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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning
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Index

Book I - Prologue - 1918-1936
Chapter I - Upheavals - 1920-1924, Part I
Chapter II - Upheavals - 1920-1924, Part II
Chapter III - Upheavals - 1920-1924, Part III
Chapter IV - Upheavals - 1920-1924, Part IV
Chapter V - Upheavals - 1920-1924, Part V
Chapter VI - Europe in Transition – 1920-1930, Part I
Chapter VII - Europe in Transition – 1920-1930, Part II
Chapter VIII - Europe in Transition – 1920-1930, Part III
Chapter IX - Europe in Transition – 1920-1930, Part IV
Chapter X - Reform, Instability, and Preparation - 1929-1932
Chapter XI - A Domestic Reckoning - 1933
Chapter XII - A Domestic Settlement – 1933
Chapter XIII - Revolt - 1930-1932
Chapter XIV - The ’Mutiny Against Destiny’- 1929
Chapter XV - Entrenchment – 1932 - 1935
Chapter XVI - Establishments – 1928 - 1935
Chapter XVII - Eventide and Sunset - 1934
Chapter XVIII - Shifting Sands - 1934
Chapter XIX - New Times, New Man - 1929 - 1934
Chapter XX - The End of the Beginning - 1929-1935

Book II - 1936 onwards
Chapter I - The Clouds Lowered - January - May, 1936
Chapter II - Heat and Light - June - August, 1936
Chapter III - The Eye of the World - August, 1936
Chapter IV - A Quickening of Pace – August – September, 1936
Chapter V - Winter Steeling Over – October – December, 1936
Chapter VI - Decay - January - April, 1937
Chapter VII - First Blood - March - May, 1937
Chapter VII - Unifications - May - August, 1937
Chapter VIII - Mourning Times - August - December, 1937
Chapter IX - Rise and Fall - January - March, 1938

Preamble - The War to End All Wars


Germany broken.​
The 'War to End All Wars' was over. In it's wake, millions were dead, millions more were left to grieve and pick up what little they could from the ruins, and the Imperial German Reich of the Kaisers was gone. Germany had fought long and hard over four difficult years, against the combined might of France, Russia, and the British Empire, and it had all largely come to nought. Worse than nought; when the product of an enterprise is nought, you at least retain what you had to begin with. Germany had been traduced materially, politically, economically and financially.

A Socialist Chancellor now occupied the same office that Bismarck had a mere few decades before; Bolshevism ran riot in the streets, and a stake was driven through the heart of Germany in the form of the 'Versailles Diktat'. A picture that stirred the passions of every true German nationalist from Memel to Baden. Yet the only agreement amongst nationalists seemed to be that the current state of affairs was intolerable. The nationalist right had boundless energy, biterness, hatred, and bile to pour upon the Weimar Republic, 'The Versailles Diktat' and the status quo in general, but it had no clear and united direction or leadership. It was a small ship afloat on oily waters. It was lamentable that Germany was ever in such a position, but there were no easy answers on how to reverse the situation. Germany needed a man of absolute action, determination and resolve to bind the country together and blast it forward, as there had been under Bismarck. But no such man appeared to exist.



A Freikorps group.​
The truth is, of course, that great men are not born, but made in their struggle towards power. Political genius is only detected when it has the power to flex itself, and then it no longer needs to be searched for. So it would be with Germany. Accidents, slips of fate, and pure chance would create a basis for German greatness once again. And it would be those same accidents in other great nations which would help propel Germany to a position of power and prestige by contrast. Just as Germany had seemed to suffer from a defecit of luck in the Great War, so it would seem, in the coming years, to suffer from a great surplus; a relatively stable place amongst a Europe of misery and oppression.
 
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Book I - Prologue.
Upheavals - 1920-1924, Part I.


Friedrich Ebert. Ebert would struggle to bring stability to an almost hopeless situation.​
It seems in retrospect that the Weimar system was destined, one way or another, to hit the rocks, but it seems unlikely that the exact manner of it's fall could ever have been predicted, and it was a course of events that were far from being pre-determined.

The Republic had 'hung on' through it's brief infancy, with the Kapp Putsch, the Sparticist uprising, and other ill-concieved revolutionary enterprises, of both the far left and the right, being cut off by a simple unwillingness of both ordinary Germans and those with the relevant power and influence to trifle with any more revolutions - Germany had had it's fill of those. But would Germany be so disinclined to 'revising' the system should that decision be forced on it by events? In short order, the answer to that question would be given.

Although hardly a time for jubilation, by May 1920, the Republic had indeed whethered it's inital shocks, and was at least gaining some measure of permanence, if not actual stability. What would shatter this would not be a group act of revolution, as previous putsch attempts had been, but an act of individual desperation and extremism.

On July 7th, 1920, President Ebert and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Walter Simons, were presiding over a small ceremony near the Tiergareten in Berlin, to dedicate a memorial to the German dead of the Great War, when disaster struck the occassion. Accounts at the time were often muddled, but it is obvious to us now that the perpetrator, a one nineteen year-old Heinrich-Joseph Wirth, more or less accomplished his goal. Wirth was a young KPD 'activist' in the Rhineland, from a Catholic background, who had recently fallen into particularly bad habits, and had come to the conclusion that it was not only instrumental that any President of the Republic be removed violently as a prelude to a full scale workers revolt, but that Ebert was particularly monstrous for his use of the Freikorps to suppress the Spartacists, thus 'aiding' in the murders of Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemberg, as well as hundreds of other KPD supporters.



Depiction of the Tiergarten in the 19th century.​
Both Simons and Ebert escaped Wirth's initial, home-made bomb, which exploded, but caused more smoke than it did injury; Wirth proceeded to shoot vaguely in the direction of Ebert, and although most of his shots missed their target, one hit Ebert in the lower chest on his right side, and another on his left, narrowly missing his heart. Although that mattered little - the two shots were good enough to fatally wound Ebert, whose health had always been delicately balanced throughout his life. Simons escaped with only the most minor of injuries.

Needless to say, this was nothing short of an unmitigated disaster for the Republic. Every single grievance, dispute, and hatred came bubbling up to the surface with the murder of Ebert. Emotions took precedence over reason. SPD figures lashed out at what they saw as "contemptible barbarism" of the KPD. Suggestions began to circulate that Ebert's murder had been part of a plot by the nationalist right to overthrow the Republic entirely after the failure of the Kapp Putsch, that Wirth had even been encouraged and assisted by Freikorps men in his actions. Nationalists called for the most intensely violent reprisals against the KPD; "A Communist, by definition, cannot call himself a German.". "Hang them all!" became a rallying cry. A wave of street violence erupted across the Reich, and many had visions of an immediate return to the recent instability.

Nevertheless, the constitution dictated that Ebert's successor should be elected by the people, and so a Presidential election was scheduled for August 14th, after a suitably reverent period of official mourning across the Reich. In such an unstable environment, and with no clear leader amongst the candidates, it would have been miraculous, to say the least, if any candidate gained a majority of the votes, and so it proved:


Code:
Candidate - Votes - Party
Philipp Scheidemann -  11,410,000 - Social Democratic Party (SPD)
Gustav Stresemann - 9,300,000  - German People's Party (DVP)
Wilhelm Marx - 3,090,000 - Catholic Centre Party (Zentrum) 
Ernst Thallmann - 1,470,000 - Communist Party-Independent Socialists (KPD-USPD Alliance)
Otto Gessler - 1,270,000 - German Democratic Party (DDP)
Another round of voting would be required to decide who would be Reichspräsident.
 
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Sir Humphrey

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Nice start, I am enjoying this greatly.
 
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Thanks for the kind words, people. The last update was perhaps a little rushed - further updates will hopefully be more expansive. :)
 
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Excellent. I look forward to an update.
 
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Upheavals - 1920-1924, Part II.

It was clear, after the first round of voting, that the vote of the right had been fatally fragmented. Stressemann, Marx, and Gessler had provided a classic three-way split, and although these three candidates, taken together, easily gathered more votes than Scheidemann, Scheidemann had come out on top by a basic majority - two million votes more than Stresseman, his nearest rival. This filled those on the right with a great deal of dread - Scheidemann was, after all, the man who had declared the Republic - against Ebert's wishes - from a balcony, but a few years before. Scheidemann as President would certainly form a block on any attempt to restore the Monarchy, as some on the right wished, particularly in such parties as the DNVP, which had supported Stressemann's candidacy. Scheidemann as President would also present another symbolic defeat for the right, something which they had certainly had their fill of in recent years. There was, in short, a greater resolve amongst the forces of the right to combine their efforts than at any time since the war.

The problem was, of course, in seeking a candidate who was both generally apolitical, and popular. It seemed obvious that this ruled out most of those from the right who had stood in the first round - most of them were neither terribly experienced, nor were they as universal in their appeal as could be hoped for. It was at this point that some figures within the DVP hit on the idea of approaching a wartime military figure as candidate - someone who would act as a figurehead for the hopes and aspirations of the right-wing, and would - or so they hoped - have sufficent gravitas to convince the other parties of the right to fall behind. It was an inspired suggestion, however, the problem was finding such a man. Generals - and the Prussian variety in particular - traditionally considered themselves above the 'hurly-burly' of domestic politics, and for one of their number to enter a Presidential election would certainly be a rather substantial breach of this custom.

Stressemann himself initially objected to this, not merely on the grounds that it would void his own candidacy - and there was a good chance that Stressemann might have won in the second round as a result of defections - but, perceptively, for it's implications on German foreign policy and Germany's standing abroad. It was a good argument, but one which did not hold much weight with those in his party who wanted victory, pure and simple, and to deal with the possible consequences later. Stressemann, under increasding pressure, relented, and feelers were initiated towards both generals who may be suitable, and the other parties of the right who might be receptive.


Paul von Hindenburg. Prominent on Hindeburg's chest is the Hindenburgstern, awarded to him in 1918, and one of only two awarded up to that point - the other had been given to von Blücher in the Napoleonic wars.​

The most obvious contender was Paul von Hindeburg, former Chief of the General Staff, and hero of the East Prussian campaign and the Battle of the Masurian Lakes. Emissaries from the DVP consulted with Hindenberg's representatives on the idea, but Hindenberg seemed unwilling to enter back into political life so soon after exiting it so abruptly, and in any case, Hindenburg was suffering from a particularly bad chest infection, and was in little fit state to deal with the rigours of preperation that the proposal would have merited, even though there was no suggestion of him actively campaigning.

Although the suggestion was unlikely to have come directly from Hindenburg, the DVP representatives were quickly informed that there was another possible candidate who would be "receptive" to their proposal.


Erich Ludendorff in typically beligerent mood.​

Erich Ludendorff, recently arrived back from 'exlie' in Sweden, seemed to have none of the problems that Hindeburg suffered from; he was eager and willing to be the united candidate of the right, even flattered, providing that "I am free to excercise my own judgement on political matters, and provided that I am not bound to a particular group or party.", which was in any case what was wished of him. In truth, many feared the extent to which Ludendorff would "excercise his own judgement" during the campaign, and would slip up, and a close eye was payed to his utterances by those involved.

Ludendorff would, of course, act as an encouragement to voters of the left. He was, in many ways, a figure of reaction, and the right would face a stiff fight to have him elected. It would also, of course, have the effect of - hopefully - binding together those on the right as well. The DNVP, DDP, and BVP were all eventually persuaded - helped by Stressmann's able skills - to support Ludendorff, after some initial reservation and hesitation. Zentrum predictably stayed away. Perhaps crucially, Zentrum and the SPD were unable to make common cause as a result of disagreements, which now seem petty, over various religious issues, which Scheidemann felt unable to commit to; an added factor was the confidence the SPD felt over the outcome, which was, after all, largely in their favour.


Breslau in happier times.​

Ludendorff's candidacy was greatly assisted with the aid of another uprising on the part of the KPD. On the 9th of September, various KPD party members and activists seized various buildings within Breslau, and took hostage several minor civil servants and suspected Freikorps members, in what appeared, and was feared, to be a startling re-run of actions during the Räterepublik in Munich. The uprising itself appears to have not been centrally planned, as was eagerly claimed at the time, but seems to have been more or less the spontaneous reaction by local party functionaries to various baiting by the particularly aggressive Silesian Freikorps, who were growing tired of brutalising Poles and Czechs, and were now looking for new prey. The result was predictably disastorous as it was shocking - Freikorps men attempted to storm the warehouse were the hostages were being held, resulting in practically all being shot. Eventual casualties reached sixty three, with twenty seven dead.

Irrelevant of the fact that the 'Breslau massacre' as it came to be known, was in large measure the fault of a nationalist paramilitary, many backing Ludendorff jumped on the idea of yet more "Bloodthirsty Jacobins, eager to butcher good women and children.". (In fact there had been no children killed at all during the incident.) A growing swell within the right began to call for a "final reckoning" with the KPD. The KPD themselves, predictably, blamed the whole incident on "The forces of reaction, capital, and aristocracy, who have already predetermined the drive towards the extinction of the Communist movement within Germany, and who, even now, encourage thuggery onto even greater heights."

Voting took place on the 17th of September, during a relative lull in violence (At least by Weimar standards.) The results caused a huge upset both in Germany and outside of it:


Code:
Candidate - Votes - Party
Erich Ludendorff - 14,512,000 - (Officially unaffiliated. Supported by DVP, DNVP, DDP, BVP, various fringe parties)
Philipp Scheidemann -  13,560,000 - Social Democratic Party (SPD)
Wilhelm Marx - 2,460,000 - Catholic Centre Party (Zentrum) 
Ernst Thallmann - 1,490,000 - Communist Party-Independent Socialists (KPD-USPD Alliance)
Erich Ludendorff was thus duly elected Reichspräsident of the Republic.
 
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Yes? No? Suggestions? I kind of panic when people are silent like this. :(
 

Andrzej I

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Excellent AAR so far. So, from what I can see, it looks like you're going to be playing as Germany in the 1936 scenario, right? Either way, good luck with this AAR.
 
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Yes, I'll be playing as Germany from 1936 onwards. What Germany here will be like in 1936 is anyone's guess, of course; I have no grand plan here. I'm making it up as I go along. That sounds like a recipe for disaster, but I find it works fairly well. :D

This is actually my first AAR of my own, come to think of it, although Yogi has let me assist him on 'Iron Crosses' and The Eagle and the Lion.
 

Andrzej I

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Well, as for suggestions, I think it would be interesting if the German monarchy was restored :p . Either that or if it was made Communist.
 
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Germany, or the Monarchy? :D

Hmmm, Comrade Kaiser Wilhelm II. Has a nice ring to it. :p
 

Klavo Hunter

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Yeargh. I dunno who this prussian chappy is, but I assume it'll result in a great lead-in! :)
 
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Yeah. Well. It's hard to make an exciting scenario which doesn't seem hackneyed. Although I'll give it my best shot. :)
 

Chengar Qordath

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Good start to the AAR and it sounds interesting, having Ludendorf in power in Germany. What exactly are his politics going to be like in this alternate history? Historically he was involved with the Nazi party pretty early on, being involved with the Beer Hall Putsch and being elected to the Reichstag as a Nazi representative in 1924. I vaguelly recall him leaving the Nazis in 1928 for being "too moderate."

If he's anything like his historical self this could be bad...
 

unmerged(1020)

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Very interesting. After years of seeing your astute criticism of AARs, I'm certain that this is going to turn out as a very developed scenario.
 
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Chengar Qordath said:
Good start to the AAR and it sounds interesting, having Ludendorf in power in Germany. What exactly are his politics going to be like in this alternate history?
Well, you'll see soon enough. ;)

Thanks for all the support, everybody.