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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Prufrock451

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January 24, 1936

"It's the death of the League of Nations. It's treason and appeasement." Professor Jean Gaspard shifted the weight of his obsidian black coffee mug. "Partitioning Ethiopia! What was Laval thinking?"

Luc Godenot shrugged, crumpling an empty pack of Gauloises. "Perhaps he was hoping to avoid a war?"

"You don't avoid a fight with a dog by giving him a bone. You just delay it to a time of the dog's choosing." He pointed at Godenot. "Speaking of time- your thesis?"

Godenot winced. "Professor, we spoke of this last week. I'll have a draft to you before the end of next month."

Gaspard snorted dismissively. "I allow you to fool me again. Go fetch me fresh coffee. This has gone cold."

"Why do you lug that thing around? There's an espresso-"

"Ech!" Gaspard waved his hand dismissively. "Thick and burnt and it's undrinkable after two damn minutes." He held up his mug, a half-liter of black coffee sloshing inside it. "This? This fuels my imagination and my mind for as long as I wish, as long as my idiot students don't distract me from drinking it with vapid excuses."

Godenot took the mug. "If you're so desperate for stimulation, you should join the Army. I hear this new Prime Minister of ours is calling up reinforcements."

Gaspard scowled. "If you don't get me more coffee and then go work on your thesis, the Army will be the only career option you've got left."
 
Last edited:

Prufrock451

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January 24, 1936

General De Lattre saluted sharply. Prime Minister Sarraut nodded properly and extended his hand. The General's snapped forward to meet it. They shook hands quickly and firmly. De Lattre stepped back and his joints seemed to click into position.

"Please, General, be seated." Sarraut eased himself into his chair. In the corner, workmen were still crating up his books to haul over to his new office. Prime Minister. A small tingle ran up Sarraut's spine.

De Lattre sat. "Sir."

Sarraut held up a thick leather portfolio. "This, General de Lattre, is a great deal of paperwork. It is a dire and thankless slog, which promises nothing but bureaucratic fog and infuriating pettiness. It is the modernization plan for the next year for the French military." Sarraut dropped it on his desk. "I do not like it, and I hear you do not either."

De Lattre nodded cautiously. Sarraut smiled.

"And your plans?"

De Lattre leaned forward. "Modernize all divisions. Prepare national industry to support future expansion of the armed forces. Call up 100,000 men to fill the ranks in the army. Institute a training and reserve program, to make battle-ready manpower available in case of crisis."

Sarraut smiled. "And the political impact of this plan?"

De Lattre shifted uncomfortably. "Sir, I believe that this will win approval on the right by appearing muscular on defense. On the left, it can be presented as a reasonable compromise with war hawks and as a temporary measure to alleviate unemployment."

Sarraut grinned. "Excellent, General!" He stood and extended his hand again. "I look forward to having you as my Chief of Staff."

De Lattre snapped to his feet and saluted. "Sir!"

Sarraut saluted back. "Thank you, General. Now would you do me a favor?"

"Certainly, sir."

"Leon Blum is out there, waiting to strike a deal with me. If you look as satisfied as possible, it will make him think he has little room to manuever."

De Lattre smiled. "That, sir, I can manage."
 

unmerged(9046)

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Great. A new P451 tale! Looking forward to seeing how you do with France...
 

GeneralHannibal

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I've always wanted to do a Popular Front AAR, but I've always wanted to wait 'till I was a better writer and CORE .5 or something was out. Anyway, nice to see an alternate-history version of To Stand Against the Night :).
 

Commander-DK

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Nice start

Sounds interesting! I myself have recently begun to learn more about Sarraut & co. as my research for my own AAR progresses. It will seem your AAR goes a more unhistorical path? It will be exiting to see how that turns out.

Good luck!

:) Jesper
 

Prufrock451

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March 2, 1936

Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin glanced over the map dispassionately.

"So that is another division at Cologne?"

The aide nodded grimly. "Yes, Prime Minister. Fifty thousand troops in all."

Baldwin grunted. He glanced over to Anthony Eden.

"Response yet from the French?"

Eden looked over a sheaf of hasty notes. "They've passed an emergency act shifting some production towards war industry and increasing defense spending by ten percent. Nothing else unilateral. They're waiting for our response."

Baldwin rubbed his chin. He gestured for the aide to leave, and beckoned Eden over to the map. He got out a pointer and drew a wide circle around Germany.

"Until this morning, Germany was hemmed in. France poised to seize the Rhineland at any time, Italy and Poland opposed to annexations on their borders, the Balkan states secure under the French umbrella. Now, the situation has changed, eh?"

Eden nodded. "Quite, sir. This gives the Germans rather a free hand. I imagine he and Mussolini will come to an understanding rather quickly, for starters."

Baldwin leaned over to peer at the Rhineland section of the map, now almost illegible under grease pencil markings and pins. "There's no chance the Germans could keep going?"

"Oh, no, sir. The Maginot Line is impenetrable. As for the north, the French have forty-eight divisions to Hitler's thirty. The Germans won't have the superiority to force the border."

"So it's a stalemate."

"I believe, sir, the term is balance of power."

"So it is." Baldwin stood up. "Well! The French should certainly be humbler now about the price we're asking for those carrier blueprints, eh?"

Eden arched an eyebrow. "They'll certainly be more interested in them, since we allowed the Germans to start rebuilding their navy last year."

"Anthony. You're getting dangerously close to insinuating that we've propped Hitler up to take our beloved allies down a peg."

"Never, Stanley!" Eden lit a cigarette. "The French are beloved?"

Baldwin snorted. "Well, cue the wailing and gnashing of teeth. We'll rumble against the Germans, and soothe the French."

"And quietly congratulate Germany while hinting at our possible neutrality?"

Baldwin glared. "Really, Tony. You know it doesn't do to speak blatantly of these things."

Eden nodded. "Sorry, Stan. Third scotch tonight and the last one."
 

Faeelin

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GeneralHannibal said:
I've always wanted to do a Popular Front AAR, but I've always wanted to wait 'till I was a better writer and CORE .5 or something was out. Anyway, nice to see an alternate-history version of To Stand Against the Night :).
Is Popular Front a mod?
 

GeneralHannibal

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Faeelin said:
Is Popular Front a mod?
No, they are the leftist collation that was elected (IIRC) in May of '36. They were hamstrung by the Radicals though as they were to afraid to take any action.
 

El Pip

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An unusual approach from Baldwin and HMG there. Supremely cynicical, an attitude I approve of. :D Interesting to see how they react to later events. ;)
 

Prufrock451

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Thanks, all!

I haven't tackled France since Doomsday came out. Thought I'd give it another whirl. We'll see if I can reproduce my earlier success.

And if I can't, well, we'll see how well the Free French do. :)

In response to a couple of questions:

Faeelin: Hannibal's got it right. The last time I played as France, I went right. This time, I'm going left. Maybe it'll work better, maybe it won't.

Hannibal: There'll be some more TSATN Easter eggs. Maybe I'll make Skorzeny an academic in this timeline too, and then he and Gaspard can get locked in a brutal struggle over the correct interpretation of symbolism in Greek mythology. :)

DK: My Sarraut and later politicians will probably be a bit unhistorical, largely because I can't be bothered to let research stand in the way of a good story.

El Pip: Sadly, the British obsession with the balance of power lay behind a lot of crucial decisions in the 30s, right up to Munich.
 

Prufrock451

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...The results of the May election surprised few. Leon Blum's Socialist Party became the largest party and thus took control of the leftist coalition government. Sarraut's Radical Party lost some seats and the coalition of the right lost a crushing 130 seats...

Blum took office as Prime Minister in June. Fears of massive strikes by the resurgent Communist Party turned out to be unfounded. Blum launched a series of reforms, including the 40-hour workweek and unionization rights, but these failed to either spur the economy or to hurt it. The first month of Blum's government seemed tailor-made to fit the times; tensions were unresolved, reforms accomplished little, but neither did disaster loom. France seemed to be treading water, and Blum's fractious government, divided and divisive, was more a symptom of malaise than the cure.

All that changed in July of 1936. Suddenly, it seemed, Blum's ministry had stumbled upon its defining moment...

From the Introduction to The Volunteers of '36
 

GeneralHannibal

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Spanish Civil War!


Viva la Revolución!
Viva la República!
Viva liberdade!
 

Prufrock451

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Thanks, Tsk!

Hannibal- Mayyyybe it is, mayyyybe it isn't.

August 1, 1936

Marceau Pivert stared at his typewriter. He was in agonies.

He could hear the parade in the distance- 15,000 men marching to the railyard. To Dax, and then to Bilbao, and then to war. And already, thousands of others had poured past border guards ordered to look the other way- Communists, anarchists, mercenaries- anyone who wanted a fight, but not necessarily the French government's fight.

Pivert had kept his small party disciplined for the last two weeks, his Workers and Peasants' Socialist Party. He despised Blum and his creeping reforms, his quailing before the bleating from the right. He despised the Communists and their casual, brutal cynicism. Most of all, he despised war. He'd been at Ypres, at the Marne, at a hundred places without names that deserved their obliteration from history. He could not sit quietly while the fascists destroyed Spain. But he could not wave a bourgeois flag and applaud while men went to die.

Pivert heard shouting. He looked out his window. Three youths, skulking in his alley, and pointing at the parade route. There would be more fighting tonight. He heard it every night now, shouted slogans and breaking glass. Was it the Revolution? Was it just more right-wing thuggery, the Action Francaise types sliming back out of the woodwork?

These were the times. His words must stir the soul, call men to action. He had to break the logjam, to lead his party, and always, always, to dream of the Revolution and bring it to flower.

But the page was blank, and the parade was moving on outside without him. Pivert sighed wearily and sat, waiting.
 

Prufrock451

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August 2, 1936

Enrique Ferrandiz grinned as he lobbed the grenade. It exploded at a predictable time with a shockingly loud report. It did not cough feebly and take off his right hand. It did not kill anyone except the person Enrique aimed it at. That was exceptional.

Enrique trotted to the next house. A couple of gays from Tours, here to do their part for the anarchist paradise. Except one was dead and the other was just standing in the window, blank look on his face, firing at random. Enrique noted a canteen by the door and silently grabbed it up. It would go to waste otherwise.

He kicked up a cloud of dust moving across the street. A bullet pinged by, almost comical.

"Hey!" Ferrandiz waved jauntily as he flopped down next to El Guerrero. El Guerrero had landed in Barcelona two weeks ago with a name, but things happened fast out here in the war zone, just thirty miles from the sea. El Guerrero had killed twenty men last night, and luckily Ferrandiz had been there with the stupid nickname, to distract the man from staring too long at his handiwork.

El Guerrero stared over, his eyes dull and bloodshot. "Hello." He lifted his rifle and fired two quick shots. "News?"

Ferrandiz gestured down the street. "Beautiful news." He tossed another grenade, listened for shouting. There was none. He slumped a bit and took the cap off the canteen, offering it to El Guerrero. "A victory outside Zaragoza! They're saying we've got four Nationalist divisions trapped up here. Two more weeks and we'll have Madrid back."

El Guerrero stared blankly. "That means we have to move forward against those divisions in the mountains and they'll be desperate to get past us and escape."

Ferrandiz slumped. "Goddammit." He slapped his thigh repeatedly. "God, God, Goddammit." He kicked the canteen away. "Well. It's good news for The People, anyway." He forced his grin back up, one corner of his mouth at a time. "Hey, El Guerrero. Try one of these French grenades. They're brilliant."
 

GeneralHannibal

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Prufrock451 said:
August 2, 1936
Enrique trotted to the next house. A couple of gays from Tours, here to do their part for the anarchist paradise. Except one was dead and the other was just standing in the window, blank look on his face, firing at random. Enrique noted a canteen by the door and silently grabbed it up. It would go to waste otherwise.
Just curious, but did you mean to write that or is it a typo?


Otherwise, great writing! Glad to see the French aid is helping.
 

Prufrock451

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Hannibal, it's not a typo.

At the beginning of the war, Barcelona and the Basque Country were cut off when garrisons from the Mediterranean to Galicia declared for the Nationalists.

(Maps will be coming as discussion of the war develops.)

But, both regions were connected to France. The French government decided to organize a regular division at Dax, which assisted the Basques in their move to cut off the Nationalists at Zaragoza. In Barcelona, local government collapsed when anarchist mobs stormed the armory. Now, a syndicate of anarchist groups controls Catalonia, and Barcelona is the center of the counter-cultural Revolution. Outcasts and misfits of every description have descended on the city to fight for a radical future- ten thousand from France alone. Thousands more are disciplined Communists from every nation on Earth, waiting for Comintern orders. Whether these militias can cooperate- and whether they can maintain friendly relations with the Republican government in Valencia- is the question which will determine the outcome of the war.
 

Morpheus506

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Oh fun, Prufrock's reappeared with a new AAR. I'll have to watch this. :)


.....Skorzeny!!(?)