• Crusader Kings III Available Now!

    The realm rejoices as Paradox Interactive announces the launch of Crusader Kings III, the latest entry in the publisher’s grand strategy role-playing game franchise. Advisors may now jockey for positions of influence and adversaries should save their schemes for another day, because on this day Crusader Kings III can be purchased on Steam, the Paradox Store, and other major online retailers.


    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

stnylan

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So now a matter of crossing the Rhine.
 

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Ancient empires reforming? Intriguing. :)
 

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Episode XIII: Operation Powder Keg

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Episode XIII: Operation Powder Keg
29th of April 1943 – 17th of August 1944

The Danube Pact, or Donaupakt, had had some trouble in the beginning of the war in the Balkan. But by the end of 1942, they had made some advances, but not far. The Yugoslavian and Romanian forces fought brave and defended their territory well. They were able to do this because of the supplies Russia sent in their aid. But with the fall of Odessa and the Crimea peninsula, those supply lines were cut off and Austria had the upper hand. The Austrian military high command now prepared for their biggest campaign yet: Operation Powder Keg. By using the simple technique of divide and conquer, the Donaupakt forces would advance through Yugoslavia and Romania. On the 29th of April 1943, the operation began. The strategy behind the idea of divide and conquer was similar to the NATO strategy in Africa: make promises of more autonomy for minorities if they join your side and then simply wait on large numbers of Croatian, Bosnian, Albanian and Hungarian volunteers to turn up. After a few months, it became clear that the Yugoslavian army only existed of Serbian troops and were not able to hold any territory that was not a majority Serb area. As a result, Yugoslavia crumbled under the marching Austrian troops. Zagreb was the first major city to fall on the 20th of May, Sarajevo, the city where Franz Ferdinand was shot almost 30 years ago, followed on the 15th of June. With his Kingdom falling apart all around him, Prince Paul had no other option but to capitulate when the Austrian finally reached the core of his realm, Serbia. With Belgrade escaping complete destruction just barely, Yugoslavia capitulated on the 3rd of July 1943. After holding the front for nearly a year, the Yugoslavian war machine just collapsed with the effectiveness of the Austrian divide and conquer technique.


Yugoslavian soldiers, May 1943.

Romania was a harder nut to crack. Far less minorities were living in the country than Austria had expected. Later it was suspected that the Romanian government was somehow responsible for this. An extra difficulty were the Carpathian mountains, a natural boundary for the Romanian army. Romania also had a closer position to Russia, so that some of the supplies still found their way to the Romanian front. Nonetheless, Hungarian and Austrian forces tried to break through the Romanian lines. They were finally able to do so by going around the Carpathian mountains, through German controlled Ukraine. Although the infrastructure could barely support an advance through there, the Austrians managed to take the Romanians by surprise. Because of the fact that they had entrenched themselves in the mountains, they were not prepared for an encirclement. With the Austrians now coming from behind, a massive retreat was ordered. The Romanian army staff hoped to reach Bucharest before the Austrians would. The plan was to set up a new defensive perimeter around the capital, while using the Movileni river in the north as a defensive line against the advancing Austrians and Hungarians. On the 20th of June, this defensive position was complete, but it did not take into account a possible capitulation of the Yugoslavians and thus left their west flank open for an attack. When the Yugoslavians capitulated, the Austrians saw the weakness in the Romanian plan and invaded from the west. Highly disorganized and surprised, the Romanians were easily overrun and defeated. Bucharest fell on the 18th of July and so did Romania.


Romanian soldiers entrenched near Bucharest, July 1943.

The war in the Balkans was over, Yugoslavia’s puppet Albania quickly signed a ceasefire two days after the Yugoslavian surrender, as puppet of Romania, Bulgaria did the same on the 20th of July. However, the area would soon see another separate war, as Greece took advantage of the turmoil of the Second Great War and declared war on Turkey. Neither side joined one of the great factions involved in the Second Great War. The Turkish out of fear of being overrun by the Russians and the Greek out of fear of the Austrians who had just conquered the whole Balkan area. Turkey was a country in ruins after the Ottoman Empire was dismantled by the Axis forces. Rashidi Arabia, Persia and Egypt had joined forces in the Axis and attacked the Ottomans. As a result, they lost all their possessions in the Middle East and were driven back to Anatolia and Istanbul. On the 5th of February 1944, three days after the massive German defeat in Volgograd, Greece invaded European Turkey. Their objective was to conquer Istanbul and the west coast of Turkey. Ever since the Greek independence in the 19th century, the Megali Idea was very popular. The Megali Idea basically wanted to unite everyone of Greek culture inside the Greek nation. But in recent years, as Greece lost the First Weltkrieg, those ideas became more radical and instead of just making Greece great again, many wanted a restoration of the former Byzantine glory.


Reach of the Megali Idea in Greek Politics.

The Balkan War of 1937, in which the Belgrade Pact composed of Serbia, Greece and Romania invaded Bulgaria, was the first step in getting closer to the ancient Byzantine capital of Constantinople. Soon, the Hagia Sofia would be an Orthodox monument again, and as the Ottoman vandalism would be removed, the beautiful image of Christ would once again be revealed. Thousands of young Greek men were rallied to liberate the city, but they didn’t know how hard it would be. Turkey had undergone much change since the fall of the Ottoman Empire. A man named Mustafa Kemal Pasha had reformed the country into a modern state. This included long due army reforms. When Kemal Pasha died in 1938, his successor continued his work. These army reforms would prove vital in the coming war. The first objective for the Greeks was taking the islands in the Aegean sea and advancing as much as possible towards Istanbul. The islands would be a staging ground for the naval invasion of the Turkish west coast. Taking the islands was a matter of time, as the Greek population was becoming unruly and made an effort of harassing Turkish garrisons and destroying their coastal fortifications. By the end of April 1944, the Aegean Sea was rid of Turkish control. The Turkish mainland was now in sight, but so were the thousands of bunkers and forts protecting it.


Mustafa Kemal Pasha, leader of Turkey from 1937 to 1938. In this short period of time he transformed the failing Ottoman Empire in a modern Turkey.

At the same time, the push towards Istanbul had already made it to Edirne, the first major Turkish city on the European side of the country. On the 8th of March, Edirne fell to the Greek, it had taken a month of bombardments and raids, and much of the city lay in ruins. Nonetheless, the Greek flag was now waving over the city as it was renamed Adrianopolis, its original Greek name. Renaming Turkish cities proved to be a huge boost to morale for the Greek and soon after Adrianopolis was taken, the first Greek settlers arrived to rebuild the city into a more Greek image. On the 20th of May, the next major Turkish city fell: Tekirdag. The city was promptly renamed to Bisanthe, the name it had in ancient times and was the origin of the name of a great empire: Byzantium. The road to Istanbul was open, but not before a Turkish counterattack in June, which delayed the Greek advance. It was originally planned that Istanbul would be attacked in late June and that at the same time, the naval invasions in the west coast would begin, but with the delay, those plans had to be shelfed. A new plan was drawn to make it even harder for the Turkish to distribute their defences evenly. The Greeks would invade Cyprus and from there on they would try and land in Southern Anatolia.


Greek soldiers raising the flag in Adrianopolis, 8th of March 1944.

On the 4th of July, the Greeks invaded Cyprus. Aided by local resistance members, they easily were able to take the southern part of the island. After two weeks of fighting, the whole island was under Greek control. The war looked as if it was in favour of the Greek, but the first signs of a standstill were showing. Naval invasions into mainland Turkey failed time and time again. Even with volunteers from Egypt, they were not able to break the coastal defences of Turkey. On the 16th of July, Greek soldiers set sight on Istanbul for the first time in centuries. They did not recognize the strange Ottoman features of the city, but were eager to name as many Orthodox churches as they could as a way of challenging each other. The combat in the ancient capital was hard, as small winding alleys intersected with big open squares. Many Greek and Turkish lives were lost, but on the 9th of August the city finally fell in Greek hands. With the conquest of Istanbul came also the complete absence of Turkish troops in Europe. The Greeks had their first major success in the war and Turkish morale was broken. When things settled down in the city, King Georgios II of Greece came to visit Istanbul to officially rename it Constantinople again. On the 17th of August, an official ceremony was held in the city. The King renamed the city and many of its streets. Byzantine flags waved next to Greek ones and the Greek national anthem was heard all over the city. From then on, the 17th of August became a national holiday in Greece, known as Byzantine Day. King Georgios II was even so bold to declare himself Basileus Georgios I of Byzantium, placing himself in the long line of Byzantine Emperors.


Georgios II in Constantinople on the 17th of August 1944.

Greek morale was at an all time high, but nonetheless no further advances were made. Crossing the Bosporus strait proved nearly impossible, as Turkish battleships were guarding it, only occasionally letting a Russian fleet through it to avoid hostilities. Invasions from Cyprus failed time and time again and invasions from the Aegean islands stumbled on heavy local Turkish resistance. It would take foreign intervention to end the conflict and that only arrived at the end of the Second Great War. And so the Greeks and the Turkish found themselves in a Mexican stand-off with neither party willing to sacrifice what it had gained or had left.


The situation in the Balkans at the end of August 1944.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

So here's it, everyone's favourite empire, Byzantium, is back in business. Although they don't control all of Anatolia, at least Constantinopel is back from the dead. It would be interesting to see what Byzantium would look like throughout the 20th century. Next update will bring us to the other side of the world, where Japan is invading South East Asia.
 

Tom D.

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Even HOI4 is capable of sustaining and fuelling Byzantophiles wildest dreams! Glory to Greece and Byzantium.
 

Nikolai

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Roma Invicta! (at least from now on, right?:p )
 

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The phoenix is always ready to rise from the ashes.
 

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Even HOI4 is capable of sustaining and fuelling Byzantophiles wildest dreams! Glory to Greece and Byzantium.
Maybe there's a Byzantophile in Paradox's Game Development implementing these things :p
Roma Invicta! (at least from now on, right?:p )
At least until the 2008 Euro crisis breaks out :p
The phoenix is always ready to rise from the ashes.
This time the crumbling Ottoman Empire proved an ideal opportunity for the phoenix to rise again.
 
Episode XIV: the Fighting Filipinos

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Episode XIV: The Fighting Filipinos
(
)

11th of January 1943 – 7th of December 1944

Japan was not doing well against Russia on the Asian mainland. In Manchuria and Transamur, Russia had advanced far into the core land of Japan’s puppets. Mongolia was close to capitulation and thus Japans foothold in China would come at risk of being flanked. To make matters worse, there was the constant threat of US presence in the Pacific and near the Home Islands. The Philippines and Hawaii, two former US territories, one a colony, the other a US annexed territory, were left on their own during the Second American Civil War. The Philippines became an independent republic and Hawaii became a kingdom once again. Then there was also Indonesia. After ousting the Germans with the help of the Dutch colonials who were promised a bigger voice in the colony, the Indonesia was now a Belgian colony and still rich in resources. The colonial government was still very Dutch, with only the highest ranking officials being Belgians, like Pierre Ryckmans. For Japan, the objective was clear: strike these lands before the Americans gain a foothold in the Pacific. The Philippines were the first target, as they were the closest to the Japanese Home Islands. From there on, Indonesia was the next logical target, but to the south, Australasia could pose a threat to the invasion of the Belgian colony. Hawaii would also need to be taken out fast. Without any fleet or army of their own, they could be easily invaded, but once the American Pacific fleet would defend the islands, Hawaii would become a stronghold of American imperialism.


The Japanese plans for naval invasions in South East Asia and the Pacific.

And so on the 11th of January 1943, two days after the first big incursion between the Russians and the Mongolians, Japan started the invasion of the Philippines. 10 hours later, Japan initiated the invasion of the Hawaiian archipelago. Both defenceless because the Americans had left during their civil war, the two countries were easily overrun and taken by Japan. Pearl Harbor, previously an American harbour on Hawaii, was now the staging ground for Japanese submarine raids on the West Coast of America. The loss of Hawaii was a turning point in the mindset of many Americans living on the West Coast. It was the start of a successful army recruiting campaign to liberate their American and Hawaiian brothers and sisters now living under the heavy boot of the Japanese imperial octopus. In the Philippines, the resistance against the Japanese occupation, supported by the Americans, retreated to the jungles and mountain ranges scattered across the region. Known as the Fighting Filipinos, the resistance would continue growing towards the end of the war, controlling 60% of the Philippines by 1945, most of it jungle and mountainous terrain. Due to this success, the Japanese were very harsh in their occupation and the Philippines were in ruins after the war, its population broken to the core. It would take many years to repair the country, but hope renewed and the people of the Philippines once again triumphed.


American propaganda poster for raising war bonds to aid the Philippine resistance, 1943-1944.

Now in control of the Philippines and its strategic ports, Japan could set its sights on Indonesia. While the front in mainland Asia was at a standstill, or even in retreat, the gains of Japan in South East Asia were massive. Ill prepared for an invasion, the Belgian colonial government in Batavia had no way of resisting the Japanese. Much of the Dutch colonial structures had been underfunded and thus fallen into disarray. This included the colonial army and navy. Even with Australasian reinforcements, Indonesia was doomed to fall to the Japanese. The only island with a fighting chance was Papua New Guinee, due to the bigger presence of Australasian defences. After months of preparing, the Japanese finally invaded Indonesia on the 26th of June. Japan simultaneously launched an invasion of the islands of Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Sumatra and Java. The Belgian and Dutch colonial forces were a pushover. The local population initially welcomed the Japanese invaders, seeing them as an Asian alternative for European colonial rule and a chance at independence. But that feeling quickly changed when it became clear that Japanese interests mainly concerned the exploitation of local resources and manpower. In three months, the islands were conquered. Japan was now ready to strike at Australasia. But by now, American reinforcements had reached Papua New Guinee and Japan was about to suffer their first major defeat at American hands. On the 5th of October, a Japanese landing party was utterly obliterated while unfortunately coming upon an American garrison nearby Port Numbay. The following invasion of Papua New Guinee had trouble gaining a decent foothold, with the biggest obstacle being the impenetrable jungle on the island.


A Japanese map depicting the invasion of Java, May/June 1943.

The Americans estimated that at the current extension of Japanese troops, the Empire of the Rising Sun was heavily overextended and weak on many points. Their main fleet was located at Pearl Harbor to raid the American West Coast and to secure convoys coming from South America with valuable oil. Their army was mainly concentrated on the Chinese-Russian front and in Papua New Guinee. The Americans knew that if they could destroy the Japanese fleet in Hawaii, the road to Japan would be opened up by means of island hopping and the war could be brought to an end, without having to liberate the Philippines or Indonesia. Vital to this plan however was reinforcing Australasia and Papua New Guinee, tricking the Japanese into thinking that a counterattack would come from the south rather than from the east. And so on the 7th of December 1944, the American Pacific fleet carried out a surprise attack on the Japanese fleet in Pearl Harbor. With help from the local Hawaiian resistance, the Americans managed to blockade the port and destroy almost the entirety of the Japanese Pacific fleet. Lucky to escape were only a few small destroyers and the submarines who could sneak past the Americans. It was a devastating blow to the Japanese. Their Home Islands were now only protected by outdated battleships and destroyers. The fleet which was used to invade South East Asia was now quickly returning to Japan in the wake of a coming American attack.


Photo taken from an American plane attacking the Japanese fleet in Pearl Harbor, 7th of December 1944.

The American war machine kicked in and marines hopped from island to island, getting closer and closer to the Home Islands. But the war was not won yet. In China, Japanese presence was still prominent, while the Philippines and Indonesia still suffered underneath the Japanese occupation. But with the oil supply from South America cut off, it was just a matter of time before the Japanese Empire would collapse on itself.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Somehow in a strange turn of events, Japan gets Pearl Harbored (if that's even a word). Being overextended and with their oil supply in danger, the Empire of the Rising Sun won't last long. In Europe, Germany is on the retreat on all fronts. The war is coming to the end. The biggest question now is who gets the most out of the eventual peace deals, NATO or the Russians? The following chapters will resolve that question, before we get to see the end of the Japanese empire in the Pacific.
 
Last edited:

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Japan's brief moment of glory, soon to be snuffed out.
 

Tom D.

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Well they got a lot of territory and seas to cover, it's almost unavoidable to not get overextended there. Good news for the Americans and Belgians obviously.
 

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So did I get this right: Japan was hard pressed in China and Siberia, so they decided to attack in ALL DIRECTIONS? Balls, Hirohito. Balls. :p
 

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Japan's brief moment of glory, soon to be snuffed out.
Indeed, it turns out that overextending your forces is not the best defensive tactic.
Well they got a lot of territory and seas to cover, it's almost unavoidable to not get overextended there. Good news for the Americans and Belgians obviously.
The Americans will surely take advantage of this situation, but I don't see the Belgians making a move against Japan, except maybe something nobody will expect.
So did I get this right: Japan was hard pressed in China and Siberia, so they decided to attack in ALL DIRECTIONS? Balls, Hirohito. Balls. :p
Indonesia, the Philippines and Hawaii were all defenseless countries, it was just a matter of sending a few marines to capitulate those areas. Of course this has extended the Japanese navy and has left Japan open for an American invasion in the near future.
 
Episode XV: Warsaw Uprising

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Episode XV: Warsaw Uprising
1st of August 1944 – 26th of February 1945

Ever since the German defeat at Kornilograd on the 2nd of February 1944, the Russians were advancing towards the west, closer and closer to the Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth and the German core territory. In the PLC, unrest was brewing. Many saw allying with Germany as a mistake. Opposition newspapers called for the King to negotiate peace with the Russians before it would be too late, but in reality, the King had no such power. The government was firmly controlled by politicians loyal to Germany. The wealth of their holdings in German factories located in Poland had blinded them for the Russian bear. On the 1st of August, their bubble would implode. With Russian troops on the doorstep of Polish territory, a revolt broke out in Warsaw, later known as the Warsaw Uprising. Pro-Russian Polish troops mutinied and stormed the King’s Palace in Warsaw. With the King as a hostage, the government was forced to leave the capital. A new Pro-Russian government was set up and declared war on Germany. In the meanwhile, the Pro-German government retreated to Krakow and declared war on the false government in Warsaw. The Polish-Lithuanian Civil War had begun. For later students of Polish history, this period is known as a very complex and difficult to understand time. The Pro-Russian faction had established control over Warsaw, Lublin and Wilno and had conquered parts of Belarus, connecting with Russia in the east. The Pro-German faction had control over South Poland, with Krakow and Lvov as major strongholds, while the Germans reinforced Lithuania in order to secure the Baltic, where the Russians were also advancing.


The Polish Lithuanian Civil War, August 1944.

With official support and recognition by the Russian government, the Pro-Russian faction became an ally in the Slavic Union. At this moment, it became clear that the Russians would set up a sphere of influence in Eastern and Central Europe, one to counter the advance of NATO. But by supporting this civil war instead of just conquering the whole region, the Russians might have given NATO more time to take more German territory before the Russians could flood the region. The Russians tasked General Zhukov, the hero of Kornilograd, with bringing the Polish Lithuanian Civil War to an end. Without any obstacles until Warsaw, the Russian army could now easily enter Poland. The Russian plan was to cut of the Germans in the Baltic and then deal with the Pro-German faction in South Poland in order to rush towards Vienna and the Mediterranean so that the Balkan allies could be liberated. And so on the 17th of September, the Baltic offensive began. Russian and Polish-Lithuanian troops headed for the Lithuanian coast in an effort to encircle the Germans in the Baltic Duchy. In two weeks, they succeeded, albeit partially. The Germans were quick enough to notice the Russian plan and evacuated their troops back into East Prussia. What remained of the German and Baltic defences in the Duchy were easily overrun. It was still a big victory for the Russians though, as they were now, for the first time in this war, fighting in German territory.


The status of the Polish-Lithuanian Civil War in October 1944.

In the spirit of the Warsaw Uprising, Yugoslavian and Romanian partisans increased their resistance activities in the Balkan. It became clear that Austria could not handle the guerrilla style warfare techniques used by the resistance groups. In rural areas, Austria’s control was replaced by local militias loyal to the exiled Yugoslavian and Romanian governments in Moscow. In Albania and Bulgaria, Byzantine volunteers turned up more frequently among the local resistance in an effort to liberate these regions or even annex them into the reborn Byzantine Empire. The Italian and French blockade of the Mediterranean also started hurting Austria’s economy. The only thing holding the Austrian military industry together was the lifeline provided by the Germans, but by the time the Germans eventually fall to NATO and the Russians, Austria will already have collapsed to local resistance and the Russian advance. The situation felt eerily similar to the First Weltkrieg, instead now it was clear that neither Austria nor Germany could turn the tide and secure a victory.

In the meantime, General Zhukov focussed his attention towards Vienna. A capitulation of Austria would also pacify its puppets, Zhukov believed. But before he could act, the Pro-German Polish forces in the south initiated a counter offensive on the Russian flank on the 29th of October. This made a rush towards Vienna too risky and gave NATO a chance to secure Austria for their own. On the 15th of December, the Italians with help from the French started pushing the Austrians back over the Alps. Without much needed reinforcements from Germany, which was now dealing with Russians in East Prussia, the Austrian army could do little to halt the Italo-French advance. In the Polish Civil War, the Pro-German offensive failed. Now drained of organization and supplies, the Krakow government forces were in retreat. At the same time, the Russians made an effort to clear the last remaining German troops in Ukraine and prepared to liberate the Balkans from Austrian occupation. On the 2nd of January 1945, the Russian army entered Romania, joining forces with local resistance in order to clear any remaining Austrian forces. By the end of February, on the 26th to be exact, the Polish-Lithuanian Civil War was officially over. Russian and Pro-Russian Polish and Lithuanian troops had arrested the false government in Krakow and large parts of the Pro-German army were taken captive. The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth officially gained control over the western part of Belarus and order was restored in the rest of the country. The Russian advance could now continue without hinder into Germany. The Race for Berlin between the Russians and NATO had begun.


The Eastern Front by the end of February 1945.
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An unexpected turn of events in the PLC which has caused a slight delay for the Russian advance towards Berlin. This will certainly have its effect on the next chapter, where both sides are racing towards the German capital to force a capitulation and finally end the war in Europe to focus on Japan.
 

stnylan

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Well that was a rather interesting interlude.
 

Tom D.

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It seems that Polish-Lithuanian civil war might actually be a benefit for NATO, even if the Russians gain a loyal puppet in the west.
 

SibCDC

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Well that was a rather interesting interlude.
It was indeed and it certainly came unexpected as an event in this war.
It seems that Polish-Lithuanian civil war might actually be a benefit for NATO, even if the Russians gain a loyal puppet in the west.
It was indeed a benefit, as we will see in the next chapter.
 
Episode XVI: Race for Berlin

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Episode XVI: Race for Berlin
(
)

2nd of December 1944 – 7th of May 1945

In the west, NATO controlled Holland and the Rhineland and was preparing for a massive offensive to cross the Rhine further into Germany. In the east, Russia had secured Poland and made advances into the Balkan. Both were on the doorstep of Berlin and both wanted to be there first in order to get the biggest piece of the German pie after the war. The Race for Berlin as it would later be known, would see the two sides rushing against all odds to wave their flag above Berlin first.

On the 2nd of December 1944, the Belgian-Dutch front started moving again. American forces had found a gap in the German and Dutch defences and took advantage. While Belgian forces were keeping the Germans in Leeuwarden busy, the Americans were quick to fill the gap. The next step for the advance was towards the port of Wilhelmshaven, an ideal location where British reinforcements could land to fasten the invasion of Germany and prevent the overextension of Belgian and French troops. In the south, the French had more trouble in their effort to cross the Rhine. That was when the Americans found the solution. Using the breakout in Friesland, an encirclement could be made of major cities in West Germany. If the Americans would only delegate a small force to Wilhelmshaven and direct the majority of their forces to the south, in particular to Münster and Dortmund, they would encircle a large part of the German army and allow Belgian and French troops to cross the Rhine. On the 10th of December, the Americans engaged the Germans in Wilhelmshaven, two days later, on the 12th, they arrived at Münster. The plan was now in full motion. In the meantime, French and Belgian troops crossed the Rhine and attacked Dortmund to meet up with the Americans somewhere between Münster and Dortmund. By the 20th of December, a double encirclement was accomplished. Germans between Leeuwarden and Wilhelmshaven and between Münster and Essen were now surrounded on all sides by NATO forces. The capture of Wilhelmshaven meant the arrival of the British on the Belgian-German front. From now on, NATO would have to fight in more rural regions of Germany, a big difference to the highly urban and industrial region around the Rhine.


The Friesland Offensive, as it would later be known, ensured the success of French, British and Belgian troops crossing the Rhine into the rural heartland of Germany.

In the meantime, on the German-Russian front, Russia had a hard time because of the Polish-Lithuanian Civil War. Once they finally reached Eastern Prussia, they stumbled across heavy fortifications. It seemed that in the past few years, the country had made an effort to fortify the region in case an attack from the east came. In the Balkans, the Russians were an unstoppable machine though. Whenever they liberated an area, local resistance would join the Russian ranks to liberate their home country. On the Italo-Austrian front, an Italian and French breakthrough had managed to push back the Austrians. By the beginning of 1945, Italian and French troops were on the doorstep of Vienna and Bavaria, offering an alternative route to Berlin for NATO. By February, the Western front had reached Bremen, Hannover, Frankfurt and Stuttgart.


The European theatre of the Second Great War by the end of February 1945.

In March, the Italians and French had a major success in the Alps. The Austrian Empire crumbled under the combined pressure of NATO in the Alps and Russia in the Balkan. With German ports in the North Sea in danger, the supply lines keeping Austria alive were now also in danger. No one in Austria suspected it would go this quickly, but on the 15th of March, the Italians were at the gates of Vienna. In the meantime, the Russians in the Balkan were now deep in Hungarian territory and Bucharest, the capital of Romania, was on the verge of liberation. In Yugoslavia and Albania, partisans managed to take opportunity of the retreating Austrian army and liberated large parts of the country. While Belgian, British and American forces were fighting in the streets of Hamburg to secure the important naval base in the city, Italian and French forces were now in Bavaria and Bohemia encircling the German army in Württemberg and taking Prague and München. Berlin was now close for NATO, while Russia was now deep into Prussian land, with the fall of Konigsberg on the 29th of March. On the 16th of April, the first NATO forces entered Berlin. It was the Italians and French who managed to go through Germany’s soft underbelly, Austria, and surprise the German army. The Battle for Berlin had begun.

On the 20th of April, British, Belgian and American soldiers also arrived in Berlin. The situation began to look dire for the German Kaiser, as his capital was now fully under siege. From his residence in the Stadtschloss in Berlin, Wilhelm III could hear the NATO artillery shells and gunfire. His adviser urged him to leave for Stettin to the north, where it was safer, but Wilhelm III refused to leave. It took several pleas from his sister, Victoria Louise, to get the Kaiser out of the Imperial Palace in Berlin. Eventually, the Imperial family took off to Stettin. There, they took a plane to Switzerland, from where they escaped to German Indochina, along with many high ranking German officials and members of the aristocracy. On the 2nd of May, the Battle for Berlin was over. NATO had full control over the city and German resistance on the western front was non-existent. Italian, French, Belgian, British and American soldiers took advantage of this and took the time to behave as tourists in the heavily damaged capital of Germany. One young Belgian soldier suddenly had the genius idea of putting the Belgian flag on the German Reichstag building before any other nation could take that pride. The soldier’s effort to write a lasting legacy in history was fortunately enough captured by a French journalist following the Belgian battalion. The soldier, André de Jonge, immortalized his name and was received as a war hero back home after the war.


1946 painting of de Jonge waving the Belgian flag over the Reichstag, Berlin 2nd of May 1945. The painting is currently on display in the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium in Brussels. Alfred Bastien, the artist who was also a soldier during the First Weltkrieg, chose to paint in sepia to honour the original photograph and its legacy.

On the eastern front between Germany and Russia, the battle was not over yet however. It took several more days for the Russians to reach the Oder and the Neisse rivers, where they met NATO soldiers. The meeting of the two sides, back then still allies, was documented with a camera and during the following years would offer an alternative to the international situation in which Europe and much of the rest of the world had found itself. Germany finally capitulated on the 7th of May 1945. Denmark quickly followed as it had no chance in defending against the entirety of NATO. By the end of the month, all German troops in Norway and Denmark had retreated back to Germany. Finland quickly signed a white peace with Russia and managed to get away relatively untouched from the war. As a temporary solution, Germany was divided into 6 occupation zones. The major powers would have to come to a more permanent solution, but for now, this worked.


American and Russian troops reaching out to each other on a bridge over the Oder river.


The situation in Europe by the end of May 1945. Germany is temporarily divided into 6 occupation zones: a Belgian zone in the west, a French zone in the south-west, an Italian zone in the south-east, a British zone in the centre, an American zone in the north including Denmark and a Russian zone in the east.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

And with this chapter, Germany is finally conquered. Belgium has made exceptional gains for its small size, but will they be able to translate that in the peace deal that will follow soon? Before we take a look at the answer, Africa will get an entire chapter dedicated to it. The Dark Continent has not been another ordinary place in this war, but has encountered the biggest amount of violence in its entire history, putting the Zulu war and the Boer Wars far behind it.
 
Last edited:

stnylan

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Excellent.
 

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  • Hearts of Iron IV: Field Marshal
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Cadet
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Death or Dishonor
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: Horse Lords
And there goes Germany again, and in no less than 6 occupation zones! No 6 zones in Berlin though ;)?