A Shift in Priorities - Sequel

As someone living 50 km from the German border this sounds so out of character for Germans, but well, 50 years of divergence ought to make a difference.
 
Oh boy, the consequences are going to be nasty. It seems that was exactly what the chancellor wants to happen. Kill the old, up with the new.
 
Experience shows that what happens is always the thing against one has not made provision in advance.
(John Maynard Keynes)

Okay, the Prussians had declared themselves insolvent. So what? Well, it meant that the rural folks from the surrounding regions were going to apply for membership – even more than had already happened. One was about to become a state, it seemed. Egon Schagalla wondered how big the state – Westfalen? – would become eventually.

In the west, this was evident, the Rhenish Republic was going to claim both banks of the Rhine. That was okay, said those who should know. Egon had no great love for the Rhenish folks, the further away the better. No need to have these carnival idiots in the neighbourhood.

In the south, the east and the north, though, the situation was still vague. Huge rural areas… No urban cores… One was going to see. Egon had only a vague idea of the historical situation before the Prussians had arrived. But restoring the hoary past wasn’t his thing anyway. One had to shape the future.

Self-government wasn’t bad. But Prussian rule hadn’t been so bad either. Only that back then he had been a simple worker; today he was chief of police. Yeah, that was true progress. And in some years time, he was going to be settler on Jupiter.

Well, only if Germany still existed… That was the sore point in his worldview. Could there be a bright future for Gerdi, little Herbert and him – if the Reich crumbled away? Perhaps he should reconsider his attitude…
 
At the heart of capitalism is creative destruction.
(Joseph A. Schumpeter)

It was not a mean feat for a Bavarian to have crushed Prussia, that was the general thrust of publicised opinion in Berlin. But Hanne Zülch knew it wasn’t true. Franz Josef was not a localist. The BVP, the Bavarian People’s Party, had ousted him. He genuinely hated them.

Actually, she didn’t think he had aimed at destroying Prussia. It just had happened. People who assumed he was in control of events were altogether wrong. He wasn’t. And he had no idea how things were going to progress. He had pushed the nation over the rim. Now he was watching it fall, intrigued with the process.

Was Prussia really done? In her mind, it was too early to tell. The Rhineland was most probably gone. They never had been happy to be under Prussian sway. The Prussians were too nitpicking and too sober for their taste. Well, one wouldn’t miss them. But for the rest, Prussia had been quite okay – as far as she could judge – and certainly better than the regimens afore.

It was true: in the past, there always had been much griping when a region had come under Prussian rule. But once folks had tasted the numerous advantages, the wailing had quickly died down. Okay, Rhinelanders and Poles might see this differently, but even the Danes in Schleswig were not really keen on leaving.

It were the industrial areas that had segregated. Might they – their councils – revise their attitude now? Scattered regionalism wasn’t something big industry was fond of. And as far as Hanne could tell, they had been discontent with general conditions in the Reich – and not with Prussia. But sometimes, reason was on leave…
 
The possession of power inevitably spoils the free use of reason.
(Immanuel Kant)

Yep, being the Kaiser was nice and dandy, but the job had no solid independent base. The King of Prussia, though, possessed this base. He was a formidable land baron and fabulously rich, even if his erstwhile political power had been taken away just like that of the Kaiser. Indeed, acting the Kaiser was only a fancy sideline for the King of Prussia.

Okay, his counsellors affirmed that he was and was going to remain King of Prussia – and that Prussian bankruptcy had no influence on this. In that respect, the loss of political power was even beneficial, because it had meant separation from all Prussian fiscal affairs. Strictly speaking, the King of Prussia had become an employee of the state, paid consistently for his services.

Fortunately, he was wealthy enough to weather any payment default, even if long-term, Kaiser Wilhelm IV had been told. However, he was not supposed to intervene in the current imbroglio. He should keep aloof from it – and perform the Kaiser. His role as King of Prussia should be in abeyance; there was nothing to win by exerting it.

Yeah, he could see that meddling in the present mess didn’t promise any success. But how was this drama going to end? His counsellors didn’t know either – yet, they asserted that Prussia still existed; it was illiquid but nevertheless a lasting reality. Segregation wasn’t possible, if the Prussian Landtag didn’t endorse it.

Here at Rheinsberg the world was still in order. Apparently, Prussian paralysis hadn’t arrived yet. The police officers were still patrolling, mail was delivered, the utilities were working. This was the case in all of rural East Elbia, said his counsellors, only Berlin and Silesia were affected. Core Prussia – Brandenburg – was alive.

West and East Prussia were different though. Because of the Poles? Would that question pop up too? Wilhelm IV was not amused. They are so stupid, all of them, and I am their king. It was enough to make you cry…
 
Intelligence is based on how efficient a species became at doing the things they need to survive.
(Charles Darwin)

The Sikukus were at Edea, visiting Otti who was in the last month of her pregnancy. Watching his daughter waddle around and complain about the heat was, however, not enough to keep Max rivetted for long. Adele enjoyed mothering Otti. That was fine. The two were happy – and didn’t need him. Therefore, Max had summoned his agents from the WAU and Nigeria for serious business talks.

Today was Nigeria day. Sikuku Enterprises didn’t have production facilities over there; one was only selling stuff. Not even the oil business had attracted Max. – It had been a wise decision, said the agents. Nigeria was degrading, sliding back into tribalism – and in the long run into primitivism. The English had – at least – cared to educate certain quarters.

But with the end of their rule, things had begun to change. It was a gradual process – and not at all uniform. Some tribes were truly zealous in trying to preserve edification and tuition, but others were just letting things deteriorate. In the same vein, medical care was degrading in many places. The English were still there, one thought about fifteen thousand expatriates, but the homeland support was direly missing.

There had been hopes that the US might step in, but the Amis had never appeared in force. Some religious groups had sent missionaries, but the bulk of American attention had gone to the WAU. – Nigeria provided an enormous reservoir of workers – that nobody seemed to interest. And the ill-fated adventure with the Churchill posse had taught the Nigerians that working abroad could be very dangerous.

Indeed, the thirty million Nigerians – or so, one didn’t have actual figures – appeared to be pretty much intent on making a living at home. Until now, coexistence of the tribes had been remarkably non-violent. But that might change with time, as general conditions were getting worse. Okay, Max never had considered hiring Nigerian workers. It was better to leave them where they were.
 
Politics have no relation to morale.
(Nicollò Machiavelli)

Josef Dembitzer was deeply alarmed: changeover of power in the Kremlin, said the flash dispatches. Aleksandr Nikolayevich Zademidko had been disempowered; here all reports agreed. Yuri Vladimirovich Andropov was the new Kántsler, it seemed. What might that mean? It boded ill, mused Dembitzer. Zissa, his secretary, was under order to immediately forward any new messages, although it was already close to midnight.

All Rodinyadniki were hardliners, but Andropov had a special reputation for being inflexible. Dementyev, the minister of war, was believed to back him. Valentin Dmitriyevich Shashin was said to have succeeded Andropov as foreign minister. – Okay, one surely would get an official statement tomorrow – or the day after.

What were the Russians up to? Dembitzer was certain it had to do with the situation in Germany. The perceived German weakness was attracting the hyaenas. It all was the fault of Franz Josef Strauß… The idiot was virtually begging for trouble. All right, in addition to the chaos he had created at home, he was now due to get a lot of hassle abroad…
 
Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.
(Ludwig van Beethoven)

Hans Kroll was enervated; every goldarned East European ambassador seemed to be desperate to see him at once. Hell, he knew what had happened – and he wasn’t the chancellor. He couldn’t determine the political guidelines. But not a blessed ambassadorial soul wanted to meet Strauß. They were flapping because Yuri Andropov was now boss in the Kremlin. They wanted guarantees for the safety of their nations – from him! Bullshit!

He had tried to have word with Strauß. But the bloke had entrenched himself in his private rooms in the imperial chancellery – and was pissed as a rat, according to his staff. Curse him! – So, he had attempted to fob off the ambassadors – to no avail. Rudi Amelunxen thought he should meet them all at a stroke. And tell them that Germany was – of course – observing her treaty obligations.

Well, that ought to be obvious. One wouldn’t surrender the gains made in the Great War. Russia was still the largest country on earth – without the Ukraine, without the Baltic countries, without Evegstan and without Finland. They didn’t need these countries – and they wouldn’t get them. He had already told this to Andropov, when the guy still had been foreign minister. And he was sure every German foreign minister since Richard von Kühlmann had conveyed this message to the Kremlin rulers.

But not only German chancellors could be as daft as a bush; Russian politicians were also prone to this bobble. In 1914, they had believed their country was ready for a war with the Central Powers. And in 1939, they had believed they could easily and quickly subdue China. In both cases, they had been utterly wrong. But obviously, learning from history was not a strength of Russian decision makers – and of the Rodinyadniki in particular.

Okay then, let’s face the unpleasant. Sighing, he gave order to prepare a large meeting room. He was going to address all ambassadors at once.
 
Is it better to out-monster the monster or to be quietly devoured?
(Friedrich Nietzsche)

The old general had turned up again. Helga von Tschirschwitz was astounded that Director Kammler not only had welcomed him, but also had asked him to act as counsellor again. Okay, one had armed the Hammer on the advice of the bloke. The missiles hadn’t been used though; sort of dead freight… Nevertheless, the Feuerdrache had received a battery of missile launchers as well.

But why was Kammler so keen on having the star war fellow around? His book hadn’t been received well in the specialised press. Star war? War between the planets? Fantasies of an old disgruntled soldier. It wasn’t reasonable. Kosmonauts were facing so many perils – even without fighting notional enemies. And there were no aliens to be feared, obviously.

Well, Hans Kammler seemed to think otherwise. Helga had to admit that the man usually had a nose for future evolutions. So, what were he and the old general scheming together? The soldierman had a reputation for being – or rather having been – fairly unconventional. Attacking an armoured force with riflemen on motorcycles and riding in small cars – and winning – could count as unconventional indeed.

But the Feuerdrache was committed to the Moon – and thereafter to building and testing the fusion craft. So, what the heck were the two men hatching?
 
Against a stupidity that is in fashion, no wisdom compensates.
(Theodor Fontane)

Nothing had happened yet. There was no reason to be alarmed. But it was a good opportunity to review alarm planning and combat readiness. Hans-Adolf Prützmann had no illusions about the army; they were still in the reconstitution phase. And mobilisation might not work at all, because the large population centres were under control of sundry councils. That was grave indeed, but couldn’t be helped at the moment.

However, air force and navy were hardly affected. Hence, nuclear deterrence was unimpaired. OKW said that was the principal thing. There was no non-nuclear deterrence, had never been since Shanghai. One was constrained, it was true, in demonstrating resolve. Sending a tank army to – say – the Ukraine would not be possible. Therefore, resolve had to be shown by a display of nuclear power early on.

One had several options to do that. He could choose. – The chancellor, though, had to authorise the use of nuclear weapons… Yes, that was a point. But to Prützmann’s surprise, Strauß endorsed it without any ado. The response telex arrived only three minutes after the request had been sent. – All right then, let’s start planning! – Should one already scale up general presence and operational readiness?

Nothing had happened yet. There was no need to sound the alarm bugles. No, business as usual; even leave wouldn’t be restrained. But the recall routines had to be practised. And all nuclear submarines ready for action should take to sea. Yes, and the futile blockade of the British Isles had to be terminated. The carrier groups were now needed for other purposes.
 
The kind of man who wants the government to adopt and enforce his ideas is always the kind of man whose ideas are idiotic.
(H. L. Mencken)

A set of new orders had arrived, said Captain von Reventlow. One had to prepare for a scramble. That was no bother for the Feuerdrache crew, but a big issue for the engineers and technicians. Mondstadt wasn’t yet ready to accommodate them. The reactor was in place, but far from being operational. That meant the construction folks would have to be stored away onboard the Feuerdrache. That was doable of course – but a matter of time. Work must not be stopped – until the alarm was sounded. Then, however, one would have to hurry.

It had to be planned well – and practised. The construction guys were no trained kosmonauts. The dinghy pilots, though, had to prepare for another mission. “Pelle” and “Pingo” would be detached for an attack on Lunoseló. Capturing the base should not pose a rub; the Russians had nothing to fight back. One would evacuate the base and detain the Ivans at Mondstadt. Hence, a lockdown facility had to be built as extra work.

Yeah, and the Feuerdrache would have to take out the Russian jumbo, Indrik Zver. Was it armed like the Feuerdrache? One didn’t know. Indrik Zver was at NSÓ, supporting similar tasks as the Feuerdrache was doing at Mondstadt. Raiding it – and disabling it – ought to be possible – if one acted swiftly and with utmost determination. Once this had been accomplished, “Petz” and “Oskar” were to take over NSÓ – with the Feuerdrache in the background, missiles at the ready.

Sigmund Jähn didn’t need to ask: this was the handwriting of General Zeislitz's droll friend, the old army general. – Well, he thought he could do it. Starting the Feuerdrache and scooting towards NSÓ would take three and a half hours. If the Ivans smelled a rat, they might be ready for combat. A dogfight with Indrik Zver… if they were armed… that would be something indeed.
 
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Who is behind this ? Some government authority or are Zeislitz and Rommel going rogue ? It makes as much sense as USSR troops in East Germany in 1990 going rogue and invading the Bundesrepublik, or Russia in 2022 bombing Cape Canaveral. While Germany is in disarray Russia is, so it seems, the strongest country in the world.
 
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Life is a business that does not cover the costs.
(Arthur Schopenhauer)

Ládno, Andropov was Kántsler now; the Okhrana and the military had supported him; the Duma had duly elected him. Pavel Anatolyevich Sudoplatov had seen that Sashka Zademidko had been safely removed to an undisclosed place; after all, the lad had done nothing wrong. Being cautious wasn’t a transgression, even if politicians were playing to their own set of rules.

Would Andropov manage to deliver what the Rodinyadniki wanted? Sudoplatov doubted it. All the world – all those aliens – knew what was up. And nobody, neither the Ukrainians nor any other former foreign subjects of the tsars, were keen on returning to Mother Russia. No, there would be resistance to the hilt – and the Nyemtsi were going to defend their spoils.

It was not so that these critters weren’t persistently grumbling about nemetskiy dominance. Economic supremacy was never popular to those subjected to it. But they were getting fat and rich under this system. And the Nyemtsi weren’t trying to teutonise them. Yeah, forced russification under Tsars Aleksandr III and Nikolay II had done a lot of damage. Formerly loyal subjects of the Romanovs had been turned into bitter enemies of Mother Russia.

Yes, certainly, modern Russia was a democracy, but perennial rule of the KP – now followed by the Rodinyadniki – made it look like heirloom despotism. That wasn’t true, yet once ruined your reputation won’t come back easily. And – to be honest – what the Rodinyadniki wanted smelled like Aleksandr III incarnate…

And the Nyemtsi wouldn’t yield. The chaos prevailing in Berlin at present mustn’t delude. Sudoplatov was receiving alarming reports. Nuclear submarines had put out to sea ahead of schedule. That didn’t bode well. Was Andropov prepared to wage a nuclear war? A war that surely would destroy Russia? The bloke was obstinate. But was he a suicider?
 
Self-reliance is the best defence against the pressures of the moment.
(Carl von Clausewitz)

This might get serious indeed; the Germans seemed to be grimly determined to dig out the nuclear club. The indicators were all there. Did the Russians know that? Josef Dembitzer had ensured that relevant information was passed on to the Okhrana. The Germans were handicapped in their ability to respond flexibly to Russians shenanigans, but they evidently would not yield.

Strauß, that loose cannon, had endorsed preparations for the use of nuclear assets. This information was reliable. Again, one had to ask what he was up to – and once more there would be no answer. Wielding the nuclear cudgel right now didn’t really make sense. The Turks had elegantly parried Russian advances on the Kazakh Republic – without even uttering a single threat. And the only thing that had happened yet was that Andropov had replaced Zademidko.

However, the German perspective appeared to be quite different. They were in a serious crisis – and already in panic mode without Russian encroachment. This had to be made known in the Kremlin. Andropov had a reputation for ferocious stubbornness, but he wasn’t stupid – one hoped. When dealing with a slob – like Strauß – one had to be very careful. Could this message be subtly conveyed?

Or was Strauß deliberately playing the madman? It was a possibility. One couldn’t be sure. Normal politicians were predictable – to a certain extent. This one wasn’t. – Anyway, the Heymshtot had nothing to gain from a Russian-German shootout, be it conventional or nuclear. The Seichl would continue to relay vital information. Perhaps one could even facilitate direct contacts between the general staffs.
 
Desperate affairs require desperate remedies.
(Carl von Clausewitz)

Kantsler Brezhnev had flown to the Crimea over the weekend. Oh brother, if you ever wanted to see a truly miserable man, you must look at Leonid Ilyich when had to visit his porky wifey. The bloke had left him, Stepan Andriyovich Bandera, the Ukrainian minister of war, in charge of affairs. This was quite exceptional. Normally, Lesya Petiurla, daughter of divinised Symon Petiurla and minister of the interior, was acting for Brezhnev when he was worshipping his overweight Mariya at Yalta.

Tak, the situation might swiftly turn tense and require special solutions. The Nimtsi were a loss – when it came to parrying potential Russian encroachments. They were playing nuclear war games, but that was rubbish. There was no need for such horseplay. Brezhnev had bought quite a lot of the native Russian speakers in the east. Only a small diehard minority could be presumed to back rodinyadnik forays.

Nu, this was the field of action of Lesya – and of Lev Roman Mykhailovych Rebet, the head of the Bespeky – anyway. Bandera had to deal with an armed response to Russian invasion. Nimetska help couldn’t be assumed – at least not initially. Could one stop the Russian tank armies? The answer was: mines. Anti-tank mines, reinforced with a liberal splatter of anti-personnel mines, should do the trick. Not forever and everywhere, but it should help to slow down the invaders sufficiently to enable the defenders to massacre the attack force.

One didn’t have enough mines to bar all potential lanes of advance. Would the Nimtsi – and the other allies – help? Laying mines in Germany – or Hungary – didn’t make any sense. It was evident that the allies couldn’t supply aircraft, tanks or artillery – which they all might need themselves for fighting the Russians. But mines should be available. And they had some quite advanced models – true tank killers. Well, yes, and explosives – for destroying bridges, railways and roads.

It was possible to prepare the battlefield right now – far in advance of any war. This was Ukrainian territory. One would have to reimburse the farmers and landowners. That was altogether doable. And one would have to preposition the surveilling forces, because a barrier not surveilled wasn’t worth much. It would impair flexibility, that was true, but it might wear down the Russians from jump. The rascals were suffering from the common fault of modern times: lack of young men. They were short of infantry. And tanks couldn’t hold ground.
 
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Eternal peace is a dream – and not even a beautiful one.
(Helmuth von Moltke)

The unit was in excellent shape; Hauptmann Georg Kunze couldn’t complain. The men were physically fit and highly motivated. But there weren’t enough of them. Only a trickle of new recruits was forthcoming. And mobilisation was out of question. – One had to make do with what was at hand. That required new structures. Kunze didn’t see major problems here; pragmatic solutions could be found smartly. But for his higher-ups, this seemed to be quite difficult.

The whole structure of the army was at peril, of course. If regiments retracted to mere companies, all those sophisticated large formations with umpteen staff officers and generals became redundant – plus the complete plethora of assorted specialists. So what? True, most of these office sitters were too old for active service in the field. But finding a suitable occupation for them shouldn’t be of prime importance.

A small professional army made up from volunteers was what could be formed. It certainly was better than a huge but inoperative force. There were enough junior NCOs loitering in defunct units to form even more volunteer companies – and to combine the companies to battalions. Or should one revert to the old Prussian term of Freikorps? That would at least make plain the difference.

The teeth becoming autonomous – and leaving behind the inflated tail… Kunze liked the notion. Okay, infantry was the essential branch, but what applied to them certainly would also work for artillery, engineers, tanks and so on. A Freikorps formed from ten infantry companies, three batteries, three tank companies and a platoon of engineers could field considerable firepower – compared to a hamstrung army corps.

Yeah, that was about the ratio. A combined arms Freikorps of roughly regimental strength could be formed from what once had been the troops of an army corps. Hence, 7th Army in Westphalia might muster five Freikorps – approximately comparable to a reinforced old-style division. In total, the equivalent of twenty-five to twenty-eight divisions might become available. That wasn’t much compared to the pre-crisis strength of the army – and desperately little for opposing the Russians, but it should be far better than nothing.

The troops would be highly professional; no untried conscripts among them. And there would be an almost inexhaustible supply of ordnance and material. All the stuff stockpiled for a much huger force would be at hand. – Even better, the air force was much less afflicted – and thus could field copious air support for the smaller army. Considering all this, the military clout of the Freikorps army should be quite surprising – in particular for someone not anticipating serious fighting power.

But the decision-making process seemed to be paralysed. That was the real crux. All those useless staffs and commands were still there – and jamming communication with a constant flood of orders, rules and report forms. The chancellor was said to have a knack for unconventional solutions. Perhaps, if one could address him directly, that might help to overcome bureaucratic paraplegia?
 
For one change always leaves a dovetail into which another will fit.
(Niccolò Machiavelli)

Okay, one had discussed the matter thoroughly, at the local level and in the Ruhr Council. – Dortmund was an ancient settlement, had been a wealthy free imperial city and important hanseatic town in the Middle Ages, but had been in decline since the Thirty Years’ War – and only Prussian rule and associated industrialisation had restored its leading role. Did one really want to secede? Hell, the foremost local football club bore the name Borussia – Prussia – Dortmund. Being proudly Prussian was an integral part of the city’s identity. No, one didn’t want to drop out. Dortmund had to remain Prussian.

It had been the same story in the Ruhr council. The region had been backward farmland when Prussian rule had commenced. Under Prussian guidance it had developed to the foremost industrial area of the world. Should one really throw all this out of the window? That didn’t seem to be a bright idea. No, the Ruhr had been Prussian, was Prussian – and would remain Prussian. Coal and steel were super; nobody wanted to revert to cows and turnips.

To his surprise, Egon Schagalla found himself a member of the delegation sent to Berlin for negotiating a solution. It all was a matter of benefits. What would the Ruhr get for returning under Prussian state power? The haggling soon became boring for Egon. Matters of security would be discussed later anyway, after a basic agreement had been reached. So, he went sightseeing in the imperial capital – Schagalla style. There were countless taverns – and an amazing variety of beers on pull. Understanding the locals wasn’t easy, but after some halves one usually got along.

The city was still divided – and Egon invariably ended up in the council-ruled districts, where all of the best pubs were to be found. The folks here were Berliners first and foremost. Prussia and Germany were… – well, what the fuck? But they held very interesting opinions – and knew incredibly funny jokes about the powers that were. Yeah, indeed, travel did broaden the mind…
 
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