To be completely fair to German logic as exercised quite liberally in this TL,they seem to believe that the Saxon royal family has a claim to the Polish throne on the simple basis that they had last ruled the nation-state back in 1795 before it was dissolved by Catherine the Great's during the Three Partitions of Poland. By this similar chain of reasoning, the Swedish royal family has a claim to the throne of Ingria on the basis that they had last ruled that territory back in 1721 before it was annexed by Peter the Great after the Great Northern War.

Given how Poland was revived by the Germans as a nation-state after the war whose independence had been forcibly crushed by imperialist Russian oppression, the same legal fiction could theoretically be used in order to revive the former nation-state of Ingria on the basis that their independence too had been forcibly revoked by the Tsar. Remember that an independent Ingrian, Lutheran national identity had existed during Swedish rule before it had been crushed by the ruling House of Romanov.

That argument would work better if the Swedish Royals weren't French interlopers who lack all of those claims :p , there aren't even any real blood ties - it was a straight up adoption of Bernadotte which led to that particular dynastic transfer. I joke, but that is why I don't see that claim really working. Additionally, it relies heavily on pushing severely outdated Swedish claims which I doubt even the Swedes would support, and that is before mentioning what a mess things turn into with Finland the moment you open up that particular can of worms.

Claims can be used under very flimsy argumentation as long as there is there is sufficient willpower and resources behind it, but even by the most porous of standards, the argument following the Swedish claims wouldn't lead to an independent Ingrian State, but rather a Swedish-controlled Ingria - which has all the aforementioned issues. As for pre-existing communities crushed and potentially displaced from their historic lands, I hardly think the Germans are going to be the ones to speak too loudly on that one. Someone might start to mention the Sorbs, Old Prussians or other southern Baltic peoples.

So to summarize, you are drawing on the old Vasa Dynasty's claims, which is two dynastic shifts (Holstein-Gottrop and Bernadotte) and a broken bloodline away from holding even the usual minimal shreds of legitimacy underlaying these sorts of claims. This is done on behalf of the Swedes, who are neutral and uninvolved in the conflict, with no wish to be drawn into it. To establish an autonomous city-state out of the former Russian Empire's capital, against the will of just about the entire city's population, to the utter outrage of every single Russian. This, while trying to convince an already porous and only recently establish network of client states across Eastern Europe that you are looking for partners, not puppets.

Just do not see the point in this discussion.
 
Thinking through this once more, perhaps the German general who has come out of the Great War regarded as "the (qualitatively) best" according to popular/public consensus both at home and abroad is probably von Mackensen himself.

Unlike the 4 ITTL OHLs, he lasted through pretty much the entire war, defeating Serbia, Montenegro, Romania, Italy and Russia in turn in the East, as well as presiding over a conclusion favorable to the Central Powers in Greece. Also, a major boon to his TTL reputation could be that unlike Hoffmann, Hindenburg and Ludendorff, he hasn't been majorly polarizing/divisive in the Heer political and military intrigues of the immediate post-war era, which could potentially serve as a major boon to his own reputation.
 
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I wonder how these videos would’ve played out ITTL, considering their about the event the PoD is set in.

I honestly absolutely loath these sorts of abbreviated walkthroughs of history. There are so many inaccuracies, generalities and outright mistakes which make them nearly unwatchable for me most of the time. Made it about 5 minutes through the first of the videos before I called it quits, it is so broadly generalizing and misleading that even the humor ends up getting lost on me. Then again, I am a nitpicker and semantics enthusiast of massive proportions, so all the missing or inaccurate details really get on my nerves. I mean, I have troubles making it through overview written works more generally for the same reason - end up nitpicking it to death. Sorry I can't give an actual answer to your question, just got in such a bad mood from it that I gave up.

Thinking through this once more, perhaps the German general who has come out of the Great War regarded as "the (qualitatively) best" according to popular/public consensus both at home and abroad is probably von Mackensen himself.

Unlike the 4 ITTL OHLs, he lasted through pretty much the entire war, defeating Serbia, Montenegro, Romania, Italy and Russia in turn in the East, as well as presiding over a conclusion favorable to the Central Powers in Greece. Also, a major boon to his TTL reputation could be that unlike Hoffmann, Hindenburg and Ludendorff, he hasn't been majorly polarizing/divisive in the Heer political and military intrigues of the immediate post-war era, which could potentially serve as a major boon to his own reputation.

Hmm, I think I agree, Mackensen has gotten a truly incredible career ITTL - although I think his actual influence ends up being pretty negligible. He should retire post-war as IOTL and I don't see the same sort of impetus for him to get involved in post-war politics ITTL. I do want to stress that while more knowledgable Great War enthusiasts are going to be championing Mackensen, for the general public it will still be names such as Hoffmann and Brusilov who end up being considered the "best" military generals of the war. Mackensen was always just off the main stage, utterly dominating wherever he went, but rarely if ever center stage.
 
I honestly absolutely loath these sorts of abbreviated walkthroughs of history. There are so many inaccuracies, generalities and outright mistakes which make them nearly unwatchable for me most of the time. Made it about 5 minutes through the first of the videos before I called it quits, it is so broadly generalizing and misleading that even the humor ends up getting lost on me. Then again, I am a nitpicker and semantics enthusiast of massive proportions, so all the missing or inaccurate details really get on my nerves. I mean, I have troubles making it through overview written works more generally for the same reason - end up nitpicking it to death. Sorry I can't give an actual answer to your question, just got in such a bad mood from it that I gave up.
Oh...ok then...
 
Oh...ok then...
Sorry, was in a shit mood yesterday and ended up taking it out on you.

To answer your question more properly, basically the entire section covering the actual revolution would change from start to end. The excessive focus on Lenin would be replaced by a more movement-oriented focus. Even before the July Days, the focus would have been far less on the Germans enabling Lenin's return and much more on the Bolsheviks in Russia properly. It would be oriented more towards the other movements as well. The Kornilov Affair would be one of the most important turning points of the early revolutionary coverage, the July Days taking a back seat by comparison. The October Revolution would be replaced by a focus on the Parsky Offensive and subsequent collapse, including the Romanovs' trial and execution. In general the pre-Kornilov events of the Russian Revolution would get less of a focus, and the post-Peace Treaty period a lot more, with rival factions emerging and beginning to clash. ITTL the RCW is a lot harder to just skip over as, oh and then the Reds faught a civil war to victory, there are too many sides and ambiguities for that to really work, so the end point would possibly be setting out the balkanized factions of the civil war, or a third video including the entire civil war. Hope this answers your question this time, and again sorry about yesterday.
 
How has anti-semitism in the Entente countries at the time (i.e. France, UK and the US) been affected by false allegations of Hoffmann and the OHL's supposed "Jewishness"? Perhaps yet another dimension of bigotry is added to the First American Red Scare, further strengthening and emboldening the second iteration of the KKK's general religious message against Jews(and Catholics)?

Good to see that Prokofiev, Balanchine and Stravinsky returned back to Russia after the Civil War. Has Rachmaninoff joined them in getting back to his homeland, or has he remained in self-imposed exile in the United States? What about Nabokov?
 
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What has become of Winston Churchill? Being a member of the government that for all intents and purposes lost the war can't have done him any favors.
 
How has anti-semitism in the Entente countries at the time (i.e. France, UK and the US) been affected by false allegations of Hoffmann and the OHL's supposed "Jewishness"? Perhaps yet another dimension of bigotry is added to the First American Red Scare, further strengthening and emboldening the second iteration of the KKK's general religious message against Jews(and Catholics)?

Good to see that Prokofiev, Balanchine and Stravinsky returned back to Russia after the Civil War. Has Rachmaninoff joined them in getting back to his homeland, or has he remained in self-imposed exile in the United States? What about Nabokov?

Jew baiting was going to be a thing either way and a strengthened KKK would be after them as much as anyone else, but Hoffmann isn't going to be what causes a major shift in that regard. It is just more grist for an already existing mill, and anyway Trotsky and Sverdlov are far, far better Jewish boogeymen ITTL than Hoffmann could ever be.

Rachmaninoff had an undying hatred for the Communists after his estate was ransacked, and I don't see how the butterflies would have prevented that from happening. I would expect him to be one of those who remains firmly anti-Soviet and in exile. Don't think he would go to the Don, too uncertain and lacking many of the comforts and opportunities which the west offers.

I would expect Nabokov to be a pretty prominent figure in Don White politics (or rather his father as part of the Kadets), and for him to be part of the wider cultural renaissance the region goes through during this period. While he isn't part of the Ukrainian Renaissance, the Don as a whole experiences significant cultural activity as numerous white-aligned artists and writers settle down there, although a good deal also continue into further exile in Europe or America.

How is nordic cooperation turning out thus far in the TL?

I actually have Scandinavia up as one of the things that I need to address in one of the first updates after hiatus, but I still haven't taken the time to think through quite how things have gone there. Therefore I would like to refrain from answering this one, I don't want to get bound up by something here when I haven't done sufficient research yet.

What has become of Winston Churchill? Being a member of the government that for all intents and purposes lost the war can't have done him any favors.

Churchill's political career has received a heavy blow and he is unlikely to be able to remain leader of the Liberals. I would expect him to have to take a step back, become one of those elder statesmen who hold an incredible amount of influence on the party and government, but he is unlikely to come to power again any time soon given how badly things have gone. Churchill is able to avoid most of the blame for how the Battle of the ECS played out, that weight falls far heavier on the navy itself, and his removal is more seen as a case of him having fought hard but failed - he isn't seen as a colossal fuckup like MacDonald is for the Two Rivers Crisis.
 
Now that you've clearly established in your Reader Mode informationals about what became of Guderian,Rommel and Hoth, what happened to:
1. von Kleist
2. Reinhardt
3. Hoepner
4. von Kluge
5. von Reichenau
6. Kesselring
7. von Rundstedt
8. von Kuechler
9. Raus
10. von Witzleben
11. Geyr von Schweppenburg
12. Blaskowitz
 
Informational Four (Pt. 5): Fate of German Military Commanders of World War Two Fame
Now that you've clearly established in your Reader Mode informationals about what became of Guderian,Rommel and Hoth, what happened to:
1. von Kleist
2. Reinhardt
3. Hoepner
4. von Kluge
5. von Reichenau
6. Kesselring
7. von Rundstedt
8. von Kuechler
9. Raus
10. von Witzleben
11. Geyr von Schweppenburg
12. Blaskowitz

Next time please include first names with these sorts of lists, because it is often hard to figure out which exact figure you are asking about when there are three to four people, some in the same family some not so who could be covered.

Paul Ludwig von Kleist: He participates in von Bock's ride into the Ukraine and ends up being an early commander in the armored section of the military before going on to serve as an army commander somewhere. He isn't politically involved and is largely seen as a neutral figure amongst the military factions, although more associated with the conservative wing.

Alfred-Hermann Reinhardt: He leaves the military after his Great War service and becomes a policeman, don't see a reason for that to change ITTL, there isn't the same impetus for him to rejoin the military as IOTL.

Georg-Hans Reinhardt: His career looks to be pretty smooth moving through the post-Great War period. A mix of field and staff postings culminating in a stint at the war academy as a lecturer before transitioning to the army training department until the late 1930s.

Erich Hoepner: He ascends the ranks and emerges as an up-and-coming general officer in the 1930s. His career remains based in Germany and he doesn't go on any foreign observer postings. He is focused on the development of armored infantry and aligns with the more radical wing of the military (not politically, but those who want to explore and develop the military in new ways, as contrasted with the conservatives) - nevertheless, while both he and Guderian are part of this faction, they remain rivals.

Günther von Kluge: He is part of the aristocratic military circles, firmly in the conservative wing of the military, but is largely uninvolved politically outside of a dislike for the left. Think he is the sort to be drawn into Lossberg's school of scholar soldiers and align with them, rising to a position of prominence as a staff officer and as a general officer - he likely is in command of an army by the late 1930s.

Walther von Reichenau: He should be on a rapid upward trajectory given his familial and personal ties in the military, probably ends up in a similar circle to von Kluge.

Albert Kesselring: I think he ends up remaining involved in military research and development, probably doesn't make the transition to the Airforce and subsequent forced move to civilian life of OTL. I think he ends up transitioning to a prominent position in the artillery, where all his experience lay anyway, rather than ever getting involved with air power ITTL. IOTL his transition to air power was a bit of a sudden out of nowhere development highly dependent on the OTL factors of the Versailles treaty restrictions. Without those I don't think he makes the shift.

Gerd von Rundstedt: I am pretty sure von Rundstedt ends up in the General Staff as one of the central staff officers in the 1920s as he seemingly was supposed to have been. By the late 1930s he should be one of the most senior figures in the General Staff, holding a key position of authority. Think he remains relatively politically uninvolved and part of that aristocratic circle which Kluge and Reichenau belong to.

Georg von Küchler: I honestly think his trajectory might be one of the least changed ITTL, just working his way upward in the artillery. He might have been part of the Parsky Offensive and Bock's Ukrainian advance, but that should weigh out the military experiences he had IOTL.

Erhard Raus: Probably a lecturer at one of the military schools or lost in the shuffle when the Austrian Army join the Imperial German Military. He might end up being used as military attaché somewhere, but I don't think he really has much of a path to a premier position.

Erwin von Witzleben: Think his trajectory is similar in a lot of ways to Rundstedt, although he might also have gotten a field command by the late 1930s as general.

Leo Geyr von Schweppenburg: Think he might end up following a similar career trajectory to Guderian, plenty of military observer postings and service as military attaché to key allies and enemies, providing a wealth of knowledge to the German military in the process. He should be part of the more radical pioneering part of the military and maybe is part of the more openminded end of the aristocratic clique.

Johannes Blaskowitz: Think he might actually be one of those who thrive in the post-Great War period. His wartime achievements should be sufficient to give him a chance at a field command, and he is capable enough to rise relatively swiftly therefrom. Should still be a decently important military figure by the late 1930s.
 
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Assuming you mean Alfred-Hermann Reinhardt: He leaves the military after his Great War service and becomes a policeman, don't see a reason for that to change ITTL, there isn't the same impetus for him to rejoin the military as IOTL.
I meant Georg-Hans.(i.e. Third Panzer Army)
 
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Feature: The Strategic Posture Of Germany And The Zollverein In 1938
Surprise!

While Zulfurium enjoys a well-deserved break, I've finally, finally managed to complete a feature on the German military and Zollverein collective security. This bloc is one of the major players in the tense diplomatic standoff between the world's Great Powers, and an overview of its strategic situation deeply fascinated me. I have done my best to do the matter justice! As always, if you spot any mistake or factual error, please be so kind as to flag it.


Feature: The Strategic Posture Of Germany And The Zollverein In 1938


GettyImages-548808113-1200x0-c-default.jpg

Erwin Rommel at the Allenstein war games, along the Baltic Coast​

As the 1930s drew to a close, the Zollverein military alliance aggregately represented the world’s premier military force, at least on paper. Reality, of course, was more complicated, and Zollverein military planners – primarily German planners – were presented with a complex and shifting strategic situation that presented diplomatic, economic, and military challenges. OHL did not approach this changed international arena as a cohesive unit, but was rather riven with internal tensions, tensions that partially reflected those running through German politics. What OHL did have however was the fanatical professionalism, thorough book-keeping and attention to detail brought about by Max Hoffmann’s tenure at the helm. Prior to his ascension to leadership of OHL, German command had demonstrated considerable talent, particularly on the tactical level – but also a worrying lack of strategic planning, lacklustre cooperation with the political leadership, and a weak grasp of logistics and the workings of a war economy. All of these weaknesses could have proven fatal at any time during the Great War, and few people knew it better than Max Hoffmann. The mountain of research conducted by German staffers in the postwar years was to rectify most of these weaknesss, leaving OHL with a much better grasp of operational and strategic problems than ever before. Hoffmann’s greatest success had been his successful argument for rapprochement with the Western Powers, his greatest stumbling block had been his confrontational stance towards Soviet Russia – but his true long-lasting legacy was making German war planning a peer of its great power competitors’. (1)

Eventually, Hoffmann’s controversial attitude, arrogance, and self-righteousness, combined with his declining health, led to his resignations, shortly before his death in 1927. His primary adversaries in the General Staff – the Ludenorff loyalist Oskar von Hutier, and the Crown Prince’s close follower Hans von Seeckt – had no opportunity to fill the ensuing gap. The race for OHL leadership soon saw two great personalities from the Great War emerge and push forward their vision for the future course of German security and power. The first was the “fireman of the Western Front,” Fritz von Lossberg, whose defensive genius was universally recognised even by his rivals. To his close supporters in particular, his tireless work complemented Max Hoffmann’s to ensure a positive outcome to the Great War – where Hoffmann had enabled the spectacular breakthroughs of Operation Georg, Lossberg’s fanatical efforts at creating an impassable network of defence-in-depth on the Western Front had allowed German soldiers to resist the large-scale Franco-American offensive of 1919. Lossberg had not been idle in the postwar years, working to turn the newly acquired and well-fortified Belgian territory of Liege into the northern anchor of a fortified German line that reached all the way to the Swiss border. Lossberg’s interpretation of Germany’s post-war situation was optimistic: with France having little appetite for a third continental bout and moreover faced with a truly daunting network of fortifications, Germany’s western reaches were considered safe. This would eventually see partial reassessment as the fear of air power led Lossberg to promote early research and strong investment into anti-air counters to any bomber offensive aimed at Alsace-Lorraine or the Ruhr. In the east, the new borders presented Germany with the novel option of having physical breathing room even in case of early reversals, but that also came with its own challenges: fortresses were of limited use in the east and could be easily bypassed by a mobile force, and the Soviets had shown great mastery of the operational art in their Siberian campaign. Lossberg’s proposal for the east was to make any occupation of Germany’s new eastern European allies difficult by making them nearly impossible to digest, favouring deep defensive fieldwork that could be easily manned, with mobile defence in depth sheltering at multiple levels of depth – with rearward units ready for a strong counterattack on any invader. This was particularly pressing in the Baltic section of the Zollverein line: given the narrowness of the Baltics and the front’s proximity to the sea, there was a real danger that a Soviet offensive with the German-Lithuanian border as its Schwerpunkt might reach the sea and isolate the Baltics – plus whatever amount of German troops happened to be stationed there – from Germany proper. With the border running all the way to the Black Sea, and the importance of protecting the Baku oilfields should the Don Republic collapse, Lossberg also sought to work closely with Germany’s allies to ensure defence in depth across the front, and personally developed plans to turn the Baku region into a fortress that would have been incredibly costly for any invader to take. Through it all, Lossberg maintained his close affiliation with Bruckmüller, seeing artillery as the true “queen of the battlefield” that would make any successful defensive or offensive operations possible. (2)

The other principal candidate was Hermann von Kuhl, who had enthusiastically embraced Hoffmann’s drive for professionalisation, and had largely become the leading “general-scholar” of the Reich, publishing an incredibly diverse arrays of military studies and well-researched histories of the Great War, with particular focus on the Marne offensive of 1914 and on the last two years of the war. Notably, some of these wereaddressed to the general public, greatly popularising von Kuhl’s interpretation of decision-making during the conflict. Von Kuhl believed in a more classically Prussian focus on mobility, which in his opinion had been the primary limiting factor for German arms particularly on the Western Front. Romania’s Zollverein membership, and the by-then institutionally solid alliance with the Ottoman Empire, allowed Germany a sufficiently cushy fuel situation to consider a gradual motorisation of German and allied armed forces, which would keep mobility in play in any future war. This was compounded by the knowledge that the Soviets’ fuel situation would be comparably unfavourable, making large scale motorisation a distant prospect for Russian arms. Whereas Lossberg didn’t share Hoffmann’s interest in the Don, and mostly operated on the assumption that it would fall in a way similar to Siberia’s, Kuhl saw it as a convenient buffer both on the southern reaches of the eastern border and north of Baku itself, which could be exploited for a mobile counteroffensive in case of a Soviet advance into the Don coinciding with a state of general hostilities with the Zollverein. Kuhl’s rapport with Lossberg remained cordial, and the pair’s activities complemented each other to some degree, but the competition for resource allocation between the two schools was real and occasionally bitter; even with the Navy no longer the steel-eating, expanding giant it had been until 1912, and with Germany’s vast informal empire to draw from, there was no way to simply accomodate everyone’s requests to build more fortresses, tanks, aeroplanes, etc. Moreover, as the gap between the two schools widened, the need for unified command became stronger. (3)

In the middle of all this, the Crown Prince remained aloof of both factions. More interested in the flashy bits of warfare, like technical specifications of equipment, than he was in the formality and politicking of the General Staff, he served as the centre of gravity for firebrand officers who remained at the margins of power in OHL. The most prominent of these was doubtlessly von Seeckt, whose opposition to Hoffmann, political conservatism, and antisemitic stances had won him a controversial political reputation. Von Seeckt ultimately saw the coming struggles as both political and military in nature. This kind of far-reaching generalisation of many developments thrown into a singular interpretation was very appealing to the Crown Prince. Eberhard von Mackensen and Heinz Guderian exploited the fascination of the future Kaiser with the spectacle of modern war to ensure that mobility, tanks, and more specifically the Panzerwaffe would always benefit from Imperial favour; in this they were helped by the Crown Prince’s friendship with, and admiration for, Hermann Balck, the talented divisional commander whose heroics on the battlefield, and refusal to be promoted away from his men, had turned him into a modern German folk hero. (4)

Eventually, the various moving parts that made up German military planning came to a head, and a compromise candidate came to the fore. For once, there was a candidate few people could have any qualms about: Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck.

From a political and public perspective, Lettow-Vorbeck was a virtually unassailable candidate: his titanic struggle against the Entente in Africa, alone, outnumbered, with no access to regular supplies and no support, had become the stuff of legends, and arguably saved Germany’s African colonial empire from otherwise near-certain occupation. His undeniable operational and planning talent also gave him the right military credentials, and his staunch monarchism and rarely publicised, but heartfelt leaning towards the nationalist right-wing fit very well with the climate of the day in Germany. Doubts remained as to his ability to plan for more conventional military operations on a large scale, but Lettow-Vorbeck quickly silenced these by embarking on a methodical quest for a strategic synthesis between Lossberg’s advocacy of defence in depth, and von Kuhl’s mobile, motorised version of the classic Prussian Schwerpunkt. Special officer committees were established and tasked with analysing recent conflicts to incorporate relevant lessons, with a particular eye to armoured units’ vulnerabilities as displayed in the Don’s failed Georgian campaign, and to the performance of force-marching infantry on rough terrain, as displayed by the promising young officer Manstein in Bolivia. As much as it was possible, the Siberian campaign also saw thorough study for its large scale, great distances covered in horrendous atmospheric conditions, and operational depth. Finally, given his keen eye for guerrilla warfare – which he had experienced on both sides – Lettow-Vorbeck paid particular interest to the growing conflict in Indochina, as it increasingly spiralled out of control. With communism increasingly coming to be seen as the international coalition most threatening to Germany’s survival both on the European continent and in the colonies, Lettow – Vorbeck decided the time had come to devote real attention to guerrilla warfare at the General Staff level. Soon or late the Reich might after all find itself in a similar predicament as France in the colonies, and besides, guerrilla concepts could see successful application in Europe as well. For this task, the new Chief of the General Staff turned to an old subordinate of his during the Great War, Theodor von Hippel, who jumped at the chance of taking his mentor’s lessons, which they had practiced in the field together against the British, to the next level. He set out to coordinate with all military branches to create highly trained commando units that made use of new technology (such as parachutes for Fallschirmjaegers, or easily concealable explosives such as with Brandenburgers) to sabotage infrastructure, seize bridges, gather intel, and generate confusion deep behind enemy lines. With a focus on extensive knowledge of foreign languages, making rapid decisions independently and in isolation, and operating complex equipment, Hippel’s special forces opened a new realm of possibilities to German planning that seemed to fit perfectly with the growing climate of subterfuge, suspicion, and confrontation with the Internationale in particular. With some reluctance and serious limitations, the concept was partially extended to Germany’s allies, who started providing select troops for special forces training and interoperability. This would allow Lettow-Vorbeck to realise one of Lossberg’s chief aims: to give countries that might be the target of future Soviet expansion, such as Finland or Lithuania, the tools to meet the invader with a “rifle behind every stone”, buying time for the German army to respond to an invasion with its own hammer blow. (5)

German planning also became increasingly preoccupied with the opportunities presented by air power, with the Luftstreitkraefte having proven its worth in the last three years of the Great War, and continuing its research and development over the two subsequent decades. Development became particularly exciting during the 1930s, as piston-engined craft benefited from advancements in metallurgy, aerodynamics, and sundry other fields to reach performances and carry payloads simply unthinkable beforehand. The man to lead the LSK during this critical phase, Walter Wever, was a Prussian officer whose staff talents had emerged through service as a staff officer to OHL in the Great War. As LSK chief of staff, Wever’s vision was that of an air force that could operate in synergy with the rest of the armed forces to achieve critical strategic objectives: support to ground troops would allow for “air artillery” against enemy units, critically also away from railway lines and being able to keep pace with motorised troops deep inside enemy territory. Coordination with naval units could dramatically alter the balance of power at sea. A capable air force could also spot enemy troop concentrations and procede to impede their movements with every tool available. Finally and most fundamentally, Wever viewed the air force as a strategic weapon that could impede or even cripple the enemy’s industrial and armaments output. Wever gathered around him a group of officers and industrialists whose task it was to develop requirements and doctrine for a strategic bomber force, the nucleus of what would later become Germany’s Bomber Command. Investment also went to early research and development of radar systems, while from the operational point of view Wever was in large part responsible for ending the “lone ace knight” mythology enshrined by Great-War-era aviation, with an intensified focus on team tactics and a gradual replacement of lone wolf strikes with well-coordinated air squadrons. The introduction of onboard radio in every plane’s cockpit was to prove the linchpin to this effort at increasing coordination between pilots, ensuring that they could operate together as a unit. Later in the decade, the Battle of the East China Sea would turn heads in every professional military, with LSK leadership seeking to incorporate these lessons into a more fruitful relationship with the Kaiserliche Marine – although such incorporation was easier said than done, given the engineering and doctrinal complexity of naval and air equipment as the 1930s neared their end. (6)

The Kaiserliche Marine itself had a considerably less happy time in the aftermath of the Great War. For one, its popularity was diminished by its marginal role in securing Germany’s position at the end of the conflict. It could still bank on its all-Germanness as an institution, but this too became increasingly challenged as the LSK and eventually the army itself established their own all-German credentials. The navy’s own building programme also came under fire both in absolute terms, given the under utilisation of the equipment during the war, and in relative terms, given the inevitable economic hiccups that came with postwar conversion. As such, the scheduled pre-dreadnoughts and cruisers from before the war were scrapped, with only the last commissioned Bayerns and Mackensens seeing completion after the war. No new capital ship saw commission in the following years, with an implementation of what was merely a replacement programme for capital ships as they became obsolete. When the international naval treaty that many had hoped for failed to come about, and with the Spirit of Amsterdam on the decline, shipbuilding became a realistic prospect again, particularly as the German (and Zollverein) economy rallied sharply. Here too however the navy found itself competing for scarce resource allocations with two other services, which had the upper hand in the eyes of both military planners and political leaders alike. Disagreements on how to best utilise the KM’s slim allocations also abounded. Germany’s existing complement of battleships was more than enough to balance France and the Soviets, while still affirming Germany’s great power status, so the focus shifted elsewhere. The main argument ran between proponents of a long-range cruiser and carrier fleet, which would allow for colonial defence, and supporters of land-based aviation, commerce raiders, and submarines out of Wilhelmshaven and Triest. The latter option would represent a clear preparation for a further naval conflict with the British in the North Sea and the Mediterranean, however, leading the Reich to adopt a balanced approach and hedge its bets until the murky diplomatic situation of the mid-1930s became clearer. With Germany increasingly headed on a collision course towards the Soviets, proponents of the former option gathered steam: cruisers and carriers would allow intervention against any colonial uprising, while capital ships and submarines would see that the Baltic remained a German lake. (7)

Now the ball went back into the diplomats’ court: could they reach out to the British, and enter serious talks about an Anglo-German naval agreement? While calamitous in its wider impact, the British defeat in the Battle of the East China Sea seemed to present German diplomats with an opening they were eager to exploit. The most optimistic in the diplomatic staff dreamed that this could be a precursor to future political talks; recent events in Hungary-Croatia also seemed to offer an opportunity to upset the status quo, and provide a useful bargaining chip of a continental European nature to negotiate with the British. The most pessimistic circles pointed out that thinking this far ahead, when the initial tentative feelers still hadn’t returned anything concrete, was premature and naive. Before fully abandoning its balanced building approach, the KM patiently awaited the outcome of these low-level feelers and diplomatic overtures, while continuing research and development of carriers and submarines, in preparation for the naval conflicts of the future.

Ultimately, German focus in political and diplomatic terms remained firmly centered on the Reich’s new network of allies and clients. While this relationship was clearly one-sided, Germany was twice indispensable to its eastern sphere: as a guarantor against Russian revanchism, and as an arbiter of internal disputes, such as the competing border claims of Poland and Romania. The countries with more room to maneuver were careful to trade the needle: Bulgaria was perfectly happy to remain in the Central Powers, but resisted German overtures to accede to the Zollverein military and economic alliance as a full-fledged member state. The Ottomans similarly remained committed to the Central Powers without joining the wider Zollverein, preferring to maintain their relationship with their allies on a bilateral basis. The increasing importance of Baku to German oil reserves, and the growing boldness of the Soviets greatly increases German interests in the Caucasus, particularly should the Don Republic ever collapse or lose control over that region: this ensured that Berlin would remain very accommodating towards Ottoman sensibilities. The final, and less integrated ring in this German diplomatic chain was Socialist Italy: as an easily disavowable asset with few other options but which conveniently thrust into the Mediterranean, it allowed German diplomats to simultaneously put pressure on the British, and still have the ability to make easy concessions to them at virtually no cost to themselves. (8)

Elsewhere, German diplomatic work was less successful. Relations with the Western Powers had been restored more or less to the intended degree, but the fostering of a weak Soviet Russia to the east had clearly failed – which greatly vindicated the military voices that had opposed the policy from its very beginnings. Now vindicated, the military stole a march on the question of Zollverein defence, and forced the politicians to react. This new political climate, along with all other related developments, culminated in the Allenstein war games. The new conservative government in power in Germany was greatly antagonistic towards the Soviets, and believed that deterrence would be the best policy to prevent further meddling in German domestic policies. Responding to suggestions from OHL, the Zollverein organised a series of ambitious war games, taking place in Allenstein, East Prussia. The exercise was enormous in scale, consisting of army-level maneuvers with corps-level forces from every Zollverein member state, as well as the remaining Central Powers. Even the Italian People’s Republic contributed a token expeditionary unit, seeing this as an invaluable opportunity to learn precious lessons about modern warfare in spite of its asphyxiating isolation in mainland Europe. Many foreign observers attended the war games, reporters in tow, and OHL was keen to make sure that the British were given the front row seats.

The location was not chosen by accident, and the Allenstein war games came to serve multiple purposes. For one, they were held on German soil. This was more significant than might first appear: the intent was to clearly communicate to Germany’s partners that the new conservative government, while nationalist, had no intention of violating Zollverein members’ sovereignty or territorial integrity. At the same time, however, the games took place in East Prussia, close enough to Poland and Lithuania that the message was loud and clear: Berlin remained politically committed to the independence of these countries, and would protect them against all comers – the only possible target for this intimidation was, of course, Soviet Russia. This was as clear a warning as possible that there would be pushback against further Soviet attempts at overturning the postwar settlement of Tsarskoye Selo. While of secondary importance, the war game also served to reassure France that the Reich was primarily preoccupied with the east, and did not plan an aggressive stance on its western border at this time.

The war games clearly simulated how the Zollverein would respond to a Russian invasion. The exercise postulated a “red force” advancing in the south, against Poland, while massing its armoured units against Lithuania and East Prussia for a sickle cut. “Blue force” had the task of slowing down both advances with defence in depth and guerrilla tactics, while amassing motorised units and tanks in rearward lines. These eventually sprung into action in a two-pronged counterattack, one south towards Poland and the other north towards Lithuania, driving into the flanks of both red force advances. The mobile counterattacks encircled the invading units and gamed out their ability to drive past them, simulating in the real world what was becoming the chief preoccupation of war planners all over the world at the time: depth, that is, how far operations could push beyond supply lines with the benefit of motorisation, before logistics made any further advances unsustainable.

This grand political and strategic presentation was somewhat undermined by its execution. These were the first war games to be held on such scale for quite some time, and certainly the first to openly experiment with combined arms operations in a partially motorised context. By simulating depth, they also inevitably presented a whole slew of logistical challenges, for which preparations were entirely inadequate. This proved a considerable embarassment to the Germans as equipment – particularly tanks – broke down in the field, high-altitude bombers missed their targets by considerable distances, trucks drank up the fuel they themselves were carrying, and logistics grew from a mere headache to a convoluted mess. This was not helped by the German habit of over-designing complicated machinery which broke down easily and required complex maintenance operations. This, combined with the wide variety of designs each produced by parallel production lines, resulted in a chronic shortage of spare parts.

The reflection on some of the commanders who had pushed for these changes was not great. This proved to be a particularly stressful time for Heinz Guderian, who was forced to go back to the drawing board and tone down his optimistic expectations of what armoured units could achieve at current technological levels, and without adequate logistics.

On the other hand, the limitations posed by logistics and equipment presented talented commanders with an opportunity to display their skills. As such, the war games cemented the growing reputation of a cadre of rising stars, Paulus and Manstein among them – not surprising, considering they had first-hand experience of recent conflicts in Georgia and Bolivia, as observer and expeditionary commanding officer respectively. Proponents of armoured warfare who had been more logistically minded than Guderian or Hoepner also exploited the opportunity, such as von Schweppenburg – bold and unafraid to embrace new concepts, but keenly aware that logistics was where modern wars were lost or won, he received significant vindication from his performance during the war games. In the general picture of teething troubles and false starts, these officers managed to nonetheless rely on the marching performances of German infantry, on classic concept of maneuver warfare, and on a less cavalier attitude about logistics, to punch above the weight of their undersupplied units.

On a more practical level, the war games also allowed Germany and its allies to test interoperability of their forces. This resulted in Bohemia demonstrating its engineering and military prowess, with their equipment putting the Germans’ to shame. Simple, but more reliable and more uniformly produced, and supported by better logistics, Bohemian tanks and artillery pieces fared much better in the field, putting forward the best possible case for their selection as the bread-and-butter equipment of the alliance. This also painted a political target on Skoda’s back, as the Germans came to realise they had critically underestimated how much of an asset it would be to their security needs.

Strategically, the war games yielded satisfactory results. Tactically, they put to the test recent disputes about artillery, tanks, and whether the Luftwaffe should focus more on fighters and bombers or add aerial artillery and close ground support to its portfolio – Wever, while a proponent of strategic bombing, is convinced of accomodating the latter need after the bombers’ poor performance in the war games. The mingling of Zollverein, Latin Pact, British, American, and Chinese officers and observers also provided an opportunity for some elbow-rubbing and quiet offerings of political settlements – but also to go back home and draw conclusions from what was on display, with ripples on everyone’s military plans.

The most lasting impact, however, was perhaps in economic and industrial policy areas. Smarting from the unexpected setbacks, and eager not to have eggs on their faces again, German planners got back to the drawing table, if not always in a productive manner – with Guderian and Hoepner engaged in formally correct, but passive-aggressive standoffs and veiled accusations that quickly became legendary. Under the influence of Kuhl and his close associate von Bock, however, pressure started rapidly mounting on Skoda to join the German cartel system, and for the introduction of a series of production boards which would coordinate the development and production of tanks, planes, rifles, trucks, and above all, the necessary supply chains. As orders boomed and cash flew in, Skoda enjoyed the market manipulation provided by the cartel system to rapidly accumulate massive amounts of capital, most of which went back into internal investment. The increased employment opportunities greatly pleased Bohemian public opinion, but of more lasting importance was the great increase in prestige, leverage, and standing of Bohemia among the Zollverein member states. In the increasingly uncertain climate of the 1930s, any measure of political capital was more than welcome.



Footnotes:

(1) For a more detailed explanation of the politicking inside OHL, you can refer back to the retrospective on Max Hoffmann.

(2) Lossberg has featured in the timeline before, and his efforts have not been for naught, unlike OTL. In the much more expansive security environment of the postward order ITTL, he doesn’t lack for career opportunities, and successfully leverages his reputation into a strong candidacy to leadership of the officer corps. Naturally, the analysis presented in this Feature is highly speculative, and based around essentially three factors: Lossberg’s OTL priorities, which were clearly slanted towards defence in depth, is the basis for future developments in his thinking. The second factor is a parsimonious interpretation of Germany’s new security environment in the east and west, how this is interpreted by German planners, and how Lossberg reacts to these ideas. Last but not least, there is a matter of pure real-world geography. The border changes introduced by the Peace of Copenhagen and subsequent developments have a huge impact on strategic considerations.

(3) @Zulfurium has extensively covered von Kuhl’s leadership of a cadre of “military-scholars” at multiple points earlier in the timeline. What is important to note however is that this scholarly drive does not happen in isolation, but is part of the wider debate and framing on the role played by mobility in the Great War. To some extent it delivered undeniable tactical successes to the Germans, but on a different level it ultimately failed to deliver a “Clausewitzian” victory – except arguably on the Eastern Front, although even there detractors find plenty of arguments to paint a muddier picture of events. To what degree the old focus can be maintained, and to what degree it needs to be switched for a new paradigm, is a topic that splits OHL like a fissure, growing deeper as the careers and egos at stake become more and more personally involved.

(4) The Crown Prince’s affiliation with mavericks who offer radical ideas is not new to this timeline – it was mentioned back in the Hoffmann retrospective for the first time. It is rooted in OTL, too. My understanding of the psychology behind it is that there are two elements in play here: one is a fundamental princely discomfort with the “stuffy” world of the imperial parents and their court, a mild annoyance towards formality and the ways of the old world. The other element is the Prince’s seeming preference for people who clearly articulated a worldview that included far-sweeping generalisations, drawing general conclusions from a small set of data or even anecdotes. The officers at the margins of OHL have great appeal for him, and while the monarchy is not very politically active at the moment, imperial patronage carries a weight all of its own.

(5) Even OTL, Lettow-Vorbeck’s campaign had a massive impact beyond its enormous popular fame. It influenced military thinking and planning regarding what was achievable with guerrillas and soldiers devoted to highly specialised tasks. Theodor von Hippel attempted to turn this experience into the foundation for German special forces OTL as well, creating the Brandenburgers – but as we know, the Germans remained fundamentally incompetent when it came to special forces during the Second World War. Here, circumstances are radically different, with Lettow-Vorbeck in charge of the effort and rising meteorically through OHL, with von Hippel in tow playing a supporting role. This will have an impact on German attitudes to the question of collective security in the Zollverein.

(6) The 1930s were an explosive decade for powered flight technologies. Advances in manufacturing techniques, material components, aero engines, frames, supply lines and payload, followed one another so rapidly that there was virtually no hope of planning and doctrine remaining abreast of it. We saw this quite starkly OTL, where even the most well-prepared air forces consistently assessed their own performance and strategic utility quite incorrectly. The most successful air forces were those that learned quicker to correct their misconceptions – avoiding them altogether was simply impossible without 20/20 hindsight. Now, Wever is a bit of a cliché choice thanks to his role in many WW2-themed, Luftwaffe-centered timelines, but I still believe his career path, eminent competence, and political clout would make his appointment a very high likelihood ITTL. Since the accident that killed him in 1936 has not taken place OTL, he remains alive and in charge of the LKS. This is undoubtedly a good fix for German air force planning, but not a magic bullet. Inefficiencies in construction and logistics, while ameliorated from OTL, are still very much a part of the game whenever industry and the military cross paths in Germany.

(7) Imagining a continued German Navy following the Great War is perhaps one of the most daunting challenges for those without a deep understanding of naval matters. The topic is highly technical, and requires intricate knowledge of the composition and various options of the equipment in question in addition to the usual speculative exercise about alternate people making alternate choices. Given my very limited expertise, I hope I was able to do it justice. Ultimately and unsurprisingly, the HSF is stuck in a bit of a rut. It is maintained and improved, and doctrinal debate carries on, but there is perpetual indecision about which role it might play and what repercussions this might have on the wider political stage. To borrow from sports terminology, you might say that when it comes to naval planning, Germany ITTL has got down with a case of the yips, and every touted decision is continually second-guessed. As such, this is definitely the branch of the German military that suffers the most from the ripples of the Great War – although it remains very popular with public opinion.

(8) Germany is, in a sense, lucky that the rise of the red tide has diverted attention from its recent international exploits. Their unexpected opening in Ethiopia, and the daring decision to play such a prominent role in South America as to send Manstein to the continent, have been noted, and the international order will doubtlessly start pushing back – but for now, other, more acute rivalries (particularly those involving the rise of revolutionary states) simply have to take a higher spot on the agenda. The way the chips are falling, Germany is hopeful of an alliance with the British, but Whitehall remains very reserved and extremely noncommittal, as is to be expected. Relations with the Latin Pact are cordial but distant, as both blocs are essentially looking elsewhere. It is possible that the seemingly ever-present threat of communist encroachment will focus the minds, and ironically pen Germany into a position where it acts as a “responsible stakeholder” of the international system, as opposed to a destabilising element – but that is pure speculation at this point, and German adventurism is just as likely to cause localised crises. Still, the new government’s apparent single-minded focus on the Soviets will in turn give other countries more room to maneuver in how they choose to relate to the Reich.

(9) The war games themselves are solid, and had they been a quieter affair, the optics wouldn’t have been this bad. The world’s militaries are on the cusp of a great transition, which makes teething problems an inevitability. But the political heft and attention assigned to the war games by the German government backfires: a military exercise is not a parade, and things go wrong, with a relatively negative fallout for several personalities involved. There are a few bruised egoes, and more than a handful of talented commanders get an opportunity to display their flair as they work with the limitations they are given. Some of the reaction to the PR embarassment will be productive, as it will force a rethink, and perhaps more planners will begin to take the logistics of large-scale warfare in the east a lot more seriously. But some of it will be disruptive, with politicians and invested military personalities both fearing for their career prospects and their brainchildren alike.
 
Thank god this is finally out there, I was getting antsy having to answer questions about Lettow-Vorbeck and the others :p Really hope everyone appreciates the work @Ombra put in, was a lot of research which went into it and a couple of major edits. Really happy with how it turned out all around.
 
Great chapter! It really helped me paint a picture of the general situation in Europe ITTL.

The global situation of ADiJ in 1938 would be the perfect set up for a strategy board/videogame, I love what Zulfurium has created. It manages to at once involve multiple factions, sub-factions, and undercurrents, while remaining perfectly poised and balanced.

Thank god this is finally out there, I was getting antsy having to answer questions about Lettow-Vorbeck and the others :p Really hope everyone appreciates the work @Ombra put in, was a lot of research which went into it and a couple of major edits. Really happy with how it turned out all around.

It is a bit of a weird cast of people, isn't it? Still, it speaks to the quality of the timeline that 120 pages into the thread, users still see the need to ask what happened to German commanders of OTL fame, but are perfectly familiar with the ITTL fortunes and ultimate fates of two dozen Russian revolutionaries, anti-colonial figures and insurgents from central America to Southeast Asia, obscure government ministers, and fringe religious figures. You have populated the TL with a fantastic cast that differs believably from OTL's while still shining all on its own.
 
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