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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Uriah

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Those of you of advanced years may remember that in the days when HOI3 reigned supreme, there was a long running AAR following the career of a filing section of a government department in Berlin, followed by an even longer (epic length!) AAR on the activities of the Fuhrer’s doppelganger.

Well, after many years, I have decided to again put fingers to keyboard. I have finally got to like HOI4 enough to play it seriously, as in for more than a week or so. And I feel the urge to bore the general public with my interpretation of what is going on behind the computer screen.

I had considered basing my story in either Tokyo or Rome, but after some thought I had to abandon those locales as my ignorance of pre-war Japan and Italy overwhelmed me. So it is Germany yet again. (The Allies, I find, are a bit boring to play as not a lot happens for long periods).

First – a little information.

I do not claim to be a great player, not even a good player. I play for fun, so if you are looking for tips on how to maximise division structures or find exploits, this is not for you. I don’t cheat, but if I forget to do something I will sometimes go back and do it. Not because it makes my position better, but because it annoys me when I am about to do something and my wife distracts me with reminders about RL, making me forget important things. (All mistakes are her fault).

Played computer games for decades – yes, my little ones, I played the original HOI when it came out. Also play boardgames, normally enormous.

Playing HOI4 Hydra 1.7.1 with Black Ice 4.1.3. No other mods.

I try to be a realistic so nothing too far from history. In case you think I will be plodding along a well worn path, I have not played BI further than 1936, so most of it will be a surprise for me. Though you may think "plodding" is the right word.

If I have not put you off already (I warn you, my AARs are long and no detail is too small), shortly I will start “The Schwartzeis Saga: a family trying to make sense of confusing times”.


PS If I get something wrong, either factually, in a photo, or (most likely) in my attempts to use to use the German language, feel free to tell me. With a wife and three daughters, I am well used to criticism, and am always ready to learn. I am naturally grumpy, but not on-line.




Spoilerette (for those who, like me, get confused by all the names)


The basic characters. It is likely more will be added – you have to be 21 to join the family business discussions. Hermann Schwartzeis is a traditionalist.


The Schwartzeis family, owners of Schwartzeis Lederarbeiter und Stoffhersteller GmbH. This AAR will follow their experiences from 1936 until their house on the Berliner Straße, Charlottenburg is blown up, occupied by invading forces or I run out of enthusiasm.


Herr Hermann Schwartzeis (70) b 1866 m 1890

Inherited Schwarteis Lederarbeiter GmbH in 1910 and has seen it grow since, despite the Depression. Too old for WW1 but active in the Freikorps. Now strictly non-political

And his wife

Frau Margarethe Schwartzeis (nee Vanille) (68) b 1868 m 1890

Active in the business, and in business circles

Margarethe’s friend Marthe Schneider: wife of Fritz who owns a road building company



The oldest child

Frau Ilse von Willemburg (nee Schwartzeis) (44) b 1892 m 1912

And her husband

Oberst Günter von Willemburg (47) b 1889 m 1912

Served in Army WW1, wounded Battle of Marne, Freikorps, now something in the Heer, close to von Seekt

And their children

Rudolf von Willemburg (23) b 1913

Journalist with „Berlin Illustrirte“

Karl und Kurt von Willemburg (21) b 1915

Karl – trainee pilot Luftwaffe

Kurt – electrical engineering student, Technische Hochschule of Berlin" ("TH Berlin")

Maria b 1918 d 1919


The oldest son

Erich Schwartkreis (40) b 1894 m 1920

Heir to the business. In Kriegsmarine during WW1, based in Wilhelmshaven, runs naval branch of Schwartzeis Lederarbeiter und Stoffhersteller GmbH

And his wife

Ingrid Schwartzeis (36) (nee Becker) b 1900 m 1920

Daughter of steel producer, contacts in armaments industries


The youngest child

Sigmund Schwartzkreis (36) b 1900 m 1930

Diplomatic corps, Nazi party contacts

And his wife

Adelaide Schwartzkreis (24) (nee Reimann) b 1914 m 1930


Housekeeper

Hilde

Her oldest son, Franz, employed in the Deutche Reichsbahn
 
Last edited:

Uriah

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The Schwarzeis Saga: A Family Trying to Make Sense of Confusing Times


Wednesday, 1st January 1936


It is mid-morning in Berlin. A small amount of snow overnight has tidied up the scenery and, if one ignored the cold, it is a pleasant day, the sun shining and only a gentle breeze. The fairly affluent borough of Charlottenburg is quiet and still, its inhabitants recovering from Silvester celebrations.
Inside a solid, but not ostentatious, house on Berliner Straße, breakfast is finishing. The housekeeper is pouring coffee for the ten family members seated around the long table.​



The house in Berliner Straße in sunnier times
At the head of the table sits Hermann Schwartzeis, successful businessman and head of Schwartzeis Lederarbeiter und Stoffhersteller GmbH. He looks around the table and clears his throat. The sound is drowned out by the noise of several conversations taking place simultaneously. Before he can again try to gain attention, from the opposite end of the table Margarethe Schwatrzkreis taps her cup with a tea spoon. The others look at her and silence falls.

“Thank you. I don’t suppose this is the right time to bring up this subject, but I can’t think when would be a good time. So let’s get it done. I have something that I want to tell you all, and that includes you Günter and you, Ingrid. You are both part of our family now.”

Some of the family look a little apprehensive, the younger members look amused. The housekeeper picks up a tray and moves to the door, but Frau Schwartzeis stops her.

“No, sit down Hilde. You have been with us since your husband died 20 years ago, and we …. ” she glances at her husband as if daring him to disagree “…. consider you one of the family.”

While the housekeeper takes a spare chair from the table, places it against the wall and sits, Herr Schwartzeis continues as if nothing has happened.

“As you all know, I have a firm policy never to get involved in politics. When my father handed over control of Schwartzeis und Sohn to me back in 1910, he warned me of the dangers of getting too involved in such matters, and I have done my best to keep to that principle.​



Boom times: Schwartzeis und Sohn boot manufacturing during WW1
But still, I have had concerns since Herr Hitler was appointed Chancellor almost three years ago. Concerns for this family, for our business. That dreadful Nacht der langen Messer in 1934 horrified me, that our country had come to such a level of barbarity. Then things seemed to quiet down, and I thought it all might sort itself out, and we would soon return to normality.

Events of the last year, however, have convinced me that we face an uncertain future. Of course, the announcement that conscription was to be re-introduced was good for business, and I think Erich will agree with me that the naval agreement with the British will lead to a huge increase of orders from the Kriegsmarine. But these effectively signal the end of the peace treaty. I am no supporter of the Diktat, but I am worried at what all this means for Germany.​



The New York Times reports the agreement​

I have come to the conclusion that Herr Hitler plans to take us to war, and the thought terrifies me. It is no so long since the last war. I remember the deaths of so many of the boys we knew, and the loss of my only granddaughter because of the blockade.” Ilse turned pale but checked herself from displaying any further emotion.

“And after that the chaos. Thank God for the Freikorps.” Everyone looks at Erich and Günter, both of whom sit impassively.

“And then the inflation in the 20s. Trying to run a business then was a challenge. I remember … “



50 billion marks bank note– 50,000,000,000,000 marks​

An audible whisper comes from the end of the table where the twins Karl and Kurt von Willemburg sit. “Back in the day, when I was a boy ….”.

Frau Schwartzeis glares at the two young men, who suddenly become intensely interested in their coffee.

“But that is by the by. The important thing is that we, and by that I mean all of us sitting here and the other children, the whole family Schwartzeis, and our employees, face a future that is unpredictable.

And, as I have often said …”

He pauses to look at the twins, but they remain silent, though a slight shaking of their shoulders shows that this might be a struggle.

“ … information gives certainty.”

Another pause as his eyes sweep around the room, making sure that all are paying attention.

“As a result, I intend that we shall meet, just like this, once a month. We all have access to information as a result of our activities and our contacts, and while those individual pieces of information may seem unimportant, when put together they should give us a picture of current events. We can use that knowledge to safeguard not only our businesses and our careers, but also the future for our children.



The “Berliner Illustrirte Zeitung” of December 14, 1939. The weekly magazine also had serious stories​

I took the liberty of speaking of this to Rudolf before he set off to Eritrea last November, and asked him to write to me with news of the Italian adventure. While his stories will appear in the “Berlin Illustrirte” I am more interested in the background, the rumours, the motivation of the actors. The Italians are the first to openly defy the English and French, and what happens in Ethiopia may give us some sort of prediction of what is to come. Anyway, I have here his letter that arrived just before Weihnachten.”

He pulls out a couple of sheets of notepaper and starts to read.

“Liebe Großvater,

I trust you and the rest of the family are in good health. I have written separately to my parents, so I won’t bore you with details of how I am eating and how I am being careful. As if one can be careful when covering a war!”

Günter smiles, but Ilse looks less happy at her eldest son’s revelation.



Massawa in 1936: the main port of Italian Eritrea.​

“When I arrived in Massawa (I have enclosed a photograph of the port) in late November, the “war” if you can call it that, had been going on for more than a month. The Italians had advanced against virtually no opposition, taking Adowa (the scene of the Italian defeat in the 1st Italian-Ethiopian War), Axum and then Makale. Mussolini was so impressed at these victories he promoted Emilio de Bono to “Marshal of Italy”.

From what I can gather, there is not much evidence that de Bono had done much to deserve this. The Ethiopians put up little resistance, and the Italians have an enormous force here in the north. At least 400,000 men with tanks and aircraft. Not to forget the journalists – the Italian press has sent at about 200, including photographers. This war is incredibly popular in Italy. My Italian, though poor, is luckily good enough to become friendly with some of the photographers, so I have enclosed some photographs. Hard to judge the size of the Ethiopian forces – they probably have more men, but lightly armed and no modern weapons.



Eritrean troops assembled for the advance on Asowa​

I have to rely on the Italian press attaché for news from Italian Somaliland. Graziani is not doing much, even though he has more than 250,000 men. The word is that he has orders to simply hold fast and pin down the Ethiopians in the south.

The fighting here has been pretty one-sided. The Italians advance until the enemy are located. Then they sit and wait while the aircraft fly over and identify targets for the artillery. Enemy concentrations and strongpoints are blasted as the aircraft circle above, relaying the results to the artillerymen. When the aircraft advise the way is clear, the infantry move forward and mop up the survivors. If necessary, a few tanks can sort out the more stubborn defenders, or they halt and send the artillery spotters over again. With no aircraft of their own, the Ethiopians cannot do much.



Anti-aircraft fire in Ethiopia​

The real problem is the roads, or the lack of them. Supplying the Italian army as it advances is becoming more of a problem. Vehicles are constantly breaking down on the rough tracks and creating stockpiles for offensives is a huge problem.

I am told that de Bono insisted that before he launched another offensive that he be given time to construct roads up to the front line. The Ethiopians have pulled back about 100 km, so that would be a pretty big job. That seems to have been the reason why a few weeks after I arrived he was replaced by General Badoglio.



Italian troops advance along a “road”​

Have you in Germany heard about the diplomatic fiasco in November? Britain and France apparently don’t want to fight for a bunch of Ethiopians, even though they are strong supporters of the League of Nations. The British and the French made some sort of secret agreement whereby they would allow the Italians to have most of Ethiopia as payment for stopping the fighting which was embarrassing the League. Some journalist found out and there was a huge outcry in France where anti-Italian feeling is strong. The British Foreign Secretary had to resign, but Prime Minister Laval survived in France. The Italians found it all most amusing.

The latest news is that the Ethiopians have struck back in the north and are massing their forces in the south. The Italians suffered a defeat at Dembeguina Pass, losing hundreds of men and being forced to retreat. The survivors passed through Aksum where I am at the moment, and I spoke to several, including one from the Tyrol whose German was good enough for me to get the following details.



Armed with only twin 8mm machine guns, the L3 is vulnerable when poor road conditions allowed it be attacked by infantry​

The Italians had moved through the pass in some strength, about 1,000 soldiers of the Regio Corpo Truppe Coloniali (Eritrean ascaris) backed by half a dozen tanks. On 15th December, they came under attack by about the same number of Ethiopians, and their commander Major Criniti, decided to withdraw to the pass and set up a defence there. He found, however, that thousands more Ethiopians had blocked his retreat. Surrounded by enemy forces and outnumbered, Criniti called for reinforcements. More tanks and infantry were sent but they could not break through the pass. The Ethiopians showed ingenuity in rolling rocks down onto the road to block the tanks and the infantry were pinned down by rifle fire from the heights. Finally, with his infantry taking heavy losses and his tanks useless, Criniti ordered a bayonet charge. This was successful and he broke through to safety. He lost about half his men and all his tanks, and while the Italians are a bit secretive, it is apparent that this has started a large-scale withdrawal.



The Ethiopian advance in December 1935​

I can’t verify it, but I believe that this was not an isolated attack. It seems that the entire right wing of Badoglio’s army has pulled back under pressure from the victorious Ethiopians and the centre and left wing are also under attack.

The Italians are confident however this is only a temporary setback. There are already plans being prepared for a counter-attack. Disturbingly, there are rumours that Mussolini has approved the use of mustard and phosphene gas but it is impossible to verify this – the slightest mention of gas brings the shutters down.

That’s all for now. Hope this gives you an idea of the situation here, and that it gives you something to think about. Make sure you tell Mama I have 400,000 soldiers keeping me safe, though she will still worry.

Rudolf”

Herr Schwartzeis put done the letter.

“As you can see, the Italians are fighting a real war in Abyssinia. This could be a preview of what we face. Any comments?”

He looks around the room.

Major von Willemburg hesitates before speaking.

“That ties in with what I am told by my contacts on the General Staff, though they seem to be getting a more flattering picture of the performance of the Italian forces. Interesting that the light tanks are not really a match for determined infantry, even if lightly armed, and cannot operate on anything but almost flat ground. I am most interested however in the performance of the artillery. Whatever the tank enthusiasts might say, it still the key to winning battles, and the use of aircraft to provide immediate reports on accuracy is an area we in the Heeresabnahmstelle have decided is critical for the Heer.



Italian artillery in Ethiopia​

I hope my son does not get too close to the actual fighting, but his information definitely gives us something to think about. And when I say us, I mean those present now, our family. I look forward to our meeting next month, and will bring you up to date with what is happening here in Berlin.”

The rest of the table looks suitably impressed that the Oberst, the family member with the most military experience, has taken Herr Schwartzeis’ proposal so seriously. There is a moment’s silence before Frau Schwartzeis stands.

“That is enough business for now. Hilde, please clear the table. Karl and Kurt, you will assist her – you seem to have plenty of energy. That is, of course, if you approve Ilse?”

Taking silence as acquiescence, she continues.

“Hermann and I will expect you all back here for dinner on Saturday 1st February. Does anyone have an objection to that date? No? Then off you go. The sun is shining, and we have spent enough time closed up in here. I think a stroll to the Tiergarten is in order”.
 
Last edited:

stnylan

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One is tempted to say "how little they know ..."

I do love the description of doing business in the era of hyperinflation as "a challenge" to be an understatement almost worthy of the most dour Brit - must be that shared Germanic heritage :)
 

Uriah

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One is tempted to say "how little they know ..."

I do love the description of doing business in the era of hyperinflation as "a challenge" to be an understatement almost worthy of the most dour Brit - must be that shared Germanic heritage :)
I don't know how anyone could run a business in times like that, but they did somehow. I heard labourers insisted on being paid at lunchtime so that they could spend their pay before it became worthless in the evening.
 

Uriah

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The Schwarzeis Saga: A Family Trying to Make Sense of Confusing Times

Saturday 1st February 1936


Night has fallen over Berlin hours ago, but from a house in Berliner Straße, Charlottenburg, light spills out from the dining room windows. Through the glass, one can see a large family group sitting back after what looks as though it has been an enjoyable meal.

“Perhaps you would be so kind as to draw the curtains, Hilde? I think it is time to begin the business part of tonight’s activities.”

The housekeeper undoes the heavy silk ropes that hold the curtains back and Herr Schwartzeis starts to rise to his feet.

“No speeches please dear” his wife interrupted. “We are family so no need for formality. We all know why we are here, so let us just share what information we have picked up over the past few weeks.

“I will go first, to break the ice.

In my 46 years of marriage I have come to know the business world as well as Hermann. We discuss everything, and I think I can say he values my advice. And while I may not be invited to business meetings, I regularly meet with the wives of some of the most important businessmen in Berlin. Many of them have little idea of the value of information, and prattle on about what their husbands said, or where they are travelling, or what they have been reading about.



Lunch in the restaurant on Funkturm Charlottenburg-Berlin: a good place to pick up gossip​

All I can tell you is that several people are talking about some new developments in the east and the west of the capital. Two large areas have been acquired by the State and building is going on at a frantic pace. What has attracted attention is that they are building factories to produce refrigerators, heaters, gramophones and the like. There is no additional demand for these here in Germany, so what is the government doing?”

“I think I can answer that question” her husband interrupts. “During discussions with some government officials it was let slip that we have made an agreement with the Dutch that they provide us with a large amount of crude oil from their East Indies colony in exchange for manufactured goods. It would be a brave government to introduce rationing in peace time so somebody has to make those extra goods.”



An oil well in Sumatra, now to supply German industry​

“That would make sense. I do have another piece of information. Marthe Schneider, the wife of Fritz Schneider, has been bemoaning her husband having had to make so many trips to Oberschlesien. When you consider that his main business is road construction, it would appear that funds have been approved for some major infrastructure work in the south-west.”

After checking that his wife has no more to say, Herr Schwartzeis looks around the room.

Rudolf Schwartzeis catches his eye. “I’ll go next. There has been a lot of activity in Wilhelmshaven and Kiel. At the beginning of the month the Kriegsmarine, without any warning, cancelled all work on Type IA and IIB U-boats, as well the 1934 Class Zerstörers. It didn’t create the consternation one might expect, as there were already orders queued for the more modern 1934A vessels, but it was still a shock. I did question a senior naval official, but although he did not give up much, he did assure me that our business would not suffer, and in fact could expect a lot more orders in the future.

I didn’t have to wait long. That afternoon I heard that soon contracts will be put out to tender for the construction of two new battleships, the “Scharnhorst” and the “Gneisenau”. These will be massive ships, 32,000 tonnes each, armed with 38cm guns. Don’t worry, Papa, I am certain we will get some very profitable contracts for leather and canvas for the fit out. And I expect there will be more: each ship will have about 2,000 crew and they will need a lot of shoes and uniforms, bed linen, towels. Plenty of opportunities for Schwartzeis Lederarbeiter und Stoffhersteller GmbH.

There is more good news. Only a few days ago I attended the launch of the “Admiral Graf Spee”, sister ship to the “Deutschland” and the “Admiral Scheer”. A wonderful occasion, a lot of back-slapping and champagne being drunk. I noticed however that after the ceremony the men who had worked on the ship disappeared, though it is tradition that they have the whole day off to celebrate. I was told that they had work to do: a new zerstörer, Z12, the “Erich Geise” has been ordered.



The launch of the “Graf Spee” was a moment of great celebration​

As if that were not enough, a lot of designers at Deutsche Werk have been working on some secret program. A little bird has told me that they are designing our first aircraft carrier. No idea when construction might start, but all the indications are it will definitely happen.

Someone pretty high up is taking an interest in modernising and expanding the Kriegsmarine as fast as possible.”

“Interesting. What about the Heer, Günter?”

“A similar story, Hermann. Cutbacks and increases. Although I am not directly involved in armaments orders, news spreads fast and I can tell you that Theodor Bergmann’s contract for the Maschinenpistole 35 has been put on hold. We have thousands in stock already and no light divisions are planned. There is also a reduction in orders for uniforms for Himmler’s Schutz Staffel – you may have noticed a drop in fabric sales as a result. Rheinmettall would have noticed the drop in demand for steel as the orders for the 75mm leichte Infanteriegeschütz 18, as well as for the 5cm leichgte Granatewerfer 36 have been halved. Not good news for their imminent merger with August Borsig GmbH.

But the money saved was not returned to the Treasury, not when the General Staff is involved! Instead there has been a huge increase in the amount of equipment for headquarters of all sizes, and of the Stoewer 1500 as the Einheits PKW for the Heer, even though everyone says that model is almost useless. Stoewer promises improvements are on the way. I believe a few more coastal guns have been ordered. The 21cm guns take a long time to manufacture and the coastal defence divisions are waiting months for deliveries to bring them up to strength.



The Stöwer R150 is not really suitable, but it is the best of what is currently available​

One last thing. It is not by itself significant, but Generalmajor Kübler has finally been given his wish. The Gebirgs-Brigade has been formed in München – you might want to investigate what leather kit they will need to equip thousands of Gebirgsjäger.”

For the first time Sigmund Schwartzeis speaks up.

“Strange that SS uniforms are in oversupply – I have it on the best authority that Hitler himself has approved of the Allgemeine SS.”

Anyone in the diplomatic corps in Berlin must have a lot of contacts in the Party – how else will you keep your head on your shoulders! And all the indications are that Himmler is flavour of the month with the Führer. Permission has been given to form the Stabswache Berlin to provide personal protection for the leader, as well as two units of SS Verfügunstruppen, “Germania” and “Deutschland”, and several small groups of Totenkopfverbände. I heard this expansion of the SS into a sort of military organisation caused some consternation in the higher levels of the Wehrmacht, but that the generals were told to accept it as a fait accompli.



Men of Stabswache Berlin make an appearance​

Papa’s comment about oil from the Dutch East Indies might explain another rumour winging its way around the ministries: that there will soon be a policy announcement that Germany will work towards self-sufficiency in raw materials, and all ministries will have to bear that in mind.”

“So that just leaves the Luftwaffe. You are not even qualified as a pilot Karl, but anything to contribute?”

“It may surprise you, but yes, I have. I may have told some of you before that we are being trained to fly in the Bücker Bü 131.”

A collective sigh and much rolling of eyes confirms that this has been mentioned many times before.

“Well, we have been told all along that whether we are assigned to Jäger or Kampfgeschwader, the training will be easily transferable to the Heinkel 51 or the Dornier 23. We just have some additional lessons that teach us the instrumentation etc for the actual planes we will fly. But out of the blue all the Do 23 lessons have been cancelled. No explanation, but everyone knows that no more Do 23 bombers are to be commissioned, and existing stocks are to be run down. Nothing about a replacement, but there has been a slight increase in the number of He 51s being delivered, so we assume the budget has been given to Ritter von Greim, as Inspekteur der Jagdflieger and that there will be a greater emphasis on fighters for the time being.”



A Bücker Bü 131 trainer decorated to promote the upcoming Winter Olympics​

“Thank you, Karl. Good to see that you talk about something other than drinking and girls. And you Kurt?

“No, just beer and good times at the Technische Hochschule Berlin.” Sensing he was skating on thin ice, Kurt hurries on. “But seriously, there are a lot of secret discussions going on. Government and Party officials are all over the place, particularly in the chemistry department. Something about “Catalytic Cracking”. I’ll keep my ear out, but although there seems a lot going on, it is hard to find someone prepared to talk.”

To the surprise of her husband, Ingrid Schwartzeis speaks up. “I have a bit of news too. My parents, through their business, have many friends in the steel industry, particularly the armaments side. Apparently government officials have been visiting a lot of the major plants, enquiring about quality control and how close their factories are to each other. All very mysterious – but nothing to indicate why they are interested.”

“So that leaves the information from our intrepid war correspondent, sweltering in the Abyssinian desert. I won’t read you his whole letter – suffice to say that his prediction of an Italian counter-attack was correct. Boosted by the arrival of two more Corps, Badoglio resumed the advance and forced the enemy to battle at a place called Tembien. Fighting went on for four days, ending on 24th January. Correspondents were not allowed at the front, but the official story is of a great victory. The real story is that Badoglio was in real trouble for a few days. A few divisions, including the 2nd Blackshirt Division, the “22 Ottobre”, were cut off and only prompt action by an Eritrean division saved the Italians from a disaster. But the end result was the that the Ethiopians had to pull back.



Ethiopians move up during the Battle of Tembien​

You won’t find it in the articles published here or in Italy, but the Ethiopians claim poison gas was used and the League has condemned Italy. Rudolf is careful, but he all but confirms that this is true – that Mussolini has given Badoglio carte blanche to use whatever he sees fit to crush resistance and create his African Empire.

If there is nothing else …?”

A barely audible voice asks “Entschuldigen Sie bitte, mein Herr, if I may say something?”

“Of course Hilde.” Frau Schwartzeis’ tone warned of dire consequences should anyone question her. “Come and sit here, next to me. You boys, move, schneller!”

Hilde settles on a chair next to her mistress, who looks around the table for the slightest indication of dissent. Finding none, she motions Hilde to continue.

“My oldest boy, Franz, the one who works for the Deutsche Reichsbahn, he is very clever, very quick on the uptake. Just like his father was before him.”

She stops for a moment. If anyone finds her sing-song rustic Saxon accent and funny vowels amusing, they are careful to keep it to themselves.

“Anyway, after the master spoke last month, I thought I would ask Franz to tell me if he saw anything odd. He is a good boy, never any trouble, and, as I said, really clever. I don’t know what he does, but he is high up, a chef of some sort. He visited me the other day and gave me these notes that he said we might find interesting.

I am not sure I understand it all, but the first one confirms what you said, Frau Schartzeis. There is a lot of work going on in Oberschlesien. New bridges, new stations, new marshalling yards. And rail lines being extended almost to the borders of both Poland and Czechoslavakia.



The use of modern heavy equipment speeds up railway construction​

What he was most excited about, however, was these schedules. You can see they are all over the place, trains moving from here to there, picking up troops, putting them down. Moving supplies, moving vehicles. All very confusing.

But my boy says that if you look at them from a distance, you can see a pattern. That what they show is that a large number of army units are being moved west. Towards the demilitarised zone he said. That when you add up the little movements that are so confusing, that what you have is six infantry divisions being transferred to the border. He made me this map to explain it. I hope I did it right, I am not very good at this sort of thing”.



Troop movements towards the Rhineland and the French border​

The map passes quickly up the table to Hermann Schwartzeis who looks at it with concentration before, frowning, he passes it to Günther von Willemburg. He too frowns, but then nods.

Herr Schwartzeis speaks again.

“I thank you all for your contributions. We have made a good start. It is clear to me that there is a movement, a push by those in power to move Germany in a particular way. Scrapping outmoded models, increasing production of what will be standard equipment for the Wehrmacht, increasing self-sufficiency. It all shows an underlying assumption that we will, at some time in the next decade, be at war. That would be bad enough. But there is worse.

It is the priceless contribution from our dear Hilde that has caused me such concern. I think I can say that I can see only one reason for such troop movements. Hitler intends to break the Locarno Agreement and remilitarise the Rhineland, and without any negotiations. And that could mean war”.
 

stnylan

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The secrets of the Reich are thus laid bare
 

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The Schwarzeis Saga: A Family Trying to Make Sense of Confusing Times

Sunday 1st March


While the noon temperature is above average for March, sleet mixed with rain has driven all but the hardiest pedestrians off the Berliner Straße. Not a pleasant spring day. The Schwartzeis family are finishing lunch as the windows shudder under the impact of the wind.

Hermann Schwartzeis disturbs the relaxed atmosphere by asking in a slightly officious manner,

“Does anyone have anything to report this month? Or were you all so caught up with the excitement of the Winter Olympics that you did not remember your duty to the family to discover what Herr Hitler has in store for us?”

And don’t tell me about the announcement at the beginning of the month of the “First Wave” of call ups for the Wehrmacht. Most of the divisions are already in place, and there has been no detail provided about what new divisions will be formed. This announcement must be seen in light of the secret troop movements. Hitler is getting ready to do something rash about the occupation of the Rhineland, and this announcement is intended, in my opinion at least, to just tell the world that Germany is getting stronger.”

“I have to agree” interposes Günter von Willemburg, seated to Herr Schwartzeis’ right. “There was nothing new in the public statement. It was aimed directly at the French, and maybe the British. I was a bit more interested that in the fuss about the “Aufstellungswelle 1” that Himmler was able to quietly authorise the creation of some additional SS units., the so called “Verfügungstruppe”. It is hard to say what he intends to do with these men, but I can tell you that the generals in the Oberkommando des Heeres are getting quite worried about this empire building.”



Verfügungstruppen in their newly issued uniforms: OKH is concerned that Himmler is building a separate military organisation​

Herr Schwartzeis looks enquiringly to his left, where his son Erich sits.

“Not much going on in Wilhelmshaven I’m afraid. There was little about it in the local news, but the first of the new generation of submarines, the Class VIIA U-boat, was revealed. You haven’t heard a lot about them, partly because the design work was done secretly because of the Versailles Treaty limitations, and partly because we used the Spanish E1 and the Finnish Vetehinen plans as the basis of the design.



The U-33, the first Type VIIA U-boat, ready for action, though of course in the event of hostilities its identification number would be removed.​

I can tell you though that the launch of this U-boat will really put the wind up the British Admiralty. The VIIA is our first real attack boat. With a range of about 15,000 kilometres, and armed with 11 torpedoes, it directly threatens British naval power in the Atlantic.

But this too seems symbolic, as while I have found we have at least three more under construction, no more have been ordered. Admiral Raeder’s surface fleet is still the priority, with work beginning on another zerstörer.”

In the pause that follows, Ilse, the oldest Schwartzkreis child and wife of Günter von Willemburg, leans forward.

“You may disparage the Winter Olympics, but I went there with my friend Marlene and it was wonderful. Not only that, but I picked up a bit of information too. Marlene’s father is a keen skier and involved in the Nationalsozialischer Reichsbund für Liebesübungen, and he had some good tickets available so I joined Marlene’s family when they travelled to Bavaria.



Everyone of importance attended the Winter Olympics​

The sporting events were great fun, and so was the socialising. So many people packed into Garmisch-Partenkirchen, which is a beautiful little town. Did you know Richard Strauss, the composer was born there? I met him at one of the parties and he said I reminded him of …”

“This is all very entertaining, dear, but could you skip some of the gossip and get to the point?”

She glares at her husband.

“I was just setting the scene. Sometimes you are so irritating. Anyway, there were lots of parties in the evenings, lots of champagne and music. At one of them though I got stuck with a bunch of businessmen, all of them in mining or quarrying. They were going on and on about digging shafts and crushing rocks, but then the subject of government assistance came up. They were all saying how there were going to be all these incentives for new mining and extraction techniques. Like tax cuts and subsidies and more. They said it was all to do with the push for “Autarky” whatever that means.

And while I don’t know much about mining, one thing you learn about in this family is that when the government wants to help your business, it is because they want something more.”

“Autarky” muses Hermann Schwartzeis. “That means self-sufficiency. In this case, I suppose it is economic self-sufficiency. It would appear that our leaders want us to dig up more of the raw materials our industry needs. It is a very long-term project though, which would indicate that war, if it is being considered, is some way off. Years, not months.”

“How does that tie in with the troop movements then?” asked Karl from the “junior” end of the table.

“A very perceptive question young man. If we are right in assuming that the movement of so many divisions to the west is in preparation for the seizure of the Rhineland, then Hitler must be gambling in the French and the British doing nothing. The man is crazy.”

Günter looks shocked, and the housekeeper, Hilde, crosses herself, as if someone had blasphemed. The two youngest, Karl and Kurt, jerk in their seats, their faces showing a mixture of fear, alarm and surprise. Even Sigmund, famed for his diplomatic blank face to any sort of provocation, blinks his eyes.

“But enough of that.” Hermann Schwartzeis appears taken aback at the reaction to his outburst. “Let us move along. I have here another letter from Africa. Rudolf has been close to the fighting, and it is best I let him tell it in his own words.”

“Liebe Großvater

I think this war has not long to go. The Ethiopians can have little hope after the events of the past few weeks.



Nobody doubts the courage of the Ethiopians but how can spears hold off tanks and planes?​

In my last letter, I told you how the Italians nearly lost two divisions, saved only by their colonial Eritrean troops. This must have steeled Badoglio, as he has shown no mercy on the enemy.

It is now clear that the battle I mentioned last month, the one in Tembien, was but the beginning of a far larger operation. That battle was a closer run thing than anyone admits, and I have been told by a somewhat inebriated staff officer that plans for a wholesale withdrawal back to Eritrea were not only drawn up, but actually distributed to the five corps commanders.

Having held the centre of the line, however, Badoglio attacked with his left wing. The Tigray area is quite mountainous, and incredibly beautiful, or it would be if it were not the scene of some brutal fighting. A lot of the fighting concentrated around a mountain called Amba Aradam where the Ethiopians had dug themselves in.



Tigris, beautiful and perfect defensive terrain​

It was hardly a battle though. The Italians were not going to leave things to chance again. I toured the rear areas on the 8th and 9th February, just before the attack began, and the Italians had huge stockpiles of shells, ammunition and everything else you would want. (They have been conscripting the locals and freed slaves into road building and have supply routes within a few kilometres of the front). The Ethiopians were blasted by the artillery and then mown down by machine guns. Amazingly they held out for more than a week, but at the end of the fighting only a rabble remained, pouring into the countryside, not to return.

Then Badoglio turned on his real target, the Ethiopian centre. It seems the plan was to cut behind the defenders at Tembien and block their retreat path, but it didn’t really end up that way. The Eritrean Corps did hit from the east while the Italian III Corps was more front-on, but the battle was really decided by the lack of control shown by the Ethiiopian forces. Time after time they left good defensive positions to try to drive back the advancing Italians, and they suffered horribly from the thousands of modern machine-guns used to halt their desperate charges.

When they finally broke, the artillery and aircraft pounded the narrow defiles they had to use to escape the hilly terrain. Who knows how many died in the days before the Italians called an end to the operation. Tens of thousands probably – I was told many of the dead did not even have a rifle, just a spear or a sword. As I write this, on 25th February, it would appear that barely a quarter of the Ethiopian Army is still a viable force, while the Italians have received thousands of fresh troops.



More men and tanks move to reinforce the Italians at the front​

You asked me about what was happening with Graziani’s army in the south, in Italian Somaliland, but I am afraid I only know what is publicly available: that there has been a small advance and some fighting, but nothing serious. All I can add is that there are a lot of allegations that Graziani is being quite ruthless in his desire to crush all resistance, that villages have been destroyed and the population driven inland. But there are few journalists there as everyone sees it as less newsworthy.

I am sending this through a contact in the Regia Aeronautica who swears it will be flown direct to Rome and then placed on a commercial mail plane to Berlin, so you will get it in time for the family meeting. Say hallo to everyone, especially Mama and Papa and those two rascals Kurt and Karl.

Rudolf”

“You know what I find interesting Hermann?” Günter looks thoughtful, holding his chin in his uninjured left hand.

“That despite the Ethiopians having good defensive terrain, that the Italians are still able to break through. I will accept that as an enemy the Ethiopian army is no match for a European army, but still, the ability of the Italians to quickly break through fortified lines is interesting. It would appear that, if tanks, aircraft and artillery are used in together properly an assault can break through. A change from the last war, when we all suffered because of the superiority of defensive weapons. I would be interested to see whether this would apply in Europe. What would be wonderful would be an opportunity for a small group of German troops to try out such co-ordinated attacks against an enemy with better arms and organisation than the Ethiopians. Simulations can only do so much to prepare our troops. But one can only dream – a chance to try out our equipment seems extremely unlikely.”



A Pzkpfw 1 on a training exercise, the commander wearing the black Panzer beret that was worn until 1940​

“Yes, apart from the interminable Balkans disputes, Europe does seem to adopted a “peace at all costs” attitude.

I think that is enough for this month. It has given us a lot to think about. For me, of course, the most important event of February was the death of that great actor, Max Schreck. What a performer. Both on stage and of course, on the screen. Do you remember, Margarethe, seeing him as “Nosferatu” back in … , well, more than 10 years ago?”

Remember it? I will never forget it. I didn’t sleep for a week. Horror movies are not really for me and he was terrifying. They say he actually was a vampire. I mean, with a name like “Schreck”, what are you to think? Isn’t it a clue?”



Max Schreck as himself, and as Count Orlock in “Nosferatu”​

“Wasn’t he in that film with Max Schmeling, the boxer? “Knockout” I think it was called? And in a few comedies as well. Small parts really. I didn’t think he was all that good”. Karl seems surprised he knows the actor his grandfather admires.

“Modern rubbish. I was talking of real films, when there was real acting. When there was no sound and you had to get your message across using skill, not technology. “Silent films” they call them! “Real acting” is what I call it. Let me tell, you, when I was a boy …..”

Eyes glaze over and bodies ease in their chairs. This could take some time.
 

stnylan

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I had to laugh at the end. That was perfectly setup.
 

Uriah

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The secrets of the Reich are thus laid bare
That was what I wanted to get across in this AAR - what it would have appeared like to someone living through those years. Nobody explained what it all meant to those living through it.

I had to laugh at the end. That was perfectly setup.
I find that as I go, the characters seem to develop a life of their own.
 

Uriah

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The Schwarzeis Saga: A Family Trying to Make Sense of Confusing Times

Wednesday 1st April 1936

Spring is finally in the air, and the generally dry conditions have encouraged Berliners to get outside. It is still not warm enough, however, to tempt the Schwartzeis family to have afternoon tea in the garden. They remain indoors, though the open French windows allow the breeze some access.

The head of the family is absent, and the atmosphere is noticeably more relaxed. Nevertheless, when Frau Schwartzeis asks for the group’s attention, all sit upright and look alert.

“I must apologise for Hermann. The new Reichswirtschaftsminister has required all significant suppliers of military materials to attend a series of meetings and it just so happens that today is his turn. Needless to say he could not refuse to attend.

Never mind, I will fill him in on today’s news when he gets home. As the oldest child, do you have anything to say, Ilse?”

“I did attend the celebration party hosted by Minister Krupp to mark his appointment, but nothing much was said. The normal “ .. will do my best to meet the expectations of the German people …. , glorious future …. blah, blah, blah. But let me tell you how I am going to sail my way to a gold medal for Germany in the Olympics …. blah, blah, blah.”

Ilse’s impersonation of the incredibly young (only 29 years old!) Alfried Felix Alwyn Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach is so precise that many of the family, even the older members, burst out laughing.​



The Krupp family, with Alfried seated on the right. A seriously wealthy family
“It does seem a very unusual appointment” adds Ilse’s younger brother Erich. “As far as I know, he has no economics training, only a Diplomingenieur. I suppose he has been involved in the family company for some time, but to put someone with no experience in the bureaucracy in such an important post is a real break with the past.

He will have a lot to do now we have total control of the Rhineland. I still can’t believe that Hitler pulled it off. When I heard the news that our soldiers had marched across the Rhine bridges I felt sure that the next news item would announce the French Army was on the move. But nothing, not a peep! The next day photographs of people cheering our boys in Köln. Still I kept thinking that the French would have to react, but no, their soldiers sat still.​



Enthusiastic crowds cheer as German soldiers cross the Rhine for the first time in nearly 20 years
It’s now a week since we took back our cities, and it looks as though Hitler’s gamble paid off.”

“I’m just relieved”. Günter von Willemburg, Erich’s brother-in-law takes the opportunity to get a word in. “Do you realise how weak our forces were? A few divisions of infantry, nothing more, and no reserves. The French could mobilise 100 divisions in a week, and what could we do? Retreat as fast as we could, our tail between our legs.”

“Well I am just happy. I was out shopping when the word spread that our soldiers had moved in, and the crowds went wild. Cheering, laughing – people were just overjoyed.” As Ingrid Schwartz speaks, others at the table join in, agreeing that the atmosphere in the streets was one of joy, that the decision to break the despised Locarno Treaty was supported by the masses.​



Impressing the French politicians: goose-stepping soldiers march into Köln
Frau Schwartzeis steers the discussion back to the review of recent events. “Did anything else happen in April, Erich? I know everything else seems unimportant compared to the Rhineland, but surely something else happened other than the appointment of young Krupp?”

“Some good news about business in Wilhelmshaven and Kiel. The U-boat program ended with just four boats completed, and the shipyards have turned back to filling the Kriegmarine’s zerstörer requirements. Which is good for us: a destroyer needs a lot more leather and fabric than a submarine, especially those Type VII boats. The living areas are so cramped you couldn’t fit an extra set of bedsheets in there.”

“Just make sure we get some of those orders then. There don’t seem to be many new contracts coming out of the Heer. Though I notice the Luftwaffe has asked for some more leather flight jackets. An increase in fighter numbers apparently”.

Erich’s wife Ingrid tentatively raises her hand. “I don’t know if it helps, but my father mentioned that he has had an order for some high quality steel from Krupp. Steel suitable for really big guns”.

“They must be for coastal guns then. The only capital ship under construction is the “Admiral Hipper”, and its main guns have already been cast.” (Günter looks briefly at Erich for confirmation.) “There have been some complaints from OKH that the supply of guns for the coastal defence units is way behind schedule”.​



“Admiral Hipper” under construction at the Blohm und Voss shipyard, Hamburg​

Sigmund Schwartzeis and his wife Adelaide find Frau Schwartzeis looking at them.

“Do you two have nothing to contribute? You are part of the family, Sigmund, even if you prefer diplomacy to leatherwork.”

Sigmund stirs, but it is his wife who replies. “I don’t know much about weapons and politics, but remember those factory sites you talked about some time ago? The ones in Berlin? Well, someone has really pushed the builders, because while I was visiting a friend I noticed that the one in West Berlin was finished. I thought I would try and get some information so I asked some of the workers and they said the one in East Berlin is finished too, and they were on their way to Brandenburg to start another.”

Sigmund also speaks up. “I know everyone is overjoyed about the Rhineland, and the reluctance of the French to do anything, but I must warn that, from a diplomatic point of view, there is a downside. Both the French and British diplomats I deal with have said that the increased world tension means that the anti-German segments of their respective governments have gained more influence. More money is being promised to defence for instance.”

“Talking about building, then I have some news too”. Kurt seems glad that he can get in before his grandmother singles him out for attention. “The Chemistry department at TH Berlin has got several specialists working on a construction project, a new synthetic oil plant in East Berlin.”

“Nothing more? I know that Hermann has another letter from Rudolf in Africa, but I don’t think he would like me to steal his thunder – you will just have to wait until our next meeting.



The “Hindenburg” over Brazil: the ultimate in first class travel comfort​

Has anyone any news on the “Hindenburg”? I heard it left yesterday for Rio de Janiero. It’s amazing – you can fly all the way to Brazil from Germany in just a few days! “

With that, the formal part of the afternoon is over, and the conversation turns to more pleasant topics.
 

mad orc

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This was a good read
I always love family sagas and am writing one myself(See sig)

I have one critique
You should make the conversations a bot slower or sharper
For example : 'Has anyone any news on the “Hindenburg”? I heard it left yesterday for Rio de Janiero. It’s amazing – you can fly all the way to Brazil from Germany in just a few days! “'

Why did the conversation about the Hindenburg end abruptly after this ?

Or if you are saying that it is an informal conversations
Then make it clear

Otherwise this is a great story that I am surely going to follow
:)
 

stnylan

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News on the Hindenburg ... I wonder which way that event will go.
 

Uriah

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This was a good read
I always love family sagas and am writing one myself(See sig)

I have one critique
You should make the conversations a bot slower or sharper
For example : 'Has anyone any news on the “Hindenburg”? I heard it left yesterday for Rio de Janiero. It’s amazing – you can fly all the way to Brazil from Germany in just a few days! “'

Why did the conversation about the Hindenburg end abruptly after this ?

Or if you are saying that it is an informal conversations
Then make it clear

Otherwise this is a great story that I am surely going to follow
:)
Thanks Mad Orc for your interest. Sorry for the delay in replying - I was reading your Vic 2 AAR. Sadly it is so long since I played that game that I probably miss a lot of the references.

I ended the last post that way because I wanted to show that the conversation carried on, but that it did not cover topics relevant to HOI4. Perhaps I should have worded it better to show this.


News on the Hindenburg ... I wonder which way that event will go.
Well, we have the advantage of hind-sight. I had been unaware that the Zeppelins had been making regular commercial flights to South America from early 1936.

How do you find time to comment on so many AARs while producing so many AARs yourself?
 

mad orc

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Thanks Mad Orc for your interest. Sorry for the delay in replying - I was reading your Vic 2 AAR. Sadly it is so long since I played that game that I probably miss a lot of the references.

I ended the last post that way because I wanted to show that the conversation carried on, but that it did not cover topics relevant to HOI4. Perhaps I should have worded it better to show this.




Well, we have the advantage of hind-sight. I had been unaware that the Zeppelins had been making regular commercial flights to South America from early 1936.

How do you find time to comment on so many AARs while producing so many AARs yourself?
Thankyou so much for reading my AAR
Please comment if you like it
:):):):)

Btw you don't need to know much of Victoria 2 to understand it . Treat it like just another story.
 

stnylan

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How do you find time to comment on so many AARs while producing so many AARs yourself?
Well I don't really write very many myself.

But as to comment, it is just a decision of how to spend my free time. It helps I read fast sure, but mostly it is just I choose to spend my time this way.
 

Uriah

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The Schwarzeis Saga: A Family Trying to Make Sense of Confusing Time

Friday 1st May 1936


Summer has come early to Berlin, and after dinner the Schwartzeis family move out to the terrace to benefit from the evening breeze.

“Thank you all for carrying on so well in my absence. These meetings are very important, and while I am sorry to have missed last month’s, during my absence I became aware of just how important. The Reichswirtschaftsminister’s summons of all major suppliers was on the face of it a distraction from business, but the reality was that it gave Schwartzeis Lederarbeiter und Stoffhersteller GmbH a wonderful opportunity. The other business leaders were completely taken by surprise by Hitler’s Rhineland gamble, but thanks to our pooling of information, I was able to present to the officials present comprehensive plans setting out how we, the Schwartzeis company, could use the Rhineland factories to boost the economic power of the Reich. And make money for ourselves of course. I think it fair to say that we should do very well out of that conference.“



The Reichswirtschaftsamt​

Hermann Schwartzeis beams with satisfaction before noticing that a couple of faces do not reflect his joy.

“Though of course this result would not have been possible without the input of Margarathe and the hard work of Erich.”

He decides it is best to change the topic: neither his wife nor his son seem mollified.

“I understand that Margarethe did not bring you up to date on events in Ethiopia. I did get a letter from Rudolf telling me what the Italians did during March, but another has arrived in the past few days, so I will just summarise the past two months.

“Rudolf has been busy. Towards the end of February he got a hint from a friendly Italian that there may be some action in the south, so he hitched a ride on a coastal steamer from Massara to Mogadishu. I will let him take up the story”.

“It was an uneventful if uncomfortable journey. Even after dropping some cargo in Massara the ship was crammed with military supplies and troops. At Mogadishu I made sure to get off first but I still had to wait for a while to get a lift to the front. The soldiers I shared a ride with were very talkative and told me that Mussolini had got tired with the lack of action in the south and that Badoglio had let it be known he thought Graziani was slacking.



Mogadishu in 1936​

This wasn’t really fair – at the start of the war Graziani only had one Italian division and had serious supply problems if he wanted to advance. And de Bono, the original commander of ordered him to do nothing but tie up the enemy.

Graziani did advance some way, but he too faced a counterattack in January. He used his bombers to destroy one Ethiopian army, and in late February, having received a lot of reinforcements, he began his advance. Italian bombers hit the Ethiopian strongpoints in Harar and Jijiga and the infantry and armour moved up to engage the enemy.



The world press was appalled at the Italians indiscriminate use of air power​

Once more the Ethiopians left their defensive positions to attack the Italians, and once again they were slaughtered. Then the last assault. With flamethrowers to add to the tanks and artillery, the Italians broke the depleted defence line, and the way to Harar was open. It was costly though: the Italians have about 2,000 casualties and the field hospitals are chaotic.



A line of Ca Caproni 101 aircraft being prepared for another mission​

The only opposition now is the weather: it has been pouring rain for days and we are floundering in mud. it would be weeks before Graziani reaches Harar, so I headed back north.

Just in time: Badoglio has started his advance on Addis Ababa. The “March of the Iron Will” he calls it (Marcia della ferrea volontà) though confusingly he sometimes speaks of the “Iron Will Column” (Colonna della ferrea volontà). The name is a joke. The Ethiopians have nothing to stop the Italians.



Truck mounted machine guns and motorised troops: how can the Ethiopians fight the latest technology?​

As one of the other journalists said "Far more of a sports event than a page in military history."

Looks as though I’ll be home soon.”

Frau Willemsburg smiles. “And not a minute too soon. I didn’t really mind Rudolf wanting to be a journalist, but I didn’t think he would end up as a war correspondent.”

“We may have a war of our own if Herr Hitler has his way” says her father. “What is this I hear about more shipbuilding, Erich?”

“I think the government has decided to focus on the Kreigsmarine for the moment, and there has been a bit of activity. Three new dockyards have opened in Hannover, and, as you probably saw in the newspapers, construction has finally started on the two battleships, the “Scharnhorst” and the “Gneisenau”. The biggest warships ever built in Germany and the biggest guns: 38cm!



Admiral Förster at the laying of the keel ceremony for the “Scharnhorst”​

“It caused a lot of work for us” says Sigmund. “Emergency diplomacy with the Turkish Embassy to get them to approve an increase in chromium export licenses for our steel producers. Those big ships simply devour steel, and non-corrosive steel in particular.”

“No wonder I have been struggling to get enough chrome alum for our leather manufacturing plants.” Frau Schwartzeis looks annoyed. “Did nobody think to warn me that stocks would be low? Prices have been ridiculous, but we must have it to stabilise the leather.”

“This was a complete surprise, Mama. Believe me, nobody saw this coming. But we are assured that the Turkish chromium deliveries will settle the market down. We might even have a small surplus.”

Kurt is keen to get a word in and almost stands in his enthusiasm.

“That demand for chromium explains something that happened a few weeks ago at the Technische Hochschule! Remember I told you that there was some semi-secret group working on catalytic cracking? That seems to have finished, and the chemistry department has been celebrating some sort of bonus for increasing the amount of fuel you can get from a barrel of raw oil. Now the interest is in mining techniques: how to improve extraction levels of minerals. I suppose that includes chromium. Chemistry and physics are involved, but mainly engineering. All leave has been cancelled for 6 months so they must be serious.”

“If that is the case, then hopefully war, if that is what is being planned, is some way off.” Herr Schwartzeis takes back control of the discussion. “I was a little worried when it was announced that four divisions were being called up: the first units of Aufstellungswelle 1. Barely two months after the announcement!”



The structure of a 1st Wave Infanterie-Division​

“Nothing to be concerned about Hermann” says Günter von Willemsburg. “Just part of the proposed expansion of the Heer. All accounted for – the equipment was already produced and sitting in warehouses awaiting the call up of the men. I am surprised though that Erich spoke of a focus on the Kriegsmarine – I was told about two weeks ago that the focus was on Oberkommando des Heeres.”

Now it is the turn of Karl von Willemsburg to jump in. “I don’t know what the government is focussing on, but out on the training aerodrome everyone is talking about the new fighter from Messerschmitt. I’ve only seen the prototype, but the Messerschmitt 109A is a breakthrough! They say it is a dream to fly, faster and more agile than anything in the world. All metal, enclosed cockpit – it is the fighter of the future!”



Technical staff with the Messerschmitt V-1 prototype​

“We certainly hope so”. Günter smiles at this son’s enthusiasm. “The Reichsluftfahrtministerium, or to be accurate the Technisches Amt, have committed to this model for the foreseeable future. All factories previously producing the He 51 have been ordered to switch immediately. It will take a while for production to get into gear, but the first planes should already be on their way to units.”

Nobody else volunteered to speak, and all look at the head of the table, at Herr Schwartzeis.

“A very mixed bag of information. It would appear from what we have heard that the authorities started the last month concentrating on the Kriegsmarine but switched to the Heer. While at the same time not forgetting the Luftwaffe. All arms of the Wehrmacht receiving substantial improvements in equipment, and the Heer increasing in numbers. Perhaps not a preliminary to war, but with the war in Abyssinia the only existing conflict, one wonders why Germany is increasing its military capabilities.



Conscripts receiving their medical examination​

Anything else?”

Hilde, the housekeeper, speaks with hesitation. “I am not sure if it is helpful, but my son tells me that road and rail improvements in Oberschlesien have been finished. But he has heard from some of the returning Deutsche Reichsbahn workers saying that there is a lot of factory construction going on in Niederschlesien.”

“So, a sop to the public, more consumer goods. Or, more likely, a way to pay for the Turkish chromium.

“Thank you, Hilde, and thank you all for your contributions. I will see you all back here in a month. I think we can be confident that Herr Hitler will not launch the second world war in the next few weeks!”
 
Last edited:

stnylan

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This is ultimately a commercial family - one can only wonder to whom they will offer to sell the gleanings of their intelligence effort
 

mad orc

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I would like to say one thing
In the Victorian era and uptill at least the pre WW2 era
Maids were given a special sort of training
They were trained to be visible to the eye but invisible to the mind

It seems very unlikely that Hilde would speak out so spontaneously without first asking permission to do so.
I know you said she did it with hesitation. But that's not enough. She should have asked permission to speak first.

Once again
I am giving this criticism because I love your story and want it to fly higher !
:)
 

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I loved the updates
I wonder if Here Hitler will defy all expectations !

The Rhineland remilitarization seems to be proving quite profitable for our family.
Having come through the aftermath of WW1, the German mega-inflation of the early twenties and the worldwide economic collapse of the late twenties, the Schwartzeis family are keen to make hay while the sun shines.

This is ultimately a commercial family - one can only wonder to whom they will offer to sell the gleanings of their intelligence effort
I doubt that they will sell the information. It would be dangerous, and is far more valuable commercially when their competitors have no access to it. And don't forget, while some of the members of the family may not be very fond of their Chancellor, they are all patriotic and would never do anything they might consider treasonous.

I would like to say one thing
In the Victorian era and uptill at least the pre WW2 era
Maids were given a special sort of training
They were trained to be visible to the eye but invisible to the mind

It seems very unlikely that Hilde would speak out so spontaneously without first asking permission to do so.
I know you said she did it with hesitation. But that's not enough. She should have asked permission to speak first.

Once again
I am giving this criticism because I love your story and want it to fly higher !
:)
Thanks for your continuing interest.

Hilde has been invited to speak at these meetings and Frau Schwarteis defends her when she speaks. This is an extract from the first family meeting.

"Some of the family look a little apprehensive, the younger members look amused. The housekeeper picks up a tray and moves to the door, but Frau Schwartzeis stops her.

“No, sit down Hilde. You have been with us since your husband died 20 years ago, and we …. ” she glances at her husband as if daring him to disagree “…. consider you one of the family.”

While the housekeeper takes a spare chair from the table, places it against the wall and sits, Herr Schwartzeis continues as if nothing has happened
."

Of course at other times she remains in the background. In my experience servants today still do not speak until asked to do so. Not that I have much personal experience of being waited on - my wife and daughters somehow did not consider this part of their responsibilities.