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rBKVCB2.png

Chapter 22
Masha


9 September, 1938

Masha stepped off the trolley and pondered how, a little over two years ago, she had done so with the fear of it being blown up. She stilled remembered that one fateful day, which was the first in her job at the radio station, when she had spent the entire ride with her heart thumping within her chest, and how she had breathed a sigh of relief after stepping off. That was when the military still ruled the government, and Communists were committing attacks against the populace left and right. How things had changed now, and not just in regards to the safety of public transport. Stepping off the trolley now, people seemed much more content, and life seemed to be returning to a state as normal as any other nation in Europe.

Even Masha had found life improving for her. Ever since she covered the trial of Yakov Yurovsky, and the American report on her had spread back to Russia, people had begun turning in to hear the voice of “Moscow Masha”, as she’d begun to be known. It was a silly nickname, but one she much preferred over “the Va-Va-Voom Girl of the Volga”. The studio executives had taken notice of it, and had rewarded her with an increase in pay. She’d used it to treat herself a bit: no longer dressed in plain clothes, she’d gone out shopping for a silk white blouse and a light gray pencil skirt. She’d even gotten her hair some curls, which she caught a look at in the reflection of a window as she headed towards the studio. A few pats of the side of her head followed, as she tried to gently adjust it. For once she was actually fairly proud of how she looked.

Of course, one thing that hadn’t changed at all was her relationship with her coworkers, Ivan and Alexei. She found them at their usual places in the audio booth, with Ivan keeping a watch at the controls and Alexei puffing away at a cigarette. The ash tray beside him only had about five butts, which meant Alexei was having a calm day. As soon as she entered, Alexei looked up briefly from a script and gave her a wave with a cigarette-stained hand, while Ivan gave her a greeting, but proceeded to stretch the limits of his peripheral vision as his eyes glanced back at the controls.

“Here’s your script for you,” Alexei said, handing the papers over.

“Thank you.” Masha clutched the papers. “Anything I should be aware about?”

Alexei shrugged. “Nothing, really. More of the same from Spain, a little bit on Germany, and a few bits about the Empire. It’s probably going to be a boring day.”

Masha shrugged again, then walked into the studio. She took her spot at her desk and began to get herself settled. As she placed the large headphones over her head, it dawned on her that her brand new hairstyle would probably get disheveled. Ah well. At least she looked good on the trolley ride.

“We go on in a few,” Ivan called out. He held up a finger for emphasis, and Masha nodded in return. The minute passed by rather quickly, and it wasn’t long before Ivan was giving her a countdown with his hand. As the last finger went down, the light in the corner of the room flickered on.

Dobroye utro. This is Maria Stepanova for the Moscow service. Here is the news.”

She looked down to her script.

“The Spanish Civil War continues to rage on the Iberian Peninsula. The Communists have launched a massive offensive, taking much of the northern territory and pushing the Falangists towards the northwest. Meanwhile, the Republicans have attempted to regain ground lost in the south. Gibraltar was retaken after a long battle, and the Republican government has relocated there after the Communists stormed the symbolic location some months ago. Reports from Madrid say that, because of the damage done to the city and the many times it has switched hands during the campaign, it is all but a ghost town.”

2Dxbhhc.png

Masha turned the page.

“Talks have begun with the Belarusian government regarding a potential unification with the Russian Empire. Belarus was part of the Empire before the last war, but gained independence during the chaos of the Civil War. As part of her policy in reuniting Russian lands, her majesty has opened channels with the different levels of Belarusian government in a peaceful unification. The Belarusian legislature has agreed to hold a vote among the people to see whether or not the two nations should unite. Belarusian President Vasil Zacharka has condemned this move by Empress Anastasia as shameless imperialism, and has urged the Belarusian people to vote against unification. He has even compared the move to Adolf Hitler’s recent plebiscite to reunite Austria.”

ky1I5H7.png

Masha turned the page.

“Negotiations continue in Europe over the Sudetenland territory in Czechoslovakia. This region, largely inhabited by native Germans, has been claimed by Adolf Hitler’s government after claims of atrocities by the Czechoslovakian government. The Czechoslovaks have denied such claims, and accuse Hitler’s Nationalist Socialist Party of inciting riots within their borders. France, Czechoslovakia’s ally, has stepped in to defend Czech autonomy, with President Edouard Daladier claiming that this will only be the first of many demands for concessions from Hitler. Romania has likewise pledged support of Czechoslovakia and has promised troops to assist Czechoslovakia against any German invasion. Britain has made calls for intervention and mediation, with Prime Minister Chamberlain asking for a talk on potential concessions to avoid a full blown war.”

Through the glass, Masha could see Ivan give her a countdown. She nodded in acknowledgment. “And that is your news for this top of the hour. We now turn to Islamey, composed by Mily Balakirev. This is Maria Stepanova for the Moscow service.”

The light flickered off.

Alexei muttered something to Ivan and stood up, walking out of the room with a trail of smoke following behind him. Masha had to imagine he was going to have a chat with some of the producers. She was never privy to those conversations, anyway. After placing the headphones down on the table, she stood up and walked over to the door of the studio, opening it. She crossed her arms and leaned against it as she glanced Ivan’s way. “How’s he been?”

“Oh, puffing away. I’m amazed at times he hasn’t transformed into a train.” Ivan’s eyes glanced along Masha’s form. “You dressed fancy today. Have an event at the palace with the Empress?”

Masha giggled. “No, I just wanted to treat myself. Is there anything good at the cinema I should go and see?”

Ivan stroked his chin. “Actually, there’s that new movie out I was really wanting to see. Alexander Nevsky – have you heard of it?”

“No, I don’t think I have.”

“It’s by Sergei Eisenstein. It’s about an invasion-”

Rapid footsteps were heard outside. Alexei suddenly came barging through the door, a piece of paper crinkled in his hand. “We need to do a cut in!”

“What’s wrong?” Ivan asked.

“We need to go back on air right now! Maria, back in the studio! Ivan, get it ready.”

Masha was about to head into the studio when Alexei cursed and quickly handed her the newest page of the script. Masha snatched it and scurried into the studio, plopping into her seat. In a rush, she practically threw her headphones over her hair, and she was certain it was messed up now. She read over her script once… and froze. The words stared back at her.

“Maria?!” called Alexei. “Are you ready?”

Masha nodded. The light flashed on.

“We interrupt this broadcast for a special news bulletin: Germany has just declared war on Czechoslovakia. I repeat: Germany has just declared war on Czechoslovakia. There is no official statement from the Imperial government, but we will keep you posted as information comes in.”

3iL8bl1.png

The light switched off, and Ivan began to transition back to the music. Alexei was already lighting up another cigarette. “This is bad. Oh this is bad, this is bad.”

“What are you worrying about?” Ivan asked. “They didn’t declare war on Russia.”

“Are you an idiot?” Alexei barked. “Don’t you realize what this means? France will declare on Germany. So will Romania. Britain won’t want France to be overrun, so they’ll join in too. There’s about to be a major war in Europe that may grow into something like the last one.”

Masha had placed her headphones down and walked over to the open door. It only dawned on her then that they had been in such a rush they hadn’t bothered to close it. Not that it mattered, given how short they’d been online. She just hoped half of Russia didn’t hear Alexei puffing away on a cigarette.

“You think it’ll be as bad as the last one?” Ivan asked.

“You think Hitler is going to just give up after a border skirmish? You think he’s going to give up if things go south for him? No, he’s going to fight until he gets what he wants. He’s going to fight until he has Czechoslovakia, Romania, France, and any other nation in his way under his thumb.” A deep inhale consumed half of his cigarette. “Mark my words, this war is going to be bad.”

“What do you think the Empress will do?” Maria asked.

Alexei opened his mouth, then closed it. He shook his head and puffed on the cigarette. “I don’t know… we’ll have to see…”
 
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TheButterflyComposer

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Game. Set.

Now what does Russia do? Cos I imagine they have a lot to gain from entering the war on their own terms...but they aren't ready yet.

If they can pull a US style entry further along the line though, all their territories in Europe should be restored and their Pacific empire reestablished...

Hmm. Opportunity knocks.
 
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Historically Czechoslovakia also had an alliance of sorts with the Soviet Union, but they didn't get involved in the Munich Crisis. It seems this time Russia will be left out too.
 

Golden Dragon

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Another damned thing in the Balkans sets up another world war. But in the meanwhile are going to reclaim all imperial territories including ones that previous Tsars sold off?
 

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Now what does Russia do? Cos I imagine they have a lot to gain from entering the war on their own terms...but they aren't ready yet.

If they can pull a US style entry further along the line though, all their territories in Europe should be restored and their Pacific empire reestablished...

Hmm. Opportunity knocks.

How Russia handles the situation will, obviously, be revealed in coming chapters.

Historically Czechoslovakia also had an alliance of sorts with the Soviet Union, but they didn't get involved in the Munich Crisis. It seems this time Russia will be left out too.

Correct. As I recall, the Soviet Union even thought of sending troops to Czechoslovakia in case Germany invaded, but Poland and Romania both refused to grant them access. (Poland was hoping to grab their own chunk of Czechoslovakia. A lot of nations in Europe were trying to grab land - it's easy to remember only Germany's antics, since they were the most successful.)

Another damned thing in the Balkans sets up another world war. But in the meanwhile are going to reclaim all imperial territories including ones that previous Tsars sold off?

There's quite a lot of formerly Russian land that needs to return. Belarus, Finland, all the Baltic states...

Like I said, a lot of nations in Europe were out to get back land they had formerly owned.

You call Czechloslovakia "Balkans"? Ooh boy...

oarGJ.gif
 
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Crimson Lionheart

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Hitler wasn't satisfied and now Europe is about to explode once more. Things will get worse before they get better.
 

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If I was in this position I would honestly focus on taking out japan while Germany is busy so I would not have to worry about a potential Japanese invasion and to secure some puppet states.
 

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I know it's really not the point, but

It’s by Sergei Eisenstein

Eisenstein still being around and about and able to make films is a good thing to know, although whether the Tsarist regime tolerates his 'formalism', who's to say…

Germany going in all guns blazing over Czechoslovakia is obviously bad, but there's some light at least in that Daladier has decided to stand up to the Reich earlier on. Might even force Chamberlain to grow a backbone.
 

Henry v. Keiper

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Hitler wasn't satisfied and now Europe is about to explode once more. Things will get worse before they get better.

Oh, how right you are...

If I was in this position I would honestly focus on taking out japan while Germany is busy so I would not have to worry about a potential Japanese invasion and to secure some puppet states.

Unfortunately in HoI4 world, it's not quite as simple as, say, Hearts of Iron 1 on release date. As much as it would be nice to declare war on Japan right now and send the Cossacks galivanting all over Manchuria, that can't happen at the drop of a hat. You have to go through events and while there are events in the mod to send you in that direction, I didn't have access to them at this point in the gameplay.

Eisenstein still being around and about and able to make films is a good thing to know, although whether the Tsarist regime tolerates his 'formalism', who's to say…

Germany going in all guns blazing over Czechoslovakia is obviously bad, but there's some light at least in that Daladier has decided to stand up to the Reich earlier on. Might even force Chamberlain to grow a backbone.

Eisenstein will be fine, largely because the guy writing this AAR is a big fan of his work. The reference to Alexander Nevsky being about an invasion was meant as a subtle lead-in to the breaking news about Germany invading Czechoslovakia. Since, of course, the movie was meant to be an allegory of a potential invasion from Nazi Germany. (Which, wowie-zowie, really did happen.)

I did think about putting in some detail on what Eisenstein's early works looked like, since with Communism being gone, many of them would either not be made or would have to be set to a different theme. This gives us a whole host of possibilities. Would Battleship Potemkin even be made? Would October: Ten Days That Shook the World be about the Revolution, or would the month be changed to make it about Wrangel's conquest of Moscow? Of course, with Stalin not being the one in charge, the biggest thing this will mean is that, in this timeline, Eisenstein will be able to actually finish his Ivan the Terrible trilogy!
 

Henry v. Keiper

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Considering what happened in that scene, that might make things dark.

But also be historically accurate...
 

cybandeath

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Unfortunately in HoI4 world, it's not quite as simple as, say, Hearts of Iron 1 on release date. As much as it would be nice to declare war on Japan right now and send the Cossacks galivanting all over Manchuria, that can't happen at the drop of a hat. You have to go through events and while there are events in the mod to send you in that direction, I didn't have access to them at this point in the gameplay.
Do you have justify war disabled or something?? cause that is what I would have used.
 

Henry v. Keiper

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Do you have justify war disabled or something?? cause that is what I would have used.

I do, but the Empire of Russia is still considered a democracy of sorts, so the ability to justify war is still limited.

There are other events related to Japan, however, and this will come into play as the story progresses.
 

Bullfilter

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Alexei shrugged. “Nothing, really. More of the same from Spain, a little bit on Germany, and a few bits about the Empire. It’s probably going to be a boring day.”
Hah, always a giveaway: saying guarantees anything but! :D
Rapid footsteps were heard outside. Alexei suddenly came barging through the door, a piece of paper crinkled in his hand. “We need to do a cut in!”
I knew it. ;)
“Don’t you realize what this means? France will declare on Germany. So will Romania. Britain won’t want France to be overrun, so they’ll join in too. There’s about to be a major war in Europe that may grow into something like the last one.”
So, no Munich and an early entry for France into the war, with all that might imply. Interested to see how that unfolds.
“What do you think the Empress will do?” Maria asked.

Alexei opened his mouth, then closed it. He shook his head and puffed on the cigarette. “I don’t know… we’ll have to see…”
The question we all have ...
How Russia handles the situation will, obviously, be revealed in coming chapters.
... and look forward to hearing the answer in due course.
Eisenstein will be fine, largely because the guy writing this AAR is a big fan of his work.
Nice one! Always helps to have (the virtual) God on your side!
 
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Henry v. Keiper

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Hah, always a giveaway: saying guarantees anything but! :D

I knew it. ;)

Ironically, Maria, Alexei, and Ivan probably have the most exciting, unpredictable jobs in the AAR.
 
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PART II - THE EAGLE ARISES

Henry v. Keiper

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rBKVCB2.png

Chapter 01
Manstein


16 October, 1938

How quickly the pages of history turned. How unpredictable the plans of the Lord proved to be. He hadn’t expected Czechoslovakia to hold her ground in regards to the Sudetenland. Indeed, with the internal turmoil he heard about, both from the ethnic Germans and the ethnic Slovaks, Manstein expected the Czechoslovakian government to cave in to the slightest bit of pressure. Yet this wasn’t to be. The Romanian government had promised her support in light of war. The French government had promised her support, and declared that the French and Czechoslovakian militaries combined were more than a match for the German army. So it was that when the final ultimatum was given, the Czechoslovakian government retorted that there would not be one inch of Czech land surrendered.

Manstein had hoped that Hitler would come to his senses. He had hoped that OKH would reign the Fuehrer in. Spend more time with negotiations. Maybe Chamberlain could bring the French and Romanians to their senses? As it was, Hitler was furious, and believed that it was time for Germania to rise. OKH, Manstein had discovered time and time again, was too weak-willed to oppose the Fuehrer. Ludwig Beck, Manstein’s superior and Chief of Army General Staff, had resigned in protest, but it did little to sway the course of events. When the Czechs dared to defy the Third Reich, the Third Reich responded: it was war.

There was a domino effect that Manstein knew would happen – indeed, he and many other generals feared this would be the case. The French immediately pledged their support, and the Romanians with them. Germany was now opposed by three nations, and on two fronts.

Worst yet, the German military was not yet prepared for any major attack. Ideas had been formulated, then modified at the last minute or rejected. Berlin would radio for all units to be mobilized, only for the soldiers to be sent back to the barracks a few days later. Any time the French or Czechs seemed willing to negotiate again, the military was told to stand down. As a result, any major attack would most likely not happen until a month or two after the declaration of war. This was precisely the fear that Beck had conveyed to Manstein, and why he had told the Fuehrer that any attack against Czechoslovakia now would be premature.

ynGg7xo.png

If the German army was caught off guard, the French and Czech armies certainly were not. Already, major attacks from the Sudetenland were being launched by the Czechs, and the French had begun an offensive all along the Alsace-Lorraine border. French units were crossing the Rhine, attempting to make a beachhead on the other side. German units were defending bravely against these attacks, and most of them proved to be bloody. Up north, near Saarbruecken, where no such river crossing had to be made, the French were pressuring the German units to give way.

IvHVQpN.png

Perhaps the biggest shock was that the Czech armies had actually managed to penetrate the German lines along their western border. Less than a month after the start of the war, they had created a bulge in the lines and managed to capture Weiden, with the city of now Nuremberg threatened. This naturally enraged the Fuehrer, and for good reason. Nuremberg had been the location of every Nationalist Socialist party rally since 1927, and only this year it had held the 10th Party Congress, also known as the Reichsparteitag Großdeutschland to celebrate the annexation of Austria. Now, a few weeks after the party rally, it was being threatened to have Czech soldiers march down its streets. Needless to say, this would be a major embarrassment to Germany and the Party, and would likewise be a major morale boost for the enemy. Post hoc counterattacks were being made from south of the bulge, and thankfully seemed to be pushing the Czechs back towards their border.

okTh7SS.png

Manstein’s concern was, of course, more of a military than a political persuasion. It was clear as day to him what was going on: the Czechs wanted to catch the German army unprepared and gain the initiative, while France was making good on its promise to defend Czechoslovakia. The claims from French leadership that the French and Czech armies were a match for Germany, at least in terms of size, were certainly true. This was clearly seen in France’s attack, which was gaining ground along the northern section of her border with Germany, gaining ground along German lines. The Czech counterattack would most likely soon be contained, but they were showing the world that they would not be easily conquered.

Still, if intelligence reports were to be trusted, the casualties were mounting among Germany’s enemies, with two or three enemy soldiers killed for every German. This had been partially Manstein’s plan all along, after all: let the French attack, let the French gain ground, then wear themselves out, and counterattack. The Fuehrer may have not liked the idea of German ground being lost so early in the war, but if a temporary loss of ground meant a long-term victory, it had to be done.

There were other concerns for Manstein. The news had reported that a vote had been held in Belarus, and the people had voted by a large majority to reunite with Russia. Vasil Zacharka, the Belarusian president, had called on his people to resist Russian rule shortly before he himself fled the country. Few governments cared or gave any concern, of course. With a major war erupting that threatened to be just as big as the last one, a small nation in Eastern Europe being swallowed up through a flawed vote wasn’t of much concern.

czAXheJ.png

There were greater concerns about this situation, however. In Manstein’s mind, this only drew Russia closer to Germany. What if Germany finally managed to push through Czechoslovakia, and afterward Romania? That would put Russia on her borders. Worst yet, what if Hitler decided to go to war with Poland over Danzig? Taking Poland would now bring the Third Reich right next door to the Empire of Russia, and enlarge their point of contact. While at the moment, the German military was more than a match for the Russian army, Manstein still viewed the Empress Anastasia and her country as a peculiar wild card in the hand of Europe.

Manstein sighed at these thoughts. Things were bound to get more complicated than simple. What did this mean for Germany? Only the Lord knew at this point…
 
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TheButterflyComposer

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Luckily for Russia, Germany seems determined to solve its own existence for her.
 
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