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enigmamcmxc

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Icebreaker
------------------------------------------------------​
Starting Year: 1936 (AAR starts in 1938)
Country: Soviet Union
Difficulty: Normal
Version: For The Motherland v3.05
Mod: None

So, having tried HOI4 on my dilapidated laptop to no avail I decided to brush off my old copy of FTM and once more let loose the dogs of war. I have never played as the Soviets, and the huge army was a little overwhelming at first, but I have settled in. So, briefly: in 1938, the Soviet Union stated if Germany attacked Czechoslovakia they would go to war, on the condition the French also did; a nice little get of jail free card. We open on the Czech crisis, and the Soviet Union making good on its promise.

Note: All below chapter titles are links to that particular post. This post will be updated, and a new link inserted, for every new AAR related post made.
------------------------------------------------------
Chapter 1: The Czechoslovakian Crisis of 1938
Chapter 2: The Red Army and Operation Icebreaker
Chapter 3: Icebreaker: The Polish Campaign
Chapter 4: The loss of Bohemia and Moravia
Chapter 5: The East Prussian Campaign
 
Last edited:

stnylan

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Let us see if the Russians are up for the task.
 

enigmamcmxc

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Chapter 1:
The Czechoslovakian Crisis of 1938

On 20 February, the German Chancellor, Adolf Hitler, spoke to the Reichstag. His speech, broadcast live and relayed around Germany and Austria, firmly stated his policy towards ethnic Germans outside of the Reich’s borders: “[We are] no longer willing to tolerate the suppression of ten million Germans across [our] borders." Three weeks later, German troops crossed into the Republic of Austria and annexed the nation. This move had been predicted a whole year earlier, by the diplomat Nikolay Krestinsky. More-so, the People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs Maxim Litvinov, in 1935, had urged the General Committee to take an aggressive stance towards Germany and, if so, go to war over any attempt to annex Austria. The European objections to the resurgent German nation were faint-hearted; resulting in General Secretary Stalin and the General Committee taking no action beside diplomatic and news-bound protest.


Historical snapshot 1: The Spanish Civil War ignited on 17 July 1936. Military assistance was offered. However, before a more direct intervention could take place, the war was over. The Republicans were crushed within months by the Nationalists.​

Shortly thereafter, Litvinov spoke to the League of Nations and requested all powers respect the current borders and seek peace. Over the course of the summer, Hitler’s position became clear. Germany was demanding the annexation of the Sudetenland, the outlying areas of Czechoslovakia. Tensions mounted across Europe, as the continent braced itself for a new war.

Historical snapshot 2: As part of the Second five-year plan, the industrialization of the Soviet Union was key; starting in 1937, additional policies were implemented to do just that. The same year, Stalin's purges entered a new phase. With the Officer Corps and intelligentsia devastated, the immediate knock-on effect was of a rapid diminishing of the quality of education to the proletariat and training received by the army. In an effort to make up deficiencies, a new three-year draft was implemented.

The British urged the Czechoslovakian Government to make concessions to Germany, in order to avoid war. They also attempted to exclude the Soviet Union from any negotiations, as they believed the latter was trying to drag them into a new European War. The French, coming to terms with the impending threat of war and lack of British support, sought to tactfully distance themselves from the 1935 Franco-Soviet Treaty of Mutual Assistance (which called for the defense of Central Europe from German aggression). In June, when queried by the Soviet Ambassador in regards to Poland’s standing on the issue, the French Prime Minister - Édouard Daladier - responded “Not only can we not count on Polish support, but we have no faith that Poland will not strike us in the back!”. Poland saw Czechoslovakia as an artificial creation doomed to collapse, and were hostile towards the country over their relationship with the Soviet Union and the longstanding issue of Teschen (The 1920 Conference of Spa had awarded Czechoslovakia the Karvin coalfield, and the Teschen suburb of Freistadt over Polish objections). The Poles informed the French “we shall not move”, if the latter went to war. Speaking with the Soviet ambassador, Daladier stated that France, as a result of this stance, saw itself free of the Franco-Polish alliance.

As the tension grew, Czechoslovakia looked towards the Soviet Union for assistance against Germany. Litvinov, now having won over the Central Committee and Stalin, freshly renewed the Soviet Union’s commitment to Czechoslovakia, guaranteeing their independence. Towards the end of the summer, as German political pressure increased, the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia signed a new defensive alliance. Soviet diplomats spoke with their Polish and Romanian counterparts in regards to allowing the Red Army to move across their territory to reinforce the Czechs. Both countries, not trusting the Soviet Union due to past grievances and a fear the country would not respect the Kellogg–Briand Pact, refused the request for the use of their road and rail networks.


Historical snapshot 3: Japan was quickly proving themselves to be the overlord of the Far East. Declaring war on the fragmented China, within 20 months the Japanese had made major gains. The Shanxi warlord clique had been overran and defeated, and the Communist Party of China ground down and their base occupied. In an effort to bolster the Nationalists, to prevent the fascist Japanese empire growing further, military supplies were dispatched. In turn, Japanese forces struck some of our frontier positions near Lake Khasan. Following a brief battle, a uneasy peace returned.​

Over the summer, Germany had not sat idly-by. Joachim von Ribbentrop, undeterred by the European political situation, forged ahead and established the Anti-Comintern Pact; a defensive pact with Japan to deter Soviet aggression. A short while later, von Ribbentrop visited Rome and signed the Pact of Steel with the Kingdom of Italy. Germany now had the potential access to additional troops for an attack on the Czech southern front, and the Japanese military to check the complete redeployment of the Red Army to face Germany.

On 29 September, not believing the Soviet Union would honor their alliance especially given the stance of Poland and Romania and facing the prospect of a two front war with three major powers, Germany declared war on Czechoslovakia. France and the United Kingdom, as expected, remained placid.
 

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Let us see if the Russians are up for the task.
Thanks for taking a look :) So far, the biggest challenge has been to copy and paste the Photobucket links! lol
 

enigmamcmxc

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Chapter 2:
The Red Army and Operation Icebreaker


For several years, Stalin had been using Nikolai Yezhov and his NKVD to purge the Party of Leninist and Trotskyist elements. In 1937, following the revelation of Trotskyist-sympathizers and possible German-spies within the Red Army, the purge struck the military. The Officer Corps was gutted via the loss of three Marshals, 13 Komandarms, 50 Komkors, and 154 Komdivs. In total, 10,000 officers disappeared. The effect of the purge was that while the Red Army was still seen as a massive force, it was one that was unled and unable to engage in an European War.


The extent of the officer purge: before and after
Despite the losses, several critical officers had been retained, who were able to further develop and refined the ideas of the deceased traitor former Marshal Mikhail Tukhachevsky. This concept, Deep Battle, called for alternating attacks from different armies to keep the opposing force off balance while the main penetration would be undertaken by a concentrated shock army. This force, echeloned in depth, would breach the opposing forces defenses. The initial wave, having taken the forward position, would be followed by fresh troops; each new wave furthering the penetration allowing for mobile forces to exploit and encircle enemy concentrations and advance deep into enemy territory.


One of the many Polish rejections​

The Czechoslovakian Crisis had caused a rush of diplomatic messages. The Soviet ambassadors to Poland and Romania had both argued with their counterparts about the greater good and the need of the Polish and Romanian rail and road networks to prevent a general European War. Both countries, claiming a fear of the Red Army would abuse the privilege, rejected all proposals and attempted to isolate Czechoslovakia. As a result, the Red Army began initial planning on how to aid our Czech allies. The Romanian road and rail networks were deemed inadequate to supply the required forces to aid Czechoslovakia. Attention turned to Poland: better communications, and a shorter distance to advance to link-up with the Czechs. The first proposal suggested a defensive approach along the Polish border, while a small force occupied the Lvov area allowing the main force to advance to link-up with the Czechs.

Operation Icebreaker
Sensing an opportunity to overturn the 1920s Peace of Riga, Stalin ordered the Red Army to scale up its plans. Thus, Operation Icebreaker was drawn-up. Ostensibly still an operation to secure the eastern border region of Poland to provide passage to Czechoslovakia, the operation planned for the outright annexation of the Polish republic and the utilization of a large portion of the Red Army. The Western Front was assigned three rifle and two shock armies for the task. Supporting them was two tank armies, placed under the direct command of STAVKA. In total, 800,000 men (60 rifle, four motor rifle, and 22 tank divisions) and 8,000 tanks were amassed on the Polish border.

The BT-7 fast tank, the mainstay of the tank force.
Almost 7,000 of them were available, the rest of the force was made up of an assortment of T-27s, T-28s, and BT-5s.​

The main attack was split into two wings due to the Pripyat Marshes, a quagmire that was not easy to navigate and would only slow our forces down. In the north, the 2nd Army would maintain a defensive posture and mask the Polish border positions and ensuring no Polish advance into the Soviet Union. The 3rd Shock Army was tasked with penetrating through the southern flank and moving to encircle the northern Polish positions. Once the breach had been created, the 10th Tank Army would rush forward sending detachments to aid the 3rd Shock Army while the main force would drive deep into Poland with Warsaw as their strategic objective. Facing the southern Polish positions was the 4th Army, tasked with the same objectives as the 2nd Army. On the northern wing of the Polish southern positions, the 9th Shock Army would undertake the southern counterpart to the 3rd Shock Army's task. With a breach created, the 1st Tank Army would push deep into Polish territory to pave the way for the 11th Army to move to reinforce the Czechoslovakians. Held in reserve (and assigned defensive positions stretching from the Finnish to the Turkish border) was a further 40 rifle and 11 mountain divisions, or some 470,000 additional men.

As the Czechoslovakian Crisis further developed, a general mobilization of all forces was issued on 1 July. By mid-month, the process had been completed swelling the ranks of the army and the readiness of the men; by the end of the month, all forces assigned to Icebreaker had finished moving into their initial positions. As a result of the Anti-Comintern Pact, 240,000 troops (17 rifle, five cavalry, three fortress, and one tank division) were tied down in Asia awaiting any Japanese assault (dispositioned around Vladivostok, to protect the home port of the Pacific Fleet and the main supply depot in the region, and ordered to defend the city at all costs until reinforcements could arrive from Europe.).

With the belief that Hitler’s goals, as laid down in Mein Kampf, should not come to fruition and not believing the Italians and Japanese would enter a war over Czechoslovakia, the Soviet Union declared war on Germany on 29 September in response to their unprovoked attack on the Cechs. Within the space of a few hours, as the final requests were issued to the Poles for military access and immediately denied, war was also declared on Poland. Icebreaker had begun.
 

stnylan

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Hopefully the Poles will not prove too troublesome. With any luck the Czechs should be able to keep things together long enough.
 

Macke11

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This concept sounds interesting and I like your writing so far! I look forward to seeing how this turns out!:)
 

Bullfilter

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I’ll be looking in too. I once tried out going to war early over Czechoslovakia as France to see what would happen - though of course without Soviet assistance. Crashed and burned!

Hope you have better luck coming from the east - though suspect the Czechs will be a smoking ruin by then! Anyway I thoroughly approve of your ahistorical approach and wish you luck with it! :)
 

Lautipus

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An very interesting approach, definitely caught my attention! :)
 

Anthonest

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Interesting setup, and good writing. One critique I can offer from a design perspective, make the black borders on the images thinner, and maybe even change the color entirely on some of them. Like the popup's, the black doesn't contrast well with the blue, especially when the border is so thick. Other than that, things are looking great, keep it up.
 

Surt

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This seems to be the realiasation of the western powers fears in the 30's, if nobody supports the Polish Europe is doomed.
 

racebear75

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Well, interesting indeed, but of the allies guarantee the independence of Poland they should declare war on you and not to the Germans.
 

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Interesting setup, and good writing. One critique I can offer from a design perspective, make the black borders on the images thinner, and maybe even change the color entirely on some of them. Like the popup's, the black doesn't contrast well with the blue, especially when the border is so thick. Other than that, things are looking great, keep it up.
Thanks for the feedback, will try something different in the next post; hopefully, shortly to follow.

This seems to be the realiasation of the western powers fears in the 30's, if nobody supports the Polish Europe is doomed.
Oh yes! I had to do a lot of reading on the Munich/Czech crisis, so higher education investment well worth it! I was always intrigued by the Soviet's half-promise to come to the Czech's aid; an apparent gamble that the French would back out lol

Well, interesting indeed, but of the allies guarantee the independence of Poland they should declare war on you and not to the Germans.
Thus far, the Allies AI has not issued such a guarantee. I think, since it has been a while since I have played the game and have not made it past 1938 yet, that the guarantee is scripted to happen in 1939 to line up with history and to bring about the war somewhat historically. Needless to say, I totally got the jump on the British AI so for the time being; no Allied interference (I am wondering how long they will sit on the sidelines, while - hopefully - I gobble up Europe).
 

enigmamcmxc

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Chapter 3
Icebreaker: The Polish Campaign

The 28th of September was a day of hectic diplomatic action. The Germans declared war on Czechoslovakia. The British and French issued diplomatic complaints and threatened to impose sanctions, but took no actual action. Living up to their alliance commitments, the Soviet Union declared war on Germany. Once more, the Poles refused transit rights for the Red Army; resulting in the Soviet Union declaring war on Poland. Again, no retaliation by the west. The Czechs, while maintaining their alliance, did not declare war on Poland contending themselves to face the German threat in concentration. Likewise, Poland left Czechoslovakia alone and more importantly, did not take any action to align with Germany.


The most advanced fighter in the world, the Mig-3, although only two aviation divisions were equipped with such. The mainstay was the I-16. On the first day of battle, the Red Air Force seized complete control of the skies and inflicted a heavy defeat upon the older Polish designs facing them. The Polish air force would only make limited and insignificant efforts following these losses.​

At first light the entire front came to life. Both shock armies struck in their designated sectors, while the flanking armies launched a series of faint attacks to keep the Polish frontier guards busy and unable to interfere. In the north, this included a number of challenging cross-river attacks by the 2nd Army. The southern Polish positions, facing 4th Army, were largely without any river barriers or other obstacles; they completely collapsed under the weight of the limited assault. By the end of the first day, both shock armies had achieved their initial objectives, and the 4th Army had been ordered to conduct a general advance. Two days later, the northern Polish positions along the Daugava River likewise collapsed and the 2nd Army was ordered to conduct a general advance. While the most optimistic officers believed such a success would occur, the majority had expected a slow grinding battle west; within 48 hours, tanks and trucks were pushing through the shock armies and beginning a rapid advance.


The southern front, following the unleashing of the 1st Tank Army
In the south, the 1st Tank Army had pushed through the gap created by the 9th Shock Army. This penetration rapidly tore open the entire southern front. On 4 October, elements of the tank army captured Lvov. Over the course of the next two days, they encircled and destroyed several Polish divisions, and facilitated the opening of a corridor to Czechoslovakia by the 7th. In the north, dense forests, poor roads, and some determined Polish resistance had delayed the 10th Tank Army; but by the 7th they had penetrated just as far into Poland as their southern counterparts. With the corridor open to Czechoslovakia, the 1st Tank Army started drifting northwest; mostly as a result of outflanking Polish forces, rather than a strategic decision. As a result, by the 9th, both armies were advancing on Brest-Litovsk and a link-up appeared imminent. Determined Polish resistance within the fortress ensured that such an event was delayed, if only until the 13th.


The tank armies, closing on Brest-Litovsk.​

In the meantime, the general advance of the 2nd and 4th Armies along with operations by the 3rd and 9th Shock armies had saw important gains made: Forward airfields were overrun for the Red Air Force to move forward, numerous Polish divisions were trapped in the north in the “Varena Pocket”, several pockets in the south were cleared, and several Polish divisions had been forced into and trapped within the Pripyat marshes. In particular, the Varena Pocket had been created following two weeks of fighting as Polish forces attempted to flee the advance of the 2nd Army. Almost trapped at Wilno, a desperate attack saw a lifeline opened and the Polish general retreat continue. They had been cut off at Lida, outside of Grogno, by the 3rd Shock Army and elements of the 10th Tank Army. Here, Polish relieve forces attempted to break-in while the trapped troops tried to breakout. Heavy fighting took place around Lida, resulting in several Red Army attacks being repulsed the collaspe and surrender of a Soviet Motor Rifle division (9,500 men). Despite this tactical setback, and some heavy losses, the pocket was eventually cleared. It, along with the destruction of several others along the entire front resulted in the capture 102,000 Poles (the destruction of over 25 divisions).


The most significant tactical setback, with the exception of the surrender of a division!​

On the strategic side of things, it was realized that the pre-war plan of just the 11th Army reinforcing the Czechs was wholly inadequate. As a result, the army was reassigned from the Western Front and placed under the command of the uncommitted Southwest Front. The latter, which included the 13th Army, was ordered to reinforce 11th Army's efforts, and move into Czechoslovakia. In the north, aware that the full might of the German military may soon arrive following the Polish collapse, the Baltic Front’s 14th Army was ordered to move into Poland to ready itself to repulse any assault from East Prussia and to then conquer the territory.

Despite their slow progress, several rifle divisions had finally managed to catch up to the two tank armies. These lead troops broke through the crumbling Polish defenses to allow the tanks and trucks to resume their advance. By the 16th, the 1st Tank Army had reached the outer suburbs of Warsaw. Two days later, the 10th Tank Army arrived on Warsaw’s doorstep. This joint arrival also marked Italy’s entry into the war, who rapidly started moving troops to the Czech’s southern front. On the 19th, Lodz fell to the 1st Tank Army, and on the 20th the 10th Tank Army completed the encirclement of Warsaw. Four days of heavy fighting followed before the capital was taken. On 24 October, just 26 days following the opening of the campaign, Poland surrendered.


The progress of the final battles​

In the short campaign, a rapid advance thus far not seen had been achieved outstripping even the wildest expectations of the most optimistic commanders. In comparison to the 320,000 casualties seen in the first month of the Great War, just a mere 9,497 men had become casualties within roughly the same time span. Polish battle losses amounted to roughly 10,500. Poland had been caught off-guard, not sensing the consequence of their ongoing rejections. As a result, most of their divisions were not mobilized and the Red Army only engaged cadres of trained men. The two tank armies overran large numbers of troops and ensured the Poles were unable to concentrate their forces or create a stable defensive line, resulting in their defeat and rather lackluster defense of Warsaw. The sudden collapse of the Polish Government left the Red Army's Western Front completely fragmented and not deployed for the upcoming battle with the Germans. A frantic effort began to regroup the various armies before German troops launched a full-scale offensive. Furthermore, the Southwest Front had not advanced far into Czechoslovakia, and the Baltic Front had not yet arrived to mask East Prussia.
 

Bullfilter

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Very interesting campaign. But now the hard work begins: fighting the Germans, with only the Czechs as allies! I’m not sure what would now bring the Allies into the war, with the Polish trigger gone. Having France on land and Britain in the air and on the sea as co-belligerents would be very handy. Any diplomatic plans or prospects for that to happen at any point?

At least the Germans are also unprepared. Will the next update show how the poor Czechs are going?
 

roverS3

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This looks like fun, your writing is quite engaging, and the premise is quite interesting.
I like the fact that you enacted minimal education at the same time as the Great Officer Purge, it adds a layer of realism. Quick question, did you get the "Disorganised Officer Corps" modifier (-15% LS) as well, or did that not trigger in your game? I should imagine that the combined effect of both on your leadership would be devastating (I was cursing the DOC modifier all the way to the end of the Winter War, when it was finally cancelled...)
Anyway, an interesting approach. The Soviet union is the first to try out the tactics we know OTL as 'blitzkrieg', in Poland none the less...
Despite the losses, several critical officers had been retained, who were able to further develop and refined the ideas of the deceased traitor former Marshal Mikhail Tukhachevsky.
And you got around the death of Tukhachevsky, in one sentence.
Well, we all know those Poles should have known better... Also, you should annex Romania as well, just because they didn't let you troops through either...In hindsight, the choice you presented was, having the Red army pass through peacefully, or having them pass through shooting and conquering as they go... To make sure you retain a fearsome image on the international scene, there is no alternative, Romania must be subdued.
Another Soviet Union AAR... The more the merrier!...
Consider me subscribed.
 

stnylan

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Well Poland didn't take long.
 

enigmamcmxc

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Very interesting campaign. But now the hard work begins: fighting the Germans, with only the Czechs as allies! I’m not sure what would now bring the Allies into the war, with the Polish trigger gone. Having France on land and Britain in the air and on the sea as co-belligerents would be very handy. Any diplomatic plans or prospects for that to happen at any point?

At least the Germans are also unprepared. Will the next update show how the poor Czechs are going?
I just had a looksee at the French neutrality score and their threat assessment of Germany; their AI has the option of going to war. Not the same for the UK. As the Soviets, being part of the Comintern, I do not see any option - via the diplomacy menu - to try and drag the west into war. Any suggestions would be welcome. My only other attempt at gaining an ally (having kind of forgot how to play the game or that influencing nations was important) has been a recent attempt to sway the Turks towards the Comintern; that is far off however.

The next update, or when I get around to playing the game again lol, should see updates on the Czechs and my attempts to help them.

This looks like fun, your writing is quite engaging, and the premise is quite interesting.
I like the fact that you enacted minimal education at the same time as the Great Officer Purge, it adds a layer of realism. Quick question, did you get the "Disorganised Officer Corps" modifier (-15% LS) as well, or did that not trigger in your game? I should imagine that the combined effect of both on your leadership would be devastating (I was cursing the DOC modifier all the way to the end of the Winter War, when it was finally cancelled...)
Anyway, an interesting approach. The Soviet union is the first to try out the tactics we know OTL as 'blitzkrieg', in Poland none the less...
Thank you. I have taken a look around the game, hovering over the leadership section shows no modifiers. So, unless it has already wore off, I guess that I did not get it. I do have the diplomatic option (currently greyed out) to restore the officer corps? Poland: the 1930s playground for trying out new things ;)

And you got around the death of Tukhachevsky, in one sentence.
Well, we all know those Poles should have known better... Also, you should annex Romania as well, just because they didn't let you troops through either...In hindsight, the choice you presented was, having the Red army pass through peacefully, or having them pass through shooting and conquering as they go... To make sure you retain a fearsome image on the international scene, there is no alternative, Romania must be subdued.
Another Soviet Union AAR... The more the merrier!...
Consider me subscribed.
Originally, Romania was also going to go ... along with the Baltic States and Finland ... but I feel like I have bitten off more than I can chew and may need to put that on the backburner for 5-6 years while I fight a devastating war with Germany.

Well Poland didn't take long.
I was expecting a bit more out of them. As Germany, most of the VPs are close-by; for me, I had to drive across the entire country to get to them. The AI just never seemed to recover from being unprepared; most of their divisions did not contain more than 5,000 men. I mean, I mobilized months in advance ... the AI didn't take the hint!
 

enigmamcmxc

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Quick question, did you get the "Disorganised Officer Corps" modifier (-15% LS) as well, or did that not trigger in your game?
Finally found/noticed it; yes, yes I did get it. With all the bonuses and penalties, it appears the I am only at -15% rather than potentially -30%.