in the Great War; he also held the ambition to lead the SD as the prime intelligence organization in Germany. His hatred and ambition blinded him to the faults of his own organization, and this was ruthlessly exploited by Captain Patzig. Using a mole in the SD, he managed to produce enough “evidence” of a hidden agenda on the part of the senior SA and SS leadership against Hitler. Informing his successor, Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, of the scheme and leveraging Canaris’ friendly rivalry with Heydrich, they brought their evidence before Hitler, which sent him into a rage. With threats all around him, Hitler directed the Abwehr to liquidate those apparent dangers. This would come to be called the Night of the Long Knives and witnessed the deaths of Rohm, Himmler and Heydrich. Hitler remained furious, but Canaris had long been a loyal devotee which soothed the Fuhrer's rage. The end result was that the Schutzstaffel and Sturmabteilung higher leadership was eliminated while the rank-and-file were planned to be absorbed into the Heer. The SD was absorbed into the Abwehr. As a reward, Captain Patzig was given command of the future Admiral Graf Spee and Canaris continued as head of the Abwehr through the end of the year when he would turn his office over to Frick and become the head of the special operations directorate, the Geheimdienst.


Wilhelm Canaris, head of the newly formed Geheimdienst. This “operational” side of the Abwehr
would lend itself to other nations’ intelligence bureau models the world over.

In charge of the Truppenamt, a loyal party member, General Werner von Fritsch, was appointed. Recognizing that the Versailles Treaty was all but invalidated, he oversaw much of the development and production of the nascent Panzer arm. His tenure was short-lived, as disagreements between himself and Goering--insinuations regarding an undesirable relationship with a young man--resulted in his dismissal in late 1935. He would be replaced by General Werner von Blomberg, who had held the office of Minister of Defense. Though initially suspect through the political machinations of blackmail over his second wife, he had reached out to Patzig, who had managed to gain some sort of his own leverage and silence Goering--far easier since the liquidation of Himmler. He would hand-pick one of his own staff officers, Fritz Bayerlein, to be raised to the post of Minister of War, who oversaw the development of a logistic program to better supply the Heer.


Kriegsminister Fritz Bayerlein (left) and his now-subordinate, General (later Generalfeldmarschall)
von Blomberg. The avoidance of a scandal over his young wife’s indiscretions kept him in office.

The naval chief, Admiral Erich Raeder, had been in charge since 1928 and there was little pressure to remove him from his post. Raeder had been instrumental in the effort to develop the panzerschiff in a blatant attempt to encourage the British, who had no similar ships, to permit Germany to develop her own capital ships again. Indeed, it was Raeder’s suggestion to von Ribbentrop just before the meetings which would produce the Anglo-German Naval Agreement that he deliberately attempt to combine capital ship tonnage for his plans to restructure and rebuild the fleet. Hermann Goering had been named as the Minister of Aviation. His policies regarding aviation were such that building a large fleet of (relatively) flexible medium bombers would fill the void in the current Heer, which was left without heavy artillery. Goering also wanted the close air support championed by the Heer, which led to the development of dive bombers to deliver extremely accurate strikes which could allow the army to move past enemy strongholds without undue concerns for their supply lines.


Admiral Raeder (left) and Reichsluftminister Goering. With no support from his former allies
amongst the SA or SS, Goering was cowed into submission on more than one occasion, much to
the delight of the Fuhrer.

With his newfound authority, Hitler immediately began ordering a massive public works on infrastructure. The Autobahn became the shining example of German engineering; by the end of 1935, all of Germany was connected with high-quality roads and rail systems. Airfields and the improvement of ports throughout the German Reich quickly followed.


The Future Transportation of the Reich, LZ 129 Hindenburg floats serenely across the autobahn.
Though the Zeppelins failed to pan out, the Autobahn did the exact opposite and succeeded
beyond anyone’s expectations.

Furthermore, in mid-October 1933, von Neurath, with the approval of Hitler, informed a meeting of the League of Nations that they would no longer be attending further meetings. The body was largely apathetic to the Germans departure; though Britain and France made a bit of noise about the abandonment of the international arena that Germany had only been admitted to in 1925. Most nations viewed the League as largely toothless anyways given how readily the Japanese had conducted their affairs in China only a year earlier.


The German delegation’s letter informing the Secretary General of their intent to leave the League
of Nations. With the Japanese leaving a few years earlier, the Era of Locarno was rapidly giving
way to feelings of dread and suspicion.

The Germans did not stand idly by in the realm of international intrigue. The Geheimdienst, a secretive organization which was the “operational” arm of the Abwehr, set out to degrade Germany’s enemies through any means not related to statecraft. The assassination of Engelbert Dollfuss during the July Putsch in Austria by a few agents of the Geheimdienst almost brought Italy into war with Germany as the Italians were intent on enforcing the Treaty of Locarno; however, Austrian artillery engaged the building that the Putsch leaders were in and brought the whole adventure to a rapid conclusion, albeit bloody, conclusion.


Distribution of Arms during the July Putsch. It would take another two years before a political crisis
in Austria would allow Germany to absorb the smaller nation.

Though the previous effort in Austria had been an overall failure, the Geheimdienst did manage to provide financial and logistical support to a Croatian fascist group, the Ustaše, successfully infiltrate a Bulgarian into Marseille, where the King of Yugoslavia had just arrived to discuss the Cordon Sanitaire with its architect, Louis Barthou. The Cordon, a French attempt to encircle Germany with hostile nations that might stay Germany’s sword should war ever threaten the continent again, died with Barthou and the King of Yugoslavia at the hands of that young Bulgarian.


A series of photographs of the assassination of the King of Yugoslavia which also led to the death
of Louis Barthou. With the grand architect of France’s
Cordon Sanitaire dead, the pressure for
France to support her allies abroad dwindled.

The policy of rearmament, though initially begun in secret by the Weimar government through the direction of the Truppenamt and General von Seeckt, was publicly announced on 15 March 1935; the old names of Reichswehr and Reichsmarine were retired in favor of the Heer (Army) and the Kriegsmarine (Navy). The Luftwaffe (Air Force) also sprang into existence. A rapid expansion of the Heer with the absorption of the Sturmabteilung (SA) and the combined militarization of the Schutzstaffel into the various regimental organizations within the Wehrkreis system led to an army consisting of 36 infantry divisions of three brigades each, a mountain infantry division of two brigades, and three nascent Panzer divisions of two panzer brigades, a motorized infantry or SS infantry brigade, and an engineer brigade. Only two brigades of cavalry remained and were tapped for conversion into the core of another pair of panzer brigades. In the air, the so-called “national airline” of Deutsche Luft Hansa was nationalized with the conversion of their 800 Junkers Ju-52s “Tante Jus” into the bomber squadrons that they were supposed to be. The three hundred Heinkel He-51s formed the basic equipment of the fighter corps. The Reichsmarine at the time consisted of two old pre-dreadnaught battleships, the Schlesien and the Schleswig-Holstein, scheduled to be replaced but which would be retained for the near-term; the three heavy cruisers Deutschland, Admiral Scheer and the Admiral Graf Spee; the light cruisers Emden and the Karlsruhe-class cruisers Karlsruhe, Kiel, and Kolberg; 22 1934-class destroyers formed into three squadrons and 6 of the 1934/A-class destroyers formed into two additional squadrons.


Early pictures of the Heer, Kriegsmarine, Luftwaffe and Panzers. Though impressive, it hid
significant institutional weaknesses, though none of the rest of the world recognized that at the

The rearmament of the Kriegsmarine was important. Throughout the interbellum period, Germany had kept within the letter of the law, if not necessarily the spirit of it. While inspection teams from the Naval Inter-Allied Commission of Control or NIACC assumed that the limitations of the treaty would commit Germany to Scandinavian-style coastal monitors, the design team of the Deutschland-class heavy cruisers used ingenious methods of engineering and weight distribution to produce what would come to be known as “Pocket Battleships” in the British press. Initially, Germany had not proceeded much beyond the initial laying-down of the keels in 1928 and instead offered to become a signatory to the Washington Naval Arms Limitation Treaty on the condition that they be permitted 125,000 tons of naval capital ship construction--near parity with the French and the Italians. Despite support from the British and Americans for such a deal to abrogate the terms of Part V of the Versailles Treaty, the French adamantly refused and so construction on a trio of heavy cruisers with six 11”/28cm guns went ahead. Indeed, an outcome of the 1932 World Disarmament Conference was discussions between the British and the newest German government. Joachim von Ribbentrop was dispatched to London with a demand for a 35:100 ratio in tonnage--a demand that Foreign Minister Konstantin von Neurath believed that the British would never approve of.


Von Ribbentrop in London, just after signing the Anglo-German Naval Agreement. It was a massive
international coup for the Germans; the British had figured that they would force Germany to build a
balanced fleet, but the phrasing was such that they allowed for a much stronger surface fleet than
the British had intended.

Von Ribbentrop, upon his arrival, gave his demand and brusquely informed His Majesty’s government that they could either accept the ratio, or the Germans would leave after a lovely weekend holiday in London and Germany would build whatever navy she wished. The British, desiring a follow-on pact to outlaw strategic bombing, initially balked at the demand; after discussions, the cabinet reversed their decision with an eye to history and how quickly Germany could prove to become a serious naval power. Further side negotiations between members of both delegations clarified that the Germans sought a per category ratio. These two details convinced the British to agree to the offer and as such, the paperwork was rapidly drawn up. In their haste, however, the British failed to note that the Germans had grouped capital ships such as aircraft carriers, battleships and battlecruisers together rather than the expected breakdown by type. The Germans also managed a typo which permitted a 45:100 ratio for submarines. Thus, when the British expected the Germans to build a balanced battlefleet, Germany instead chose a surface fleet which would be eminently more efficient for convoy raiding. The French were incensed at the British for their allowance of such a thing, and given that the Germans were then building ships which were far superior to anything in the British or French fleets at the time. Further inflaming French opinion, the agreement was signed on 18 June 1935, the 120th anniversary of the French defeat at the Battle of Waterloo--a battle at which Prussian and British troops had together defeated Napoleon.


Italian Recruiting Poster. As desired, Mussolini's attempt to reclaim the glory of the Roman Empire
was reflected throughout their recruitment drives and brought fear into areas formerly controlled by
those nations.

The end of 1935 saw the first glimpses of the specter of war to the Continent. Italy, long desirous of the re-emergence of the Roman empire, foremented a border skirmish in Italian Somaliland with the Abyssinians. The Italians demanded compensation, and while no offensive operations truly occurred until the new year when forces would be available in theater, the beat of the war drums increased their tempo.


Author's Note: I'm intending to at least finish the Prologue over the course of the next week, and then I'll be hopefully on a two-week update schedule.
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Oh noes! Himmler AND Heydrich liquidated? Who will write "Malfeasance in twelve easy steps", "Mass-crime for Dummies" and "Evil management made easy", now?
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