• Crusader Kings III Available Now!

    The realm rejoices as Paradox Interactive announces the launch of Crusader Kings III, the latest entry in the publisher’s grand strategy role-playing game franchise. Advisors may now jockey for positions of influence and adversaries should save their schemes for another day, because on this day Crusader Kings III can be purchased on Steam, the Paradox Store, and other major online retailers.


    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

red_KLG

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I agree with Option #2, so long as I can see Anastasia Petrova visiting occupied Warsaw, tears in her eyes.
You mean "liberated" Warsaw comrade !!!
 

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Avindian

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Chapter 15: You are millions; we are multitudes, and multitudes, and multitudes.

4 August 1940, Pecs, Hungary

Four brigades. The 4th Hungarian Rifles had four brigades to their credit. Hungary had joined with the Third Reich for two major reasons: first, there were some nationalists who still lusted after Transylvania, but second, and more importantly, collaboration was preferable to occupation or, worse still, annexation. That did not make Hungary an enthusiastic member of the Axis, and privately Admiral Horthy and his government had hoped no Hungarian troops would see action.

His hopes would be in vain. The Soviet annexation of Romania had brought Hungarians in close contact with Russians on a somewhat regular basis, and copies of Pravda quite frequently made their way across the border. The latest edition, which was from the previous day, was very different from any other those Hungarians who spoke Russian had read before.



Hitler, the master propagandist, wasted no time in issuing his own statement, calling for a union of all the peoples of the world against the Bolshevik menace: it was the Teutonic destiny to defend the world, whether it wanted to be defended or not, against aggression from sub-humans.



The average private in the 4th Hungarian Rifles had no ideological perspective. They just wanted to finish their terms as conscripts and return home. One corporal opined that there must be something to this idea of a Nazi attack on the Soviets: his cousin, who was married to an American financier, had reported that the American President had agreed to lend old materiel to the Soviet Union in exchange for bases on Soviet soil.



The lieutenant in charge of the platoon checked his pocket watch – a family heirloom, tarnished with age. 9:00 PM. About time to post the night watch. Before he could make his way to the guard posts, however, one of the picket men ran past, screaming in terror. The lieutenant shouted a couple of times, but the poor farm boy just kept running.

The lieutenant waved to his platoon, and made for a small hill. He turned to the sergeant, asking for the binoculars. The sergeant simply stood, mouth agape. The lieutenant took the binoculars out of the sergeant’s hand. He did not need them to see the Red Army. At last, the lieutenant understood.

Four Hungarian brigades sat at the border town of Pecs. They were opposed by 11 divisions – almost three full corps – of the finest tank troops the Soviets had to offer. They were outnumbered ten to one. The lieutenant felt almost a shameful joy as he saw the General of the 4th Hungarian Rifles make his way to the Soviet command post. They would surrender without a fight, avoiding all casualties.

They were one of the only divisions that day to make any such claim.
[hr][/hr]
6 August 1940, off the coast of German Pomerania

Captain Third Rank Stepan Stepanovich Novoseltsev, newly promoted with the announcement of Plokhoy Volk, had been given command of the Communist, part of the 14th Submarine Flotilla. He was a seasoned sailor, beginning his naval career as an enlisted man on a Caspian Sea gunboat during the Russian Civil War. He joined the Communist Party before October, one of the few naval officers presently serving in the Red Fleet who could make such a claim. His political credentials were so impeccable that he’d spent most of the past 18 years as a political instructor and party agitator. He attended the Naval Academy as quickly as he could, and enjoyed steady advancement before the opening of war with Finland.

As a Captain Lieutenant, he was the Executive Officer for the Communist when it sunk three freighters in the course of a single seven day patrol. Although naval activity had not been overly important in the subsequent military activities of the Soviet Union since that day, his reliability and skill earned him command of his own ship. From what the Officer of the Day was telling him, he could soon add another ship or two to his resume.

“Senior Lieutenant, what is the range to target?”

“4000 meters, Comrade Captain.”

“Very good. You may fire when –“

“Wait, Comrade Captain! There’s more than one! It’s…”

“It’s what, Lieutenant?”

“It’s an entire transport convoy. There are no escorts!”

Captain Novoseltsev was thunderstruck. “None?”

“No, Comrade Captain!”

The Captain mulled the decision over. 4000 meters was a difficult shot with his new torpedo crew, but doable. Yet why settle for a few torpedo shots, when they were within range of his deck gun? If there really were no escorts…

“Radio the other elements of the flotilla. We will surface and engage with the gun. Those fascist pigs will regret the day they attacked our Motherland!”



The entire transport convoy was gone in a matter of minutes. So close to shore, the Germans were able to swim to land.
[hr][/hr]
13 August 1940, Szigetvar, Hungary

The Commander of 1st Shock Army, G. K. Zhukov, unrolled the map of his sector of the war.



Zhukov smiled ferociously. Budapest was within range of his advance elements, as was Debrecen and Szombathely. He’d heard rumors that when fighting the Germans, the Red Army had been in for some very tough fights – Memel was one of the most contested areas so early in the war – but his own Army had very little problems rolling over the outgunned, outmanned, and outmaneuvered Hungarians. Equally, the Mountain Divisions farther to the south saw very little oppositions in the Italian Army.

Only the Germans presented any sort of real challenge, in his view, but that wasn’t Zhukov’s worry. If Plokhoy Volk worked perfectly, the Odessa Front would take Berlin while the Western Front kept the Germans occupied. From a purely strategic perspective, it would be nice to drive the Germans out of Poland first, but as long as the Nazis surrendered, it didn’t matter.

He took a moment to savor the glory. His battle hardened warriors moved faster and faster each day, it seemed. Comrade Stalin had personally addressed the 1st Shock Army in a radio speech earlier that day, praising them for their courage and fortitude against the puppets of the Hitlerites.



Who could stop the Red Army?
[hr][/hr]
16 August 1940, near Danzig, Germany

Captain Second Rank Novoseltsev went from a submarine commander to a flotilla commander in less than two weeks, thanks in large part to Vice Admiral Tributs. Tributs had actually requested permission to make Novoseltsev Captain First Rank, but Admiral of the Fleet Kuznetsov had laughed good-naturedly, saying that Novoseltsev would almost certainly have plenty of other opportunities, and if they promoted him too quickly, he would outrank Kuznetsov in two months!

Such praise from the Admiral of the Fleet made Stepan Stepanovich beam with pride. The 17th Submarine Flotilla was yet another measure of Vice Admiral Tributs’ favor, as it had the newest equipment in the Baltic Fleet. Not everything was new, though – that eagle eyed Senior Lieutenant (now a Captain Lieutenant) came along with him, and he once again was on duty.

“Comrade Captain, I just spotted something!”

“Another helpless transport convoy, I hope, Comrade Lieutenant.”

“Better.”

Now, he had the Captain Second Rank’s full attention. “What do you mean?”

Tirpitz.



Novoseltsev had to act quickly. He ran to the aft of the boat as quickly as possible and picked up the radio set. In less than a minute he had Admiral Tributs.

“Comrade Admiral, my lookout spotted Tirpitz. They can’t see us yet – there’s a bit of a fog.”

“Well done indeed, Comrade Captain! Any escorts?”

“I don’t know, Comrade Admiral.”

“Do not engage just yet, then. I will radio back in twenty minutes.”

Nineteen minutes later, a quick poll of the other submarine flotillas revealed the presence of a division of destroyers. Tributs ordered all units to dive and engage with a salvo of torpedoes; everyone who had range was to fire on Tirpitz; the destroyers were purely secondary targets.

Novoseltsev smiled. He most certainly had the best range on Tirpitz.
[hr][/hr]
19 August 1940, Budapest, Hungary

General Ponedelin never smiled. Some of his men feared him for that; others preferred to fear him for his well-deserved reputation as a harsh taskmaster. Ponedelin brooked no disagreement from any of his inferiors, whether he was right or wrong. He carried out his orders meticulously, and expected nothing less from his subordinates.

Yet he was not a fool. He would not have been given the assignment of attacking Budapest had he been one.



He knew that his tanks would have a difficult time getting through the city streets, so he decided to try something a little unconventional; he would wait until it got dark, then very slowly and quietly approach the city. Once everything was in position, he’d order the assault.
[hr][/hr]
23 August 1940, Trieste, Italy
Far away from the dramatic breakthroughs and spectacular victories in Hungary (the Battle of Budapest had fewer than 500 casualties, combined) was the Italian front. Seeing that the Red Army was a force to be reckoned with, the German High Command had sent some of their finest officers and troops to bolster Mussolini’s regime. General von Forster was one such commander, and he led the 7th Infantry Division with skill and tenacity.



Von Forster was a veteran of the Spanish Civil War, where he had worked closely with Italian commanders, making him a natural choice to lead the joint defense of Trieste. Trieste was a valuable port and one of the few airbases that could scramble fighters to help defend Hungary without risking the German machines needed for the defense of Poland and assault on France.

Opposing von Forster were the handpicked Mountain Divisions of Marshal Vatutin. They were experienced in fighting without the benefit of heavy machinery; Italy was not a priority for Plokhoy Volk, so troops that could get a lot done without support were highly prized. General Khrulev was the kind of man that often got such assignments.

There was one other factor motivating von Forster, personally. His youngest son was a Lieutenant on the Tirpitz. The pride of the German fleet had not been sunk by the cowardly submarine attack, but the damage was severe, as were the casualties. Lieutenant von Forster was taking a nap in his bunk when the torpedo struck; there wasn’t enough of him left to bury. His father vowed revenge. He would take no prisoners.
[hr][/hr]
2 September 1940, Leningrad

Marshals Tukhachevsky and Vatutin were not natives of Leningrad, yet both were fond of the Soviet Union’s “second city”. Tukhachevsky wondered if perhaps that was because the General Secretary was not. While Comrade Stalin had showered praise and glory upon the conquerors of Persia and Hungary, it had taken a Herculean effort to convince him not to make examples of the “cowards of Memel”.



The Western Front had done nothing but take casualties and retreat since the beginning of Plokhoy Volk. One particular attack by the Germans threatened to break the Soviet line; the response had been a cautious suggestion by a very junior member of the Leningrad Central Party Committee to consider relocating some of the more vulnerable industry. Nobody had seen him since he made the suggestion.



As they shared a glass of vodka in silence, both Vatutin and Tukhachevsky let their thoughts drift. For Vatutin, the conquest of Persia was a personal triumph, and had for the moment, at least, put him back above Sokolov in the Kremlin’s hierarchy.



The Soviet Union’s southern border was now completely secure, unless the Japanese somehow overran India. His Mountain Divisions in Italy were equally effective, although the casualties had been horrendous – in the battle of Trieste, for example, over 1700 Soviet troops were killed. In comparison to Debrecen, the final battle of the Hungarian campaign, that was a bloodbath.



The cautious approach of General Ponedelin won at Budapest, but it was pure aggression that defeated Hungary for the final time at Debrecen.



The next phase was to defeat Slovakia, then to concentrate in force at the southern extremity of the Third Reich, in Austria and Bavaria.

While Vatutin worked out operational patterns in his head, Tukhachevsky had his own concerns. He had staked much on “deep battle”, a variation of the Brusilov offensives from the World Imperialist War. Yet his tankists could not get any purchase against the German divisions. Tukhachevsky, more than most, had every motivation to see a Soviet victory in Poland. His public disagreements with Stalin in 1920 and 1921 had nearly cost him his neck, if not for Trotsky’s personal intervention and his own performance at Kronstadt.

Vatutin and Tukhachevsky looked at each other for a moment, smiled wryly, and finished their drinks.
[hr][/hr]
11 September 1940, Moscow

Stalin sat back in his favorite chair in the Politburo chambers, alone. He refilled his pipe, lit it, and closed his eyes. The triumph he’d experienced a few short days ago would last him for quite a long while, and he wanted to let it wash over him.

He was not thinking of the Soviet defeat of Slovakia – that had hardly been a true test of arms, after all.



Nor was it the news that the Italians were running. Vatutin’s precious Mountain Divisions continued to prove their worth in battle. Well, good for him.



Nor was it even Hitler’s attempts to make political capital over their “glorious triumph” over the mighty army of Luxembourg.



The fact was, the Germans were quite close to Paris, and getting closer. No, it was an altogether more personal triumph that had Stalin in such a good mood.



Trotsky should have picked a different enemy, if he wanted to live. Pleased at his own humor, he laughed silently for about two solid minutes.

Little he did know that an aide waited just outside the Politburo chambers; the Soviet and Japanese Armies were clashing for the first time near the border with Manchukuo.


[hr][/hr]
The next part will be up Monday or perhaps Tuesday. See you then!
 

red_KLG

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Very nice update !!!

Finally, wAAR !!!!!

What is the officer ratio ?
 

Avindian

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Very nice update !!!

Finally, wAAR !!!!!

What is the officer ratio ?
It's in either the high 70s or low 80s; I'll check when I do the second part of the update.
 

Davout

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I love it when a plan comes together.

I look forward to Part 2.
 

Avindian

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Chapter 16: The end of the beginning

1 October 1940, Moscow

General of the Air Force Alksins, as a candidate member of the Politburo, had really very little power to affect change. He understood that and, over the months, had come to accept that. He could not help that think that this meeting of the SGO would not end well for him, for all of that.

Admiral of the Fleet Kuznetsov and Marshal Vatutin, representing their branches of the Soviet Armed Forces, had much to be proud of over the past couple of weeks. Although the Western Front continued to advance very slowly, the Odessa Front had achieved almost all of their objectives, most recently Vienna.



Memel, which had been very hotly contested, had only recently fallen to Fascist forces (once again). There was a very slight bending of the line, but on the whole the Red Army had absorbed every German attack without ill effects. Marshal Tukhachevsky, as Supreme Commander of all Soviet Forces, was occasionally taken to task in the papers for T-34s not rolling through Warsaw, and if Marshal Vatutin had not been so loyal to his commander, there would have been speculation of an attempt to seize his position.

Vatutin was given much of the credit for the early success of Plokhoy Volk regarding encroachments into German territory.



Klagenfurt had proven a very difficult nut to crack, but Soviet artillery proved the master in that confrontation. Vienna’s garrison fought incredibly well, but with no immediate support coming from the Wehrmacht, it surrendered as well.

In the Far East, the bloodiest battle of the war (for the Soviet Union) was a victorious one, as a combined Japanese-Manchurian assault was repelled.



A few insignificant border provinces had been captured by the Japanese or their puppets, but this too was part of the plan.



The Japanese were not purely successful, as a matter of fact – they had recently lost the island of Guam to US forces, although there had been no further actions on the American part. The most pressing international concern was not Japan; it was Germany, who would almost certainly seize Paris by the end of October.



The decision to entirely bypass Belgium had caught French planners off guard, it seemed. In any case, Soviet generals in Europe prepared for a gradual shifting of German forces to the east, barring any sort of British support (who were entirely absent; a distantly disconcerting notion to military minds in Moscow and Paris alike).

However, for the present, both Pravda and Izvestiya praised the fighting men and women of the Soviet Army and Navy, who had much to be proud about.





Alksins knew all of this, and was very pleased for his comrades-in-arms. Yet he could not hide the abysmal failure of the Soviet Air Force.



German air power, almost without opposition, was devastating the Soviet formations, particularly on the Western Front. A Soviet raid on Warsaw was brutally crushed, and ever since there had been a certain amount of hesitation by Soviet air commanders. Without effective use of air power, defeating the German formations in Poland would prove exceptionally difficult, and it was for him to make some changes, particularly if he wanted to eventually attain full Politburo status.
[hr][/hr]
Here’s a world map!



Perhaps the biggest mystery, from a gameplay perspective, is what is going on with the British. North Africa is almost completely static, which is one area the AI UK tends to do well in. Perhaps they’re planning some big surprise.

That’s it for now! We need to play some more, and we should have more World War II action in the coming days!
 

red_KLG

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I guess that the 80% officer ratio is hitting hard our airforce's performance despite the VERY significant investment in technology. Also, are there any good airports in the west border so that we can replenish the losses?
 

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Chapter 17: A tale of two battles (1 October 1940 – 1 December 1940)

1 December 1940, Moscow

Kliment Efremovich Voroshilov sat quietly in the chair at the back of the Politburo chambers. He was two hours early for the meeting of the SGO. He had an excellent view of the snowdrifts piled outside the building; his view of the seat normally occupied by General Secretary Stalin was much worse. A few scant years ago, he had an excellent chance at occupying one of the other seats – Comrade Vatutin’s was probably out of his grasp, but Comrade Zverev’s – that was more than possible.

It was Tukhachevsky. It had to be Tukhachevsky. He had always been jealous of Voroshilov’s close relationship with the General Secretary, and was taking out his vengeance. Tukhachevsky, the glory hound, had given him a meaningless post – Inspector General of the Army. Well, Voroshilov would show that upstart; he would inspect the army. He’d spent the past two months doing just that, with the assistance of a small two engine plane procured from General Alksins of the Air Force.

His first assignment, in October, was to review the Romanian Worker’s and Peasant’s Red Army, when the Romanian Soviet Socialist Republic was proclaimed.



Voroshilov was not the least bit interested in that assignment. He used it purely as an excuse, rubberstamping all documents put in front of him, in an effort to speed the transition up as much as possible. The Romanian request to produce an Il-2 bore a hurriedly written signature that was barely recognizable as Voroshilov’s.



In only ten days, he officially pronounced the Romanian army as “ready to join the struggle against fascist imperialism” and flew as quickly as he could to Vladivostok. He could barely restrain his glee at the cowardice of the Third Garrison Division of the Fourth Mountain Corps; General Osade was known to be a particularly close friend of Tukhachevsky’s.



Deputy Inspector General Budyonny – once Voroshilov’s superior – was on the Odessa Front, miles away from that resort city on the Black Sea. He wrote in praise of General Marchenkov’s simple but brutally effective attack on the elite Italian alpine division in Venice.



Almost simultaneously, yet thousands of miles apart, Budyonny and Voroshilov wrote two very different battle assessments: Budyonny’s about the heroism and courage of the elite Mountain Divisions, Voroshilov’s about the absolute stupidity of General Kirichenko, handpicked to lead Tukhachevsky’s “Elite Guard Divisions.”



When each battle concluded a few days later, a purely neutral observer could be forgiven for not seeing much of a difference.





Budyonny – who was still a superb cavalry commander, although even he admitted the day of the horse was in the past – was neutral. Voroshilov was not. His pen dripped with so much acid that it is a wonder that the report made it to Moscow intact. He called for disbanding the entire Guards program as an abysmal failure. Budyonny, recognizing that the Italian fleet would remain relatively static, used his own judgment to accompany the Guards Divisions that were soon to go into action near Memel. Voroshilov was much too far away to approve or deny the request, after all.



Memel, formerly a stronghold of German resistance, crumbled in mere hours. Budyonny eagerly accompanied the advancing divisions as they stormed into German territory.



The plan here was a simple one; take the key regions of Granz and Labiau, then use them as staging areas to attack Konigsberg. Budyonny took a moment to think: he could only be in one place at one time, and had to choose which branch of the attack to accompany. He chose that of Mikhail Petrovich Petrov (a distant cousin of the People’s Commissar of Foreign Affairs), an old classmate of his at the Frunze Military Academy.

It was the wrong choice, and the last one he would ever make.

The German General von Salmuth fought like a lion to resist the Soviet attack, using the natural defense of the Memel River as a support for his entrenched troops. Petrov was lightly wounded, and the ranking member of the Red Army was Budyonny; Budyonny, who had never lacked courage, ordered the troops to simply ford the river, leading the way himself.

There were 1181 Soviet casualties to 324 German. One of those was Budyonny himself, killed by a German machine gun bullet. Mishanin, the commander of the 6th Guards Rifle Division, ordered a strategic withdrawal. They were to rejoin the other two Guards Divisions, along with the remnants of the 5th Guards, in Granz (which fell comparatively quickly). There would only be one axis of advance on Konigsberg.

The death of Budyonny (who was posthumously named a Hero of the Soviet Union) forced Voroshilov to be recalled to the Western Front. Before arriving in Memel, he dispatched a scathing report, addressed directly to Comrade Stalin, lambasting Tukhachevsky’s “senseless Guards program, designed only to promote the most cowardly and lazy, give them the best equipment, and send them into battle for no discernible reason”. As was his normal practice, he had yet to read the reports from the Western Front, and now it was too late. He was effectively persona non grata for his criticism. Voroshilov was dispatched to Warsaw, to observe the attack on the former Polish capital.



General Reiter, an honorable man, offered to yield his place in the attack to his nominal superior, Voroshilov. Voroshilov refused, citing “ill health.” Reiter (despite a rather unfortunate mustache) fought courageously, driving his tank division against a German garrison division and the demoralized dregs of a Hungarian rifle division. After the attack looked like it was succeeding, Voroshilov’s health miraculously recovered. Reiter rather acerbically remarked that “Comrade Voroshilov is far too important to our success to risk in an attack which is already succeeding. Perhaps he would be more valuable in Konigsberg, where the Guards Divisions could use a morale boost?”

Trapped by his own arguments, Voroshilov had to agree.



Voroshilov was very coldly received by the men he had spent so much ink defaming, if indirectly. When he accepted the German General von Paulus’ surrender (he was still formally the highest ranking officer there), he was treated with respect that he had not been shown (or, it could be said, deserved) in weeks.

Meanwhile, People’s Commissar Petrova, her husband Sokolov, and little Stanislav stood in ruins of war-torn Warsaw, smiling as the hammer and sickle flew over the capital of the new Polish Soviet Socialist Republic. When little Stanislav walked across the same line that General Reiter had, but Voroshilov did not, a number of cameras caught the moment. Anastasia was heard to remark to Fyodor that “look, our hero son is braver than the Inspector General of the whole Red Army! How glorious he will be!”



Voroshilov shifted uncomfortably as the SGO filed in. Marshal Tukhachevsky sat down in his normal seat, while Stalin took his at the head of the table. Stalin glanced for a moment at his aide, who put up a map of the eastern front as of 28 November.



Voroshilov’s spirits soared. Koba, my true friend, I knew you would abandon me! Tukhachevsky stood and gave the report about the Far East, explaining that while the Eastern Guards Divisions had not performed as well as they might had have hoped, they had solidified the frontier around Vladivostok.



With absolutely no attempt to shirk his responsibility, Tukhachevsky promised that the coming weeks would see Vladivostok still in Soviet hands, and that the Trans-Siberian Railway would not long be severed.

Stalin said nothing. Instead, he nodded to his aide again. Voroshilov felt his confidence build as the other theaters of the war were discussed, but not by Tukhachevsky. Instead, it was Marshal Vatutin who shared the news that the Western Front had almost completely surrounded a significant chunk of the German army, and that the Odessa Front, with one more breakthrough, had a clear path to Berlin.





Another old friend of Voroshilov’s, General Blyukher, was given the somewhat less important assignment of describing the British progress in North Africa; however, Blyukher had been injured in a car accident and hoped to return to combat soon.



The meeting concluded, Voroshilov made for the door like everyone else. A brief shake of the head from Stalin stopped him in his tracks. Stalin gestured to the seat next to his (Tukhachevsky’s seat! Voroshilov thought with glee) and waited until everyone else but he and Tukhachevsky had left.

“Kliment Efremovich, how is your health?”

“Iosif Vissarionovich, I apologize for the minor illness that affected me, but I assure you I am eager to return to duty!”

Stalin smiled. “Good! Good! Klim, you are one of our finest fighting men, and I know you how you thirst for action more than anything.”

Voroshilov nodded vigorously. “I would be eager to return to the field, Comrade General Secretary!”

“Then that is what you shall have. Mikhail Nikolayevich?”

“General Voroshilov,” – Voroshilov imagined a slight emphasis on the “General” part – “you are the only man we can trust for a delicate situation.”

One more map appeared on the easel.



Voroshilov was a bit puzzled, but it was still an important assignment. “I serve the Soviet Union, Comrade Marshal!”

He did not catch the slight nod shared by Stalin and Tukhachevsky. Voroshilov simply drove to the airfield and got into his plane and noticed a new pilot. The pilot saluted, as normal. It took Voroshilov a moment or two to notice something odd about him: his shoulder boards were green.

The plane did not fly west.
[hr][/hr]
The next update will be a mini one (covering the last month of 1940). See you then!
 

Dadarian

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((My reactions during this mini

"Zverev" :D
"I coulld have that seat" D:
"The Plane did not fly West" :D

Good to be mentioned at all though, a bureaucrat's work is neither glorious nor splendid, but it is needed))
 

Davout

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Great update.

The real work was done in the middle with so much bloodshed over 2 steps forward and 1 back fighting as the Germans desperately try to form a line and or delay by throwing units piecemeal as they arrived from France. Zoomed out, it is quite the view as you see the Army AI slowly pull the plan together through a series of apparently random attacks, rather than the more precise moves which a human player would make.

Avindian, if you can load the update, it won't take me long to check which objectives remain or need updating. The real challenge now is the East which was a necessary sacrifice but which should hopefully start to turn with the new tank divisions up to strength.
 

Jack LEagle

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I am looking at the situation in East Prussia, and for some reason, the word 'Falaise' keeps running through my head. the German assault to the east isn't working out for them very well.
 

Avindian

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I promise, guys, one of these days I'll upload the save without needing to be reminded. :rolleyes: It'll be up in a few.
 

Avindian

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Chapter 18: The noose tightens

1 January 1941, Moscow

Tukhachevsky had reserved the chambers of the Politburo for a very specific purpose. Getting rid of Voroshilov had been a pleasure – he neither knew nor cared where the former People’s Commissar for Defense was – but this interview would be much more difficult. The Supreme Commander of the Worker’s and Peasant’s Red Army did not have an unassailable position himself, of course. Marshal Vatutin, although entirely loyal to his commanders, was also much closer to Stalin, personally, than Tukhachevsky.

In any other country, under any other regime, there would be nothing but praise for Tukhachevsky. It was not that his efforts were not appreciated; it was that still more was expected. Nobody cared that General Winter was both foe and ally. Nobody cared that the Red Army was tantalizingly close to Berlin and ending the war. What did they care about was losing their husbands, brothers, sons, and even daughters and sisters in some cases. The Vozhd was Always Right, so if things were going poorly, there had to be a scapegoat.

There was a timid knock at the door. Tukhachevsky tried hard not to imagine it as the plaintive bleating of a goat, and not entirely successfully. “Enter.”

It was Jekabs Alksins, the Chief of the Red Air Force.

“Marshal Tukhachevsky, you wanted to see me?”

“I did, Jekabs. Have a seat.”

The Latvian braced himself for bad news. It had been a very long time since anybody had referred to him without even the sobriquet ‘Comrade’.

“What is this all about, Mikhail Nikolayevich?”

“We could have closed the pocket.”

Alksins nodded unhappily. “I know, Marshal.”

Tukhachevsky nodded once. “Before we progress any farther, I want to congratulate you and thank you for your years of service. Without your pilots, it is highly probable that we would not be where we are today.”

“I serve the Soviet Union, Comrade Marshal.”

“As do we all.”

Alksins took a look at the easel. At the moment, it showed the battles of Mittersall and Padova, where the Strategic Reserve had won great victories over German and Italian forces, pushing farther along the front.





“Was it Braunsberg, Comrade Marshal?”

Tukhachevsky paused for a moment. “Not entirely. Remember, that began as a win for us.”



“If I live to be a hundred, Comrade Marshal, I will never understand why von Paulus is commanding a garrison division.”

“That makes two of us, Comrade General.”

Alksins took advantage of the situation for a moment to interject a question: “Will I live to see a hundred, Comrade Marshal?”

“I am not a doctor, General. How should I know?”

Both men laughed for a few moments. Both knew exactly what Alksins had wanted to ask, but didn’t.

“Paulus’ counterattack was an incredible maneuver, Comrade Marshal. My scouts inform me he achieved almost complete surprise.”



“Quite right, General. If not for Remizov’s tenacity and the skill of our guard divisions, it might have been a disaster.”



“I wonder if General Petrov would have done beter?”

“He had his own attack to worry about, which went quite well, if you’ll recall.”



“Voroshilov was very foolish to speak against him.”

Tukhachevsky slammed his fist on the desk. “Voroshilov was a spineless worm, with half the personality and a quarter of the military talent! I have nightmares, Yasha, nightmares about the army that imbecile would have led into battle.”

The use of the Russian diminutive for Alksins’ first name did not pass unnoticed. “Yet he is gone now, Marshal.”

“Yes, he is.”

Alksins finally couldn’t take it any more. “It was Remizov, Misha! Why did that fool take so long to move up his division?”

“Maybe because he had no roads to move his division on, Comrade General.”

The Second Battle of Braunsberg was proof that, finally, the Germans were reacting to the real threat the Soviets posed to German safety. Two SS Divisions and an experienced infantry division attacked a single dug in Guards Division.



A Rifle Division hurried to support the defense, along with General Remizov’s Guards Division. The Rifle Division even arrived on time, but struggled to locate the battlefield.

Alksins knew what Tukhachevsky was driving at: the bombing of the roads by the Luftwaffe had delayed Remizov. He even knew that the Marshal was right. However, he couldn’t take the silent accusation any longer. “Damn it, Misha, there was a blizzard that day! How were my planes supposed to cover the battlefield, let alone guide the Rifle Division?”

“The Luftwaffe flew.”

And those three words sealed Alksins’ fate.

In the grand scheme of things, the loss of Second Braunsberg was a mere trifle. The pocket continued to slowly but surely close throughout December of 1940.



There was considerable progress in the south too, as two Mountain Divisions moved east to eliminate the pocketed divisions as quickly as they could.



The Far East remained a nightmare. There were too many Japanese, and their almost complete command of the sea enabled them to move reinforcements rapidly. The Trans-Siberian Railway remained cut, and while Vladivostok kept the soldiers in the Far East fed, if the Japanese made active patrols, even that point of supply might dry up.


In Europe and North Africa, the news was better. The French had beaten back the last few desperate attempts of the Germans to seize Paris, and a small but comfortable buffer zone had developed. The appearance of the Elite SS divisions in the east gave the Third Republic a measure of confidence, in particular. Likewise, the British inexorably pushed back the Italians, and within a few short months, might completely remove the Italians from the North African coast.





In the Pacific, the Japanese continued to pick up Dutch possessions in the East Indies, and had even made progress in Papua New Guinea, but there was some American penetration into the Pacific as well. Iwo Jima was a very serious possibility for a future American operation, many speculated, and outright American intervention remained one of the best ways to alleviate the Soviet ills in the Far East. Comrade Stalin had more than once begged for America to open a true “second front” in the Pacific.





Alksins tried one final tactic. “Misha, what about the amounts of aid we’ve given to the British? If that had been spent on planes and bombs instead of helping them fight the Italians…”



“Comrade Malenkov and Comrade Zverev gave instructions that were very clear. If factories fall idle, it is nonetheless necessary to do the best you can with what you have. And you haven’t done your best, have you?”

Three more charts went up – the last was most damning of all.







Alksins sighed. “I have not. I understand, Comrade Marshal.”

Tukhachevsky smiled slightly. “Then I accept your resignation as Chief of the Air Force.”

“That’s… that’s it?”
“Yasha, you are a good soldier and an excellent pilot. You are far too valuable to the war effort to lose. Even Comrade Stalin was visibly upset when he told me to ask you to resign.” That was a boldfaced lie – Stalin simply shrugged his shoulders – but it was meant to cheer up Alksins. “For now, you will help Vatutin and me in planning operations for 1941. I am sure that we will have something suitable for you in the near future.”

Alksins saluted and left. Tukhachevsky breathed a sigh of relief. He hadn’t – quite – lied about the last part. Stalin had left the deployment of Alksins to Tukhachevsky. But Stalin had also said that Alksins would never receive an important assignment again. “He has failed the people of the Soviet Union for the last time, Tukhachevsky. If he can be useful, make him useful, but he will never have responsibility again.”

Tukhachevsky began to wonder if he might be having the same conversation he did with Alksins at the end of 1941, but this time, on the receiving end. The thought was not a pleasant one.
 
Last edited:

Merrick Chance'

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When did France change republics?
 

red_KLG

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Very nice update !!! Very interesting to see Alksins's demise !
 

Avindian

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Sakura_F

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5 January 1941
Moscow

Feodor Vasilevich Sokolov was doing his paternal duties for the moment. His almost two year old son, Stanislav Feodorovich Petrov, was happily playing with some toys on the floor of their Moscow home, which they had moved into indefinitely upon the beginning of the invasion of Germany. He was doing work as usual while keeping a sharp eye on his boy.

The door opened and in stepped Anastasia, who quickly shed her winter coat and set it on one of the pegs of the coat rack. She said, "Sorry, my love, The General Secretary needed me to discuss further foreign affairs after we beat the fascists."

Feodor shrugged, "It can't be helped sometimes, Ani, Comrade Stalin can be quite demanding, but you know it's for the good of the Motherland."

She nodded and walked over to Feodor and gave him a kiss, "How's Stanislav?"

Feodor beamed, "Doing just fine, infact. He's starting to gather his own little legacy -- The Fearless Child of Warsaw. His bravery above that of one of our own generals is something to be admired."

Anastasia laughed and said, "Quite, but... I must tell you something, Feodor Vasilevich."

Feodor's eyes shot back to his wife. She never used his patronymic unless it was serious or Politburo business.

Anastasia looked away and said, "...I met with a doctor early this morning... I'm with child again."

Feodor's face broke out into a silly grin and he said, "That's wonderful news, Anastasia! The motherland always needs more children, and Stanislav would love a sibling!"

Anastasia nodded and smiled, "And this time, he or she can take your last name. We can talk about names, but I know our child will be a sparkling example of the people's triumph."

Feodor and Anastasia shared an intimate kiss before she left the room to prepare some food for Feodor, Stanislav and herself, as well as to go over her day's work. When she returned, Feodor smiled at her, "You're bright and beautiful, so becoming of a girl of 30."

"30? My how the years have gone by... seems barely yesterday I was just a young girl."

"Ah, but you've still got a long life ahead of you, Comrade Petrova." Feodor said, giving his wife a hug. "You are a brilliant woman, a loving wife, and amongst the greatest of revolutionaries. Even Lenin would be proud of you for your dedication to both the people's cause, and your family's cause. I love you, Anastasia."

Anastasia blushed at the compliments and said, "and I love you, Feodor." They shared another kiss before digging into their work.

((Everyone's favorite OTP. :) ))