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Captured Joe

The bullet is a fool...
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Apr 22, 2017
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Mobile Corps

A Hearts of Iron IV HungAARy AAR​

The Kingdom of Hungary has been through hard times. After defeat in the Great War, it fought a bloody civil war between Communists and Conservatives, was invaded by Romania and finally bound and dismembered by the infamous Treaty of Trianon of 1920. She lost three quarters of her territory, including two-thirds of her population, to the surrounding countries of Romania, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia. These formed into the Little Entente to enforce the treaty with the help of France, and keep Hungary from rearming. Under the treaty, Hungary’s armed forces had been limited to 35,000 volunteers, armed with light weapons only. Effectively, Hungary was turned into a mere shadow of a nation-state.

At the start of 1936, Hungary’s position does not seem much better. Only recently recovering from the Great Depression, its industry, in particular the arms industry, is weak and prospects for improvements are few. Although weakened by disinterest, the Little Entente is still in place and keeps a close eye on Hungary’s industry and forces. Each of their armies are strong in some way and capable of defeating the Hungarian rump army. On the international sphere, Hungary has few friends and mighty enemies. But the most crippling is her lack of manpower; even without the severe limitations from Trianon, the Royal Hungarian Defence Force (Honvéd) would only be able to field a relatively small army with its current population.

On the other hand, the international climate is starting to show signs of improvement, which may lead to opportunities for Hungary in the future. The establishment League of Nations has been proven to be a paper tiger and in Central Europe, anti-Versailles revisionism has been on the rise. Although not been of help to Hungary so far, Nazi Germany’s open resistance to the Treaty of Versailles is a hopeful sign. Furthermore, Hungary has an ally in Fascist Italy, which has promised to back her revisionist claims in exchange for support for Italy in Austria. Last but not least, Hungary’s forces, although very small and in spite of the prohibition on heavy arms and tanks, are professional and well-led. Thanks to an age-old tradition of horsemanship, martial derring-do and unpredictability (Magyar Virtus), her cavalry is particularly strong and, even in a modern war, can be of great value. It might not be much, but in times of war Magyar Virtus could prove to be decisive…


Welcome to my first AAR!
This is going to be a mostly narrative AAR as Hungary. Goals will be simple: Retake the lost territories, punish the ones responsible for Trianon and maintain Hungary as an independent state (which will require winning the World War, of course). And maybe tell a good story and entertain some people in the process.

-Try to keep it historically plausible as much as possible; it will play out differently from history in some places, but I'll try to keep it as plausible as possible still
-For this reason, Historical Focuses are ON
-Ironman is OFF, since I want to be able to tag-switch (I explain below why)*
-I'll only use HISTORICAL unit templates for Hungary, because I like to flavour my game as much as I can!
-Speaking of flavour, I'm using a personalized version of some of my own mods to add some more historical people to my game, as well as a National Spirit for Hungary that improves its cavalry and recon (historically justified, of course!); besides that, I'm only using the "Bicycles for Everyone" mod because historically, Hungary used quite a lot of bicycle troops

Table of Contents:
Chapter 1. Nem, nem, soha!
Chapter 2. Anno Domini 1936
Chapter 3. Making friends
Chapter 4. Breaking the chains
Chapter 5. A new army
Chapter 6. Honvéd banda
Chapter 7. The Transylvania Crisis
Chapter 8. Pe aici nu se trece
Interlude: God of War
Chapter 9. Huszár attack
Chapter 10. Uprising
Chapter 11. From Prut to Kerch
Chapter 12. Not one step back!
Interlude: After apocalypse
Chapter 13. Storm over Hungary
Epilogue: The peace to end all peace

*Why I want to be able to tag-switch:
-Romania's focuses that make their king abdicate and them joining the Axis are BROKEN, so I'm gonna need to manually fix that for them purely in order to keep things historical and keep the story going properly
-I intent to use the Equipment Licensing system in a more than superfluous way, so I'll have to get the AI to actually do something with it too
-And of course, to make pretty pictures of the other factions' involvement in the upcoming wars
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Chapter 1. Nem, nem, soha!

“Everything is the same as last years, which is to say, bad as ever."...

Northern Hungary, 1 January 1936
General Lajos Csatay, commander of 3rd Corps, watched as his soldiers marched off after the morning’s exercise, accompanied by the typically grim sounds of a Hungarian march played by a small band. A rather unmilitary looking lean man with a weak chin and kind expression, he was a cautious, almost timid but intelligent officer and an artillery expert and theorist. He turned to his commanding officer, general Gusztáv Jány, who approached him with a greeting. “A good start of the year, Lajos?” Csatay’s answer was an unenthusiastic “I hope so”. An inquisitive gaze on Jány’s face made him continue: “Everything is the same as last years, which is to say, bad as ever. Morale among the men is actually dropping, which I can’t blame them for. When one can’t take pride in his uniform, has to exercise in secret, is forbidden to use modern arms, with no prospect of improvement in sight…” His commander nodded. He was no stranger to the pessimistic atmosphere which dominated the Honvéd.


General Lajos Csatay, corps commander and artillery expert

However, this highly regarded general with a record of personal bravery and planning skills, whose harsh and unforgiving nature was hidden behind a charming face with a fashionably thin moustache, had little good news to offer. “I understand things are looking bleak at the moment, but it is crucial that we don’t fall into defeatism before we get the chance to fight. As officers, we have to inspire the confidence to our men which will get us through these hard times.” Csatay was unconvinced, but he knew he should not let his men down. They had seen no improvement in the last 15 years yet. However, soldiers and officers alike continued on, if not with any confidence but with a grim determination to achieve justice for Hungary. This determination was epitomized in the words spoken every day by Hungarians inside – and beyond – the country’s borders: “Nem, nem, soha!” – “No, no never!” Never shall we accept the dictate of Trianon.


Gusztáv Jány, one of Hungary's foremost military commanders

The Honvéd’s officers were not the only ones to be worried at the state of their forces by the new year’s start; Regent Miklós Horthy, saviour of Hungary from the Communist revolutionaries in 1919 and de facto ruler, just received his annual report from his Chief of Staff, Jenő Rátz, a strongly built man with the face of a professional boxer. What he saw in these papers could hardly be called an “Army”: 14 light infantry brigades and 2 cavalry brigades, each of them on less than half their strength. Even on full strength those would be helpless against the military powerhouse of the Balkans, and Hungary’s chief nemesis: Romania, the driving force behind the Little Entente, which guaranteed none of Hungary’s neighbours would stand alone in the face of any Hungarian revanchism. At least he could count on his skilled and loyal generals to carry out his commands.


The Hungarian Army, weak on paper, weaker still on the ground


The Brigades which form the Honvéd

Although prohibited by Trianon, Hungary did possess a small air force, built up in secret from old and mainly Italian planes. Hungarian pilots were disguised as commercial and civilian flyers, which put them under the Little Entente’s radar but did not exactly improve morale. Although quite small, it was in better shape than the army and could prove decisive in a regional conflict.


The Royal Hungarian Airforce, considering the circumstances not bad at all

The arms industry was doing reasonably well, being able to meet the needs of the rump army. However, a proper war with an actual combat-ready army would require a vast enlargement of it, which would be impossible under Trianon. Also, in order to improve production efficiency, Hungary needed to import foreign steel; Horthy signed a trade agreement with Germany without a second thought. For the moment, Hungary had to focus on getting her civilian industry on its feet.


Arms production at the start of the ga- er, year


Buying steel from Germany, a no-brainer

In that regard, there was at least some potential for improvement. A larger and more efficient civilian industry would without a doubt make the country stronger in the long run. Only just had they recovered from the Great Depression, so government investment would be a logical step to get it going properly again. And because it was not – technically – bound by the Trianon treaty, there was no risk of antagonizing the neighbors; in fact, reintegrating the old Austro-Hungarian railroads, and improving the Hungarian network at the same time, would improve relations with at least a few of them.


The focus of the Hungarian government will be on expanding the industry for the next couple of months

It was not a surprise that the Hungarian parliament approved on Horthy’s proposals for a significant and long-term industrial expansion program. Not because of the inherit wisdom of the proposals, but because the Regent was the undisputed leader of the Kingdom. With the Habsburgs banned from regaining the Hungarian crown and no domestic interest to re-establish a king to speak of, Horthy’s position was solid. If Hungary were to regain its ancient greatness it would be under his leadership.

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Welcome to AAR-writing.

Will be interesting to see what you can achieve. Will Horthy get a navy again?
Thank you!

Probably not, since Hungary's claims don't include a coastline (apart from a piece of Croatia but that's a rather far-fetched claim in my opinion). Maybe Hungarians will colonize conquered parts of the east if Russia is defeated though, like their Hunnic ancestors...
Chapter 2. Anno Domini 1936

...hiding their mutual dislike behind wicked Latin smiles.

Budapest, 11 March 1936
"Have you heard the big news?" were the words with which Miklós Horthy entered the antechamber in the parliamentary building. Prime minister Gyula Gömbös, a personal friend of Horthy who had fought with him against the Communists, only nodded. It was clear what news the admiral meant: German troops had entered the demilitarized Rhineland in clear violation of the Versailles treaty. The response of the United Kingdom and France had been limited to feeble protests. Horthy did not hide his enthusiasm: "The great powers are not prepared to back the treaty with military force, this means they might not support the Little Entente in case of a conflict with us after all!" Gömbös replied with a reserved "It was a bold move, but it paid off in the end." Picking up a bottle and pouring himself some wine, Horthy resumed: "It's actions like this what we need! We can't throw off our shacles on our own, but with Germany and Italy undermining the old European order, we will get our chance! And it seems Hitler is just as determined as we to right the wrongs of the Great War. Our friendship with Italy hasn't been of any real use so far, but Germany! They get things done, and neither France" - he said the country's name with an ill taste - "nor Old Englad dare stand against them!" Gömbös was less optimistic, though. Although right-wing authoritarians, they were both admirers of England and distrustful of Fascism. "You know we've had dealings with Hitler before, and I didn't like it one bit. I'm telling you, the Germans see us as pawns! It might be advantageous to ally with them in the short run, but I'm sure we would come to regret it!" Horty was not so sure about it. The open defiance of Germany meant a lot for him and like-minded Hungarians, and its succes even more so.


A new hope for revisionism?

16 March 1936
The celebrations after Zoltán Tildy's inauguration as minister of the interior were cut short by the news of a military coup in Spain. Although details were sketchy due to the chaotic start of the conflict, soon battle-lines began to appear across Spain, seeing the rebellious Nationalists in control of the colonies and roughly half of the peninsula, and the left-wing Republican government in control of the remainder. The latter called on international volunteers to defend it against the uprising, with also saw a considerable number of left-wing and Communist Hungarians leave to fight Fascism in Spain. Although Horthy was happy to be rid of these people, he was worried about what they might bring about in Spain. Already before the outbreak of war both parties had been escalating the political violence, and the left was turning more and more towards Communism. This became even more clear with the involvement of the Soviet Union in Spain, which supplied generous amounts of arms, specialists and army units to the Republicans. With this support, the Republican government would soon root out any signs of disunity among their own: An open clash between the Communists and the Anarchists in Barcelona saw the latter subdued. In Hungary, Horthy and his generals felt frustration about not being able to lift a finger against this advance of Communism.


A new minister and a new war on the exact same day

The Nationalists were unable to match the newfound strenght of their enemies; although not coming into direct internal conflict, they also suffered from disunity. The initial leader of the revolt, José Sanjurjo, had died in a plane crash at the start of the war and leadership was split between the Nationalists' two best commanders: The cautious Emilio Mola, mastermind behind the coup and now commander of the troops in Northern Spain, and the ambitious Fransisco Franco, former commander of the Spanish Foreign Legion and now commander of the troops in the south. Although initially supporting Franco, Mola became disappointed with him and sought to obtain overall leadership himself. Internationally, only Germany provided support for the Nationalists, which was limited to an armor training unit and a couple of air wings. Mussolini's Italy was still embroided in a bloody war against Ethiopia and could not free up its forces to help in Spain. Soon, the Nationalists lost the initiative and began to be pushed back across the line. Franco suffered a major setback when the Alcazar of Toledo, which was being besieged by the Republicans, fell. The garrison, led by colonel Moscardó, was shot by Republican militias after their surrender. Franco's relief force, led by colonel Yagüe, had to beat a hasty retreat, but not before shooting all their prisoners. The Nationalists had lost the initiative; to all extents and purposes, the coup had failed.


General Franco leaving General Mola's headquarters in Burgos

16 August
Hungary found itself a rare occasion for national pride, as the Olympics had just been concluded and her athletes had came in third after Germany and the USA in most golden medals won. For a small country like Hungary, this was an exceptional achievement. Horthy himself welcomed back the returning athletes in the capital amid much pomp and circumstance, and in a speech upheld them as examples for all young Hungarians.


We have shown our best side to the world

28 August
Readers of the newspapers in Hungary, Germany and Italy, and no doubt in England and france too, were unsettled by the photographs of triumphant Republican soldiers on the border with Portugal. Earlier that day, troops of the International Brigades had reached the border and immediately sparked a brief firefight between them and Portuguese border guards, whose government had been sympathetic to the Nationalists. Now the territory of the Nationalists had been cut in two, and their weakness laid bare for the world to see. Their split in leadership would become more concrete, with Franco becoming leader of the southern half and Mola leader of the greater northern portion. Although Franco could rely on the Nationalists' best troops, with the bulk of the Legion being with him in the south, his position was much weaker than Mola's. Thus the latter had become ascendant in the power struggle and was quickly recognized as the de facto leader of the Nationalists.


Republican troops have reached the Portuguese border!

On 15 September Italy finally managed to subdue the Ethiopian forces and marched into their capital Addis Ababa. This war had been a humiliating experience, but in the end they had come out on top after liberal use of airpower and poison gas. Mussolini lost no time and immediately sent volunteers and equipment to Mola's forces in Northern Spain. Many were wondering if it was not too late to save the Nationalists.


No, not much...

These troops, led by general Mario Roatta, were put under the command of Emilio Mola. Both the Germans and the Italians, in particular Mussolini himself, detested Mola for his cautious or even pessimistic approach to warfare. Nevertheless, the Italian leadership and Mola presented themselves as a united front against Communism, hiding their mutual dislike behind wicked Latin smiles. With Italian support finally materialized, Mola turned his attention north where he managed to keep the Basque country surrounded against strong Republican attacks. His counterpart in the south, Franco, was barely holding on to his frontline.


Franco's situation is grave indeed

On 5 October the military theorist Jenő Major, an officer with the look and bearing of a schoolteacher, was officially tasked with working out a comprehensive doctrine for the Honvéd. Major was a proponent of Mobile Warfare in a similar fashion to the German military, so his appointment signalled a new direction being taken in Hungarian military thought. The Honvéd's largest issue, besides the Trianon Treaty, would be her limited manpower, so her military theories had to deal with this problem above all. Some theorists, like Lajos Csatay and the elderly Vilmos Nagy, advocated an increase in firepower through a heavy emphasis on artillery to negate the manpower shortages of the infantry. Hungary would take a different approach though: the mobile warfare one, in which the army would rely on mobile troops and tanks, which were less intensive on manpower needs and responded to Hungary's strenghts.


Jenő Major, writer on mobile warfare and now leading army theorist of Hungary

On 6 October, prime minister Gyula Gömbös died of cancer. His funeral procession was attended by a large croud, among which was Horthy himself. The death of his friend deeply affected the admiral. At the same time though, Horthy shifted the direction of the country's foreign policy. Hungary would deepen its - currently lukewarm - ties with Germany, to strenghten its position against the European establisment. Furthermore, the Hungarian government would be strengthened even more to better face the challenges of the future, and the Hungarian people would be readied for an overthrow of Trianon by ramping up the propaganda. Although shifting more to the authoritarian right, these changes would fall short of turning Hungary into a truly Fascist state. Before signing the decrees for these measures, Horthy paused a moment; it almost felt like a betrayal. He thought, 'I hope you were wrong about this one, Gyula.'


A misleading name, to be sure

In Spain, the Republicans suffered their first great setback since the beginning of the Civil War. General Mola, who had been hard-pressed in the Basque country, had been able to turn the situation around and encircle his enemies around its capital Bilbao, which was fortified with the so-called "Iron Ring". On 17 November, in snowy weather Mola's troops broke through this ring with German air support and on the 30th Bilbao fell. Three days later the last Republican pockets of resistance around the city surrendered. Now the Nationalists could turn their attention to the larger frontline to the east.


The fall of Bilbao

Nearing the end of the year, Horthy decided to expand the large Northern Hungarian cities, in particular Budapest, to accomodate the growing numbers of people leaving the countryside for the cities. With the planned expansion of the industry, there would soon be enough work for them.


The year came to an end, and Horthy reflected on the changing situation; in Europe, Communism was on the rise in Spain, with the counter-revolutionary forces suffering defeat after defeat...

The domestic situation was showing clear signs of improvement though, with the arms industry supplying the rump army with enough arms to last against a reasonably sized riot.

The Little Entente was still in place and, notwithstanding an obvious lack of British and French willingness to support them with force, still held Hungary in a headlock.

With the new year would come new opportunities, and Horthy felt that now his country was in a better position than ever to take them.

-Supervillains assemble! Those villainous mugs were fun to draw, but the more I look at it the more I get a "My Caudillo can't be this cute" vibe...
-This chapter was way longer than I anticipated, because in game-time 1936 was over very quickly. However, I really wanted to give the SCW some attention. Future chapters will likely focus much more on Hungary since after the first year(s) I'll have more to do.
-Oh no, Gömbös died! Now I can't use him to become "Fascist" faster and renounce Trianon!
-Yes, I modified the cost for doctrine-specific theorists since even the devs agreed that 250 PP is too much for such a small research bonus increase (but they didn't change it anyway so I had to do it myself)
-Italy messed up big time by taking so long to beat Ethiopia, they could not send volunteers to Nationalist Spain quick enough to make a serious impact. Germany sent a motorized and a Panzer division, but those just sat in Burgos doing nothing, so I supposed they were limiting themselves to training Spanish specialists just like in reality. The Russian volunteers were on the frontline though, again, just like in reality.
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Well some interesting events in the world, can Hungary take advantage?
If you do end up allying Germany as is historical, you should consider allowing yourself to adjust your Division templates to model German advisers and military aid. Maybe even make an effort to *gasp* motorize small parts of your army.
Chapter 3. Making friends

...he transferred to a cavalry division fighting in Beijing, to observe the fighting directly.

Budapest, 24 February 1937
The new year was slowly creeping forward, although not as slow as the growth of the Hungarian industry. Because it was still so small in size, it was decided that Hungary had to make up for its restrictions with more modern techniques and tools. For this purpose, the Institute for Industrial Techniques was founded. With government funding, it would be ready to contribute to the industry in a couple of months.


Keeping the industry up-to-date

Internationally, the country was still very much isolated. This was not only due to the hostility of its neighbours, who wanted to keep Hungary weak to protect their gains of Versailles, and the hostility of the great powers who wanted to maintain said treaty. Out of bitterness Hungary had isolated itself from the west, which it felt had betrayed her with Trianon. This did not mean the country didn't seek allies elsewhere though, and it found a kindred people in an unexpected place: Japan, which had rejected the western powers' establishment too and sought to expand their own sphere of influence without western interference. The two peoples perceived a common ancestry in the so-called Turanic peoples in Asia, a perception strenghtened by apparent similarities between their languages. This Turanism had strenghtened Hungarian-Japanese cultural relations since the 1920s. As Japan's expansionistic agenda became more apparent, Horthy decided to strenghten the diplomatic ties to Japan more, which culminated in a Treaty of Friendship and Collaboration in the spring of 1937.


This will surely be useful later on

On 35 May, Horthy proposed a long-term industrial expansion program, which would expand the civilian and military industry over a 5-year period of government investments, similarly to the 4- or 5-year-plans of Germany and the Soviet Union. This Györ - Rapid - Program would be ready to start in mid-July and the armament industrial part of it would, of course, be done in secret for the time being.


Another inudstial expansion program, a bigger one this time

Meanwhile, bad things were happening in the western world. On 10 May, the Hindenburg airship caught fire and was destroyed with all its passengers, ruining the reputation of airships for the world. At the same time, International Brigades in Spain broke through the northern front and in a few weeks overran the western part of the Northern Nationalist sector, cutting off Coruna in the north-west on the 21st and eliminating all pockets of resistance around it within a week. Even worse, on 24 June the Nationalist northern capital of Burgos fell. A Republican armored train, supported by Enrique Líster's elite 5th Regiment, drove into the city and forced the Nationalist defenders to retreat. While their general staff fled the city, the uncompromising general Mola refused to flee and left command of the northern sector in the hands of José Enrique Varela, a highly decorated officer with the face of a medieval monk. Within a few days photographs of Mola's mutilated corpse made the front pages in Europe. Against all expectations, Franco had outlived his rival and continued to hold out in the south around Seville.


The Republican breakthrough

In Hungary, development of a domestic anti-tank gun was started on the advice of general Major. Also, on 25 may, the Rába motorworks finished the design of their Botond truck, a 6-wheeled vehicle with very good offroad performance and adaptability for a multitude of roles. Soon it would be accepted into the Honvéd as its primary truck with the designation of 38M Botond.


The Botond showing off its cross-country driving

On the 14th of July news about extensive leadership purges in the Soviet Union filtered to the west, the scope and severety of which shocking the outside world. This news was almost immediately overshadowed by the outbreak of war in Asia, following a shootout between Japanese and Chinese troops around the Marco Polo bridge near Beijing. Almost immediately the different Chinese warlords and Communists rallied behind the Nationalists in the Chinese United Front against the Japanese Empire and its puppets.


World news, from the east

From the start, the Hungarian high command showed great interest in this new conflict and sought a way to send a military observer to the front to learn from the war. Since the country was on good terms with Japan and they considered each other friends, the Japanese wouldn't object, but the Little Entente would not allow Hungarian officers to get involved abroad. Former prime minister Pál Teleki came up with an idea to subvert the Little Entente, and told Horthy about it. "You know I'm the Chief Scout of the Hungarian Scout Association; four years ago we had the 4th World Scout Jamboree here in Hungary. Our Camp Chief and chief organizer was an officer of the Hungarian General Staff, one Ferenc Farkas. We could have him travel to Japan under pretense of our Scout Association contacting its Japanese counterpart. I believe he is the right man for the job, too." Regent Horthy subsequently ordered the general staff to look into general Farkas' background for his suitability as an observer in China and prepare him for his task.


General Farkas, staff officer and apparently the best candidate for Military Attaché

Upon examination, Farkas seemed like the right man indeed. Tall, with a sharp nose and large, deep-set eyes giving him a somewhat hawkish appearance, he was ambitious, well-connected and always well-informed. As a career officer who valued his connections he jumped on this chance. He was quickly accepted and briefed by the general staff. Before his departure he took part in an informal corps and army commanders meeting, where general Jány joked about him actually going on a super secret mission for the Vatican in Asia. Farkas, a Catholic who had connections with the Vatican mainly through his friendship with the Papal Legate in Hungary, went along with it: "I'm taking a large risk here though, leaving you and the Old Man here unchecked. I can only hope you won't turn Hungary into a bastion of heresy while I'm away!" Jány, who also was Privy Councillor on Protestant Religious Activity, laughed heartily. General Vilmos Nagy, commander of the 1st Army, weighed in. He was a stout man with a stern, bulldog-like face who cared much about the well-being of his troops and enjoyed great prestige throughout the army. He urged Farkas to exercise caution, lest the western powers could get wind of Hungary's rearmament plans. "Like that big upcoming arms industry plan, the Györ Program?" Nagy frowned and grumbled: "I don't think you are supposed to know about that at all." Farkas' reply was an unintentionally smug smile, which caused Nagy to frown even more.


Vilmos Nagy, writer of military articles, army commander and overall good boss

The Empire of Japan accepted the offer of a Military Attaché and Farkas embarked on the first plane to the east, officially as a representative of the Hungarian Scout Association. Upon arrival, he was attached the staff of the 7th Japanese Army which was fighting in Northern China. He communicated through some German-speaking Japanese officers. On the 21st he transferred to a cavalry division fighting in Beijing, the 106 Kihei Shidan, to observe the fighting directly.


Japan accepts the Attaché


Fighting on the pre-war border

On the same day, the Japanese army made a large ambhibious landing in Shanghai, which was undefended and fell without a shot. It took the Chinese army a week to organize a defence there and stop the Japanese advance towards the capital, Nanjing. Despite heavy fighting, the frontlines around the Japanese brigdehead froze solid.


The Chinese manage to stop the Japanese advance before Nanjing

In the north, it took the 7th army a month of fighting to take Beijing, after which it had to fight off several counter-attacks in boiling hot weather. At the end of August the Japanese resumed their attack to the south towards Tianjin, led by the 106 Kihei Shidan. The Chinese army had managed to hold on to Tianjin since the start of the war, beating back many assaults with heavy casualties on both sides. Only on 5 September did the city - or what ruins remained of it - fall to the Japanese army. Frustrated by their lack of progress and heavy losses, the Japanese engaged in a torrent of looting, killing and rape, which was tolerated and even encouraged by their officers. Farkas, whose division he was attached to was the first to enter the city after it fell, tried to put a stop to the atrocities, patrolling the streets with pistol in hand and helped by the fact that he stood a head taller than the average Japanese soldier. Although achieving only little, he was quickly reported to the army commander for overstepping his boundaries. Hatazo Adachi, the courageous commander of the 7th army, decided against expelling Farkas from the army, as he secretly agreed with the Hungarian officer. Instead, he transferred him back to his army staff, since mutual relationship between Farkas and the officers of the 106 Kihei Shidan had soured thoroughly at this point. By the start of October the fighting in the northern front entered a lull, with both sides confined to opposite banks of the Hai river by a fierce storm raging in the area.


The Japanese vanguard occupies Tianjin

Farkas' actions had not just annoyed his Japanese colleagues though, they had also attracted the attention of the Chinese. Both the Communist Chinese and one of Chiang Kai-Shek's Warlord allies had found out about a Hungarian officer accompanying the Japanese army and raised protests in the League of Nations. The Communists' objections could be safely ignored, as they were but a small force and were disregarded by the international community. The protest from Shanxi's leader, Yan Xishan, could not so easily be dismissed however; this "Model Governor" had contacts in the Japanese army and could put more pressure on the Hungarian government. In the end, a large bribe from the Hungarian embassador in China bought the silence of his diplomats.


The Chinese making a fuss

The Hungarian government was mostly distracted from events in China by events closer to home. On 4 September, Republican forces finally managed to take the southern Nationalist capital Seville after many months of fighting, ending the Spanish Civil War. General Franco was sensible enough to flee the city with most of his generals, taking refuge in Portugal where he found employ with its anti-communist regime. The remaining Nationalist commanders were executed by the Republicans. General José Millán-Astray stole the show by continuously shouting in defiance before being shot; it took his firing squad two volleys and a pistol shot to put him down.


The fall of Spain

When the Republican victory was announced in the Hungarian parliament, Zoltán Tildy said: "Finally, that war is over. Good for Spain..." He was interrupted by Horthy, who shouted: "Good for Spain? How could you say that? This is the worst thing that could happen to that poor country! Have you not seen the Communists take over their government during the Civil War? Have you not heard of the burned churges, killed priests and nuns during - even before! - the war? It'll only get worse with them in power! Remember, we nearly shared this fate: we ourselves fought the Communists here, almost twenty years ago. We must make sure this never happens here, whatever the cost may be!"


A dark future lies ahead...
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If you do end up allying Germany as is historical, you should consider allowing yourself to adjust your Division templates to model German advisers and military aid. Maybe even make an effort to *gasp* motorize small parts of your army.
Hungary didn't really need German advisers to realize their templates needed updating, they did some large reorganizations themselves (which will of course be represented in this AAR, although very likely at earlier dates than historically). They also sent some officers to Germany to learn from their army, for example Joszef Barankay was sent to look into the German StuGs and their organization due to their big success on the Easter Front. When he returned to Hungary, Barankay organized the Assault Gun batteries to incorporate them into the Hungarian army organization. They certainly learned from the Germans, but apparently only at their own initiative.

I also still have to introduce the guy who oversaw the overhaul of the divisional organization during the war. A very interesting character, he'll probably play a key role in the future.
Nice to profit, as it were, from Japan's wars.
Chapter 4. Breaking the chains

Miklós Horthy speaks

Croatia, 1 December 1937
To outside obervers, it would have appeared as if Eastern Europe remained untouched by the rising tensions around the world, kept in a tight grip by the status quo. This illusion, masking the cracks growing in increasingly authoritarian local governments and slumbering alliances, was shattered this day in a suitably pompous and theatrical manner by Benito Mussolini. Speaking to Italian minorities on the Croatian coast, the Italian dictator de facto claimed the Dalmatian coast as rightful Italian territory. The Italian government officially confirmed these claims, sparking panic in Yugoslavia as its leaders thought war with Italy imminent. Although this war did not follow immediately, it became clear that the region would not be able to stay outside the European tensions even if its countries desired to.


The only country in the region to welcome this news was, of course, Hungary. It too had claims on Yugoslav territory, in particular the Voivodina region in nothern Serbia, but was unable to press them. Now Horthy sent Mussolini his best wishes and proposed an arrangement similar to the old Rome Protocols, in which both countries would support each others' claims. The response was disappointing: Although Italy would consider her a friend and potential ally, the Fascist leadership pointed out that Hungary was in no position to support any claims against the Little Entente, of which Yugoslavia was still part. For now, Hungary would have to wait while Italy focused on "more pressing matters".

This got Horthy thinking. As long as his country could not stand up for itself in the face of her neighbours, it was doomed to stay weak and irrelevant, if it would survive at all. And to rely on the whims of major powers, even friendly ones, was only futher humiliation for a once powerful and proud kingdom. If Hungary was to throw off its shackles to rise and take its rightful place among nations again, he concluded, it had to do so by itself.


Renouncing Trianon could be considered a rash move with the Little Entente still in place

Budapest, 2 February 1938
On a secret meeting of the general staff and army and corps commanders, the regent announced that within a week he would officially renounce the Treaty of Trianon, forcefully removing its restrictions on the industry and army. He assured his commanders that he was well aware of the risks, but that their country could not afford to let others be, or become, masters of its destiny. Moreover, with tensions rising around German pressure on Austria and with France and the United Kingdom unwilling to get involved in the east, it seemed like as good a time as ever to make a move. Still, the rump army had to be prepared for any hostile moves by the Little Entente, which was why Horthy confided his generals in his plan. Their reactions were mixed. Gusztáv Jány, the skilled commander of the 2nd army, was firmly in favor of this bold move. "It's about time we do more than just protest! To get anything done, we need to rid ourselves of the dictate. I don't think the Romanians will make a move, they are getting soft. Without Romania, the Czechs won't do anything and Yugoslavia wont't bother eiter!" The other army commander, the respectable Vilmos Nagy, grumbled that he'd rather wait untill the army was in a better position, but he would back the decision of the government. The cautious artillerist Lajos Csatay was shocked: "We can't just throw off the dictate like that, we'll just paint ourselves a giant target for the enemy to come and get us! The Entente won't stand for this! They won't have any trouble wiping us off the map, isn't that right, Ferenc?" he said as he turned to his fellow corps commander, Ferenc Szombathelyi. This highly regarded staffer had a strong record for personal bravery in the Great War and a firm jaw which matched his strong-willed and outspoken, yet level-headed character. His characteristic brutal honesty took Csatay aback: "Of course, it wouldn't even take the Romanians to beat us. If the Czechs went in on their own they would wipe the floor with us, and if Romania pushes back the Czechs will follow."


Ferenc Szombathelyi, a general staffer who keeps a clear outlook on the overall situation

"So, you think this is a bad idea as well?" With glinstening eyes Szombathelyi went on: "No, at this point it doesn't matter anymore. The regent is right, we must make a stand or we don't deserve to be a proper nation anymore!" Another general, the stern-faced Géza Lakatos, added to this: "We will show them what it means to be Hungarian!" Csatay looked at Nagy, who only schrugged. The army would follow Horthy's lead. As a precaution against any moves from Romania, all available troops were moved to the Romanian border in secret, although nobody believed it'd be much more than a gesture if Romania would actually declare war.


The army prepares to defend Hungary from Romanian counter-moves

A week later, Horthy prepared for his official declaration renouncing Trianon. He put on the Grand Tenue of Admiral with all his decorations, for this would likely either be a great day for Hungary, or it would be its last. It was a cool spring morning, and the plaza where the admiral made his appearance was packed with soldiers in full marching gear, ready to march off to the border. The regent's speech, declaring the treaty null and void, announcing Hungary was no longer bound by it and denouncing its grave injustice was broadcast across the country. On the Romanian border, officers who sat listening to the radio gave many a nervous glance to the east, beyond where their men, few in number and only lightly armed, had drawn up in camouflaged positions. For now, all seemed quiet. What would the Romanians do?

Cluj (Transsylvania), 9 February 1938
General Ion Antonescu, Minister of Defense of Romania, briskly walked around the table in his headquarters and kicked aside a map which he had thrown to the floor in a fit of rage. Turning his eyes to his staff officers who stood together conspicuously close to the door, he growled: "I told him what was going on. I told him they are challenging us, that they can become a threat and that I can deal with them right now. That we have to deal with them right now! I could just walk in there with some tanks and Gendarmes and it'd be all over in a week! And what does he say? Stand down!!" With a violent swipe he threw the telephone off the table and screamed in the direction of his officers: "Do nothing! While our enemies challenge us! Just give up all our advantages! We've just lost a war, without firing a shot! Does he not realize he has to lead this country? Does he even want to, or does he just want to suck it dry? That racketeering, swindling, cowardly gigolo who has broken every promise he made?" One of his officers, a young lieutenant who had yet to learn how things worked in Antonescu's headquarters, sputtered: "General, you can't say that, that's treason!" "Treason!!" The raging red-heared general spat out the word. "You know what's treason? To put on a foreign uniform and leave the country -- in wartime! In our darkest hour! -- to elope with some girl in Odessa! It should be clear..." He paused a moment to regain his breath. "No, it is clear he doesn't give a damn about our country and he'll be the death of it! There, now you can go and report to Marinescu or Moruzov if you want." All of a sudden, he had regained his composure, and looked at the mess of maps and glass shards at his feet while his officers shuffled out of the room. Antonescu gave the nearest map a final kick, and it colled across the floor; he had a feeling they would need to be redrawn soon anyway.


King Carol II of Romania

Bucharest, the next day
The Hungarian statesman count Pál Teleki attended a party thrown by king Carol II in the outskirts of his capital, together with some other diplomats, members of Carol's camarilla and a Czechoslovak general. In the absense of any immediate Romanian reaction, Horthy had sent Teleki to Romania to see if the Romanians wanted to make a deal, but he instructed the count not to give a single inch in regards to the renounciation itself. Teleki didn't like this, since he would have preferred a peaceful solution to Hungary's situation, but to his surprise and confusion the Romanians didn't even mention Horthy's actions. He didn't dare to adress the subject himself though, and nervously turned his attention to the unusually rich meals on the table. The Czechoslovak general also attending at the behest of his government, the portly, one-eyed Jan Syrový, seemed even more confused. After some evasive manoevers by Carol, who seemed more interested in the young wife of one of his oil barons, he decided to get to the point and asked the Romanian king: "Your majesty, what are we going to do about Hungary renouncing Trianon? Shouldn't we enforce the treaty?" While Teleki almost choked on his portion of caviar, Carol gave the general an angry glare and made a dismissive gesture while saying he didn't care, before turning his attention back to the young woman. But Syrový pressed on: "Isn't this why we formed the Little Entente in the first place? This is clearly a threat and we ought to move in the troops!" Carol sighed; first his own generals and now his allies were bothering him with those Hungarians making trouble. He didn't want to deal with this at all, he had something better to do than start a diplomatic crisis or even a war! "General, Hungary isn't worth our attention. If you want to pick a fight with them that's fine with us, but we don't want to get involved. Politics, you see." Although a formidable soldier, Syrový knew little of politics and, not sure what the king even meant by this, he turned to Romanian prime minister Gheorghe Tătărăscu. This politician had always been a strong proponent of the Little Entente. He just shrugged at Syrový's curious gaze with an extremely unhappy expression. With partially restored mood, Carol exclaimed "Now that that's settled, I don't want anyone to mention Hungary again", while gesturing his oil baron to come over.


This is how Trianon ends, not with a bang but a whimper

As it dawned on the Hungarians that Romania would not make a move, and that the other members of the Little Entente would to act on their own, their mood changed from tense to jubilant; they had stood up to their opressors and came through. Horthy made another public speech and, visibly moved, proclaimed that Hungary had torn the unjust dictate to pieces for all the world to see and was now free to make her own destiny. Outside of the region however, few paid attention to this disruption of the status quo as they were distracted by a greater disturbance that happened almost at the same time: The German Anschluss of Austria, which signalled a significant shift in the balance of power on the continent. In Western Europe, few people even realized Hungary had thrown off its yoke when the international army inspectors returned home.


No need for rearmament in secret anymore!

Immediately, the Hungarian government got to work to get the country's war industry running and the army in shape. For a start, the ranks were opened to any volunteers who whished to serve. The Györ program would also be accelerated, so that over a month the industry would be mobilized to primarily serve the armed forces, practically putting it on war footing. Two months later, work on new military factories in Northern Hungary could begin. Hungary also signed some far-reaching trade deals with Germany to help fund its expansion programs, which helped in the short run but made it much more dependent on Germany than the government wished to admit.


This will finally get our brigades up to strength

Within a few days, Horthy was contacted by Mussolini who congratulating him on his recent succes and invited him to a diplomatic visit to strenghten their alliance. The regent accepted, and used this opportunity to purchase some modern arms for the Hungarian army: Italian fighter planes and CV35 Tankettes, which they would use as a base to develop their own vehicles. The Italian dictator also invited him to a reivew of the Italian navy, showing off the brand new Vittorio Veneto-class battleships, the sight of which delighted Horthy. Mussolini remarked, "Who knows, maybe we'll live to see Hungary get a navy on its own too!" Horthy remained silent. Looking at the powerful Italian warships he could hardly imagine commanding a navy like that himself... but he'd very much like to.


Buying modern arms from our allies

Besides licence-producing foreign designs, the Hungarian arms industry was put to work developing its own fighter and tank model. An experimental tank design was submitted by Nicholas Straussler, who also designed Armored Cars for Hungarian recon units. Although later rejected for service, the Straussler light tank model gave the armaments industry some valuable experience in tank-building.


The new light tank project

At the same time, Ferenc Farkas, Hungary's unofficial military attaché to the Japanese army, returned home with a wealth of military intelligence and reports from the Chinese front. He was relieved by Lajos Veress, the commander of one of the cavalry brigades, who would serve as an official attaché now that Trianon was lifted. Farkas had seen a lot of action since he was transferred to the staff of the Japanese 7th army. Its commander, the popular Hatazo Adachi who had a habit of serving on the front lines, fell wounded at the end of October 1937 and was subsequently replaced by general Sadao Araki, who was more of a political leader than a soldier's general like Adachi. In December he started an offensive, his army initially pushing back the Chinese forces but quickly losing its cohesion. Two army corps, including three armored, four infantry and two cavalry divisions, advanced far ahead and were cut off from the rest of the army by Chinese cavalry on 13 December. Still on the army staff, Farkas put much effort in trying to break the encircled divisions out. It was not so much because of solidarity with the trapped troops, because his experiences during the sack of Tianjin had made him detest the Japanese soldiers. Instead, he knew those three armored divisions would be vital for winning the war in the north of China and he could not let them fall in the hands of the chinese. The Hungarian general quickly mounted a counterattack with the 19th "Tora" infantry division, ordering the soldiers to break through the encirclement without regard for casualties. The Japanese commanders actually seemed to welcome such callous orders and drove their men onwards in the cold weather. After a month of heavy fighting, the division finally made contact with the pocket on 18 January and kept open a corridor while the battered remains of the trapped divisions hurried back north.


The relief force makes contact with the pocket

Farkas' role in the relief effort didn't go unnoticed by the Japanese, who regained their respect for the Hungarian general, wrongly believing he had acted out of desire to save his Japanese comrades. To his own surprise, he received the Order of the Rising Sun on the recommendation of general Araki, and used this opportunity to expand his connections. Afterwards, he returned to Hungary with a pile of reports and observations, in which he severely criticized the Japanese army and praised the Chinese cavalry. While on leave, he helped the Catholic Church organize an Eucharistic Congress in Budapest on the end of May, establishing deeper connections with the Vatican.


Japanese infantry in the winter of 1937-38

-My sincere apologies for taking so long with this chapter, I usually try to write them in a week but this time it didn't work out. I really want to complete this AAR... eventually.
-No drawing this time, I had little opportunity to make something good and didn't really know what to draw anyway.
-If historical focuses are OFF, the Romanian AI has a chance to object to a renounciation of Trianon, potentially sparking war... but with historical focuses ON, they will just ignore it. The future territorial demands of Hungary are a different matter, though...
-I tag-switched to Italy in order to have them agree to the licence production; don't worry, it's completely historical! ;)
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