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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

roverS3

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Hurrah! Odin is back. I hope there will be more to read soon.
Hurrah! @racebear75 is back! As for upcoming reading material, I'm currently working on a rather long update, and I still have an exam to prepare, so there will be plenty to read, but it might still take a week for it to be posted, depending on how much progress I make, both studying for the exam, and writing. I can almost guarantee that the wait will be worth it! Stay tuned...
 
20th of February 1942, 'Odinatsat' #12, Getting out of Poland, to hell and back.

roverS3

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The 20th of February 1942, Vologda, -10°C, 1 pm Moscow Time

I was eating my lunch in my office, when a small crate was brought to my desk. The box had some Swedish writing on the side, and when I opened it, the smell of fermented fish nearly made me vomit. The tag said that it had come from Stockholm, Sweden, which explained the smell of fermented fish... There was also the marking IX on the inside of the lid. Now, I was quickly rooting throught the crate, finding several tins of fancy-looking 'Surströmmings Filé'. One of the tins didn't have fermented fish in it, but a report from our favourite British spy...

The 7th of February 1942, Stockholm, -6,6°C, noon local time (2pm Moscow Time)

My dearest Odin, I hope you're well. I've definitely been in better shape, but I'm alive, and I'm finally in a position to write to you, from here in Stockholm, I hope you like fermented fish...

Last you heard of me, I was in
Skierniewice, helping out some local resistance fighters, so let me tell you how I got to Stockholm. If I hadn't just lived through it, I'm not sure I would believe myself, but here it goes.

For 12 days, the village of Skierniewice was a hive of frantic activity. I was still getting my strength back and licking my wounds, but there was no time to loose. In the meantime, I taught Polish resistance fighters to use some of the more peculiar weapons in the captured British Arsenal. These included the gammon bombs, and PIAT, a peculiar shoulder-mounted mortar-based weapon, using revolutionary hollow charges, that is particularly effective against just about any armoured vehicle, at short range, that is. PIAT is also notoriously hard to cock, I had to explain how to do it, as a demonstration would have been neither easy, nor a good idea in light of my injuries, not to mention the fact that I had a very hard time doing it in the best of circumstances, during training.

In the meantime, the resistance in Skierniewice was hard at work, building up defences, but also moving most of the weapons away, creating weapons caches throughout the countryside all over the place, in
Glowno, in Tomaszow, in Wyszogrod and the largest one in an abandoned building of the old Modlin fortress. Ex-Second-Lieutenant Nowakowski harboured no illusion on the chances of the now about 9.000 partisans when faced with the Wehrmacht regulars that would surely be sent our way from the Soviet border.

On the 13th day, the 19th of January, market day, a flight of six Ju-88 bombers appeared overhead as the market was at it's busiest, with the whole village out and about to do the week's grocery shopping. Farmers swapping and selling produce, a few children worming themselves through the crowd with their impatient parents chiding them on in the hope of getting the better vegetables on offer, or simply of getting the shopping done more quickly. The town elders chatting in the middle of the road, only making way for the occasional cart loaded with British-made weaponry. I was assisting the unloading of the last of the train's munitions on carts at the station, we were almost done, and most of the weapons were already hidden away. At first, few people noted the high-flying bombers over the hubbub of the market, but as they revved up their engines, split up in two groups of three, and started diving straight for the market and the station square, the whole town grew quiet, and the crowd seemed frozen in place, mesmerised by the Aeroplanes coming straight for it, there was no point in running. In a few seconds, the aeroplanes would drop their payloads.

signal_2012_201940_Ju-88-min.jpg

A Junkers Ju-88 in full dive on the cover of 'Signal' Magazine.
When finally, the aeroplanes reached the bottom of their dive, there were no explosions, only what seemed to be a burst of confetti, paper was flying everywhere, one woman was knocked out by a stack of paper. For a few seconds, the town remained quiet, no one was sure what had just happened, and many were surprised to be entirely unscathed, then people started to pick up the pieces of paper. All of them were the same:

To the decent people of Skierniewice,


As you are probably painfully aware, your town has fallen pray to dangerous terrorists.

First, they murdered an entire Feldgendarmeriegruppe. Killing, in cold blood, the very men who maintain law and order in Skierniewice. This wasn't enough though, no. Not content with bringing death and lawlessness to the town, they disrupted the railways near Lowicz, killing many german servicemen, and with the help of a foreign agent, blowing up a locomotive, and stealing an entire train filled with arms, recently seized from foreign aggressors of the Third Reich.

The Führer has heard about this situation personally, and he ordered a stern response. “Liebstandarte SS Adolf Hitler” has arrived to restore order and apprehend the terrorists, and those that helped them in their nefarious enterprises. To go even further, the Führer authorised Luftflotte III,to bomb targets in and around the village, at my discretion, and I have to say Generalmajor Sperrle is itching to use his brand new Ju-88s in the field.

I understand that you, a common peace-loving citizen, may have been unable to revolt against these bandits, terrorists, foreign agents, etc. Skierniewice has been cordoned off last night by my SS troops. But, there is no need for panic. I'm willing to give all the citizens of Skierniewice a chance. I give you my word, that you will not be shot on sight if you present yourself, clearly unarmed, at one of the roadblocks. You will, however be expected to give a full account of your whereabouts and any terrorist activity that you may have seen or heard about. I will go as far as to guarantee the immediate freedom of anyone with information on the exact whereabouts of the instigators. Of particular interest is a middle-aged man in a Polish Army Uniform, he seems to carry a very distinctive rifle. The other main suspect is a foreign agent, female, young, and some kind of gymnast. Both are known to be above-average marksmen.

All I ask is for you to so be reasonable, help me, help you. Point us to the terrorists, and we will be able to strike with precision. Stay quiet, and I fear I will have to use brute force, an outcome which will lead to unnecessary, and undeserving casualties. The full force of one of the Reich's best Divisions has arrived, with the support of it's newest bombers.

To the terrorists of Skierniewice. Think about your beautiful town, the people who will be caught in the crossfire. Surrender in the face of inevitable defeat, and spare everyone a lot of pain.

You have three hours to leave town and surrender, anyone who remains in Skierniewice past this time tomorrow will be treated as a hostile combatant, terrorist, or accomplice of such.

Erich Gudowius,

SS-Gruppenführer & Generalleutnant der Waffen-SS,
Commander of 1st SS Panzergrenadier Division "Liebstandarte SS Adolf Hitler"

Very alarming news indeed. An emergency meeting was called. The Germans had trapped us before we realised what was happening. We had few reports of troop movements, and nothing indicated a whole Division was this close.

Over half of the resistance fighters were away, hiding the weapons in spread out locations across North-Western Poland, outside the perimeter so recently set up by the Waffen-SS, or on the way back. Most of the weapons were gone. We all knew we had been operating on borrowed time, that the Germans would eventually arrive in full force. In all the hustle to keep things moving as quickly as possible the question of what would be done when push eventually came to shove, was never really answered in a satisfactory manner. Now, we had only three hours to keep this town in one piece, ideally without loosing our lives.

It quickly became clear that most of the resistance fighters could probably simply dispose of their weapons and pass the test as civilians. They could all vouch for one another, and there were more than a few civilians ready to take the risk and vouch for them. As for us, especially myself, and the former second-Lieutenant, the solution was less obvious.

The most straightforward solution was to give ourselves up and pretend we did it all on our own, well us, and the people that were already dead. Or alternatively, commit suicide. This would give the Germans a scapegoat, and remove some suspicion from the rest of the village. There was one problem with this plan. I would end up in prison, and eventually, dead, and though I'm sure the second Lieutenant was ready to sacrifice himself for the survival of his village, family, and resistance movement, I just wasn't quite ready to give it all up, not for a largeish Polish village. Even if everyone kept their mouths shut, there was no way I would pass for a girl from rural Poland, I didn't have the build for farm work, but more importantly, I didn't speak any real Polish. Call me selfish, or a coward, but I just couldn't do it.

My sacrifice was also undesirable for my British superiors, especially Captain Clarke, who was threatening to cut off all aid to the resistance in Poland if they didn't do everything they could to get me back to Allied territory alive. Not that the UK was sending much over as it was, unless you consider the unorthodox delivery methods through which that one trainload had arrived. There was a promise of future aid, however, and that was enough for the resistance movement's top brass to consider alternative options.

The perimeter was scouted by volunteers for a possible stealthy way out. One man didn't come back, probably shot or captured, and the others reported no exploitable flaws. We could always break out, but the problem with that was obvious, the Luftwaffe would simply be called in to raze the entire town. Someone else suggested tunnelling, but we quickly concluded that three hours wouldn't be enough to dig a satisfactory tunnel to the outside of the perimeter.

The meeting had been going on for a good hour when we realised a crowd had formed outside the Town hall. We had all been looking for ways to preserve the lives of the key players of the resistance, and mine especially. This sentiment was not shared by many of the people of Skierniewice, who were by now starting to get really anxious. Many, though they thoroughly disliked the German occupation, liked being alive more than dying pointlessly to save me. If the resistance had to suffer a setback for the town to be saved, so be it. The crowd was getting louder, yelling that we had to give ourselves up to save the town, that the Germans wouldn't be satisfied if they didn't find me or second-lieutenant Nowakowski.

SkierniewiceMarketplace-min.jpg

Skierniewice
market square, in the centre is town hall, where the meeting was held.
Just when the crowd started getting really loud, the field radio in the far corner of the room started crackling. The radio operator, holding his had over his ear closest to the windows, started writing frantically. Then, without a word, he rose, and handed his message to the Second-Lieutenant. Nowakowski looked at it, and with an unexpected smirk on his face, he told the assembled resistance leaders that we would give ourselves up to save the town, and ourselves. He said:

Follow my lead, and trust my judgement, I cannot tell you how, but this is the least bad possible outcome.”
Then, right before he turned towards the window, his expression turned grave once again. He stepped out on the balcony, and the crowd grew quiet. Loosely translated, this is what he said:

Ladies and Gentlemen, people of Skierniewice. None of us have asked for this. We didn't want the Germans here, and they came, some of you may not have wanted us to take over from the Germans, to stir up trouble. And I don't blame you. We are now in this predicament, and it is as much our fault, as it is the German's. There is only one thing to do, and that is to negotiate a surrender.

Four of us will be giving up our, relative, freedom, and probably our lives to save this town. There is no alternative. Our actions have consequences, whether we deem them fair or not is besides the point, we must not let others suffer them in our stead.


I would like to commend our foreign guest the most, as her willingness to go into German captivity for a town she has know for little more than a week is a particularly selfless act. Without her participation, the Germans would not be content, and any surrender would be pointless. I will now get on my horse and head to the perimeter to negotiate a conditional surrender with SS-Gruppenführer Gudowius.”
There were no cheers from the crowd, only a few sighs of anticipated relief. And off he went, on his horse, armed only with a large white tablecloth. As soon as the resistance leader was out of sight, Szymon entered the room with a Gewehr 98. He motioned that the second-lieutenant's experimental rifle shouldn't fall into German hands, I handed him my P-14 with it's modern telescopic sight, keeping only my Sten Mk.I.

After what seemed like an eternity, but was only about two hours, second-lieutenant Nowakowski emerged from the perimeter. Following the lone horseman was a column of vehicles. At the front, a motorcycle and sidecar unit lead the way, immediately followed by two staff cars, both Opel Kapitän's, followed, in turn, by three Opel Blitz 3 ton Lorries. All painted in camouflage, and with Waffen-SS 'LSSAH' markings.

blitza3-min.jpg

The Opel Blitz 3ton, a very widespread military (and civilian) lorry that served in both the Wehrmacht and the Waffen-SS. In various supporting roles, and as transport for motorised and panzergrenadier units. There was also a half-track version, and many other modifications.
Near the edge of town, the lorries and the staff car halted, just long enough for 10 SS infantrymen to disembark from each of the lorries. The men now followed the motorcycle, which slowed down to walking speed. As this German platoon entered the market square unopposed, the crowd retreated to give the newcomers space in front of the town hall. The second-lieutenant dismounted and tied his horse to a tree. Three people had remained in what used to be the Mayor's office, on the first floor of the town hall. I didn't know the other two men personally, but I did remember their faces from the attack on the train.

All had now come to a head. Outside, the SS Infantrymen, outnumbered by the fearful crowd, were standing at attention, forming a line, about 5 meters from the town hall. The first staff car, with fancy swastika flags mounted on the fenders came to a halt right in front the entrance. An SS-Scharführer stepped out on the passenger side with a long leather coat on one arm, and walked around the car to open the rear driver-side door with his other hand. As the rear door was opened, the driver stepped out and stood at attention. An SS-Brigadeführer (Brigadier General) made his way out, and smoothly slipped into his signature leather coat, now held up by the Scharführer.

Second-lieutenant Nowakowski joined the Brigadeführer, and followed by the Shärführer and five SS riflemen, they walked towards the door. We heard their heavy boots on the wooden stairs, and then the door swung open. The second-lieutenant looked resigned and beaten down, though not beat-up, as he walked to the table to grab 'his' gewehr 98, picked it up with both hands, and in total silence, ceremoniously presented it to the SS-Brigadeführer.

As I looked at this surreal scene, my mind started to wonder. That man, surrendering to his enemies, had saved my life, it served his interests, but that doesn't change that. His family cared for me, he was polite, but he was also stubborn. This was not a quitter, I felt helpless at having placed my life in his hands, I was hopeful that he had a plan... something totally unexpected... that I would not die in captivity.

My daydreaming was cut short when Nowakowski asked me to hand the Sten-gun to the SS-Scharführer to officially surrender to the SS. As I got close to the Sten-gun only one though went through my head. I could grab it, and have a good chance of mowing down all the Germans in the room and come out alive, especially, if the two second-lieutenant's lieutenants followed my lead. As I placed my hand on the sten-gun, I looked at Nowakowski, all I needed was a sign, a nod, to go for it. But all I got was a small and resigned shake of the head, accompanied by his eyes, begging me not to do it.


So, I went against all of my instincts, put on a charming smile, and strolled over to the SS-Scharführer, all the while giving my full attention to the SS-Brigadeführer. The man, in his sixties didn't fit the image I had of SS officers, he seemed positively aristocratic in his demeanour, and in the impeccable way his uniform fit him. I broke eye-contact to hand my gun over, and then I placed myself in front of the Brigadeführer. I curtsied slightly, and whipped out my best german greeting, with a thick French accent, of course:

Ich bin sehr erfreut... sie kennenzulernen... herr Brigadegeneral”
He wasn't expecting this... His aristocratic reflexes kicked in... He snapped his heels together, and softly lifted my right hand with his.

Generalmajor der Waffen-SS, Gustav Adolf von Wulffen. Enchanté de faire votre connaissance mademoiselle... ?" His French was a lot better than my German.

"Madeleine" (I wasn't about to give him my real name, cover name, or cover cover name...)
then he gave me the customary hand-kiss. Both the Germans and the Poles in the room were taken aback by what was happening. I can only imagine what was going through their heads. Unperturbed, Von Wulffen continued with.

"Je vous prie de m'excuser pendant que je réceptionne les armes de vos deux charmants collègues"
(Please excuse me while I accept your charming colleagues' weapons. 'charming' being said with the slightest hint of sarcasm)
The two Poles, one a farmer, the other a local merchant, could only grunt in disapproval as they handed in their weapons to the Scharführer.
Generalmajor von Wulffen - The fact that he had used Generalmajor instead of Brigadeführer suggests that he's an army man, used to the heer's command structure, indicating that he was an army man before joining the NSDAP and the SS, though his very presence within LSSAH indicated that he must also be a hardcore National-Socialist.


Brigadeführer von Wulffen now positionned himself in front of me, and presented his hand. I gave him mine, and he gracefully escorted me down the stairs, while the SS riflemen did the same with the others. When I say they did the same, I mean they escorted them, at gunpoint. The men were lead into one of the lorries, while Adolf von Wulffen personally opened the rear door of his staff car. His Schârführer moved to the second staff car. Some in the crowd were whispering that I had sold them out, and I don't blame them. The Brigadeführer treating me like a high-society date certainly wasn't helping perception.

OpelAdmiral-min.jpg

The Opel Kapitän, quite a common staff car in the German armed services, though many Generals preferred the larger Admiral or more luxurious brands, it was a fine automobile.
After ten minutes of driving through the countryside, occasionally passing saluting waffen-SS at a series of checkpoints, we made a sharp turn to the right, passing through a cast iron gate, and onto a gravel driveweway. We came to a halt, with the car sliding ever so slightly on the gravel, we had stopped next to some kind of fancy stone building. As a wellbehaved woman of my apparent stature, I waited for herr Brigadegeneral to do the gentlemanly thing and open my door. Once he did, I could take in the magnitude of the place. It was a large aristocratic palace, it had a sculpted pediment at the centre of the facade, a roof of which I couldn't properly assess the magnitude from below. The whole thing was flanked by two square towers topped by zinc-covered cuppolas, with spires... A swasitka flag hanging from the balcony directly above the door did somewhat tarnish the look of the facade.

NieborowskiPalaceWinter-min.jpg

Nieborów Palace, one of the nicest aristocratic residences in Poland. The current building was built by Tylman van Gameren, a dutch-born architect, in the 17th century. The style is resolutely Baroque. The outside remains somewhat modest (for Baroque), but the interior is very clearly so.
From the corner of my eye, I noted that the lorries had stopped next to a less massive building to my right, probably the stables, or some sort of outhouse. Before I had time to really take it all in, I was lead inside by my escort. Despite this very gentle treatement, I remained painfully aware of my situation as two Waffen-SS with MP-40s were following my every move a few paces behind. The vestibule had copies of roman sculptures, and an impressive lamp. Then, we went up the stairs, a circular staircase covered in beautiful dutch ceramic tiles. The walls were lined with paintings, presumeably of Polish aristocrats and kings of another time.

Finally, I was lead into a room that was almost offensively red, I was told to wait there, and noted that both Waffen-SS with their MP-40s were posted right outside the door. The room's style reminded me of some of the rooms in the last French royal palaces, the red wallpaper had a floral motif, and the furniture was definitely french in design, it also carried over the design of the wallpaper, as did the drapes, this feels quite tacky more than a century later. I looked out of the window for a way out, only to note numerous armed sentries goosestepping about, tall walls around the garden, and even a few machine-gun nests covering likely points of entry or exit. I'd have to wait for a better opportunity. Making the most of it, I sat down on the surprisingly comfortable large red sofa.

Polska_Nieborów_RedSalon-min.jpg

The Red Salon, decorated in the 18th century in Rococco style, by Polish architect Michal Kazimierz Oginski. Just look at he furniture and the wallpaper...
Some time later, I may or may not have dozed off, there was a knock on the door, I quickly straightened myself out, and then both doors were opened simultaneously by the guards. SS-Brigadeführer von Wulffen had returned, flanked by his SS-Scharführer on his left side, and an SS-Gruppenführer on his right.

"Mademoiselle Madeleine, may I introduce SS-Gruppenführer, generalleutnant Erich Gudowius"
The Gruppenführer was dressed in his black dress uniform, in contrast to the two other officers who were dressed in their Grey field uniforms. I noticed quickly that he was wearing his 'Pour le Mérite' around his neck, the blue and gold contrasting with the black and silver of his dress uniform. Gudowius' French, and his manners, were just as good as that of von Wulffen, and he promptly aswered, snapping his heels, and with a small bow taking hold of my hand for the customary baisemain:

« A pleasure to meat you mademoiselle. » (French)
I responded with a curtsy, but before I could say anything, the Generalleutnant continued.

Would mademoiselle like a drink? Some tea, juice, water, lemonade perhaps?” (French)

I'd gladly take some lemonade, thank you very much.” (French)

Scharführer, you heard the lady. Bring the lemonade, and two glasses. Oh... and some cookies too.” (German)
The SS-shärführer, who clearly didn't understand French, snapped his heels and raised his right arm in the typical nazi salute before going to fetch the lemonade.

You may leave now herr Generalmajor, I'll take it from here.” (German)
The man left with the same customary salute and closed the door behind him.

Welcome to Nieborów Palace mademoiselle Madeleine. Built and transformed over centuries to suit the lavish lifestyles of local archbishops and aristocrats, it's the perfect place for a stylish and comfortable HQ. I'm actually sad that I won't be able to spend more time here, I'm sure my duty will call me away as soon as Skierniewice is firmly in our control once more. Now, to the subject at hand. You.” (French)
Before he could go on, there was a knock on the door.

Enter” (German)
It was the SS-Scharführer, with the Lemonade, and a platter of biscuits and pastries. As he walked past the SS-Gruppenführer, they exchanged a few whispered words in German, he then left following the customary salute.

So please, tell me all about yourself, where were you born, etc. I'm especially interested in where a lovely lady, as you undoubtedly are, learned to shoot and fight like that. The few survivors of that train raid had nothing but amazement at your fighting prowess and mercilessness. Of course I would have preferred for all of those soldiers to remain alive, and the weapons to remain in our possession. Where are the weapons? I hear that only a small portion was accounted for. I'd really like some answers, and I won't be the last to ask you these questions. So please, drink some lemonade, and start from the beginning,” (French)
My response may have been the best tale I've ever spun, even though I say so myself.
I started by being honest, as a French woman, I didn't like German occupation, I told him, I went into exile in Greece, staying at the Athens vacation home of my fiancé, some young French Baron. Then, the war caught up with me, my fiancé killed by Italian bombs, and I wanted to do something. It was all over though, and I was allowed to stay in the house, as a widow, as long as I kept a few beds ready for Italian Officers. Then, there was the British invasion, I thought it was my rescue (at this point I was playing the selfish french aristocrat to perfection). But, the Royal Marines were overrun, killed, or captured, and there were no ships to leave for allied territory. A few of the Marines had gotten to know me during their short stay there, and one of them had gone into hiding, trying to build up a small resistance organisation, ready to pounce in case another invasion attempt was made. I got quite a soft spot for this (ficticious) Royal Marines officer, and let him convince me to sneak into the railway station to try and find those captured weapons. You should know that I'm a very good gymnast, and that I've done quite a bit of hunting in my time. I soon found out I was a natural at sneaking around, and managed to find the train. Then I got trapped, and from then on the story was pretty much the truth...

That was the first in a series of very friendly interrogations, conducted over my (compulsory) stay in the palace, in which I revealed nothing that could really help the Germans, but still told them plenty of half-truths and falsehoods that seemed like they could be important. Looking back, it was all a fun game, he tried to trip me up, I kept telling the same made-up story, adding useless details every day, increasing the chances of me tripping up, but also making the story feel more like the truth.

This went on for a week or so, until one day, the door flew open in the middle of a conversation I was having with Gudowius over a very nice dinner. We were talking about horse-riding. It was Brigadeführer von Wulffen, he was out of breath as he had clearly sprinted over to the Red Salon. He stood there panting, and said:

Herr Gruppenführer,... Reichsführer Himmler... on the telephone.” (German)
Gudowius turned to me and excused himself, before running off not to leave the Reichsführer waiting.

While they were somewhere answering the telephone, I heard several vehicles arrive on the far side of the mansion.

When SS-Gruppenführer Gudowius returned, he was closely followed by a man in a suit with a long leather coat over it, and a small swastika pin on the lapel, followed by two men in grey SS field uniforms. These two were different, they only carried pistols on their hips, and they wore different right shoulder-patches. They had to be ordnungspolizei, Gestapo, or SD, not Waffen-SS. Before the man in civilian clothing could say anything, Gudowius said, with a look of both pride and compassion on his face:


I'm afraid it is here and now that our paths diverge, I'm afraid that whatever happens to you now is out of my hands. This nice gentleman is from the Gestapo headquarters in Warszawa, he will take care of you now. Adieu mademoiselle, it was truly a pleasure.”
He snapped his heels together with a sharp bow, and left the room. The Gestapo man walked over to me, grabbed my arm without warning, painfully twisted me around, and personally put the cuffs on me. I was walked over to the oher building where I thought the others were kept. On our way there, we passed two massive black mercedes-benz automobiles, drivers at the ready, parked right outside the palace.

Inside were the stables. Long deprived of their horses, they had been converted into a makeshift prison cells. I became really worried when I noted that ordnungspolizei and Gestapo personnel was replacing the Waffen-SS grunts manning the prison. The prisonners had been handed over entirely, into the custody of the Gestapo. This could only be bad.

It wasn't bad, it was worse than I could have ever imagined. They did things to me in there that I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy, it was hell on earth. But I didn't talk, well, I did, but I didn't tell them anything that wasn't already in the Gruppenführer's file. Something that only enraged my interrogators further. Their leader, a somewhat rotund man, was always there in his long leather coat, looking, with a smirk on his face, never getting his own hands dirty. I couldn't tell if it was night or day, I have no idea how long I was there, it was all a blur, but at some point, we were dragged from our cells in the middle of the night, and thrown in the back of the pair of Mercedes-Benzes. This was the first time I had seen the others, in some time, one man, I believe he was the merchant wasn't there, I can only assume he died during the interrogation, one way or another. Was this the Second-Lieutenant's plan, getting tortured until we die, or worse, talk?

The two Mercedes 260D limousines, quickly took off down the driveway, following a pair of motorcycles. I was in the car in front, and the two others in the other car. The pistol the Gestapo-man to my right was stabbing my side with, and the low speed vibrations from the massive Diesel engine, made the ride quite tense regardless of the excellent quality of both the upholstery and the suspension. Once we hit the road and gathered some speed, the vibrations disappeared, which only made me focus more on the cold steel poking my side, and of that around my wrists.

merc260DW138-min.jpg

The Mercedes-Benz W138 260D, a particular favourite of the Gestapo, it was also the first production car with a Diesel engine. It sported a reliable and economical (for the time and size of the car) 2,6 liter 6-cylinder Diesel Engine that could propel it to a top speed of 95 km/h. The larger variants weighed up to 1.700 kg empty, so they weren't especially light.
After 10 minutes on the road, we went around a wide turn to the right, and there was a sudden loud bang as the first motorcycle ahead lost all control, the second had to swerve, and it with its rider found its way into the ditch. There was nowhere to go for the massive, lumbering, Mercedes-Benzes, the brakes could never stop them in time to avoid whatever had caused the sudden loss of control. An attempt was made, and the, admittedly quite skilled, drivers managed to keep the limousines on the road, only just, as the tires were torn to shreds by what must have been a whole lot of spikes.

The SS-policemen, the ones not stabbing guns into our sides, started getting out of the cars MP40s and Lugers at the ready. As they got out looking for threats, an SS lorry caught up to us. It stopped about 20m short of the spikes, and just as the passenger opened his door, a machine-gun came bursting to life somewhere to the left of us. I recognised the sound and firing rate from the fighting in Athens, this was a British-made machine gun, a vickers machine gun, a .303 calibre to be exact. It was the sound of hope, the sound of freedom, the sound of dead germans.


The Vickers was devastating, killing most of the Opel Blitz's occupants through the canopy. A few managed to escape the hail of bullets and crawl out of the lorry, only to find that there was no cover around, save for a hedge about thirty meters from the road, probably where the machine gun was hidden. One man managed to hide behind the lorry, but soon it was leaking fuel, and he tried to get over to the Mercedes, which weren't being targeted by the Vickers. I was now starting to wonder whether this was a rescue operation, or a crude but effective ambush, I just had to hope it was the first.

The Gestapo-leader, a somewhat rotund man, was crouched behind the front fender of the car I was in. He saw the writing on the wall, his luger was pulled, and he was barking orders I couldn't quite make out. Then, the lorry caught fire, and the Machine gun fell quiet. Was this it? The Gestapo didn't think so.

While two men were frantically swapping out wheels and tires to try and make one of the cars drivable, I was pulled out of the car. I, and the other two prisoners were made to stand up in a line, in between the machine gun and the car. Typical of the Gestapo to use us to try and save their skin, but it was not to be. The Gestapo-leader - he still hadn't revealed his name or rank to any of us, his men simply referring to him as boss – started yelling towards the machine-gun in Polish. From what I understand, he said:

Not one more move or I kill them all. Don't think I won't do it. If you know what's good for you, you run now. There will be hell to pay for this! Terrorists! Bandits! Slavic scum! …”
All three of us were having a hard time remaining upright, and I felt like I couldn't stand another minute. Then, there was a soft thud, and the full weight of the 'boss' dropped to the ground. I didn't see exactly what happened, as we were pointed the wrong way, looking at where the machine-gun was located. But it was fair to say that someone probably killed the man mid-sentence. Now, the remaining SS and Gestapo men, 6 people in total, were fully panicking. A gun went off right beside me, and I noticed Second-Lieutenant Nowakowski was down. The rest was just a blur, it was terrible, but it was also the perfect distraction. I bundled up all my rage, let myself fall on the ground before the Gestapo-officer pointing his gun at my head could react, and as he realised what had happened, he was felled by rifle-fire, I kicked him in the face to make sure he was dead. The desperate, possibly accidental, shooting of Nowakowski had entirely ruined any semblance of cooperation between the Germans, with an SS Officer yelling at the man who had shot the second Lieutenant that he would kill him if they ever got out of this. A doubtful proposition. I would later find out that there were 'only' 5 people attacking here, but the trap had worked perfectly, the remaining Germans fell one after the other.

A passable marksman was located near the Machine-gun. Some 50-odd meters from the site of the crash, he had probably taken out the man 'guarding' me. A pair of teenagers charged firing Sten-guns. The driver of one of the motorcycles hit one of them in shoulder, but it was too little too late. In a matter of seconds, all the Germans present were neutralised.

Somewhat worried about the fate of the remaining resistance leader, who had been standing on my left before the latest escalation, I looked to the side, only to note that he had dropped to the ground. He must have followed my lead, but his guard had been more focused, and he had a grazing wound on the side of his neck.

There was no time to go over what had just happened, or to grieve over the passing of the late second-Lieutenant Marek Nowakowski. A bearded man in his fifties walked over from the machine-gun position with an SMLE Mk.III, it seemed lilke he was in charge. As he came up to me, he motioned to the motorcycle that had simply run off the road. It had survived the firefight, and looked in good shape.


We need to get you out of here, and out of Western Poland, as quickly as possible. They will be out knocking on everyone's door come morning, we can't afford to hide you, and there is no way you can pass for a Polish peasant by the morning. Can you ride that?”
I answered:

I sure am willing to try.”
Two men were already putting great effort into dragging the motorcycle out of the ditch, and soon the others were helping out. Once it was out of the ditch, it became clear that this was a BMW R12 motorcycle, quite fast, and with very good suspension. This one had two carburetors, putting maximum power output at 20 hp, and top speed at 120 km/h, most cars couldn't keep up with that, just what I needed... Though it did scare me a little bit, the lust for revenge and the fear of what would happen if I got caught again made me both frightful and angry. I found that there was still life left in me.

BMWR12Wehrmacht-min.jpg

The BMW R12, a reliable and relatively fast motorcycle. One of the innovations it introduced in 1935 was the hydraulically damped telescopic fork, now ubiquitous on motorcycles. The R12, and the relatively similar R17 were produced in great numbers for the German armed forces, many examples were also fitted with sidecars. (the military R17s all had sidecars)
From the two dead motorcyclists, we scraped together a full outfit that somewhat fit me. It was a relief that one of them was rather small, and that the other had a small head. I still put on the uniform, over my clothes, plus a woolen sweater the bearded man took off. This made me seem bigger than I was, and would keep me warm through the night. I hid my hair in the helmet, pulled-on the leather coat, hung an MP-40 across my chest, and I was ready to go. But where? The bearded man walked up to me as I straddled the motorcycle, to point me in the right direction.

Go north, just keep driving until you reach the Baltic, then make your way to Gdansk, the Germans call it 'Danzig'. Once you get to the port, dump everything in the canal, the motorcycle, the leather coat, the helmet, and the MP-40. Find a fishing ship called 'Tote Weichsel', and ask to speak with Hans. Speak with him only in German, try to use a Polish accent too. Tell him your name is Helene, German pronunciation, not 'Hélène'. 'Hans' will know what to do.

There are some German rations in the box behind you, as well as a map and compass. Don't stop for anyone, shoot anyone that's in your way. If you're lucky, you should be able to get there while it's still dark. We will all pray for you. Go now.
Before I could say goodbye or change my mind I heard the distant roar of several lorries coming down the road behind me. As I gathered speed, I heard the Vickers Machine-gun firing away over the roar of the engine, probably covering the retreat of the wounded. The saddle was surprisingly comfortable, and the power was smooth and manageable on the now dry roads. It seemed like an eternity had passed. When I had arrived at the Palace, there had been snow on the ground, and now the ground was dry, and while it was cold, it wasn't freezing.

I was making good time, averaging about 90 km/h in the dark. The roads were mostly empty, save for the occasional patrol. I really wanted to shoot them, but as they just saluted me, thinking I was just one of them, I took the safer option of reciprocating their salutes and pulling away without getting too close. I encountered my first problem more than an hour into the ride. I needed to cross the Vistula, there weren't too many bridges, the logical place to cross was in Wroclawek. There was a checkpoint at either side of the long steel Bridge. The question was whether they would let me through without questions.

I decided to risk it. My motorbike had special Gestapo tags after all, and I surely looked the part. I opened up the motorcycle, doubtlessly waking up the entire town, and went straight for the bridge.

The first checkpoint was taken by surprise, as i approached, only one of the five men on duty noticed me, the four others seemed to be playing cards. I saluted as I approached him while keeping my speed around 60 km/h. I grabbed the Luger on my hip, he yelled 'HALT', he started to lift his weapon, but I wasn't slowing down, and he wasn't fast enough. I shot him in the chest at short range as I slipped around the barrier.

wloclawek_Bridge-min.jpg

The bridge over the Vistula/Wisla/Weichsel at Wloclawek. An impressive feat of engineering. Historically it was blown up during the initial invasion of Poland, but for the story's sake, we'll assume that it wasn't sabotaged in ATL.
I sped up and soon I had reached the middle of the 1 km long bridge. Speed was my friend right now, I had no cover. The second checkpoint still wasn't aware of what was going on, and at full speed, it took me barely more than half a minute to cross the bridge. As I got closer to the second checkpoint I heard a shot coming from behind, a rifleman at the first checkpoint was taking potshots at me, but a moving target at over 500m was a very unlikely shot for an expert marksman, let alone for the average wehrmacht rifleman. This, and the roar of my bmw woke up the men at the second checkpoint. However, when they saw the uniform, they hesitated and to my surprise didn't start firing their MG-34 at me. This time, I slowed down all the way to a halt.

The commander, a gefreiter asked me for my papers, I gave him the ones that were in the leather coat's inside pocket without uttering a word. The two machinegunners were peering at the other end of the bridge, where the commotion was. They didn't realise the cause of the commotion had already arrived at their checkpoint. The Gefreiter went to his little hut where, presumeably there was a radio and/or a telephone. This left me with only a single rifleman actually paying attention to what I was doing.

A motorcycle engine sprang to life at the first checkpoint, and this, while it could become trouble for me later, distracted the man guarding me. I shot him in the head, and immediately turned towards the machinegunners to my left, and before the had the chance to grab their sidearms or turn the MG-34 my way, I sprayed them with a burst from the MP-40. Quickly, I turned again towards the hut only to see the gefreiter running out with his radio operator in tow, weapon in hand. Another burst dealt with them.

There was a motorcycle coming for me across the bridge, it was closing in quickly, but not fast enough, it was a long bridge. With my adrenaline pumping, I got to the MG-34. Needless to say, a hail of bullets dealt with the motorcycle. I lifted the barrier, drove my bmw up to the hut, and inside I found some decent food, bratwurst, coleslaw, potatoes, and bread. After eating as much as I could in five minutes, I heard ruckus coming from the other side of the Bridge, there must have been more Germans in the village, and I had definitely woken them up.

I increased my speed, and as I got closer to the Baltic and into East-Prussian territory, the roads got better, and the patrols sparser. Allowing me to maintain even higher speeds now. After another hour and a half, I could see Gdansk, I was riding along the Dead Vistuala (the branch that goes into Gdansk and connects it with the Baltic), and it's here that things became hairy. I noticed an large unmarked black car on the side of the road with a spotlight. Immediately I thought of the Gestapo or the Abwehr. As I got closer, I saw a two men crouched behind the bonnet of their car, MP-40s aimed at the road. I sped up, and as I passed them the bullets started flying. I hunkered down presenting the smallest target possible, and I'm glad to say that the missed, one bullet ricochetet off my German helmet, and another had torn a hole in the leather coat, though it had gone through it, missing my slender figure. Quickly, the situation turned into a high speed chase, two motorcyclists had been waiting at the next junction. It was all getting very hairy.

After a few minutes of hot pursuit, I flew around a corner, and finally saw the fishing harbour, on the other side of the Dead Vistula. I could see that the only bridge closeby had been turned into a death-trap, so I did the logical thing, I slowed down a little, pretended to loose control just as motorcyclist behind me came out of the turn and took a couple of potshots with his luger, and drove straight into the dead Vistula.

The water was cold, and I had to force myself to keep moving to stay alive. Luckily I'm a decent swimmer, and even in these terrible conditions, I managed to take off the uniform in the water, and get across to the other side without drowning, where it took all my strength to crawl into a small sloop. Peeking over to where I had gone off the road, I saw one of the Gestapo men empty his MP-40 into the river, aiming at where the leather coat was floating. He shrugged, and looked at now at least 20 men who had been part of the chase in one way or another, they were smugly looking down into the river, satisfied of their 'victory'.

The woolen sweater probably saved my life, it helped me retain body heat, and warm up somewhat in the small open boat. I must have dozed off, but when I woke up, fishermen and their wives were carrying hampers filled with fresh fish to and fro. The sun had barely risen, and a lot of small fishing vessels were coming in with their catches. There was a lot of activity, and few on duty soldiers. I had come to the right place, now I just had to find the boat named after the river... 'Tote Weichsel'. I tried to blend in with the crowd, making my way through the market, looking at the fish, but mostly at the names of the boats that brought them in...

DanzigFishMarket-min.jpg

The fish market in Gdansk. Picture from the late 1930s, no exact date.
After what seemed like an eternity, but really must have been little more than an hour, I found the boat I was looking for. It was quite modern, from what I could tell it was diesel-powered, while many of the other ships around had to make do with sails, and small steam engines. A man was busy moving fish out of the hold with a basket. I introduced myself:

"Guten Tag. Meine name ist Helene. Bist du Hans?"
Slightly surprised at first, he quickly pulled himself together and showed me where to go. He told me to stay in the tiny cabin, and gave me a cup of coffee, and some breakfast, while he went to sell his fish. No one ever looked twice at the small ship while Hans was gone, and I dozed off once more. I didn't sleep well though, the cabin was too cramped.

When Hans returned I jumped up from my slumber. Without saying a word, he brought the engines to life, and we powered through the Danzig Canal, and then continued our way towards the Baltic on the dead Vistula at a leisurely pace. Once we had left Danzig Bay behind, I noticed that we were the only ship within sight. I guess this wasn't where the fishers of Gdansk would usually come to catch their fish, it was also raining...

FV-Frank-FN282-dual-fuel-min.jpg

The 'Tote Weichsel', a modern diesel-powered fishing vessel. (picture is actually a contemporary Danish vessel)
Suddenly, we stopped alltogether and about fifteen minutes later, a Belgian freighter appeared on the horizon. I thought Belgium didn't exist anymore, I guess I was wrong. This was all very strange. The freighter got closer, and I could soon read the name on it's side "S C H E L D E". It's home port was "Antwerpen". Hans got very busy getting his boat going, and when the ore ship reached us, we almost matched their speed. A rope was thrown at us by an african man, and Hans caught it, and he tied it to our boat. Gradually, the two ships were drawn closer together, and once contact was made, a net was dropped from the much higher deck of the 'Schelde'. I climbed it, hoping that this wasn't some elaborate trap.

Once I got on board, drenched and tired, Hans quickly untied his boat and steamed away. I noticed that most of the crew of the 'Schelde' was african, though the captain and his first mate were white, both of them also had a suntan, and scarring from recent sunburn, somewhat strange for this time of year. The captain came out onto the deck to help me to the bridge, he was clean shaven, well-dressed under his big raincoat, and bespectacled, not exactly what I had come to expect from a captain. From the moment he opened his mouth, I knew he was Belgian, he also, somehow, knew that I could speak French.

"Welcome on board the 'Schelde', we are currently loaded to the brim with copper ore and rubber to be delivered to Karlskrona, Sweden, we started off in the port of Boma, in Belgian Congo . I'm Captain Ernest Janssens, but you can call me Ernest. And quite how this came about is a mistery, but the Kriegsmarine allows ships carrying rare materials from Congo to Karlskrona through the Kiel Canal. I also have a sidesjob smuggling things into Sweden for British intelligence services, though I have never smuggled people. You know, the Kriegsmarine tends to board my ship before it goes through the Kiel canal, and they bring SS with dogs. I can hide most things from them, but people... Don't worry, you are safe, they already searched my ship, and we'll soon enter Swedish waters. We'll be in Karlskrona tomorrow-morning. You look tired, you should get some sleep, Henri will show you to your cabin."
Henri was a tall and thin congolese man with a freindly smile, and he showed me to a small cabin deep down below the bridge. I soon fell asleep.

I only woke up at the sound of the ship's horn, announcing it's entry into the harbour of
Karlskrona. I quickly got dredssed and ready to leave. I said goodbye and thank you to Ernest, and simply walked off the ship. It seems the customs officers didn't care about my presence, they must have been paid off, or recruited by British Intelligence. A young man in a tweed suit was waiting for me, he had been leaning on the bonnet a SS Jaguar 100 with diplomatic plates, and when he saw me, he strolled towards me with a significant surplus of swagger.

"Hi, you must be Yvonne, nice to meet you. I'm Richard, cultural attaché to the British Embassy in Stockholm."
He then came uncomfortably close and whispered. "I'm actually a bit of a spy, and dare I say, you look absolutely lovely."
I had to stop myself from punching him, but instead decided to give him a polite chuckle. Not that long ago, I might have found this sort of tomfoolery amusing, or even attractive, but as I was realising, war had changed me. He took a step back, and said, pointing to the Jaguar. (probably the least sensible car choice for driving in Sweden in the winter. A convertible, with lots of power to the rear wheels, luckily there was no snow in
Karlskrona.)

"Come on, hop in fair maiden, I'll take you to papa Clarke, he's waiting for you in Stockholm."
He was fully expcting me to get in on the passenger side, but I walked past him and got in the driver's seat, you had to see the look on his face. Now, you might say that it was bad manners to not let the man drive his own automobile, but you should weigh this against the fact that he would surely try to show off his 'driving skills' and quite possibly get both of us killed. I wasn't about to die in a accident now, especially one that was caused by Richard. Speaking of Richard, he was searching for words, and before he could protest, I said, with a disarming smile:

"I'd like to drive, you don't mind, do you?"

1938-SS-100-Jaguar-3-5-Litros-Roadster-min.jpg

The Jaguar SS 100 3.5 litre was a very fast car for it's time. It's straight-six engine, paired with a four-speed transmission, put out 125 horsepower, combined with the light and sleek body, (dry weight: 1,100kg) this gave it a top speed of 100 mph, or about 160 km/h. 0-60 mph was about 10,4 seconds. It cost 445 pounds new in 1938. (for perspective, the average yearly salary in London in 1938 was about 162 pounds). Only 116 were built with the 3.5, and another 198 were sold with a 2.5 litre engine. Today good examples can fetch up to a million dollars.
Faced with a fait accompli, he simply handed me the keys and his driving gloves. I drove the first part of the trip. Swiftly, but not dangerously, staying well within the limits of the car, and the road. Still, with such a capable car, we made good time. After slightly less than three hours of driving in total silence, we had covered the 300km to Linköping, an average of over 100 km/h, on twisty, but pretty empty, country roads was not to be shrugged at. In Linköping, we stopped for an early lunch. Richard was now keeping a more respectful distance from me, he had been rendered much quieter by my driving, in his eyes was a look of disbelief, maybe he couldn't believe that a woman was capable of driving smoothly and quickly for hours on end. To be honest, I was glad that I had chosen to drive, it had allowed me to empty my mind and concentrate on the road ahead, to let go, for a while, of the anger, and pain that was now part of me.

After our silent lunch, I gave him back his keys. Richard was grateful to be getting his keys back, but there would be no further opportunities to show off. Despite putting chains on the car for traction, the going to Stockholm was slow. It took 5 whole hours to cover then next 200km or so. Luckily it wasn't snowing, and Richard kept a thick fur blanket in the car, or the trip might have been simply impossible. The car started slipping several times, and each time I cursed Richard for taking this car.

When I got to the embassy, Captain Clarke was there to congratulate me, and debrief me. Finally I was safe, back in a British embassy. I was always a thrillseeker, but now the lust for adventure had been replaced by something darker, a lust for blood, for revenge. As soon as I was back in shape, I told Clarke, I had to go back in, specifically to kill Germans, ideally to kill Gestapo and SS personnel. I saw that Clarke himself was taken aback by the way I was saying these things, and he simply dismissed me without giving me an answer.

In those stables, the Gestapo have made this war very personal to me. I don't think anyone could stop me from going back for blood now.

And with that, I put the last words to my report. I hope you like it's packaging.

I miss you, I miss Vologda, hope to see you again sometime,

'Odinatsat'
I don't think there is very much I can add here. Except for wishing her a good recovery, and many nazi scalps.

Greetings,

'Odin'
I had written some text about Erich Gudowius and Anton von Wulffen, but seem to have inadvertently deleted it. So here is a summary:
Erich Gudowius was a career soldier, he remained in the army during the Weimar-republic. He helped foil a military coup that was a response to the Franco-Belgian occupation of the Rhineland. In ww2, he was Deputy Chief of Military History for the Wehrmacht, needless to say, he didn't see much combat. He was quite old already and stopping a far-right coup wasn't likely to have put him in the best of graces with the Nazis. How he got to commanding 1st SS PzgrD LSSAH ATL is a mystery.
von Wulffen was the son of a Prussian Generalleutnant of noble blood, and also a die-hard Nazi. He joined the party early-on and long before Hitler came to power, he held high positions within its hierarchy. (He was SS-Brigadeführer in the SS before the Waffen-SS was a thing and knew all of the original higher-ups, including Hess and Adolf, personally) He also had many commendations from his command abilities in ww1. In 1939, he was re-enlisted in the Wehrmacht, where he soon got the rank of Generalmajor. For most of the war, he commanded the Garrison in Potsdam, which is where he died in combat in early 1945. Why he didn't get a position in the Waffen-SS is unclear, was there a falling out? Or maybe it was his own choice, and he preferred to stay safe far behind the lines. In any case, he seems a perfectly plausible pick, especially for Gudowius, who just feels like an old guard general who would appreciate the heritage and experience of von Wulffen.
The Convoy between Boma and Karlskrona is real in-game, (I temporarily tagged to Sweden). Somehow Sweden is importing rare materials from Belgian Congo (RDC today), so I decided to have some fun with that.

 
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roverS3

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Bonus Material. A map from the period showing the area around Skierniewice with the important elements of the story marked in red.
MapSkierniewiceNieborow-min.jpg

Don't forget to vote for your favourite AARs in The 2018 Yearly AARland Year-end AwAARds, voting ends on the 11th of February
 
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nuclearslurpee

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I was wondering what had happened to everyone's favorite GRU agent. Fantastic update all around!

Somehow Sweden is importing rare materials from Belgian Congo

As for the "somehow", I believe that in HoI3 the nation receiving the goods in trade supplies the convoys, so this would be (in game terms) a Swedish convoy rather than Belgian. Of course, in this case the Swedish ship was obviously well-disguised as Belgian to avoid any problems with the British blockades, so it all makes perfect sense! :p
 

Finshades

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Excellent update! I wonder if her newfound hate of Germans, particularly Gestapo, will make 11 more reckless. I wonder if that's even possible. If only the game supported assassination of key persons, she could do some real damage with that deadly aim of hers.

Nuclearslurpee is, naturally, right. The game treats that as a Swedish convoy, although I recall the mechanics are a bit more complicated, and I think tie into which party supplies the ships (I remember receiving offers where the offering AI nation would do it, and ones where the AI demanded that I would, though I never found out how to actually send an AI an offer demanding it handle the menial logistics of convoys since that's all it's good for). I think that in game, Kiel is treated much as the Bosporus is, with neutral parties receiving full passage rights, unlikely as that sounds.
 

roverS3

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I was wondering what had happened to everyone's favorite GRU agent.
It was a long time coming, and the writing took even more time than expected once the framework was in place. I really enjoyed writing her way out of some serious pickles.
Now that she's in Sweden, I will go back to more thinly disguised gameplay updates and reports now, but, sooner or later, 11 will return.

I wonder if her newfound hate of Germans, particularly Gestapo, will make 11 more reckless. I wonder if that's even possible. If only the game supported assassination of key persons, she could do some real damage with that deadly aim of hers.
HOI2 had an assassination mechanic but from my limited experience, it would rarely be successful when fired. Of course, there are many OTL characters who are not represented in-game, the Gestapo isn't represented at all really, so there is plenty of potential if we go that route.

As for the "somehow", I believe that in HoI3 the nation receiving the goods in trade supplies the convoys, so this would be (in game terms) a Swedish convoy rather than Belgian. Of course, in this case the Swedish ship was obviously well-disguised as Belgian to avoid any problems with the British blockades, so it all makes perfect sense! :p
Nuclearslurpee is, naturally, right. The game treats that as a Swedish convoy, although I recall the mechanics are a bit more complicated, and I think tie into which party supplies the ships (I remember receiving offers where the offering AI nation would do it, and ones where the AI demanded that I would, though I never found out how to actually send an AI an offer demanding it handle the menial logistics of convoys since that's all it's good for). I think that in game, Kiel is treated much as the Bosporus is, with neutral parties receiving full passage rights, unlikely as that sounds.
I realize that they might possibly be Swedish convoys... but still, why would Germany realistically allow this to happen? Sweden is literally cut off from the world, on one side by German-controlled Denmark and Norway, on the other by the Finnish Soviet and the Soviet Union. There is no way they could do any trade without going through Germany or the Soviet Union. Of course, being neutral they would probably be allowed to trade with other neutral nations, but Belgium, and the USA? (Yes, they also trade with the US out of Malmö). @nuclearslurpee I think there is a lot of meddling with flags involved for those ships to safely conduct their journeys... Sometimes I wonder if some HOI3 game mechanics weren't designed for comedic purposes...
 
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Finshades

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They wouldn't allow it, realistically. I believe this whole issue stems from the fact that every trade route needs an "owner" whose access rights are applied, and since convoys are a resource it makes sense to equate the provider of convoys as the owner of the trade route, and then that party's access rights are applied to the convoy irrelevant of the other party. This is all due to the trade system being implemented using the supply convoy system used domestically that, presumably, wasn't built with the complexities of trade in mind. Probably they intended to do a separate trading system, but someone looked at the supply system and decided that did the job just fine at zero cost.

In fact, given that Germany enacted unrestricted commercial warfare, I have reason to believe that ship is definitely a ghost ship considering it hasn't been sunk yet.
 

Bullfilter

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Just finished reading this latest epic update - a bravura return for 11 (who I have nominated as one of the ‘characters of the year’ in the annual awards :)) and for the author. More great writing and research - including some excellent ‘car and motorcycle porn’: especially the Jag. ;)

I’m sad the 2nd LT didn’t make it, but I don’t think many WW2 Polish guerilla leaders from 1939 would have made it through the long occupation. :(

I’m also looking forward to the resumption of conventional hostilities - this time ‘the big one’ and the test of the fancy new Red Army, Air Force and Navy you have spent so much time advising Stalin to construct and organise. More power to their arms!
 

roverS3

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They wouldn't allow it, realistically. I believe this whole issue stems from the fact that every trade route needs an "owner" whose access rights are applied, and since convoys are a resource it makes sense to equate the provider of convoys as the owner of the trade route, and then that party's access rights are applied to the convoy irrelevant of the other party. This is all due to the trade system being implemented using the supply convoy system used domestically that, presumably, wasn't built with the complexities of trade in mind. Probably they intended to do a separate trading system, but someone looked at the supply system and decided that did the job just fine at zero cost.

In fact, given that Germany enacted unrestricted commercial warfare, I have reason to believe that ship is definitely a ghost ship considering it hasn't been sunk yet.
Interesting breakdown. The supply convoy system theory rings true, paradox cutting corners... Of course, the 'Schelde' has to be a ghost ship for this situation to be remotely plausible, but it seems to be carrying real rare materials...

Just finished reading this latest epic update - a bravura return for 11 (who I have nominated as one of the ‘characters of the year’ in the annual awards :)) and for the author. More great writing and research
Thank you for your support.11 has made a spectacular return indeed, and I'm sure she will do so again... Thank you for your nomination. On that note, don't forget to vote readAARs, the voting is almost over...

I’m sad the 2nd LT didn’t make it, but I don’t think many WW2 Polish guerilla leaders from 1939 would have made it through the long occupation. :(
He didn't die in vain... He knew the risks when he stopped that train, his family will have to cope without him. Resistance to occupation is a very risky business indeed, but at least, they have weapons now, lots of weapons... For the realism of the story, people needed to die, and those aren't the kinds of situations where, realistically, everyone gets out alive.
Having 11 be tied up, weakened by torture, and unable to do a thing about it immediately puts into perspective her capabilities. She's very capable, but not super-human, she can get caught, she can get hurt, she can't win every time, can't save everyone, can't get out of every pickle, not without paying a price, and sometimes fighting is not even a real option. I want to be able to relate to her, and I want you to be able to do so too, on a human level. She's just one person in the maelstrom of a massive war, people die, things go wrong...

including some excellent ‘car and motorcycle porn’: especially the Jag. ;)
I wanted her to be picked up by a trust fund kid, someone who never had to work very hard for anything and never saw the dark side of things. A man who, when it came time to go to war, would get a cushy job in the diplomatic service handed to him, his papa calling in a few favors. But, having read a few too many spy novels, and/or feeling guilty of not doing anything for the war effort, he is lured by the veneer of glamour that espionage has, and from the diplomatic corps, he's recruited by military intelligence to do their bidding in Stockholm. Of course, this man drives a very fast JAG, and of course, he will spare no expense having it shipped over to Sweden for him to go about at great speed, and in great style...regardless of the weather. All to contrast the tough, and painful voyage 11 went on.
He reminds her of who she was. She used to be a bit like that, before the war, living the good life in Paris, and even later, nonchalantly seducing French Generals and Ministers, her GRU handlers, thinking she could sway the war, boasting about how she found the compound in Vologda, showing off her skills to Mother in Alger, almost for the sole sake of showing off, for the thrill of it, but she realizes that's behind her now, and it hurts.
Also, when I wrote the last part, I had just finished watching a video of some American chap retelling the holiday of his life on a road trip in a convertible 50's Corvette, in the middle of winter, driving through snowy mountains and seeing wolves...

I’m also looking forward to the resumption of conventional hostilities - this time ‘the big one’ and the test of the fancy new Red Army, Air Force and Navy you have spent so much time advising Stalin to construct and organise. More power to their arms!
Well, I haven't played ahead more than a week (game time), and spoiler alert - still no war, but more minor things did happen, more on that soon.
 
26th of February 1942, 'Tri' & 'Shest': Dead spies and (too) charming Diplomats

roverS3

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The 26th of February 1942, Jaroslavl, -8,3°C, 1 pm Moscow Time

As I was going to Moscow anyway, 'Shest' invited me to meet him in a secret GRU office in the back of a seedy-looking bar in Jaroslavl. I was going to Moskva by train anyway and decided to have a stop-over in Jaroslavl, I could always take the next one out. The bar was quiet, and I had the feeling everyone inside was not who they seemed to be, including yours truly, of course.

When I got to his office, 'Shest' looked glum and downbeat. Still looking at the papers on his desk, he just said:

"We just can't keep up ... It's a pure waste of resources and people now ... and it worked so well before they were at war."
Before he could elaborate, the telephone on his desk rang. 'Shest' picked it up, but it was for me, it was, of course, 'Tri':

"The Japanese have caught on to our efforts to sway the Communist Chinese into joining the Comintern, they've started reciprocating. Our diplomats were doing great, but now they have competition, from a newly arrived team of expert Japanese diplomat, playing to Asian sensibilities, and using the fact that Communist China is literally encircled by Axis territory as arguments against our persuasive efforts. Slowly but surely, Mao seems to be doubting the merits of our now quite intimate diplomatic relations. I'm sure you'll ask what we can do about this new threat, and the way I see it, there are a three options:

1. Purchase a license to train or build something the Chinese have on offer to try and keep them on our side. They would very likely accept. However, they don't have much on offer, so maybe we could pay them to train an NKVD unit to go along with the Sinkiang trained one that should soon become operational.

2. Abandon our efforts to sway Communist China to try and get another country to join the Comintern.

Going by my sources, Sweden is looking for a faction to join. Squeezed between the Finnish Soviet and German-occupied Norway and Denmark, they feel very threatened. They're not aligning to any faction, nor are they currently being swayed.

Other candidates, which might only need a slight nudge before they actively want to join a faction are Turkey and Persia. Turkey is currently aligning itself towards the Allies, Persia is neither being swayed, nor aligning itself.

Looking at what Communist China had on offer for license production promted me to make inquiries as to what these three nations have on offer. Neither Turkey, nor Persia, offer anything of interest to the Soviet Union, but Sweden has an excellent Destroyer-Design, it is significantly better than our own in just about every single way, so even getting Sweden close enough for them to sell us a production license could significantly boost our navy with Destroyers two generations better than our most modern (least obsolete) designs.
3. We could also do both, we could definitely manage the cost.
Have fun with 'Shest' now. I'd appreciate it if you, our analysts, and our external committee members could think this situation over. Ideally the foreign office should act soon, so don't take too long."

Diplomacy42-02-26-min.jpeg
Sadly, not much fun was to be had with 'Shest':

"Scotland Yard don't even need to do anything, 'Odin', I'm telling you, the entire commonwealth has sent their best spy-hunters to the British Isles to hunt Soviet spies. The GRU agents don't stand a chance. In the last week, we've lost 6 cells, one to Omani spies, two to Yemeni spies, one to Buthanese spies, one to South-Africans, and the last one to a US operative of the brand new OSS. We train them, we tell them to keep a low profile, nothing helps, as soon as they get out of their safe house, they are spotted and neutralised. Our only asset remaining is 'Odinatsat'.
We simply can't train them fast enough, and it's not even about the funding. Realistically, if the Soviet Union neglected it's diplomtic operations, we could train one spy per day, but that would barely keep our numbers in the UK up, and it would just be a wast of money. I'm all out of ideas. I'm also scared for 'Odinatsat', she might be found out if she goes back to the UK, we should start thinking of an escape strategy that could get her home in one piece, before it is too late.

For now, I strongly suggest we stop sending new operatives to their deaths, and stop reinforcing out UK operation. Once we build up a healthy reserve of trained spies we can start to think about our next move.

You were talking, with 'Tri', about the Chinese Communists not being afraid enough for them to join the Comintern, I hear they're most threatened of Japan, maybe we can send spies to Japan to make them look scarier.... no... never mind, I still have nightmares about the Kempetai...

Well, I'm sure you have other business to attend to, nice seeing you again."
Now, I definitely need to get to Moskva, and soon, 'Tri', and Stalin would be waiting, as would Maksim Litvinov.

Both our strategies for Espionage and Diplomacy have been rendered ineffective. A rethink is in order, 'Tri' had some suggestions, I look forward to your points of view on these matters, and any suggestions you might have.

Greetings,

'Odin'

 
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Eurasia

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Trying to influence Sweden would be a good idea - if for nothing else but the destroyers. Also, the idea that our Comrades in China would join the Axis seems sickening. Would they join any faction that contains the Japanese? I find that hard to believe. As for Turkey and Persia...I think Turkey would be the most valuable to us and the most dangerous if they failed to join us. To me we should focus on Sweden and Turkey.
 

Finshades

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I certainly second the opinion of Eurasia. Communist China is largely useless at this time regardless, and while a stepping stone in Asia would be nice, Sinkiang still exists and should be easier to manage. Control of the Bosporus and access to the Middle East through Turkey would be a far more worthwhile aim. Swedish destroyers could make the Red Navy at least marginally more effectual and provide some cover for our rather expensive carriers. We've gone through the trouble of building them, we might as well try to not get them sunk on the opening days of the war while we're at it. I'm not sure if they'd necessarily make a good ally, but that's still a better proposition than handing them over to the Germans.
 

roverS3

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Trying to influence Sweden would be a good idea - if for nothing else but the destroyers
Swedish destroyers could make the Red Navy at least marginally more effectual and provide some cover for our rather expensive carriers. We've gone through the trouble of building them, we might as well try to not get them sunk on the opening days of the war while we're at it. I'm not sure if they'd necessarily make a good ally, but that's still a better proposition than handing them over to the Germans.
So, looking at the stats, these Swedish Destroyers are not just good, they're world beaters. A comparison with offerings from the UK, USA, Germany, Japan, and Italy makes it clear that it's in the running for the top spot. Only AA seems weak, the rest Sea Attack, Sub Attack, and Engine stats are up there with the best of them. Italy's Destroyers are worse than the Swedish ones, but still slightly better than the Soviet ones.
As for being a good ally. Sweden is currently the only way for Germany to get troops to & from occupied Norway. I'm not sure, but I think Sweden has a decent Army. Having Sweden in the Comintern would allow us to block the Germans in Malmö while the Swedish Army takes over Norway.

the idea that our Comrades in China would join the Axis seems sickening. Would they join any faction that contains the Japanese? I find that hard to believe.
Me too, but it makes some sense, the Axis can actually send help immediately, through Mengkukuo, Manchukuo, or Japan-controlled territory along the Chinese coast. If the Axis attacks them, we can't send help to save them, we can only attack the Axis elsewhere, and by the time we get to them, they might no longer exist as a country.

Communist China is largely useless at this time regardless, and while a stepping stone in Asia would be nice, Sinkiang still exists and should be easier to manage.
Sinkiang is part of the Comintern (let me refresh your memory here), and they have the second largest army in the Comintern... (it's less than 5% of the size of the red army...)

I think Turkey would be the most valuable to us and the most dangerous if they failed to join us.
Control of the Bosporus and access to the Middle East through Turkey would be a far more worthwhile aim.
The problem with Turkey, is that they don't seem to want to be swayed... I believe we attempted to sway them before. They seem to push back by aligning with another faction every time someone tries to influence them... Maybe we could try again.
 

Finshades

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Now that you mention those things about Turkey (and Sinkiang... curse my memory), it sounds familiar. I think we did indeed, and it didn't work. Well, maybe Turkey just needs a revolution. From the outside. With tanks.

Sweden still sounds very sensible. Weak AA is a minor issue if they operate with our carriers, and our navy isn't exactly a blue water one, so they could have some land-based help too if necessary. I don't think we have the resources to spare to develop our own destroyers to the level necessary in order to not be a laughing stock at this point and bigger ships are a luxury at the moment. If we need an oceangoing navy (for example, if the worker's revolution needs to go to America) we will likely need cruisers, but that's a concern for after the rest of Europe has seen the light. A green-water navy fulfills our current needs more than well enough, and some Swedish destroyers would be a nice little modernization effect that keeps it current without costing an arm and a leg.
 

roverS3

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Well, maybe Turkey just needs a revolution. From the outside. With tanks.
That would drive our threat up enormously, driving other nations into other factions... attacking a neutral nation without a real pretext would also make us look like the aggressor... Even worse, is that Turkey might quickly break it's no alignment policy in favor of joining the Axis, which could quickly evolve into a chain reaction with Italy and Germany attacking the Soviet Union over Turkey, while we have forces deployed against Turkey. That could give us a 4 front war with fighting on the main Poland-Ukraine front, in Scandinavia, in the Caucasus, and in the Far East...
Of course, if they don't see reason, the Turkish proletariat will be liberated eventually.

Sweden still sounds very sensible. Weak AA is a minor issue if they operate with our carriers, and our navy isn't exactly a blue water one, so they could have some land-based help too if necessary. I don't think we have the resources to spare to develop our own destroyers to the level necessary in order to not be a laughing stock at this point and bigger ships are a luxury at the moment. If we need an oceangoing navy (for example, if the worker's revolution needs to go to America) we will likely need cruisers, but that's a concern for after the rest of Europe has seen the light. A green-water navy fulfills our current needs more than well enough, and some Swedish destroyers would be a nice little modernization effect that keeps it current without costing an arm and a leg.
To be clear, there has been some Destroyer Development, but it has been very limited and slow, there is only 1 research team working on the Navy, currently, they're working on better engines that would make them as fast as Italian Destroyers, but with significantly worse armament and Armour... As you say, it's a hopeless endeavor. One Carrier and one Destroyer Flotilla are currently being built, delivery expected in mid-1942. If we can get Swedish license production by June, that would be ideal, keeping up the current production schedule, but with better destroyers. It would also allow the Navy's minimal research budget to be allocated to improving our carriers.
 
Last edited:
28th of February 1942, 'Odin', 10-day report #188

roverS3

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The 28th of February 1942, Moskva, -1,7°C, 10am Moscow Time,

Report on the state of the Soviet Union for the ten-day period between the 19th and the 28th of February 1942,​

by 'Odin'​

Army:
A new Garrison Division, 17. GarD, has been deployed to Rostov na Don, it is attached directly to 5th Army Group, Stalingrad HQ.
119. AP, fitted with shiny 152mm ML-20 guns has been deployed to Maj. General Trufanov's 99. SD, XVII SK, 7ya Armiya, 3rd AG, Brjansk HQ.
Both Cavalry Regiments of 32. KD (I. KK, 11ya Mot. Armiya, Armoured AG, STAVKA) have taken delivery of their final halftracks, both 5 KP and 6 KP have been redesignated as Armoured Cavalry Regiments. Maj. General Koroteev must be pleased.
A brand new Mountain Rifle Division has been deployed on the Norwegian border, a new HQ (XXXIV GSK, 1st AG, Leningrad HQ) was created to accomodate it (112 GSD), and 46. GSD.

Army numbers (Brigades/Personnel) Reserves included (these numbers don't include regiments being upgraded):
Front line troops: 680 / 2.040.000
Support troops: 323 / 323.000
Total fighting troops: 1.003 / 2.363.000
Headquarters: 64 / 64.000
Total Army Personnel: 1.067 / 2.427.000
Officers: 100.029 + / 105.910 needed / 94,447 %
Active Leaders: 277 / 219 more available
Another Artillery Regiment started training while it awaits delivery of it's152mm and 122mm guns.
Halftrack production continues, with 7, and 8. KP awaiting the new vehicles to replace their lorries. Both are part of 9. KD, I KK, 11ya Mot. Armiya, Armoured AG, STAVKA.
Another Mountain Rifle Division resumes it's training, 128. GSD will in all likelyhood join the new XXXIV GSK on the Norwegian Border once it's training is completed.
Training staff from Sinkiang has finally received approval to continue training an NKVD military police unit. No name has been assigned yet.
Army Leadership
New leader, Lt. General Batiuna, SK3, LW, has been placed in command of XXXIV GSK, 1st AG, Leningrad HQ
New leader, Maj. General Anisimov, SK3, was given command of 112. GSD, XXXIV GSK, 1st AG, Leningrad HQ
Maj. General Zherdev, SK1, DD, was called up out of retirement to command 17. GarD in Rostov na Don.
Air Force:
No changes to the VVS, nor to the Navy Air Fleet.​

Navy:
No changes to the Navy for the last 10 days.​

Politics / International:
With no fanfare, the Soviet Diplomatic delegation to Communist China has packed up and left the country. Only the janitor remains in the embassy as acting ambassador.
The Soviet Legation in Stockholm has been elevated to embassy status, it is preparing for the arrival of the first high level Diplomats, the ambassador has received a substantial budget for diplomatic gifts, and the organisation of receptions and parties, these first overtures seem to be having the intended effect on Sweden's political class, they are warming to the Soviet Union and the Comintern already.

Battle Of Britain
Air operations have resumed, German bombers charging in over Dover twice for a bombing run. They were intercepted both times by the RAF, and the third time they were chased away before they could even attempt their run.
The RAF has become more agressive in asserting it's dominance in the air, sparring with German fighters 12 times over the Frisian Coast, thereby pushing the Luftwaffe on the defensive.
North Africa Front:
United Kingdom (Surrender Progress / NU): 1,9 / 87,6
Italy (Surrender Progress / NU): 5,90 / 79,4
BNAF42-02-18-min.jpeg
There has been no movement on the ground for more than 10 days now.
An Italian bombing run on Ra's at Tin was intercepted by RAF Hawker Typhoon fighters, the Italian unit was decimated and did not return.
The RAF flew 2 bombing missions on Taranto, none of them were intercepted.
At least 3 more convoys were sunk by the Royal Navy.
Of more interest is a flare up in naval action, linked to the Italian invasion of Cyprus. It seems that an Italian transport unit, 'Squadrone Aventino', was sunk by Royal Navy Bristol Beaufighter Naval Bombers. Yesterday, a naval battle started somewhere in the Eastern Mediterranean. Most of the Regia Marina, including several Battleships, is pitted against a British cruiser fleet headed up by HMS Hood. (This fleet's last known location was in Indonesia) Two British Destroyer Flotilla's have been sunk, 8th DF by Battleship RM Littorio, and 13th DF by Battleship RM Caio Dulio. The Italian 9. Flottiglia Torpediniere was also sunk, by HMS Hood, pride of the Royal Navy. The battle is ongoing.
Cyprus:
BMF42-02-28-min.jpeg

As expected, the unopposed walk into Lemesos by the Italians has given them full control of Cyprus, including the sizeable Air Base.
South East Asia Front
United States of America (Surrender Progress / NU): 8,5 / 85,8
United Kingdom (Surrender Progress / NU): 1,9 / 77,6
Philippines (Surrender Progress / NU): 74,2 / 74,9 Loss of Tacloban.
Japan (Surrender Progress / NU): 0,00 / 70,3
PHF42-02-28-min.jpeg

IJA forces have linked up with IJN forces on the island of Tacloban, an important place in the hearts of the philippino's, the country is now one step closer to surrendering. Allied forces remain dug in in Manila and Cagayan, the remaining key locations, both on the northern island of Luzon. No attempts have been made to recover lost ground, let alone fight the Japanese.
The Convoy war rages on, with 19 allied convoys lost to the IJN, and 10 IJN convoys sent to the bottom by various allied fleets. As a response IJN raiding fleets were engaged several times, mostly by Royal Navy units, with not much real result, save for the sinking of 26. Yuso Sentai, a flotilla of Japanese Landing Craft, by the British 31st Destroyer Flotilla. It's not known whether the Japanese ships were transporting any troops.
Pacific Front
All quiet here, there seems to be no US involvement in the war save for a few submarines sinking Japanese convoys, and massive amounts of lend-lease to the UK.
Industry:
Working Industrial Capacity / available capacity: 240 / 324
IC Usage: ( Allocated IC / Need )
Upgrades: 14,05 / 26,55
Reinforcement: 1,45 / 2,79
Supplies: 30,00 / 47,50
Production: 249,34 / 270,79 (A single Mountain Rifle Divisions and 10. TTGvD remain unfunded)
Consumer Goods: 29,16 / 29,16​
Stockpiles:
Energy: Maximum tonnes +
Metal: Maximum tonnes +
Rares: 46.092 tonnes +
Crude: Maximum barrels +
Supplies: 37.702 tonnes -
Fuel: Maximum barrels +
Money: 1.700 -
Intelligence:
Spy numbers, spies in (active / added / lost / caught by us)
France (Supporting our Party / Counterespionage): 5 / 0 / 0 / 0
{ Germany (/): 0 / 0 / 0 / 2 }
{ Japan (/): 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 }​
UK (/) : 1 / 1 / 6 / 0
Other: 0 / 0 / 0 / 0
Total: 6 / 1 / 6 / 2
Reserves: 0
Spy training leadership expenditure: 0,64 (a new spy every 10 days)
After a repeat of last time's disaster, the GRU tech espionage mission in the UK has been shut down, no more reinforcements will be sent.
Research:
Brilliant Soviet Electronics Engineers have developed an improved Small Warship Radar (Level 2), for our Destroyers.
Now they will concentrate on improving Small Navigation Radar (Level 2) designs for our single-engine aeroplanes.

Our Air Force theorist have been busy improving the VVS's Ground Attack Tactics (Level 3), the manuals have gone out, and our bomber Divisions should be more efficient at hitting units on the ground in no time.
Interception Tactics (Level 5) is up next. The new Chief of the Air Force A. Novikov has brought in some veterans from the Spanish civil war with some revolutionary tactical ideas, and now, our theorists will try them out and perfect them.
Engineers at Tupolev came up with a way to fit more and Large Fuel Tanks (Level 1) inside the fuselage of our Li-2 transport planes and our TB-3 heavy bombers.
Funding has been shifted to the Army, with research starting towards better Anti-Tank barrel desings, as well as improved sights (Level 5).

No changes in LS distribution
Statistics:
National Unity: 83,241 =
Neutrality: 0,00 =
Dissent: 0,00 =
Manpower:
Available: 2.204.000
Men To reinforce(need): 3.370
Men To mobilise(need): See above
Monthly gain: 48.200 Men (1 fully mobilised Infx3, AT Division every 7 days)​
No changes in Party Popularity for the last 10 days.
No changes in Party Organisation for the last 10 days.
This Information is accurate on the morning of the 28th of February 1942, I hope it serves you well in fine-tuning your possible suggestions.

'Odin'​
 
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Finshades

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Better AT guns sound like a worthwhile investment. Though I don't know how long we can keep increasing the caliber or lengthening the barrel... :p
 

Bullfilter

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On the spy woes in Britain and fear of the Kempeitai: this sounds very familiar. In TT, my large and well supported spy operation in France was eventually wiped out by an influx of Allied (lots of South African among others) counter-espionage operatives after WW2 broke out and they all started joining in French efforts. Very frustrating! And you may recall my traumatic attempt to launch an op on Japan: 10+ teams were turned into sushi by the Kempeitai in very quick time! :eek:

And on the diplo triangle, was that Nationalist China relatively near your corner? Or a more obscure country? I can’t remember now what the history (if any) of them is in your universe. They would be great to have as a distracting southern meat shield in the event of war with Japan.

Also good to see the RAF chewing up German aircraft: fewer left for us to deal with when the time comes.
 

roverS3

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On the spy woes in Britain and fear of the Kempeitai: this sounds very familiar. In TT, my large and well supported spy operation in France was eventually wiped out by an influx of Allied (lots of South African among others) counter-espionage operatives after WW2 broke out and they all started joining in French efforts. Very frustrating! And you may recall my traumatic attempt to launch an op on Japan: 10+ teams were turned into sushi by the Kempeitai in very quick time! :eek:
Well, the mission continued for a long time after the start of the war, but it wasn't as productive as counter-espionage and laying low to avoid losing too many took up most of the effort, while tech espionage has been minimal for quite some time now, with the expected lack of results. The last two weeks were the worst until now. It was definitely time to call it quits. As for France, we still have 5 spies in France, the same ones who were infiltrated more than 2 years ago in-game. I'm sure they're having a lot of fun in Hanoi, organizing the local Communist party, and preparing a possible revolution once Metropolitan France gets liberated, though they have a long way to go.

Better AT guns sound like a worthwhile investment. Though I don't know how long we can keep increasing the caliber or lengthening the barrel... :p
In this case, it's another 100mm, but the 1944 version that is being researched, more on that once it's done...

And on the diplo triangle, was that Nationalist China relatively near your corner? Or a more obscure country? I can’t remember now what the history (if any) of them is in your universe. They would be great to have as a distracting southern meat shield in the event of war with Japan.
It's Nationalist China, and they are permanently aligning themselves towards the Axis, when they close, they get repulsed because Japan owns territory they claim. We already tried to sway them but couldn't compete with their own desperate attempts to stay close to the Axis...

Also good to see the RAF chewing up German aircraft: fewer left for us to deal with when the time comes.
The RAF is killing it as of late, they're producing tons of planes in the US, and they seem to have the upper hand both over the Channel, and in the Med. Their tech also seems to be excellent. The Royal Navy is having some problems though, but they are also due to be delivered 5 Carriers, and 5 KGV Battleships in late 1942, there is a longer delay on the ships as they take longer to build. The lend-lease planes have started to arrive, but the ships are many months away...
As mentioned before, the US has elected to fight this war through the proxy of the UK, the lend-lease is just massive, and the Brits will be a massive modern superpower before too long, especially on the sees and in the air. Imagine US production of Aeroplanes and Carriers in the mid-war, and then imagine that most of those are ending up in the RN or RAF... that's the picture pretty much... the UK will literally be capable of doing what the USA did OTL. Now, maybe the AI won't do it, but it's a possibility...
 
2nd of March 1942, 'Odin', The Stockholm diplomatic night life.

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The 2nd of March 1942, Stockholm, 1,3°C, 1 am local time (2 am Moscow Time)

After finishing and sending out my report yesterday, I met up with 'Tri' for breakfast. I had planned to return to Vologda in the afternoon, but 'Tri' had a better idea. And thus, by 10am, I found myself on an aeroplane with 'Tri', and the People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs Maksim Litvinov, the rest of the plane was packed with members of Litvinov's staff, and diplomats. A second Li-2 followed with military attaché's who would be taking up new posts in the Stockholm Embassy, and various other dignitaries and journalists who were part of the newly amplified Soviet Diplomatic efforts in Sweden.

The flight was non stop from Moskva to Stockholm. This was a show of force by the VVS, and two brand new Li-2s with extended fuel tanks had to be used to pull it off.
The flight took 5 and a half hours in all, and lunch was served on board. While we were over the Baltic Sea, I noted the presence of a trio of La-7's from the Navy Air Fleet flying along. Then the La-7s pulled away, and fifteen minutes later we landed at Stockholm Bromma Airport.

1200px-Bromma_flygplats_invigning_1936a-min.jpg

Stockholm Bromma Airport, opened in 1936 in the context of the Stockholm Exhibition.

It remained in operation throughout the war, and in 2018, it is still the third busiest Airport in Sweden.
It was almost 4pm when we the Lisunov's engines were stopped and the Maksim Litvinov stepped out of the plane first, being greeted in front of the camera's by Sweden's Foreign Minister Karl G. Westman. Then, the two men got into the foreign minister's Volvo PV-56 special, a very modern Swedish Automobile. Right behind were four cars from the Soviet Embassy, all were GAZ-M1's with little Soviet-Union flags on the fenders. Behind those was a Volvo bus to carry the staffers and journalists that didn't fit in the cars. With a Police escort, the convoy made it's way into Downtown Stockholm, before coming to a halt at the Soviet Embassy, at Walingatan 17. The embassy is a large neo-classical building. Ironically this aristocratic residence reminds me somewhat of the new Soviet Stalinist style, aka. Socialist Classisism, that is becoming ubiquitous in the Soviet Union.

Volvo_PV56_Sedan_1939_3-min.jpg

The Volvo PV53-56, the best from Volvo, a true swedish luxury car, the latest iteration of the PV-50 series. Built in 1939, it has a 3,7l straight six with a power output of 86hp, and weighs almost 1,6 tons. Interestingly, the doors opened towards each-other...
By the time we arrived, it was 5pm, and time for the main ceremony, where Maksim Litvinov officially promoted the Soviet Minster Plenipotentiary Alexandra Mikhaïlovna Kollontaï to Ambassador. This was done in front of a small audience consisting of Soviet and Swedish dignitaries, including the Foreign Minister, and the Prime Minister Per Albin Hansson, as well as representatives of the international press. Following protocol, a slew of people held short speeches extolling Miss. Kollontaï's dedication to peaceful conflict resolution, Maksim Litvinov's diplomatic leadership, Stalin's great vision, and the great value of improving Soviet-Swedish relations. It was quite boring, and after nearly two hours of speeches, the new Ambassador Alexandra Mikhaïlovna Kollontaï was presented by Commissar Maksim Litvinov, to a room of people who already knew who she was.

A dignified lady, close to her 70th birthday, she was wearing her order of Lenin medal around her neck. Behind her hung a portrait of her, painted more than 10 years ago, shortly after her arrival in Sweden, by the Bolshevik painter Annenkov. The painting only highlighted the cosmetic effect of holding this elaborate naming ceremony, naming her to a job she had, in effect, been doing since 1930. Shuch are the trappings of Diplomatic protocol. Regardless of the irony, she looked positively pleased with the recognition she was being shown, and the fact that she would now have vastly more resources to work with. Looking at the crowd, the Swedish Prime Minister looked pleased with the new diplomatic situation, while his Foreign Minister, more centrist than his Prime Minister looked somewhat less pleased. Such are the vagaries of coalition politics.

AlexKollontai-min.jpg

Alexandra Mikhaïlovna Kollontaï shortly after she arrived in Stockholm in 1930, she was 58 years old at the time.
Sweden has a coalition government composed of the Social Democrats of Social Demokraterna, and the Social Liberals of Bondeförbundet. The Social Democrats are the larger parter in the coalition, supplying the Prime Minister (Per Albin Hansson), the Minister of Finance (Armament) (Ernst Wigforss), and Minister of Security (Arvid Gustav Richert), with the farmers party Bondeförbundet supplying the Foreign Minister. The Social Democrats' main programme is the creation and improvement of the Welfare state, something that they started in the 1930s.And of course they were all for neutrality in the beginning, though there are grumblings that staying neutral only makes them an easy target, and that an alignment with one of the large factions would be desirable. The crutch is in who to align with. Within the government all three positions are present. Most Social Democrats, especially the ones with ties to the trade unions, lean sightly towards the Comintern, though most prefer the Allies they recognise that the Allies aren't in a position that could offer Sweden much practical assistance. A few more idealist members of both parties see an alliance with the Allies as the only option that wouldn't betray their political values, while a few of the Bondeförbundet, consider the Germans the least of two evils. And then, there are of course, the opposition parties which are split between Comintern and Axis. This whole situation makes Sweden ripe to be snagged up by a concerted diplomatic effort...

A reception and gala was planned that evening at the embassy. There was caviar, high quality Vodka, Champagne, a sumptuous menu that was a mix of Swedish and Russian Cuisine, and a string quartet to add some music to the whole affair. The first guests started arriving at about 7 pm. Ambassadors and Minister Plenipotentiaries started arriving in the vestibule, in order of their country's diplomatic and economic presence in Sweden, the most important ones were announced first:

The Belgian ambassador was first, with an impressive gift, a gourmet chocolate sculpture, prepared by a Belgian Chocolatier in exile in Stockholm, with cocoa-beans grown in the Belgian Congo. It was in the shape of a Congolese miner, symbolising the excellent trading relations between the Belgian Congo and Sweden. Then came the envoy from Hungary, followed by the Dutch and Swiss representatives, then came a representative of the Danish govern in exile, followed by the US Minister Plenipotentiary and the Italian envoy, then a representative of the Norwegian government in exile, the Persian ambassador, and finally, a representative of the Luxembourgian government in exile. It was quite the parade.

Then despite their limited relations with Sweden, the remaining major powers of the world had also been invited:
The German Ambassador was announced, he didn't stay however, preferring to lodge a public diplomatic complaint about the Soviet embargo on Germany. Then, the British Minister Plenipotentiary to Sweden, Sir Victor Mallet was announced, and there she was, behind Sir Mallet and his wife, 'Odinatsat', on the arm of a young man with a tweed jacket, he had to be Richard, the 'cultural attaché'. We made eye-contact for a brief moment, both acknowledging each-other's presence, before quickly breaking it in case anyone would notice.

The British delegation was followed by the Japanese Imperial Envoy, and representatives of Mongolia, Sinkiang, and Tannu
Tuuva. The representative of the illegitimate Finnish government in exile was, of course, absent despite very good relations with Sweden, as he would definitely be arrested the moment he set foot in the Soviet embassy.

As much of the party had started to leave the large vestibule to go and enjoy some amuse-bouches, which consisted of small toasts with caviar, the announcements continued, with less important guests, including a delegation from the French government in exile, one from Ireland, one from Romania, etc. The string quartet played a mix of Soviet and Swedish repertoire, most notably Dimitri Shostakovich's first, and as of yet, only string quartet, of which I had seen the premiere a few years ago. As a nod to the Swedish guests, they also played Wilhelm Stenhammar's 6th string quartet in D minor.

Wilhelm Stenhammar's 6th string quartet in D minor. Written in 1916
As with all diplomatic receptions, there were a lot of hushed conversations with fast-changing configurations. At one point, when they had gotten somewhat drunk on champagne, the Italian delegation laughed in the face of Sir Victor Mallet, yelling something about the Pride of the Royal Navy being full of holes, on the bottom of the Med. There was a lot of jeering about the massive naval battle that had started yesterday, and had concluded hours before the reception in a convincing Italian win, with HMS Hood and several British Heavy Cruisers at the bottom of the Med. At one point, the US Minister Plenipotentiary Herchel Johnson had to stop his British counterpart from punching their Italian counterpart in the face. Interestingly, the Japanese imperial envoy didn't join in the mockery of the Royal Navy's inadequacy, probably due to the also very recent loss of the IJN Heavy Cruiser Takao to that same Royal Navy.

To avoid fighting at dinner, the two factions were seated at different tables, with the Americans heading up the allied table, and the Italians heading up the Axis table. Sir Mallet was spotted grumbling to Richard, probably about not being at the head of the Allied table, but when Johnson looked his way, he put on a big smile. Ah, the power of Lend-Lease...

Part-way through the elaborate dinner, 'Odinatsat' stood up, ostensibly to use the ladies room, she made eye contact with me for a split second, and I quickly made my way over to the ladies' room. Instead of the ladies room, we hid in a supply closet right next to it, where she explained why she was at the party, and how she was doing:


I don't have much time 'Odin', I need you to listen. Captain Clarke felt I deserved a lighter mission, and he asked me to escort the cultural attaché to your little party to try and glean some intelligence on what the Soviet plans are in Sweden, and in the hope of overhearing some confidential chit-chat between Axis diplomats. However, I think I may have a serious problem. For starters, I'm seated across the US cultural attaché, and there is something in the way he looks at me, I think he doesn't trust me, I think he recognises me from something, or somewhere, but I've never seen the man before. We all know that he's a spy, this could be bad news. I really have to go now, but 'Odin', I need you to keep an eye on me, not you personally, but the GRU. Be subtle about it, I've got a bad feeling about this. It's nice to see you again.”

"Nice seeing you again."
And she exited the closet. I waited 15 seconds before following suit. I needed to get the attention of the Soviet cultural attaché. He may not have a serious network in Sweden, but he is a trained spy, and if 'Odinatsat' was in trouble, I needed him to keep an eye on her. I simply walked up to him, as I was dressed as a non-descript soviet diplomatic staffer this didn't pull much attention. I whispered a couple of high-level GRU emergency code words in his ear ('Shest' keeps me up to date with these, so that I can call upon the GRU in case I get in trouble). The cultural attaché excused himself, and we were soon in his office:

What do you need sir?” - asked the cultural attaché, clearly impressed by the non-existing credentials the knowledge of those code-words imparted me.

I'll be brief, a top secret GRU operative has managed to infiltrate the British delegation to Stockholm, I'm here mostly to check on her. The details are beyond classified, but we believe that she is highly trusted by British Military intelligence. However, tonight she noticed that the US cultural attaché, almost certainly an OSS operative, was very suspicious towards her. She's afraid that he could blow her cover. Now listen to me very closely, what I'm asking from you is a delicate balancing act.

If at all possible, I want her cover to remain intact, but, we can't risk a diplomatic incident, so there will be no murders, and no public displays of force. The most important part is that, should her cover be broken, we must keep her in the embassy, or bring her back to it or the Soviet Union. She must under no circumstances be captured by Allied intelligence.
One last thing. She's a big girl, she can take care of herself, keep your distance, and let her handle things, only when there is no other way, and when you can do so stealthily, should you assist her in any way. Now, get back to the party, and don't let her leave your sight, have someone warn me when she leaves.”

Who is she?”

She's the British cultural attaché's date. You can't miss her. Also, this meeting never took place.”

Of course sir” - and he left to return to the party, and to commence his new mission.
The rest of the party seemed uneventful, I noticed 'Odinatsat' dancing with a varied crop of diplomats, probably attempting to gain intelligence, for the British, and for the Secret Committee. All perfectly normal behaviour. I overlooked the crowd from the large staircase, and noticed the US cultural attaché exchanging a few words with an old French Maréchal who looked familiar somehow.

At around midnight, the guests started leaving, the British and US delegations moved through the vestibule side by side, with both Minister Plenipotentiaries in intense discussion, following behind were both cultural attachés with their dates, I noted that the American attaché was keeping 'Odinatsat' in sight at all times, slightly neglecting his own, somewhat drunk, date. 'Odinatsat' also looked like she had too much to drink, but I knew her well enough to know that she was definitely faking it to seem more benign and fit in. Then just as they were leaving, the US cultural attaché nudged Richard's attention towards the old French Maréchal, whom he introduced to Richard and 'Odinatsat'. I think I noticed a flicker of recognition in the eyes of the Maréchal as he was introduced to 'Odinatsat', but I'm really not sure.

Right before the front door closed on the US cultural attaché, he shared a nod with the Maréchal. This looked like some kind of signal. Now I had an uneasy feeling about this too.
I moved slowly towards the front door, through the door, I could hear a car pull away, I couldn't quite place the sound, then there was the rumble of an american V8, then the powerful straight six of a fast Jaguar, definitely Richard's car, and then another rumbling american V8. For a second, I though, everything was all right, but then, I heard the squeaking of brakes at the end of the street. I couldn't just go look what was going on, it would definitely make me seem suspicious.

Hopefully, my new friend, the Soviet Cultural attaché was doing his job. I got into his office, and not 10 minutes later, the telephone rang, it was the cultural attaché


Confirm code words” - I confirmed the code words.

Sir, there may be a bit of a problem. The Americans, they've taken the operative.”

What do you mean, they've kidnapped the operative?”

Well this is very irregular. The American and British delegations left the party at the same time, and the Jaguar containing the British cultural attaché and the operative was preceded by the car of the US cultural attaché, and followed by that of the US Minister Plenipotentiary. So, as the US cultural attaché's car got to the end of the street, it braked really hard, and skidded sideways as to block the way for the Jaguar, then, American agents with guns got out, and the US cultural attaché demanded that the operative surrender to be placed under his custody.

The British cultural attaché was furious, but there was no way out, as their escape was conveniently blocked by the US Minister Plenipotentiary's car. The latter didn't intervene, and the operative was taken at gunpoint into the back of the US cultural attaché's car, under loud protest from the UK cultural attaché. There was no Swedish Police in sight, and I couldn't very well intervene without giving myself away. I managed to follow them at a distance, and the operative is now being held in the American Residence, Nobelgatan 2. What are your instructions?”


Make sure you or one of yours has eyes on the American residence at all times. If the operative is compromised, she might well attempt an escape. Notify me of all comings and goings. I want to know who goes in, and who comes out. Oh, and make sure no one sees you.”

Will do sir”

amb res stockholm-min.jpg

The American Residence in Stockholm, with a nice view of the Djurgårdsbrunnsviken bay. At least 'Odinatsat' will have a nice view, if they didn't put her in the cellar, that is.
10 minutes later, I received another call, describing the arrival of the British cultural attaché, and of a man in a Royal Army Corps of Engineers Captain's uniform (I assume this is Clarke), in the Jaguar.

And half an hour later, another one, about a heated exchange of words between the Captain and the US cultural attaché, as the British pair was leaving, clearly not having gotten what they wanted. The conversation that was overheard went as follows:


Captain Clarke: “Even if what you say is true, you can't do this, you can't just kidnap one of my operatives, and come out with your reasons later on! This is unheard of! All this talk of international intelligence cooperation! It's all fine and dandy when you yanks want intelligence, but then, when it suits you, you turn around and pull a stunt like this!”

US cultural attaché: “You really don't want to make a stink about this, your government is very dependent on American support right now. Just wait for the General to get here, and he'll prove to you that what I'm saying is true. Until then, I don't trust you with her, you're too sentimental about her, both of you, just look at the state you're putting yourself in, so I'm keeping her here!”

Captain Clarke: “Who's this General you're referring to, and what's so special about him?”

US cultural attaché: “General Markkur, does that ring a bell?”

It seems that this rattled Captain Clarke.

Captain Clarke, to Richard: “Just get in the car, there is no sense in arguing any more”
That's the last I heard. It's now 1am in Stockholm (2am Moscow Time), and I'm going to try and get some sleep. I sincerely hope 'Odinatsat' manages to get out of this one before this General Markkur arrives in Stockholm, this could be very bad. I'm extending my stay in Sotckholm until this situation is resolved, one way or another.

Greetings,

'Odin'
Notes from your WritAAR
Karl G. Westman was actually a foreign minister of Sweden in 1936, then finance minister, but he maintained a say over foreign policy. I didn't find much about his early life, except that he had a Ph.D. in Philosophy and was Professor of the History of Law at Upsalla University before his political career. After the war, he was blamed for being too accommodating to German demands, and for accepting German victory as a given. He was instrumental in the OTL granting of Transit rights to Germany in 1941. (probably the same in-game, where Sweden also gave Germany transit rights, which sealed Norway's fate...)

The Swedish cabinet TTL is very plausible, only the Minister of Security, who was actually chief of the Swedish Legation to Berlin is somewhat inaccurate.

The old Soviet Embassy is no more, it's not clear when the building was razed, all you will find on Walingatan 17 today is a hotel built in the 1990s on two adjacent lots. (N°15 & 17). I couldn't find any pictures of the old embassy either, but looking at the older buildings in the street, one could assume that it must have been a neo-classical affair similar to N° 9, 11, 12, 13, 14, 16, 18, and 24. (as seen on Google Street view...)

Alexandra Mikhaïlovna Kollontaï is an interesting figure, daughter of a Tsarist General, she was born in 1872 in St Petersburg. She had an aristocratic upbringing, learning many languages along the way. She was strong-willed from the start, rejecting an arranged marriage at age 17, she married an officer named Vladimir Kollontaï at age 20. She takes his name and they have a child together, but Alexandra Mikhaïlovna is too footloose for the married life. 3 years after her child is born, she breaks all ties with her upbringing and her husband and moves to Zurich, where she studies Political Economics at the University of Zurich. It is in Zurich that she starts showing Marxist sympathies. Traveling a lot, she meets Lenin, and Plekhanov, both exiled to Switzerland at the time.
She joins the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party in 1898, a Marxist party. When the schism between Mensheviks and Bolsheviks occurs, she sides with the more peaceful (and wrong) Mensheviks, rejecting the military-style organization of the Bolsheviks.

She participates in the 1905 revolution, for which she returned to Russia. She's forced into exile in 1908, which gives her an opportunity to travel through Western Europe, and crucially, Scandinavia, meeting many socialist figures. She's against the first world war and Russian participation in it. She returns to Russia to take part in the 1917 revolution, becoming the contemporary equivalent of the Health Minister (People's Commissar for public assistance). In 1919 she creates Jenotdel, a department which specifically handles women's issues within the Communist Party.

Strong minded as she is, she quickly finds herself at odds with Bolshevik political decisions, opposing the nationalization of production, she is instead, in favor of collectivization. Later she also vehemently opposes the restrictions on political ideas outside of the mainstream Bolshevik ideas. She joins a faction within the Communist Party, pleading form more Democracy (disgusting...), more autonomy for labor unions, and more control over the production by the workers. The 1921 Party Congress outlaws existing factions and the formation of any new ones. Kollontaï is furious, and later that year, she holds a tirade against Lenin's New Economic Policy, publicly accusing Lenin of bringing back capitalism (sic.). Due to their continued belligerence, she and other members of the erstwhile faction, Chliapnikov and Medvedev most notably, are threatened with forced exile. In the end, all three get a big slap on the wrist, but they have to promise to stop their disrupting and anti-revolutionary behavior. (This was obviously before Stalin's time...). However, two other members of the faction, Mitin and Kuznetsov, are forced into exile in 1922.

To get rid of her without ruffling too many feathers, Alexandra is placed in charge of the Soviet Union's legation to Norway that same year, named Minister Plenipotentiary in Norway in 1924. This pretty much excludes her from taking part in domestic Soviet politics, but it also makes her one of the first female diplomats in the world. By virtue of representing the Soviet Union, she escapes Stalin's purges and the Gulag, a faith few of her erstwhile opposition faction buddies escaped. After a stint in Mexico (1926-1927), she returns to Norway, and then in 1930, she gets posted to Sweden, where she is instrumental in the negotiations surrounding the end of the winter war. (OTL Armistice, ATL unconditional surrender of Finland to the Soviet Union, and OTL she negotiated the Armistice of 1944 as well) She was officially named Ambassador in 1943 when the legation was elevated to a full-fledged embassy. (We're 1 year early TTL). She was the world's first female ambassador.


By total coïncidence a new diplomatic mission in Sweden was started while 11 was there + The last Soviet spy in the UK (11) gets caught by US operatives + Several big naval events... add in the historical context of Soviet representation in Sweden, and you get the story above...

I've had some vacation, but now my classes are starting again, so the tempo of the updates will slow down significantly, as soon as my new design studio gets going...

 
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