- Sep 23, 2007
Welcome to my first AAR, The Red Flag Rising. I will be playing as the Soviet Union, beginning in 1936, with Hearts of Iron 2: Doomsday. The only modification I will be using is the Graphics Improvement Pack, edited to remove any illegal/offensive content.
The emphasis of this AAR will be on history and telling a story rather than gameplay. As such, this AAR will no doubt strike some as unrealistic or at the least “gamey”, so for those grognards out there, this may not be your cup of tea. But if you have an open mind and are looking for something interesting and entertaining, I hope I will not disappoint. Please do understand that this is, again, my first AAR and I am not even an experienced HoI player.
Questions and comments are appreciated, as long as they are constructive and substantive. You can be critical if you like, assuming it is in a friendly and helpful way. There are many veteran AAR writers out there and I am sure I have a lot to learn from you.
Anyway, enough with my introductions… On with the show!
It had been almost 20 years since the Soviet Union emerged out of the fires of the Russian Revolution. Following Vladimir Lenin’s death, Joseph Stalin came out victorious from the resulting power struggle. His chief rival, Leon Trotsky, was disgraced and in exile, and his remaining opponents, Grigory Zinoviev and Lev Kamenev, had been neutralized. Stalin wielded absolute power and with it, intended to totally reform Soviet society.
In 1931, Stalin gave a speech to the First All-Union Conference of Leading Personnel of Socialist Industry, in which he said:
“In the past we had no fatherland, nor could we have had one. But now that we have overthrown capitalism and power is in our hands, in the hands of the people, we have a fatherland, and we will uphold its independence. Do you want our socialist fatherland to be beaten and to lose its independence? If you do not want this, you must put an end to its backwardness in the shortest possible time and develop a genuine Bolshevik tempo in building up its socialist economy. There is no other way. That is why Lenin said on the eve of the October Revolution: ‘Either perish, or overtake and outstrip the advanced capitalist countries.’ We are 50 or 100 years behind the advanced countries. We must make good this distance in 10 years. Either we do it, or we shall go under.”
A 1930 propaganda poster declares “We Will Turn the Five Year Plan into a Four Year One.”
The first Five-Year Plan, begun in 1928, had been intended to bring the Soviet Union up to speed, to be on par with its capitalist rivals. Stalin realized that as long as the USSR remained a poor, largely agrarian nation unable to provide its own goods and services, it would be unable to maintain its independence. There was no option but to stand alone and in order to do that, self-reliance had to be achieved. Through great toil and sacrifice, the first plan concluded a year earlier than expected in 1932, prompting the government to pursue a second Five-Year Plan starting in 1933.
This second plan was not as successful, for while there were rapid advances in chemicals and steel production, it fell short in areas such as coal and oil. As 1936 started, important factories were in line for production, with others still waiting to be built. Lazar Kaganovich, the man in charge of implementing Stalin’s economic policies, reported that the construction of the major factories would likely not be completed until early 1938.
Science for the People… And for War
As the Soviet Union struggled to fully realize its economic potential, it also aspired to break new ground in technological advances. Various design bureaus were tasked with developing new forms of machinery so the motherland could engage in the same levels of research and manufacturing as other countries. Once such knowledge was had, the prosperity of the workers and the farmers could be better guaranteed… or so went the propaganda. Stalin promoted a very different image of the Soviet Union than the followers of Lenin once advocated, with their dreams of world revolution. When asked by an American journalist if the Soviet Union had abandoned its plans to carry out a global overthrow of the established order, Stalin replied, “We never had any such intention.”
In truth, however, the Soviet Union was preparing for war. Even before Hitler had started rearming, Stalin had been making plans of his own. In 1930, the Chief of the General Staff, General (now Marshal) Mikhail Tukhachevsky conceived a detailed plan for the rearmament of the Red Army. He wrote:
“Dear Comrade Stalin! I fully understand that one has not just to win a war but to preserve one’s economic might while doing so… By working along those lines you can most profitably solve the problems posed by a Great War. Communist greetings. Tukhachevsky.”
In 1936, the commander of the Leningrad military region, General Boris Shaposhnikov, was hard at work coming up with ways for his masterpiece, The Brain of the Army, to be applied to fighting along large fronts – which would be invaluable when a second world war inevitably erupted. Yakolev Design Bureau, which had just produced a series of trainer aircraft, was sketching plans for planes to intercept and destroy enemy bombers.
General Shaposhnikov shares some of his notes with the Boss.
Meanwhile, the work of Enrico Fermi in regards to nuclear fission prompted nuclear science research in earnest, which had been largely ignored as too conjectural and unfeasible by the Soviet leadership. Igor Kurchatov and his apprentice Georgy Flyorov were given state funding with the hope that their labor would produce something fruitful for the Soviet Union eventually.
I Spy Strangers!
Being a large place, the Soviet Union had many places for spies from foreign countries to hide – which was something Stalin could not tolerate. He was playing a dangerous game – working with the United Kingdom and France on one hand while sending positive overtures to Germany, all while pursuing his own agenda; drafting a constitution and making advances to give the appearance of progress, while maintaining an iron grip of total control.
He tasked his security chief, Yan Berzin, with utilizing the Red Army’s Fourth Bureau, the GRU, to flush out intelligence agents who could pose a threat in the near and far future. Although it was a timely process with mixed profits, gradually the number of infiltrators within Soviet society was drastically reduced.
That's it for now. I'll do my best to have the rest of 1936 (including the start of the Spanish Civil War!) up by tomorrow.