Ghastly Victories: The United States in the World Wars

Part 3-15 Unfinished Business, European Wars
  • …Italy, while on the winning side of the First World War, found itself in a crisis upon its victory. The monetary cost of the war would have been ruinous enough even without the disaster of Caparetto and the subsequent ravaging of everything northeast of the Mincio and Po Rivers. That Caporetto had occurred, resulting in the need to replace multiple armies in short order and the great cities of Venice, Padua and Verona having been wrecked by fighting, made a ruinous situation almost impossible. To afford the continuation of the war the Italian government had taken extraordinary measures and taken out ruinous amounts of loans from Britain and the United States. With the war over the bills were coming due and the Italian government as struggling to pay.

    Taxes were kept at high wartime levels even as the Army was discharged in mass and government spending was cut to the bone. Inflation followed and the price of food and other goods rose while wages dropped due to the glut of labor. Alongside this economic hardship more resentment was fueled by perceived incompetence in the handling of the war and the resulting heavy casualties. Harnessing this sentiment Italian Socialists and Anarchists began organizing strikes among the factories and farm workers of northern Italy. Almost 2,000 strikes occurred in 1920, with the largest featuring over a million strikers. 1921 proved even larger with 2100 strikes recorded.

    For a time it looked like a Soviet style revolution could be possible, but fortunately for Italy the leadership of the Socialists and anarchists did nothing to capitalize on it. The Anarchists were feuding with the Socialists and the Socialists were schisming over whether or not to join the Communist International, which resulted in the creation of the Italian Communist Party in 1922.

    Instead the near revolutionary conditions led to the rise of the National Bloc and the return of Giovanni Giolatti to the office of Prime Minister in 1922. Giolatti’s National Bloc was a coalition of the old Italian Liberal Party he led, the Italian Nationalist Association, the nationalist Party of Renewal, and most importantly the Fascist Party…

    …The Fascist movement had been founded by former socialist newspaper editor Benito Mussolini in 1915 as a third way between Socialism and Capitalism, after his expulsion from the Socialist party for advocating nationalism. With his heroic death leading a rearguard of Bersaglieri during the Caporetto Disaster, leadership of the embryonic movement was briefly contested before being taken over by Erasmo Sanna. Sanna was a relative latecomer to the party, having been a bookkeeper before the war and became a Fascist while recuperating in a hospital bed next to Mussolini following the third battle of the Isonzo. The two became close friends and served alongside each other after being discharged until Caporetto, where Sanna was wounded on the first day and evacuated to the rear.

    Sanna, having been discharged following wounds suffered at Caporetto, and in 1918 began receiving a stipend from Britain to publish pro-war propaganda. Using this money he turned what was a tiny group of former socialists into the seeds of a proper political party. With the war ended Sanna harnessed rage at government incompetence in prosecuting the war and failure to achieve all that had been promised to attract nationalists of all sorts to the new party. Sanna soothed conservative fears by having the paramilitary Blackshirt branch of the party work against Anarchist, Socialist and later Communist agitation.

    When Giolatti was forming his National Bloc to try and stabilize Italian Politics Sanna and his Fascists were a natural choice. In the general election of 1922 they proved the largest single party in the bloc. Because of this Giolotti appointed Sanna Interior Minister, bringing the Fascists into government…

    …Sanna masterminded the breakup of the Catholic Italian Peoples Party. This was the largest single party in the Italian Chamber of Deputies after the Communists split from the Socialists. Working with elements in the Vatican, who feared the socialist tendencies of the party outweighed its Catholicism, he encouraged the split between the moderates, socialists and conservatives. By 1924 and the subsequent elections he was successful, and the Fascists absorbed over half of the People’s Party with the blessing of the Vatican…

    …Sanna remained Interior Minister until 1925 when Prime Minister Giolatti died during a plane crash on a visit to Sicily. As the leader of the largest party in the government he was the natural choice for succeeding Giolatti as Prime Minister…

    -Excerpt from Unfinished Business: The Making of the Second World War, New American Press, Chicago, 2007

    …When Soviet forces began closing in on Omsk in September the Provisional Government of Russia made a desperate bid to retain power. Looking for anything to distract the Bolsheviks they reached out to the Polish government of Josef Pilsudski. Pilsudski and other polish nationalists had long held desires of recreating the borders of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, as they stood in 1772 if not at its height in 1619. The provisional government was willing to offer that, at least as far as they could regarding the territories they controlled, if the Poles would seize them immediately.

    Pilsudski, having poor relations with every single one of his neighbors and not particularly good ones with the former Entente, saw this as his one chance to retake historically Polish lands without major diplomatic consequences. He immediately agreed to the deal and at the start of October the Poles, alongside surviving white and other miscellaneous anti-Bolshevik forces launched a massive attack on the Soviets, too late to save Omsk. The Red Army, having stripped forces from the West for the Omsk offensive, to deal with the foreign backed White pockets of resistance on the Black and White Sea and to sew up the Caucuses were unable to halt the Poles.

    Two armies of 100,000 struck out and by mid-November had taken Kiev and Minsk. When the snows finally stopped them in December the Bolsheviks had been forced back to their Brest-Litovsk borders…

    -Excerpt from European Wars for Americans, Harper & Brothers, New York, 2004

    Okay another of my more implausible moments I admit, I used a random name generator to create an OC Fascist because I needed Italy wrecked in WWI to keep Austria, and thus Germany in longer, but now I need a strong Italy for later, so Not!Mussolini
    Part 3-16 European Wars, Revisionist Viewpoints
  • …The outbreak of the winter snows gave the Bolsheviks time to consolidate and reposition forces to face the Polish Onslaught. With the Caucuses and Omsk cleared out, most of the best Red Army units could be moved to the west. Of course more than mere quantity was needed, the Red Army needed a reason to fight. Communism alone could not motivate the Russian people to fight for the Bolsheviks unless compelled by pure force. Something more was needed.

    Trotsky had the answer, nationalism. The fight with the Poles was portrayed not as a fight between communism and capitalism, but rather between western invaders and the Russian people. It was the Time of Troubles all over again, admittedly with false Alexei’s rather than false Dimitris. The whites were now traitors aiding the foreign invaders, rather than the mere counter-revolutionaries they had been earlier.

    Trotsky was aided in this by the defection of many Czarist officers. Over two thirds had defected to the Soviets, admittedly unwillingly on the part of many. Most prominent among them was General Brusilov, the last Czarist commander in chief and probably the best Russian general of the early 20th century. However he destroyed whatever legacy he had by vociferously and publicly advocating for the Bolsheviks. His actions were key in the defections of many officers, which allowed the Red Army to fill numerous holes in its command structure.

    When the spring thaw had hit and the Rasputista had dried out the Soviets were ready to counterattack. By contrast the Poles were strung out and short of supplies. While glad that the Poles had finally contributed to intervening in the Russian Civil War the Entente powers were nervous as to why. Polish policies in the areas they occupied had done nothing to soothe Entente fears, looking like an imperial land grab more than anything else. The antisemitic pogroms conducted by the advancing poles did nothing but confirm that. As such the Entente were leery of selling the Poles war materials and providing them with loans. The Polish forces were thus running on fumes when the Bolshevik summer offensive kicked off.

    Outnumbered by 5 to 1 and low on supplies the Poles were flung into rout. In a month the gains of 1921 were lost. The Entente powers saw their previous reluctance to aid Poland disappear. A program of aid was authored, loans were made, supplies allocated and a military mission under the leadership of French General Maxime Weygand was sent.

    However Communist sympathizers made things difficult, strikes in France and Britain forced supplies for both Poland and the foreign forces in Archangel and the Crimea to be loaded by soldiers. The mere threat of strikes saw Belgium, Austria, Czechoslovakia and Germany ban materials for Poland from transiting their territory. Only the military mission would arrive in a timely manner.

    This however proved key. The Polish Army was a hodgepodge of former Russian, Austrian and German soldiers mixed with former rebels and foreign volunteers. The foreign mission provided for the first time a coherent leadership element. However it alone was not enough for the Polish government and to avert ruin they asked for an Armistice on the 20th of July.

    The Bolsheviks refused to grant the Poles such. They would only accept a start of peace negotiations. The Poles were not willing to accept such at this moment and the war continued. On August 1st the Bolsheviks established a Polish Revolutionary Committee as the first step to making Poland a Soviet Republic after the capture of Bialystok from the Poles.

    On August 10th as they were closing in on Warsaw the Soviets sent their terms for a peace treaty to the Poles. While nominally maintaining Polish sovereignty, they were in fact a capitulation. Despite this they were urged to sign it by many in the west with Lloyd George declaring the terms fair and reasonable. However buoyed by the arrival of the Entente military mission and with supplies from Hungary on the way the Poles refused.

    At that point no one gave the Poles much chance, the Bolsheviks were already planning further offensives into western Europe after the fall of Poland with the goals of world revolution. The Germans and Czechs were mobilizing and the Baltics stood on higher alert. The former in fact made covert plans to advance into Poland preemptively once Warsaw fell.

    The Poles however would not give up. Fortunately for them the Bolsheviks were not a united front. The commander of the Red Army in Northern Poland, Mikhail Tukhachevsky requested reinforcements from the Red Army. These were denied by the commander of the Southern Polish front, Joseph Stalin. Stalin continued his refusal when Tukhachevsky passed his request up to Trotsky, who reiterated it. Despite failing to receive reinforcements Tukhachevsky launched his attack on Warsaw as planned. Using one field army to attack directly into Warsaw, he maneuvered his others to cross the Vistula north of the city and outflank it.

    The Bolshevik attack started as planned, however the Polish forces north of the city fought longer and harder than anticipated, and fell back in good order rather than be overwhelmed on the 21st. Bolshevik forces crossed the river and massed for a breakout on the 24th. On the 23rd the Poles preempted them and carefully husbanded reserves attacked with newly arrived supplies south of the city. Hitting the southern flank of the diversionary force it was soon forced into rout. Tukhachevsky recognized the pickle he was in and attempted to withdraw. However much of his forces were unable to recross the Vistula before the advancing poles arrived, forcing the surrender of 60,000 soldiers and several hundred artillery pieces.

    The Poles pressed their advantage and pushed the retreating forces in the north hard, forcing the forces in the south of Poland to lift the siege of Lwow and withdraw. By the end of September the front was halfway between the prewar frontier and the borders of Brest Litovsk. Fighting remained mobile but roughly on the same line, with neither side having the troop density for trench warfare, the Poles being leery of being overextended again and the Soviets having other fronts to deal with.

    In December the parties singed a peace treaty placing Poland’s eastern borders at her ethnographic frontiers as she saw them, about 250km east of where the Entente arbitrarily placed them. Poland had been borrowing heavily to sustain the war and did not want to fight longer to receive a large population of non-Poles. The Soviets had to deal with unrest in the Caucuses and Central Asia, expelling the final white forces in the Crimea and around Archangel and the outbreak of a massive farmers revolt centered around Tambov in October. When the French began officially negotiating for an alliance with Poland in November, the Soviets finally launched peace negotiations…

    …Despite the defeat the Soviets were able to clean out the Crimea by April, with the pocket at Archangel evacuated of its own accord by May. The Civil War effectively ended by September when the Japanese finally evacuated Vladivostok, taking with them the last remants of the provisional government…

    …Perhaps the biggest effect of the Polish-Soviet War was the dismissal of Joseph Stalin from military command. Stalin’s refusal to support Tukhachevsky was seen by many as the defining reason the war was lost and he was dismissed from his military position in September. He returned to his positions as commissar for nationalities and head of the workers and peasants inspectorate. Using these as a base for political skullduggery he was able to secure the dismissal of Nikolay Kretinsky from his position as General Secretary and replace him in that critical post…

    -Excerpt from European Wars for Americans, Harper & Brothers, New York, 2004

    …As much as Trotsky is widely credited with being the one to appeal to Russian Nationalism evidence taken from a number of sources points to Lenin and a consensus of the senior Bolshevik leadership. In fact the evidence suggests Trotsky was more opposed to doing so than the average member of the Bolshevik inner circle. The Author of this paper would argue that this view and others are part of a concerted whitewashing campaign in the late 20th century, rather than based on historical evidence…

    -Excerpt from Revisionist Viewpoints in History Volume XXX, University of California Press: Berkley, 2020

    …The role of the Entente military mission to Poland is often exaggerated. The chief of the mission himself, Maxime Weygand of Second World War fame, stated that “the Army was Polish, the leadership was Polish and the victory was Polish” having admitted in his personal papers that he had done almost nothing. This paper will look at the internal political factors that led to the lionization of the military mission and a minimization of the Polish contribution…

    -Excerpt from Revisionist Viewpoints in History Volume XXVIII, University of California Press: Berkley, 2018

    Yeah I wrote 5000 more for the TL since Thursday, but that's for a future update
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    Part 3-17 Unfinished Business, Revisionist Viewpoints
  • …Fall of 1922 saw Germany begin defaulting on her reparation payments in mass. Defaults had occurred before, but by Fall of 1922 they had become constant. That this occurred should have come as no surprise to the Entente powers. The Reparations Committee had set the levels of in-kind payments based on prewar German borders in the east. With the loss of land to Poland and Czechoslovakia Germany lost a great deal of timber and coal production. With her export industry crippled by the economic components of Versailles she could not raise the foreign currency to substitute payments in gold for that portion of her reparations. Germany had made the reparations committee aware of these facts and requested adjustments in the reparations schedule to deal with them, however they were ignored by the Reparations Committee.

    At French and Belgian urging the Reparations Committee declared Germany to be in willful default of her obligations by the end of 1922. Franco-Belgian troops mobilized as soon as the holidays were over and crossed the borders on the second week of January. The French and Belgians planned on a quick unopposed occupation with the support of the broader world. They were quickly disabused of that notion.

    France’s newest allies, Poland and Czechoslovakia, were utterly opposed to the act. While French Prime Minister Poincare believed that their interests in keeping Germany military week aligned with Frances, he forgot that they were dependent on trade with Germany. France’s actions in the Ruhr threatened much of that trade. Similarly Poincare had thought he could rely on Britain, with Lloyd George approving of the act. Lloyd George’s approval of it would be the last straw in destroying the postwar coalition government and seeing him replaced as Prime Minister by Conservative Bonar Law in March. Law’s conservatives were opposed to what they saw as meddling on the continent that threatened to drag Britain in, the Russian intervention debacle having been deeply unpopular. The United States of course had been opposed from the beginning but this was expected, the virulence of the opposition was not.

    Within the Ruhr the French expected acquiescence to their occupation as in the Rhineland, with the coal miners and steel workers continuing to produce goods for France to collect. This was not the case and a general strike was called against the French along with other methods of passive resistance and civil disobedience. To deal with it the French brought in tens of thousands of strikebreakers from within France and Belgium to work the mines, steel mills and other necessary jobs, evicted Germany workers to house them.

    Rather than risk the French occupation of the Ruhr turning permanent as the strikes ended of their own accord the Weimar government began paying support to the strikers and unemployed in the Ruhr. This support could not come from the usual government sources, as those were tapped by the immense war debts and other needs of the government. Rather it had to come from printing money, this being the only option left. Inflation, already very high since the war skyrocketed. Almost exactly 300 years since the Kipper und Wipperzeit hyperinflation had returned to Germany.

    France seeing the German reaction commenced with plans to create a Rhenish state, this time including the Ruhr. Tens of thousands of out of work young men were paid with French money to act as a militia for a band of separatist radicals, including many from the Red Ruhr Revolt that found sanctuary under French guns. Over the fall of 1923 in hundreds of villages and towns the elected governments were turned out by armed bands and replaced with separatists. When locals attempted to stop this, French occupation troops intervened, often with deadly force.

    At the same time the Hyperinflation had wrecked the Weimar economy. An emergency Grand Coalition government was formed of all the major parties outside the far Right and Far left with Gustav Stresemann as Chancellor. First Stresemann ended the support for resistance in the Ruhr, realizing he had no choice if he wanted to end the Hyperinflation. Then he had an enabling law passed so that President Ebert could declare a state of emergency. With that in place such a declaration was made and Stresemann established a new Currency, the Rentenmark, backed by effectively mortgaging Germany’s productive lands. This along with efforts to reach out to the Untied States and Britain put Stresemann in a position to force the French out. However he was unable to do so, as the SPD left the government after the government intervened to replace the governments of Saxony and Thuringia were members of the SPD worked with the communists to raise armed militias and illegally take over the government. He was replaced by the independent Hans Luther.

    The reforms of Stresemann and the willingness of him and Luther to work with the British and Americans to resume payments in a negotiated manner won over Wall Street and the City of London. Financial threats from those two institutions saw the Franc collapse in the end of 1923 and with it France’s ability to continue the occupation. The Poincare government soon fell and the new French government was willing to negotiate. Support to the separatist puppet government in the Rhineland stopped and it immediately fell to popular revolt.

    At the Solothurn conference in Summer 1924 an agreement was reached, having been brokered by the American representative on the Reparations Committee, Charles Dawes. The Untied States would loan money to Germany so that Germany could pay its Reparations and establish a new currency, the Reichsmark. In turn German reparations would be lowered to a more achievable amount. Furthermore British loan payments to the United States would likewise be reduced. As a trade off for this, all countries involved would have to return to the Gold Standard at the prewar peg, something France managed easily and Britain horribly bungled…

    …The last French and Belgian troops left the Ruhr exactly two years after they entered it. The Ruhr occupation had made a short-term profit for them, but in the long term it weakened them. The disruptions in coal deliveries it caused hurt their steel industries and the influx of American capital it precipitated allowed the German one to modernize…

    …The Weimar Hyperinflation saw the further discrediting of the center of the German political spectrum due to their perceived mishandling of things. The Communists grew stronger and finished digesting the remains of the USPD. Meanwhile on the right the German National Peoples Party (DNVP) was growing with its near unlimited funds from German industrialists, while the German Socialist Party (DSP) was thriving thanks to the charismatic oratory of its scar-faced propaganda chief and the brilliance of his deputy Joseph Goebbels…

    -Excerpt from Unfinished Business: The Making of the Second World War, New American Press, Chicago, 2007

    …While German Hyperinflation is often blamed exclusively on the occupation of the Ruhr in popular history, the author of this paper disagrees. This paper will show that actions both during and after the First World War by the German State laid the groundwork for Hyperinflation in 1923 regardless of the occupation of the Ruhr. In particular is the German choice of exclusively financing the war with debt, rather than a combination of debt and taxes as her allies had done. Furthermore this paper will show that in a technical sense hyperinflation began months before the Ruhr occupation as a result of attempts to buy gold with printed currency by the Weimar government…

    -Excerpt from Revisionist Viewpoints in History Volume XXVI, University of California Press: Berkley, 2016

    Part 3-18 Naval History
  • …Seeking to limit the cost of new naval armaments Britain called a Conference to occur in London in late 1922. Britain’s primary goals were to ensure that Battleships did not exceed the 50,000 tons existing British infrastructure and to avoid a ruinously expensive naval race with the United States and Japan. Further goals included trying to keep battleships and carriers as individually small as possible, abolishing or regulating the submarine and reducing the existing number of capital ships. Having the conference in London would allow them to retain their naval preeminence in spirit, and incidentally give their negotiators the ability to read their competitors mail via Britain’s cable tapping a code breaking operations.

    Invited to the Conference as full participants were the United States, Japan, France, Italy and surprisingly Spain. These represented, with the exceptions of Versailles limited Germany and the pariah USSR, all the capital ship building nations of the world. The Spanish arguably did not count, needing to import much of the key components, but were invited to provide another voice in favor of smaller limits. Each of the invitees planned to attend for their own reasons.

    The United States while the only power that could afford a naval race did not want to spend the money on one. Congress wanted to reduce military expenditures and President Wood wanted to cut the navy to free up money for the Army. However, they wanted something in exchange for that. Namely the United States would not accept less than parity with Great Britain and her Dominions, 4:3 superiority over Japan or better, the dissolution of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance and the exit of Japan from Tsingtao. The United States was willing to give up much of their lead for this but the retention of all the existing Standards, save possibly Oklahoma and the completion of the four Colorados and the first three South Dakotas were nonnegotiable, as were the first four Louisville class cruisers, the construction of these having advanced to the point where the cancellation penalties exceeded the cost of completion.

    Japan was looking at barely being able to afford their current program as it stood, assuming no modifications. With the American construction of their 12,000-ton Louisville class cruisers and further American plans for large aircraft carriers, their program would need expensive additions to stay competitive. A naval treaty would allow them to scale back the capital ship component to free up funds for other units and prevent the Americans from being able to decisively outbuild them. They were adamant that they receive no less than 60% of the American Capital ship strength or they would walk out, similarly they would walk out if unable to keep Nagato, Mutsu and all of their 14” gunned designs.

    France had seen the Great War ruin long term plans to build twenty-eight battleships over ten years, with the war leaving things at seven, with five incomplete hulls too costly to finish. The war similarly scuttled plans to expand their naval infrastructure to accommodate any conceivable battleship. Thus, they were left with four first generation dreadnoughts inferior to most of their counterparts and three second generation designs worse than anyone else’s. They wanted a treaty to ensure their ships were not completely irrelevant and to keep future ships cheap enough for their shattered economy to afford and small enough for their infrastructure to build and to hopefully enshrine a future lead over the Italians whose four war prizes gave them a temporary ten to seven lead over France. With that said France was not going to walk out of the treaty under almost any circumstances, doing so would lose any influence they had in preventing the big three from taking things too far.

    The Italians were like the French in a financially precarious position following the devastation of the Great War. Like them they saw the conference as a chance to prevent ship sizes from growing beyond what their strained economy could afford. Unlike the French the Italians did have a red line after which they would leave the conference. With the destruction of Austria-Hungary their primary naval rival disappeared, leading the Regia Marina to focus on their previous naval rival, France. Thanks to the cession of the Austro-Hungarian dreadnoughts with the end of the war, they found themselves having a temporary lead over the French, in theory. In practice the Italians considered their war prizes of marginal value and planned on immediately hulking two of them for spare parts. This lead was unsustainable in the long run and the Italians knew it, France was a bigger and richer country with a stronger industrial base. The Naval Conference provided an opportunity to have equality with the French enforced, and if they did not receive that they would walk out. It was not as if they cared about what the big three did, they foresaw no situation where they would fight the USN or IJN and viewed fighting the RN as both unlikely in the extreme and a lost cause.

    The Spanish had no particular goals at the conference beyond being seen there as a naval power. Such recognition did much to wipe away the stain of 1898 on the pride of Spain. Thus, all they really wanted was their signature on the treaty, though smaller limits would please them.

    Belgium, China, Portugal and the Netherlands were also invited to attend, but not as participants. Rather they would be there as observers, the British felt it best that participation be limited to those nations who had built post-Dreadnought Capital Ships…

    …Before the conference officially began the British delegation met with their French, Italian and Spanish counterparts. The British desired to have them join in issuing a common proposal, in hopes of putting greater pressure on the Americans and Japanese. The delegations of the lesser naval powers were interested in doing this as they saw the Americans and Japanese as the main drivers of the naval race that was about to render their whole fleets useless.

    After some discussion the three agreed to the British proposal. Namely that they would open with a position of a limit of 30,000 tons and 14” guns, with exceptions for extant ships over that limit to be negotiated. This was the ideal case, it would mean that the ships of France, Italy and Spain would remain competitive and for the British the treasury would be happy for only having to pay for the smaller ships.

    Of course, the parties involved in the discussion realized that it was unlikely for the Americans and Japanese to accept such a limit. They had both gone beyond 30,000 tons for years and had just transitioned to 16” guns. Them wanting to stuff the genie back in the bottle was viewed as unlikely. Thus, the plan was after the initial proposal to fight for it and then concede to a limit of 35,000 tons and 15” guns, with exceptions for the Colorados, Admirals and Nagatos. This would render the existing French and Italian ships useless, but it was not such a high limit that they could not afford to build ships that size. For the British it would mean their smaller 15” ships were still useful, and the cost was still more than acceptable to the treasury.

    Unbeknownst to their partners however the British had a third string to their bow. They did not expect that the Americans or Japanese would agree to a 15” gun limit, as neither power used that caliber. Furthermore, both powers along with Britain viewed 35,000 tons as too small for a balanced 16” ship, meaning that a 16”, 35,000-ton compromise was unlikely. Since that was the case, they planned on offering 40,000 tons and 16” guns as a final compromise, with exceptions to be negotiated. They saw this proposal as fair and likely agreeable to the big three, with bargaining only over details. The French, Italians and Spanish would fall into line rather than risk possibly greater limits driving costs up further if they left.

    Many in the Royal Navy wanted to make this the opening proposal at the Conference, especially with the interception of the American instructions making the lesser proposals unacceptable. However, the Treasury was adamant that the smaller limits be tried first. To provide a better negotiating position the French, Italians and Spanish were not told of the 40,000-ton proposal, so that they would argue harder for the lesser proposals and make the 40,000-ton version seem more reasonable when the time came for compromise. This approach was the single largest mistake the British would make at the conference…

    …The first order of business at the Conference was not actually the discussion of any naval limitations but rather the exact composition of the parties involved. Or to be more precise the composition of Britain. The Dominions had all sent representatives to the Conference and wished to be considered independently of Britain. This fit with British goals to try and offload part of their responsibility to the Dominions in order to save money and ensure de facto superiority from de jure parity with the United States.

    The United States was against this. As far as the United States was concerned the Dominions were part of the British Empire and took their marching orders from London. Any limitations imposed on Britain had to bind and include them as well. The Dominions argued vociferously that they should be treated as separate, but the British themselves caved. They were aware that the United States would walk out if this was not the case, and that was their worst-case scenario for the Conference. Therefore, the British agreed that the limits assigned to Britain would include the Dominions.

    When the matter of the Dominions was finished it became time to present the proposals. The Americans and Japanese reacted poorly to the joint proposal when it was presented to them. They saw it as an attempt to present them with a fiat accompli, which it arguably was, and gave them the idea they were not being negotiated with in good faith. When news of this leaked the American and Japanese publics became angry. The obviously preplanned unveiling of the 35,000 ton compromise a few days into the conference merely reinforced American and Japanese feelings that they were not being dealt with in good faith.

    Instructions from Washington and Tokyo made it plain that they were to leave if the other parties did not immediately start negotiating in good faith. The British intercepted these instructions and realized that the conference was at risk. They could afford to lose all three of the smaller navies far better than losing the US or Japan. Given the situation presenting the 40,000-ton compromise as planned would be right out. Rather the British would accept the 45,000 ton 16” gun limits the Americans and Japanese proposed to avoid dealing with messy compromises over exceptions as a starting point.

    Thus, the British proposed taking 45,000 tons and 16” guns as a fallback limit. If negotiations for a lower limit and other provisions failed, then the conference could at least agree on that. The United States and Japan agreed, while France and Italy saw the British move as a betrayal. The smaller powers insisted, with some justification, that such a proposal meant nothing, except for the four British Battleships of the N4 type, no ships on order were disallowed by such a limit. The two blustered but the American delegation put their foot down, they would sooner see a Treaty without France and Italy than a 35,000-ton basis. Rather than lose what influence they had the French and Italian delegations gritted their teeth and accepted the new position.

    The parties immediately began trying to work out how to make a smaller number work. 15” guns were dropped almost immediately, neither the US nor Japan used them and neither was willing to design a new gun just for a potential treatyl 36,000 tons and 16” guns was proposed and immediately dropped, the big three believed that building a balanced ship was impossible on this tonnage without unacceptably sacrificing speed. Similarly, 37,500 tons was dropped for the same reason and negotiations focused on 40,000 tons as a possible limit.

    Negotiations soon foundered over the matter of balancing exceptions and numbers of first-class ships. It was not just total tonnage that needed to be considered, but the composition of that tonnage. The British position was that first-class ships were those with 16” guns, while the American position was it was those over 35,000 tons, and the Japanese over 40,000 tons. The British position was seen as weakest, as it implied the 41,000-ton Admirals were not first-class ships while the 33,000-ton Colorado’s and Nagato’s were. The Japanese position was simply meant to exclude the 39,000-ton Tosas, which differed from the 41,000-ton Amagi class Battlecruisers simply in lacking 3.5knots of speed and having 3cm more belt armor and 7mm more deck armor. Hence the American Position was adopted.

    This led to issues in working out the balance. Britain found that due to hard war service many of their existing ships were effectively over 20 years old, even if barely 10 years old chronologically. Thus, they desired to replace them and had 4 49,500-ton N4 Battleships under construction at the start of the conference. The RN figured that they could redesign the vessels to shave off 4500 tons, and thus desired to keep them in order to replace older, worn-out ships, and they had already been paid for. This meant that the British had 8 first class ships, ergo the United States would receive 8 and Japan 5, amounting to 6 South Dakotas and 2 Lexingtons and 2 Tosas and 3 Amagis respectively.

    In order to avoid crossing a red line Japan would need to receive 495,000 tons, or 11 ships worth and the United States 765,000 tons, or 17 ships worth. In theory this would satisfy both parties and giving France and Italy 270,000 tons or 6 ships worth would satisfy them, and incidentally allow Britain to maintain a two-power standard absent the US. However, before they presented this position the British evaluated alternative positions.

    Japan was considered the Royal Navy’s most likely real enemy, despite the existence of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance. Improving the force ratio against them to 18:11 could be done without crossing a red line. An alternative would be to add additional new ships to be built in the 20’s. Adding a pair of ships at the cost of Ashitaka and two more Lexingtons would change the modern unit force ration from 8:5 to a more favorable 10:6, it would require shifting the total tonnage to 19:12 to avoid crossing red lines, but doing so opened up a ratio of 20:12, which was incidentally the ratio of modern units in the plan. This would require keeping Thunderer and Princess Royal around longer, but this was not necessarily a bad thing from the Royal Navy’s point of view.

    Thus Britain proposed ratios of 20:20:12:7:7:3 and 10:10:6 to the Conference. The American ratios of 15:15:9:6:5:2 and 4:4:3 and the Japanese ratios of 15:15:10:6:5:2 and 6:6:4 were presented as alternatives. Both alternatives however aroused the ire of the Italians and Spanish, the former demanded parity with France, the latter liked the greater implied recognition. The naval elements of both the American and Japanese delegations supported the greater amounts of new units. The politicians were questionable on the more expensive nature of the proposal, but the Japanese delegation was convinced by the naval side to support the British rather than modify their plan.

    The American delegation presented a counter proposal of 15:15:9:6:6:3 and 6:6:4 which convinced the Italians to support it, but the Spanish remained supporters of the British plan out of spite for 1898. However, the Japanese announced they would not go along with the American plan as it would require disposing of Kongo. With the British already having a plan that received the approval of 3 of 6 participants that was broadly acceptable to the US and Italy it was decided to go with the British plan. The tonnages would be 900,000 for the US and Great Britain, 540,000 for Japan, 315,000 for Italy and France and 135,000 for Spain.

    This plan was criticized by many for not actually saving money or stopping the growth of naval armaments. It required cancellation of 20 ships that were not ordered yet, but of ships already under construction only two Lexingtons were to be cancelled and 4 N4’s downsized. It also only required the disposal of 12” armed ships by the US and Japan and 3 13.5” ships by Britain along with her 12” ships. To satisfy this it was declared that there would be a building holiday to avoid laying down new tonnage to replace old until the ships in question were 20 years old, as dated from the keel laying. This would mean the US and Japan would not lay down any further capital ships until 1931, the UK could do so in 1930 in addition to having a two-ship exception.

    Italy, Spain and France were not covered by the building holiday, as Italy and France had old predreadnoughts that could be replaced immediately filling out their tonnages, and Spain was below her tonnage total.

    Of course, with Capital Ship tonnage determined the question became what a capital ship was. One could not simply go by designation, as abuse of that was obvious. Given that the arguments over limitations focused on two qualities, size and caliber of main armament, these were to be the determining characteristics. If either characteristic was above a set limit, then the vessel would be a capital ship, otherwise it would be a cruiser or smaller vessel.

    Where these limits were proved to be an issue. This related to what one wanted a cruiser to do. For Britain the primary purpose of cruisers was to be commerce protection and maintenance of the empire. For this she needed many vessels that were seaworthy and armed enough to deal with merchant raiders. Speed was to be enough to run down all but the fastest liners, but was otherwise not a priority, neither was armor or armament, as combat power could be made up with numbers. A need for endurance to provide a worldwide presence was mitigated by Britain’s wide-ranging network of bases. For France, Italy and Spain a cruisers purpose was scouting and leading destroyers. Cruisers needed speed and enough combat power to defeat enemy destroyers, but not much range in their expected environment of the Mediterranean. The Americans and Japanese were interested in scouting, raiding, counter raiding and in the Japanese case leading destroyers. However, they expected to use their cruisers in the vast Pacific and in addition to speed and combat power needed range.

    Britain wanted smaller cruisers of 5,000 to 8,000 tons with 6” guns, large enough to do what she asked and cheap enough to be mass produced. Similarly, the French, Italian and Spanish could fit what they desired in a cruiser in under 8,000 tons and with 6” or 6.1” guns. For the Americans and Japanese, it was different as Pacific ranges required more fuel be carried and thus a larger ship. The United States ended up designing the 12,000-ton Louisville class in 1920, Japan responded with the Minase class cruiser in 1922, nominally 8,000 tons but in practice 9,300. Both of these classes had 8” guns as the clear weather and calm seas of the Pacific allowed for long range shooting.

    The British knew that the United States would not give up their 4 cruisers of the Louisville class that were sufficiently advanced that the cancellation penalties outweighed the completion costs. Thus, they proposed that the United States and Britain be allowed 5 cruisers each above 8,000 tons that could carry guns larger than 6”, which would cover their Hawkins class, and Japan 3, which would cover their Minase class and one extra unit. Remaining cruisers would be limited to 8,000 tons and 6” guns to not count as capital ships but would be unlimited in quantity. Exception would be provided for cruisers older than 1905 so the varying powers could retain older armored cruisers with guns larger than 6” as training vessels.

    This was unacceptable, to the United States at least, the 7,000-ton Omahas and 7,500-ton Pensacolas were both overloaded and lacking in endurance for Pacific operations. This could not be solved on a mere 500 tons making the limit unacceptable even for 6” cruisers. Rather 10,000 tons was considered a minimum for a 6” cruiser. Furthermore, the United States saw the 6” cruiser as unable to fulfill what they need from a cruiser, with its armament lacking in range for Pacific Operations.

    The United States returned with a counter proposal for a limit of 12,500 tons and 8” guns with 500,000 tons for the US and UK, 300,000 for Japan, 100,000 for France and Italy and 50,000 for Spain. This was both too much for Britain and too little, they felt they needed 100 cruisers to fill all the Royal Navy’s obligations for cruisers. They did not think they could build 30 such large cruisers and afford 70 others, nor that they could fit 100 cruisers on 500,000 tons without making ships inadequately small. Furthermore, Britain thought she had a legitimate need for more cruisers than the US and did not want parity at that cost.

    Knowing the United States would not accept 8,000 tons unless they received 30 or more large cruisers Britain released a counter proposal of 10 large cruisers for the US and UK, 6 for Japan, 4 for France and Italy and 2 for Spain, up to 12,500 tons and 8”. In this proposal the unlimited category was increased to 10,000 tons and 6” guns. The United States felt better about this one but still thought they needed more large cruisers. 10 were needed to replace the Armored cruisers as station flagships and at least 6 more were desired to substitute for not getting all the battlecruisers they asked for.

    Japan came with a counter proposal shortly afterwards. It limited large cruisers by tonnage, not numbers, the US and UK would be allowed 250,000 tons, Japan 175,000, France and Italy 87,500 and Spain 37,500, based on their amount of capital ship tonnage and maintaining the armored cruiser exception. Cruisers with 6.1” guns and that were under 10,000 tons would not be limited. This was more acceptable to Britain than the American proposal 20 large cruisers and 80 small were more affordable than 30 and 70, and by being based on tonnage it allowed for the ability to build a greater number of slightly smaller cruisers, something Japan was obviously planning on doing.

    The British delegation considered renegotiating to a smaller amount of First-Class cruisers, with 200,000 to 125,000 tons as the base for the US and UK. However, doing so would be varying from the capital ship ratio for all three of the smaller nations, and potentially reopen that hot button issue. The departure of 70% to Japan instead of 60% was something to be kept, as a bone for Japan accepting a slightly smaller tonnage ratio in first rate capital units compared to the US and Britain. This was found acceptable and the Japanese proposal became the limitations for first class cruisers.

    Further proposals to limit second class cruisers by other nations were shot down by the British. They did not want to settle for parity with the Americans in this case. Facing stiff British opposition the Americans backed down on pushing for it, cruisers were not worth potentially wrecking the conference over. With that conceded potential limitations on destroyers, torpedo boats, and other small combatants were off the table, as they could be substituted with larger cruisers.

    With cruisers dealt with the discussion moved to the other form of vessel that needed to be distinguished from Capital ships. These were the aircraft carriers, the newest type of warship afloat. Britain had 4 built or building, the United States and Japan had two each and all had plans for more of the vessels. To avoid a potential naval race limits had to be established, though what those limits where was to be the question.

    It was clear that the vessels could not be limited to cruiser tonnage, the American vessels and the British Argus both exceeded the size first class cruisers were limited to and the USN and RN found them too small. Even if that was not the case nobody was willing to sacrifice cruiser tonnage for them, not with carriers being an unproven weapon. Therefore, they needed to be a separate category.

    The Americans proposed a limit of 40,000 tons, as that was the size of the vessels they had been considering for their next naval building program before the conference began. This however was far too large for the British. A proposal to drop to 36,000 tons was likewise too large for them, but the United States was firm. 36,000 tons would allow them to convert the last two Lexington class on the stocks and save money, which was after all a goal of the Conference.

    The British proposed a limit of 20,000 tons for individual vessels. This would keep costs low, as the Treasury desired, and allow ships small enough for their aircraft complements to be filled out, as the RN had already found the RAF difficult to pry aircraft out of, while being large enough for effective flight operations. However, it was considered too small by the Americans to fit both the engines and torpedo defenses they desired along with a useful load of aircraft.

    It was the Japanese who made a compromise proposal, 30,000 tons, which would allow them to reuse machinery ordered for the to be cancelled Kii class battleships. The United States would be allowed an exemption for two carriers above that limit up to 36,000 tons, and Britain would be allowed to exclude Argus and Hermes from her tonnage. In exchange Japan would once more be allowed 70% of the American and British tonnage, rather than 60% elsewhere. Vessels bellow 10,000 tons were not specifically excluded but fell below the cruiser limit which meant in practice they were hence the Japanese ships and the British Egeria and Cavendish were not counted.

    This was accepted and the parties turned to working out total tonnages. The USN wanted 2 3 ship divisions of large carriers in the long term, which meant 200,000 tons for 2 Lexingtons at 36,000 tons, 2 Langley class as training vessels at 13,000 tons and 4 future carriers at 25,500 tons. However, the Politicians, after seeing the navy get their way too often put their foot down. The US would propose a limit of 150,000 tons, enough for 3 26,000-ton vessels once the Langelys were retired.

    Britain proposed 150,000 tons as well, so that they could have 6 22,500-ton carriers out of their allotment, enough for two each at Home, in the Med and East of Suez. With the two largest parties agreeing on 150,000 tons as a base it became 150,000 tons, 150,000 tons, 105,000 tons, 52,500 tons, 52,500 tons and 22,500 tons. As a sop to the USN for vessels converted from other hulls it was decided that their age would be determined based on the original vessel, not the carrier conversion, allowing Langley and her sister to be replaced in 1931.

    The question then became a matter of armaments. A fear among the negotiators was that the carriers could be used as a back door for more cruisers or capital ships. Therefore, the armaments had to be limited. This limit could not be too great, such valuable units would need self-defense armaments to deal with enemy cruisers. At the same time those armaments could not be so great as to make them alternatives to First Class cruisers.

    After a bit of wrangling a limitation was set at up to 10 8” guns for 25,000-30,000 tons, 8 8” guns for 20,000 to 24,999 tons and 6 8” guns 15,000 to 19,999 tons. Vessels below 15,000 tons would be limited to 6” guns. Vessels that carried 8” guns would be limited to 12 total guns above 5.1”. This was mutually satisfactory. With the key issues fully determined the conference turned to other, lesser matters…

    …The British delegation put forward a proposal to abolish the submarine as a weapon of war. This would eliminate what they saw as the biggest threat to their security and allow them to avoid spending on both submarines and anti-submarine measures. This was vigorously opposed by both the French and the Japanese. Both parties considered submarines a key part of their strategic requirements and were loath to lose them. The French in particular considered it an absolute necessity.

    Facing stiff opposition, the British instead proposed limiting submarines. However, that led to a fight between the United States on one side and Japan on the other. The United States wanted a limit on the number of submarines but wanted large vessels that could make sustained patrols off Japan when based at Hawaii. Japan wanted the limit based on tonnage, they expected to operate their submarines relatively close to their bases, limiting it by tonnage would advantage them in number of boats relative to the United States.

    Arguments soon ceased after France demanded no less than 90,000 tons or 150 boats as their limitations. As this was felt to be tantamount to no limits at all the matter was dropped…

    …Another matter relating to ships was that of building ships for export. Doing so was considered extremely valuable to the parties at the conference in providing ones naval industry with work while gaining foreign currency. However it presented a challenge in that ships building for export could be seized by the building party, as the British had done with four battleships during the previous war. It was feared that one could use straw purchasers to functionally get around the limits of the treaty system. As such it was proposed by the Japanese that building capital ships for export be banned

    This was opposed by the United States and Britain, who were both bidding on an offer by Brazil for a fourth and potentially fifth battleship, and Italy who had just signed a contract with Argentina for the completion of Cristoforo Colombo along with Francesco Caracciolo. They did not want to lose a potential sale and both the income and maintenance of infrastructure it represented. At the same time they recognized that not doing something about this could ruin the treaty.

    Limits were proposed that each power could only build two capital ships and two first class cruisers at one time. Furthermore capital ships built for export would be limited to 35,000 tons and 15” guns, to allow the Italian ships to complete while still being weak enough not to completely overshadow the legacy ships owned by the smaller powers. Finally the building power would be required to post several times the value of the ships in question as a security guarantee with a third party, to be forfeited upon seizure of the vessels…

    …One of the United States prime goals for the Conference did not appear in the actual treaty and was not formally discussed. This was the dissolution of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance. The British had said that the Alliance did not apply to the United States, but the US saw otherwise. As far as the US was concerned, with the breaking of the Central Powers the United States was the only nation that warranted such an alliance between the #1 and #3 Naval Powers.

    In truth the matter was already settled before the Conference. The British had at the most recent Imperial Conference decided to terminate the Alliance. Australia and New Zealand had argued for keeping it, saying the Japanese had been a valuable ally during the war while the United States was an isolationist neutral who could not be relied upon. The Canadians had vehemently challenged the idea of Japan as a valuable ally, not one Japanese soldier had set foot in Africa, Europe or the Middle East, not one Japanese warship had entered the warzones of the North Sea, Adriatic or Aegean. In Canada’s view Portugal had been a more valuable ally than Japan, the former had suffered 25 times the casualties fighting alongside British troops in Belgium compared to the latter’s Pacific land grab. As for American Neutrality, the Canadians had produced figures for how much the empire had benefited from America being a friendly neutral rather than a hostile one in the previous war.

    The Australians and New Zealanders then changed tack, to stating that an alliance with Japan was necessary for their security. The Canadians had responded that the only potential threats were the Untied States, who the Alliance did not apply to and Japan. An Alliance with Japan to prevent a Japanese attack was an invitation for betrayal, not an alliance the Canadians reasoned. The Canadian view prevailed, and it was decided to end the Alliance at the Imperial Conference…

    …Related to the Naval Treaty was the Four Power Treaty, the Ten Power Treaty and the Shangtung Treaty. The first, between Britain, France, Japan and the United States was an agreement to respect the status quo in the Pacific and not seek territorial changes. The Ten Power Treaty between all the participants sought to formalize the American Door Policy and thus equal access to Chinese trade and greater sovereignty for China. The Shangtung treaty unlike the previous two proved controversial.

    That treaty solved the Shandong question which had existed since the Japanese seizure of the province from Germany. Japan argued it should be theirs by right of conquest, China argued that they leased the province to Germany but not Japan. The Treaty of Versailles saw Japan’s position confirmed albeit extremely reluctantly on the part of the United States. China however refused to sight the treaty and an economic war began between the two countries.

    Rather than let things spiral out of control into what was possibly another war it was decided to solve it at the conference. Japan would return sovereignty of the Province to China but would be allowed to retain economic control over it. In the short term it ended the economic warfare between the two countries. In the long run it only heightened nationalism on both sides…

    …As a sop to Japan for accepting the Shangtung Treaty it was decided to limit the construction of fortifications in the Pacific region. The United States was forbidden from constructing or enhancing fortifications at its Pacific Island territories, excepting Hawaii but including the Aleutians. Similarly, Britain was forbidden from doing the same outside of immediate proximity to Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Malaya. Japan was forbidden from doing so in the Mandates, Formosa and the most far flung of its island possessions, but could do so at home, in Korea and in certain key island chains like the Ryukyus, the Bonin islands and the Volcano Islands…

    …Late in the conference the Japanese requested a minor alteration to the Capital Ship limits. Namely that each power be allowed to preserve one ship of historical value that entered service no later than 1906 without counting against any limits. This was because they desired to preserve the Mikasa, Togo’s flagship at the decisive battle of Tsushima. They chose the date to allow the British to potentially preserve Dreadnought if they so decided. This was considered an acceptable alteration, given the ships in question would lack combat power and at most be useful as overgrown monitors or training vessels.

    In the end Japan preserved Mikasa, the United States the old pre dreadnought Oregon and Britain preserved nothing. An attempt to preserve Dreadnought foundered early on due to cost grounds and no other ship aroused significant interest in being preserved. The originator of the Dreadnought era thus went to breakers, coincidentally next to the torpedo training hulk Vernon III, formerly known as HMS Warrior and the originator of the ironclad era…

    …As a final concession to those who thought the treaty was insufficient, it would require a follow up Conference to occur in three years to negotiate additional limitations. The location was to be the League of Nations headquarters in Geneva Switzerland…

    …The final treaty produced was accepted fairly easily by Britain, Spain and Italy. France saw the first attempt at ratifying it fail, as many deputies on the right were incensed at the Italians being given equality and on the left at the relative lack of limitations. However after some horse trading it was passed by the Chamber of Deputies. In Japan it caused quite a bit of anger among the IJN brass, who saw the 60% capital ship ratio, and the slightly lesser ratio in first class units, as inadequate for fighting the United States. However the treasury pointed out that the US was effectively outbuilding them by 2 to 1 in capital units without the treaty and would do so significantly more in large cruisers and aircraft carriers if the treaty failed. Between that and the worry that their mortal enemies, the IJA, would take advantage of a public fight over the ratification of the treaty the IJN acquiesced.

    It was in the United States that the fight over ratification was the toughest. For most of the Senate the Treaty did not go far enough. The entirety of the current building program was to be completed, albeit with two battlecruisers converted to aircraft carriers, and only the largest units of the next program would be cancelled and the limit for carriers and large cruisers required future construction on a large scale. Furthermore only 18 battleships would be disposed of, 10 of which were predreadnoughts. For isolationists in the Midwestern states this was too little, they thought the United States had no need of such a large navy to defend its shores and that the taxes to pay for it could be better spent elsewhere or not collected.

    Informal polling by the Senate leadership indicated that the Treaty would likely get 50-60 votes, below the 64 needed to ratify it. Concerted lobbying efforts were made to convince fence sitters. Appeals to racism were made, arguing that attempting to renegotiate the treaty would only benefit the Japanese. Related appeals were made stating that if the treaty failed matching the Japanese would require greater expenditures of money. In the end 63 yes votes and 3 absences were secured, allowing the Treaty to be ratified…

    …Per the Treaty the following ships were allowed to be retained:

    For the United States: Ranger, Saratoga, Constellation, Lexington, Massachusetts, Iowa, North Carolina, Montana, Indiana, South Dakota, West Virginia, Washington, Maryland, Colorado, California, Tennessee, Idaho, Mississippi, New Mexico, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, Nevada, Texas and New York.

    Ironsides and United States would be converted to aircraft carriers of no more than 36,000 tons.

    For Great Britain: Rodney, Howe, Anson, Hood, Repulse, Royal Sovereign, Royal Oak, Resolution, Revenge, Warspite, Queen Elizabeth, Tiger, Emperor of India, Benbow, Marlborough, Iron Duke, Ajax, Centurion, King George V, Princess Royal and Thunderer.

    4 currently unnamed N4 class battleships would need to be redesigned to displace less than 45,000 tons standard.

    2 additional capital ships could be laid down by Britain before 1930. Until that point Conqueror, Monarch, Orion, Australia and Colossus could be retained.

    For Japan: Ashitaka, Atago, Akagi, Amagi, Kaga, Tosa, Mutsu, Nagato, Hyuga, Ise, Yamashiro, Fuso, Haruna, Kirishima, Hiei and Kongo.

    For France: Provence, Lorraine, Bretagne, Paris, Jean Bart, France, Courbet, Voltaire, Mirabeau, Diderot, Danton, Condorcet, Verite, Justice, and Liberte.

    For Italy: Zara (ex-Svent Istvan), Fiume (ex-Prinz Eugen), Trento (ex-Tegetthoff), Trieste (ex-Viribus Unitis), Duilio, Andrea Doria, Leonardo da Vinci, Giulio Cesare, Conte di Cavour, Dante Aligheri, Napoli, Roma, Regina Elena, and Benedetto Brin.

    For Spain: Castila, Aragon, Jaime I, Alfonso XIII, Espana, and Pelayo

    Ships to be disposed of were:

    For the United States: Arkansas, Wyoming, Utah, Florida, North Dakota, Delaware, Michigan, South Carolina, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Kansas, Vermont, Louisiana, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Georgia, and Virginia.

    For Great Britain: Neptune, Indefatigable, Collingwood, Temeraire, Superb, Bellerophon, Dreadnought, Hibernia, Africa, Zealandia (ex-New Zealand), Britannia and Hindustan.

    For Japan: Settsu, Aki, Satsuma, Kurama, Ibuki, Ikoma, Tsukuba, Katori, Asahi, Shikishima, Fuji, Iwami (ex-Oryol), Mishima (ex-Admiral Seniavin) and Okinoshima (ex-General-Admiral Apraksin)…

    -Excerpt from Naval History Between the Wars, Harper & Brothers, New York, 2007

    Okay this is probably the most monstrous update yet by a factor of two, you can see I spent a lot of time on it
    Part 3-19 European Wars
  • …The Bolshevik Civil War is a difficult conflict to cover due to the paucity of reliable sources about it. Written documentation of the conflict and events leading up to it, while it still existed, was confined to Soviet archives with no access to outsiders. No defectors with reliable firsthand knowledge of the higher level events managed to make it out of the USSR. Thus for much of the key events we are left with communist propaganda as a sole source, though given the nature of the conflict we at least have two contrasting sets of propaganda to analyze.

    The official Soviet party line was that the war was a result of the ambitions of Leon Trotsky. Trotsky the record goes was using his position as Peoples Commissar for Military and Naval Affairs to prepare for a coup attempt to place itself at the head of the USSR. The war was a result of Trotsky launching his coup before it was ready due to the impending disbandment of several military units loyal to him. Trotsky here is portrayed as a would be Napoleon Bonaparte using the Bolshevik Revolution for his own ends.

    The propaganda put out by the followers of Trotsky claimed the war was a result of Stalin’s paranoia and betrayal of the Revolution. Stalin they claimed saw Trotsky and his followers as a threat to his heterodox visions for the Soviet Union and his absolute power. Stalin’s actions in preemptively trying to silence his opposition triggered an outbreak of violence which was blamed on Trotsky. Trotsky was thus given no choice but to fight or die. Stalin here is portrayed as a ruthless, murderous, and paranoid dictator in the making.

    The truth is probably somewhere between the two, though closer to the Trotskyist version. It is pretty hard to argue that Stalin was not paranoid, ruthless, and murderous given what we know about him. However the Trotskyist version cannot be taken as truth, being communist propaganda and both lionizing Trotsky and blaming everything on Stalin. Trotsky while not as bad as Stalin was from what we know about him certainly no saint, and from what evidence we had made high level enemies of his own in the Bolshevik upper echelons without Stalin’s interference.

    What we do know about the Bolshevik Civil War is this. Sometime in April 1923 Vladimir Lenin suffered a debilitating stroke that left him in a very poor condition. Joseph Stalin used his position as General Secretary to monopolize his communications and take de facto control over him. By July Stalin was using his position to effectively run things in Lenin’s name while creating the illusion that Lenin was in charge through careful stage management of the very ill man. At this point he started moving against those he saw as potential enemies in the Bolshevik Party, demoting, dismissing or transferring them out of the way. Trotsky in particular was sent to Central Asia in August to put down the Basmachi revolts.

    In November 1923 Stalin ordered the dissolution of the Red Sailors, a formation of hardcore communist former members of the Imperial Russian Navy. The Red Sailors, along with units such the Red Riflemen, foreign communist volunteers, and the Red Cossacks were used to control less fervent members of the Red Army. However by this point with the war over, the OPGU, the successor to the Cheka and predecessor to the NKVD under Stalin’s ally “Iron Felix” Dzerzhinsky was able to do that without their aid. Thus Stalin saw them as a threat to his power, being effectively more communist than the Central Committee he thought they might take offense at his plans.

    For the Red Riflemen and Red Cossacks Stalin’s solution was to have them deployed to Central Asia to deal with the Islamic rebels there. In Central Asia they could not threaten Stalin or his plans, and every one of them who died fighting the Basmachi was a victory for him. The Red Sailors however were less of a field force than their counterparts in the other Red Guard units and were not meant for chasing rebels in the boonies. For them Stalin wanted those with skills returned to the regular Red Navy while those without would be discharged.

    When the orders to disband arrived the Red Sailors refused. From here things get murky. What most likely happened was after a brief standoff with troops meant to disarm them in preparation for their dissolution someone got nervous and opened fire. From there an actual battle broke out and the Red Sailors defeated the forces sent to disarm them. Afterwards they published a manifesto denouncing what the Bolsheviks had become and wanted a return to a less bureaucratic and authoritarian form of communism as had originally been implemented.

    At this point Stalin panicked and sent men to preemptively arrest the leadership of the Red Cossacks and Red Riflemen as he assembled forces to crush the Red Sailors. However things did not go as planned and those units found themselves mutinying in support of their comrades. At this point Stalin really panicked and took the opportunity to have certain of his opponents arrested while mobilizing the Red Army.

    Trotsky, from what we have confirmed from second and thirdhand accounts was reluctant to join the brewing conflict. However with the arrest of many of his allies on false charges and the outbreak of unrelated revolts the revolt of the Red Sailors unleashed Trotsky was convinced to lead a movement to dethrone Stalin as the lesser evil. Gathering forces in Central Asia that would obey his orders, save for those absolutely necessary to contain the Basmachi Trotsky marched on Omsk.

    The garrison of Omsk resisted for several weeks, but surrendered after Trotsky defeated a relief attempt. He then paused to integrate volunteers and plead his case to the Central Committee in Moscow. In this time period the Red Sailors were crushed in Petrograd, as was a smaller mutiny by elements of the Red Navy. However all over the USSR every remaining group with a grudge against the Bolsheviks seemed to be coming out of the woodworks and revolting.

    Moscow was not sympathetic to Trotsky’s pleas. Despite a growing suspicion of Stalin, Trotsky’s taking up of arms seemed to confirm for most of the Bolshevik higher ups that Stalin’s fears were correct and Trotsky was trying to overthrow them. Stalin was given further powers and an army was gathered at Tyumen to crush Trotsky.

    Rather than sit and wait Trotsky marched on Tyumen to preempt the offensive. The two sides met just outside the city. Most formations on both sides skirmished in a desultory manner for the first day of fighting, and on dawn of the second Trotsky’s Red Guards launched a ferocious attack, they took heavy losses, especially among the leaderships, but broke the enemy forces. The Central Government forces then withdrew to Yekaterinburg, leaving Tyumen without a fight.

    Several units defected to Trotsky in the aftermath of the battle and his ranks were swollen with volunteers. In some ways he was stronger than before the battle, but in others he was weaker. Several key subordinates were killed and he was forced to replace them with less committed replacements. It was this that would be his undoing. Several weeks later outside Yekaterinburg he was taken into custody by a group of former Czarist officers among his forces and executed while the Red Guards were purged and volunteers were scattered.

    As a rebel Trotsky had been unable to rely on the methods he used earlier to ensure the loyalty of his former Czarist officers, namely holding their families hostage. Stalin and Iron Felix by contrast could and would do the same, and to preserve their families the former Czarist officers took care of Trotsky. With him dead the main resistance to the Central Bolshevik Government collapsed. Order in Central Asia was quickly restored, and in the rest of the USSR by early 1925.

    In the end the Bolshevik Civil War was more a disorganized series of revolts against the centralizing authoritarian tendencies of the Bolsheviks, the Central Asian military revolt being the only notable one. The War saw Stalin concentrate his power, ensuring that when Lenin died in January 1926 he took absolute power, and the leftmost elements of the Bolshevik party were purged. Internationally the far left was split between those who followed the party line form Moscow and those influenced by the martyr Trotsky. In absolute terms the most significant impact of the war was to set back the Soviet Unions recovery from the Russian Civil War and subsequent growth by effectively two or three years, something that would be deeply felt during and leading up to the Second World War…

    -Excerpt from European Wars for Americans, Harper & Brothers, New York, 2004

    Part 3-20 Unfinished Business, Historical Madness
  • …The presidential election of 1924 was not a particularly worrying one for President Wood. With a strong economy and a slight progressive bump in the 1922 midterms, he was in a favorable position, with no serious opposition to his nomination for a second term. Frank Lowden was floated as a possible challenger from the conservative wing, but he was uninterested in what he saw as an unwinnable contest. Instead the Republicans focused on who would succeed the deceased Warren Harding as Wood’s Vice President.

    Wood preferred a progressive running mate, with Irvine Lenroot of Wisconsin as his choice, having been recommended by Harding while he was on his death bed. Opposition to this coalesced around Albert Cummins of Iowa after Lowden declined the opportunity to play second fiddle to Wood. However when Senator Charles Curtiss was floated as a compromise candidate, the party coalesced around him. While a conservative, Curtiss was well known for working across the aisle with progressives. Curtiss would be the first native American nominated for the Vice Presidency, being a member of the Kaw Nation…

    …The Democratic field was far more competitive than the Republican one. William McAdoo had taken over the former Wilsonian faction of the party, aided by Wilson’s death. Senator Oscar Underwood of Alabama meanwhile took over the non-Wilsonian Progressives. The conservative wing of the Democrats was once more led by Furnifold Simmons of North Carolina. In theory McAdoo had the weakest position of the three, being chained to Wilson’s negative legacy. In practice McAdoo had two key advantages.

    First he was a Dry, while Underwood was a Wet, given the party as a whole was still Dry, this was a major disadvantage for Underwood. Secondly McAdoo was the preferred candidate for the Ku Klux Klan. The KKK was at its relative zenith in 1924 and its support allowed him to match Simmons even in conservative areas. McAdoo took a clear but not commanding lead in the early rounds of voting.

    McAdoo however had many enemies. In particular the urban political machines were opposed to the man, their Catholic constituents were against anyone endorsed by the anti-Catholic KKK. The machines, and elements of the progressive faction, were backing a candidacy by New York governor Al Smith. Taking votes from Underwood and minor candidates, they hoped to drag things out long enough for hotel bills to get too much for many of the country delegates. Then they would be able to force Al Smith through.

    This trend was noticed after the 72nd ballot by Simmons and his organizers. Simmons recognized that Smith was liable to displace Underwood as the lead non-Wilsonian progressive. While Smith was unlikely to win the nomination, it was quite possible that he could become vice president to a compromise candidate, such as John Davis of West Virginia who was already being floated as a possibility. This was unacceptable to Simmons as it risked a Catholic becoming president should Davis die. Simmons thus withdrew and endorsed McAdoo on the .79th ballot.

    This gave McAdoo a commanding lead, but the urban machines managed to draw things out until the 108th ballot, when McAdoo finally received two thirds.

    For a vice president John Davis of West Virginia was floated as a conservative who was not too conservative, and an easterner to McAdoo’s westerner. Davis was elected on the first ballot and the ticket was complete…

    …McAdoo attempted a vigorous campaign as opposed to Wood’s more traditional front porch campaign. Wood called for keeping things more or less as they were, a minor cut in taxes and some limited progressive reforms. McAdoo called for a minor raise in taxes and some slightly greater progressive reforms. The two campaigns differed mainly in the details, outside of racism where Wood supported an anti-Lynching bill while McAdoo wanted immigration restrictions.

    In the end relative turnout dropped compared to previous years despite an overall increase. Urban catholic populations, traditional democratic stalwarts, either continued to stay home or to some degree voted Socialist rather than for a KKK endorsed candidate. In the general election the KKK endorsement proved more of a liability than an aid for McAdoo, as the electorate at large viewed the KKK as a group of dangerous thugs. The Republicans won 405 electoral votes compared to 126 for the Democrats, with the latter carrying no state outside the old Confederacy. In the popular vote the margin was 60% to 35%, not quite the landslide of 1920 but not far off. The Republicans remained in comfortable control of both the House and Senate as well…

    …With the death of Leonard Wood on July 4th 1925 Charles Curtiss became President of the United States, the first Native American to hold the office. One of his first acts was to sign a bill reducing taxes, dropping the top tax rate from 42.5% to 35%...

    -Excerpt from Unfinished Business: The Making of the Second World War, New American Press, Chicago, 2007

    …That the Britain was the first country to breach the sanitary cordon around the Soviet Union, even as they were still fighting, is little known and highly questioned. Why in early 1922 would the British start negotiating with the Soviets when they were at war with them?

    In truth even at that point the British had realized that war with the Soviets to reinstate the provisional government was over. Even during the previous year victory would have only been possible with a commitment of forces far greater than Britain was willing to commit. Given threats of mutiny on the part of several units Britain’s ability to commit was thus questionable. In this case a desire to end such a war was a perfectly logical thing

    However they wanted to do more than just cut their losses. They wanted the USSR to stop messing in what they saw as their Colonial sphere of influence and internal British politics, as well as a return of British prisoners. That this was worth legitimizing the USSR for is questionable. In hindsight the answer is probably no, given that legitimizing the USSR allowed it to recover and grow, becoming a threat that would distort European politics and through that lead to the next world war and…

    …At the time however this was not apparent. The USSR was dealing with multiple rebellions and having serious troubles, that it could become a threat in a short period was seen as very unlikely. Meanwhile Britain was dealing with considerable unrest at home in the form of strikes, more unrest in India and revolts in the Middle East. A reduction in Soviet meddling in the form of propaganda would bring immediate concrete benefits to Britain at a time when they were struggling. Furthermore the release of British prisoners, while insignificant economically or militarily, did briefly boost the Prime Minister’s popularity at a time it was flagging for a number of reasons.

    That a British trade agreement would soon lead to massive investment by American industrialists and covert military cooperation by German militarists was impossible to predict…

    -Excerpt from Why did they do THAT!?! Historical Madness in Context: Volume III, Harper & Brothers, New York, 2015

    Edit: Minor typo on tax rates fixed
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    Part 3-21 Naval History
  • …The London Naval Treaty shifted the focus of naval competition from capital ships to large cruisers and aircraft carriers. The United States, with 6 ships of the Louisville class well underway had the advantage there. A pair of repeat Louisville’s with an extra pair of AAA guns, the New Orleans class, were ordered in 1923. In 1924, thanks to early reports of the Japanese Ashigara class with 10 8” guns the San Francisco class was ordered. These ships dropped the torpedo tubes, 1 knot of speed and reduced their immune zone against 8” fire in exchange for increasing the main battery to 12 8” guns in 4 triple turrets. The follow on Tuscaloosa class of 1925 reduced the armament to 2 twins and 2 triples to increase the armor after reports that the Japanese 8” cruisers used a new 50 caliber gun rather than the old 45 caliber gun as previously believed. This was followed by the Brooklyn class of 1926 that further increased armor, but reduced the main battery to 9 guns in 3 triple turrets, setting a pattern for further US large cruisers…

    …Japanese plans for their large cruiser force called for 18 ships, 4 would be the nominally 8,000 ton Minase class already building, 4 would be 12,500 ton designs as squadron flagships and the remaining 10 would be nominally 9300 ton vessels, using up the 175,000 tons allotted to Japan. The Japanese were planning on lying to a moderate degree, their 9300 ton vessels would be 11,000 tons in actuality as planned, if caught they would merely cancel the last of the vessels.

    The plan was to lay down the first two of the six 11,000 ton Ashigaras in 1924, but funding problems from the Great Kanto Earthquake pushed things back to 1925. These ships were to be capable of 35 knots, carry 10 8” guns in 5 twin turrets and 12 24” torpedo tubes in fixed single mounts. They were to serve as both heavy scouts and heavy torpedo attack platforms that could ignore battleship secondaries. In practice the ships ended up completed at 13,000 tons due to Japanese inability to accurately compute ships weights, and lacking in structural strength as well. These changes led to the second pair being declared at 10,500 tons as the Aoba class and the third pair at 12,000 tons as the Nachi class, while actually displacing 13,500 and 14,000 tons respectively due to added structural reinforcements. These changes led to the last two large cruisers of the program being cancelled and the second to last pair being replanned as additional 12,500 ton flagship units…

    …The British intended to build 23 large cruisers, 8 12,500 ton designs and 15 10,000 ton designs, which would give them the ability to match France or Italy in maximum size cruisers, and outmatch the planned number of Japanese cruisers of such size. This soon shifted to 8 12,500 ton designs for the RN, 10 10,000 ton designs for the RN and 4 12,500 ton designs for the RAN, as Australia asked for permission to build some of their own to replace the scrapped Battlecruiser Australia. The RN designs were fairly orthodox, with 4x2 8” guns , 8 21” torpedo tubes and 32 knots of speed, the 12,500 ton ships differing in being very well armored as opposed to just well armored, an extra float plane and having 4.7” as opposed to 4” AA guns. The Australian ships were domestic ships, designed and built at Cockatoo Island dockyard. They were capable of similar speed to the British counterparts and were slightly better armored, but had their main battery in a 3x3 arrangement, and five pairs of 4” AA guns, one of which was superfiring over the rear turret…

    …France planned for 8 12,500 ton large to fill their complement. Their design with the Duquense class was a 35 knot ship with 4 twin 8” guns, 10 75mm AA guns and 8 550mm torpedo tubes. The early French design lacked armor however, due to a French deficiency in metallurgy and the addition of a small set of coal fired cruising boilers, resulting in it being the most poorly armored of the large cruisers, with a belt of only 45mm…

    …Like France Italy planned to fill its complement of large cruisers with 8 12,500 ton designs. Unlike the French they planned on outright lying and building 13,500 ton ships. These vessels were 35 knot ships, with an orthodox 4x2 8” armament, a heavy armament of 8x2 100mm guns, 12 21” torpedo tubes and heavy armor, made possible both by cheating and by having a very short range….

    …Spain, facing financial difficulties from the Rif War even after it ended decided to postpone any large cruiser construction until the 30’s…

    …With the conversion of the battlecruisers Ironsides and United States into aircraft carriers still incomplete the United States was looking at their fifth vessel. However exact opinions varied on what it should look like with different features being floated. Rather than tie down some of their limited tonnage in a vessel that was semi experimental it was decided to build a ship small enough to fit under unlimited cruiser tonnage. Given the difficulties in fitting a powerplant to reach 33 knots on a 10,000 ton hull and still have useful volume, it was decided that the experimental ship, tentatively named Bunker Hill, would be a 27 knot design. While too slow to operate with the large carriers under conversion, it would be able to support the battle line with scouts, fighters for defense and spotter aircraft, giving the opportunity to remove floatplanes and their flammable stores from the battleships. She would test an islandless configuration that the aviators insisted would be better for flight operations…

    …Britain found herself with four carriers that she soon determined were too small for her needs. In 1925 she sought to rectify this with a pair of 22,500 ton ships. They would have a speed of 30 knots, room for 60 aircraft, 8 8” guns for defense in single mounts and 12 4” AA guns, along with moderate protection over the magazines and machinery. Further ships would be ordered in 1929 and 1933 respectively, with a final 15,000 ton maintenance and support carrier to fill their tonnage quota in 1935…

    …Japan found herself continuing with the construction of 32 knot 30,000 ton vessels based on the machinery from the cancelled Kii class battleships. Based on negative experience with the islandless Eisho both vessels were constructed with an island. They fitted 10 8” guns for self-defense in six single mounts and two twin turrets and had triple level flight decks for rapid launching of their 80 plane complements…

    …France originally planned on converting the incomplete battleship Bearn into a carrier, but soon found that by the time money was available the hull had decayed too much. Instead it was decided to build a small carrier on a Duguay-Trouin light cruiser hull as an experimental vessel…

    …Italy saw they had no money for an aircraft carrier, and instead converted a train ferry into a seaplane tender for colonial use. Otherwise it was assumed their fleet would be operating sufficiently close to home that land based air would suffice…

    …Spain was content with their current seaplane tender and saw no need for further aviation vessels in the 20’s…

    …The most significant event in naval aviation in the early 20’s were the Project B tests off the Atlantic coast. Nominally commanded by James Fechet, most of the actual work was done by his chief of staff Quentin Roosevelt given Fechet’s other responsibilities. The Project B tests saw five predreadnought and two dreadnought battleships systematically sunk alongside numerous smaller vessels by aerial bombardment in a measured manner. The vessels were sunk over multiple days with time taken to examine the damage from each wave of bombs and torpedoes by a party of naval engineers.

    Further tests were conducted against two radio controlled naval target ships to determine practical hit rates in combat. Roosevelt innovated here by having the target ships rigged with fireworks set to distract pilots and simulate gunfire. He further included defending and escort fighters to the mix in various tests.

    As a result of these tests it was determined that against post Jutland capital ships AP bombs of at least 1500 pounds were necessary, with 2000 being desired, though smaller weapons would suffice against cruisers and older capital ships. For torpedoes a 21” weapon was judged necessary to be effective against the defenses of Post Jutland capital ships, which would require a larger torpedo bomber to carry it, though the present 18” weapon was sufficient against older vessels. Based on this it was determined that at least 60 level bombers or 30 torpedo bombers were needed to engage a modern capital ship without air cover to sink it…

    …The most important naval war prize from Germany was the incomplete radar system that they were working on. While a long way from being deployable by the time the war ended, the system promised the ability to detect ships in complete darkness or heavy fog at 10,000 yards. Both the United States and Britain received copies of the development notes, with the Japanese getting their second hand from Britain via espionage, and all three began working on their own systems by the end of 1920. By 1930 all three had crude first generation devices in testing at sea…

    …The Geneva Naval Conference of 1926 occurred as mandated by the London Naval Treaty. The Conference goal was to further reduce naval expenditure. The primary British goal was to try and further reduce the tonnage allotted to first class cruisers to 150,000 tons for the US and UK, 100,000 for Japan and 67,500 for France and Italy. A second goal was to create a restricted second class cruiser class, in order to prevent the construction of large numbers of 10,000 ton 6” armed cruisers the United States and Japan planned on constructing. To complement these would be an unlimited type of cruiser of 6” armament and no more than 7500 tons. A final goal was to see about if Aircraft carrier tonnage could be reduced.

    The American goal was to establish tonnage limits for light cruisers, destroyers and submarines. This would allow the US to avoid a naval race with Japan in lighter categories of warship. The current tonnage limits satisfied the United States and were to be retained at all costs.

    The agendas of the other powers soon proved irrelevant as the differences between the United States and United Kingdom proved insoluble. The United Kingdom would agree to a light cruiser limit in addition to retaining current limitations, and were willing to accept parity with the US, but they insisted on no less than 450,000 tons as the allotment for light cruisers. The United States by contrast proposed an allotment of 250,000 tons. The United States would compromise on no more than 300,000 tons, the United Kingdom no less than 375,000. A British counter proposal of accepting the American 250,000 ton proposal and placing the destroyer limit at 3500 tons with an unlimited allotment was thrown out as blatantly against the spirit of limiting cruisers.

    Attempts to salvage something in the conference by limiting submarines failed. Both the United States and French were too interested in building large submarines, to operate off Japan from San Diego in the former case, and as global commerce raiders in the latter case, for there to be an agreement on submarine size limits. Similarly without a size limit tonnage limitations proved too difficult to devise. This left the conference as a complete failure…

    … In 1927 the British laid down a pair of Beatty class Battlecruisers as their fifth and sixth ship under the LNT, functionally variants of the Venerable class Battleship, itself a modified N4 to comply with the LNT. The Beatty class reduced the unique quad turret at the rear of the Venerable to another triple, thinned the armor and increased speed to 29 knots. The ships were right on 45,000 tons as opposed to being just above 43,000 thanks to greater experience with the weight savings used...

    …The Brazilians ordered their fourth battleship in 1924. Both the British and Americans competed for the contract, the British offering a lower absolute price and faster delivery, while the Americans offered better payment terms. It was the latter that proved decisive in winning the contract for the Americans, even if they had to use British 15” export guns. The Riachuelo was a 35,000 ton ships with 3x3 15”/45 Vickers export guns mounted all forward and a speed of 28 knots, along with good armor and 12 6” secondary guns. This was bought alongside two modified New Orleans class Heavy cruisers. As a consolation British yards won a contract for a 6” armed training cruiser…

    …Argentina responded to the Brazilian heavy cruiser purchase by purchasing three of their own. The Italians managed to win the contract, most likely through bribery, and responded with cut down versions of their Pola class cruiser. These vessels used a smaller 7.5” main battery of British guns, 12 as opposed to 16 secondary guns, half the torpedo tubes, less armor and 3 knots less speed…

    …Chile saw no ability to match her neighbors buildup and contented herself with a single light cruiser for cadet training, a near sister of the Brazilian vessel…

    …Japanese naval cooperation with the Soviet Union was substantially more limited and of a more mercenary bent than Germany’s land and air based cooperation. Unbeknownst to the world at large the agreement to trade Northern Sakhalin for the return of the former White Pacific Fleet, seized by the Japanese for nonpayment of docking fees, had a secret component. There Japan proposed to sell armor plate, boilers and turbines to complete Izmail, Borodino and Kinburn in exchange for gold, and a set of 16” guns and turrets for Borodino. This would allow the Red Navy two battlecruisers and an aircraft carrier while giving Japanese naval industry additional work…

    …In 1925 German naval cooperation with the Dutch had an odd result. The Dutch had contemplated an ambitious naval expansion plan before WWI involving 4 to 9 battleships, that the war had reduced to a mere trio of light cruisers. Attempts to acquire units of the HSF either driven ashore or forced to intern during the battle of the Eastern Approaches proved unfruitful. This left them in a relatively weak position. The reason they had desired to acquire capital ships was for the defense of the Netherlands East Indies, namely ensuring its neutrality in a conflict between Japan and either the United States or the United Kingdom by being strong enough to crush a Japanese probe. The war made it impossible for them to procure capital ships and this forced a less ambitious goal. They would order a set of light cruisers that would be potent enough to defeat Japanese scouting units, trusting that Japan would keep her capital ships reserved for fighting the US or UK.

    By 1925 it was clear that the Java class cruisers, with only unturreted 10 5.9” guns were no match for the Japanese heavy cruisers under construction. This would mean that the Japanese scouting units would soon be able to defeat the defenders of the NEI with impunity. This made maintaining neutrality a much trickier thing for the Dutch. Something larger was needed. However the Dutch Navy was well aware that it would take time for the politicians to determine what they were going to procure. A relatively small battleship of 30,000 tons? A similarly sized battlecruiser? A 20,000 ton cruiser killer? 12,500 ton heavy cruisers of their own? In order to get something the Dutch Navy wanted a single unit of a stopgap design, similar to the role played by the old coastal defense ship De Zeven Provincen.

    At the same time Germany was in final design studies for what would become the first of the “Armored Ships” they were allowed under the Treaty of Versailles. After debating between a larger than average 8” cruiser or a 15” armed super coastal defense ship the Germans had decided on a compromise design with 11” guns. Slower than most cruisers at 29 knots, it was well armed with 6 11” guns in two triple turrets, four twin 6” guns and two quad 21” torpedo launchers. Use of welding saved enough weight for it to be almost immune to 8” gunfire at expected battle ranges and diesel engines gave it phenomenal range. Of course the Germans were planning on lying about the displacement by at least 2,000 tons as well to give them more margin. Given the small size of the German ship design office it was inevitable that someone in the know about this project was working with the Dutch in their clandestine submarine development program in the Netherlands.

    The German “Armored Ship” design was basically exactly what the Dutch were looking for. It was small enough that they had a reasonable chance of getting it past parliament, while powerful enough to make any Japanese heavy cruiser regret tangling with it. If the Japanese did send a capital ship to deal with it, then that put the ship within reach of Dutch submarines and minefields, exposing it to a potential loss and being something the Japanese Navy would have to consider if they wanted to violate Dutch neutrality.

    Of course the German design would need some adjustments to fit Dutch needs. Swedish guns would be substituted for German to get around Versailles export restrictions. The experimental diesel plant would be replaced with a steam plant, allowing 31 knots to outrun Japanese battlecruisers at the cost of range being reduced from insane to more than adequate for Dutch needs. And of course it would have to actually be 15,000 tons, so nobody asked any awkward questions when the Germans built their ships…

    -Excerpt from Naval History Between the Wars, Harper & Brothers, New York, 2007
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    Part 3-22 Unfinished Business
  • … For the election of 1926, citing trouble with the Communists, Socialists and Anarchists Sanna used his position as prime minister to force through a new election law. Rather than a straight proportional election the largest party would receive two thirds of the seats at stake, with the rest divided proportionally. Sanna argued this was necessary for him to stabilize the country. Given the turmoil that followed Giolattis death he was granted this, with a condition that the law would only cover the 1926 election and that new ones would be held in 1928. Sanna accepted and the Fascist controlled National List fairly easily won the largest share of the vote in 1926.

    Sanna used this victory to overhaul the electoral system and entrench his supporters in the government. By the election of 1928 he had absorbed the Combatants Party into the Fascists and dissolved the National List with the Fascists running alone. In the 1928 elections the fascists won 63% of the seats on 51% of the vote according to the official results. This was likely fraudulent, though to an unknown degree, and relied on gerrymandering, voter suppression and the banning of the Communist Party. Nonetheless Sanna achieved a superficially legitimate electoral victory that he would use to keep control of the Italian State…

    …Sanna’s largest priority was modernizing the Italian Economy. For the most part he was hands off as the previous liberal policies were showing considerable growth and recovery. His main contribution was the so called “Battle for Land” where the government provided interest free loans and arranged for owners of worthless swampland to reclaim it, provided the owners would implement mechanized agriculture using domestic Italian machinery.

    A lesser contribution was his usurping control over the Italian Trade Unions with an Associations of Fascist Trade Unions. This became a tool to remove the influence of the socialists from the Unions and as leverage against the major industrial concerns…

    …Sanna was odd in that unlike any other Fascist leader he cut military spending early in his tenure as Italy’s leader. This was due to his recognition that Italy’s greatest weakness was economic, and that money spent there would do more good in the long term than that spent on the army. Thus he instituted a Twelve Year rule in 1927, that the Italian military was to operate on the assumption of no major war before 1939. Unlike the British Ten Year Rule Sanna’s rule was not an excuse to underfund the military, but rather to only spend on what would be useful twelve years from now…

    …Part of Sanna’s military preparations was his policy of exporting military equipment at cost. This encouraged other nations to buy Italian, which kept the Italian arms industry running at a higher pace than purely domestic orders would. It also brought in money as the value of the arms was less than that of the material imported to purchase them…

    …Following the election of 1925 the string of minority governments that had ran the Weimar Republic since 1921 finally ended. In an attempt to restore stability it was decided by the leaderships of the DVP, DDP and Zentrum that they needed to join with one of the two largest parties in the Reichstag, the DNVP or the SPD. The SPD was larger, but the DVP and elements of Zentrum were unwilling to work with them given their perceived closeness to the Communists and perceived complicity in the communists coups in Saxony and Thuringia. Thus the DNVP was chosen to form a government under Zentrums Heinrich Brüning, the first under newly elected President Hindenburg, bringing with them the Agricultural League.

    The DNVP was formed from the old Conservative, Free Conservative and National Liberal Parties and primarily represented the old Wilhelmine establishment. That it wasn’t the largest party in the Reichstag after the tumult of the early 20’s mainly came down to a lack of organization. However the party was increasingly influenced by the Volkish Right, a far more radical movement represented in the German Socialist Party and the lesser known National Socialist German Workers Party.

    Working with the DNVP did not sit well for the DDP and the leftmost elements of Zentrum. Many still preferred to work with their old partners in the SPD. As such the Von Papen government was fought with tension from the beginning that only increased over time…

    …1925 saw the German Communist party taken over by the staunchly Stalinist Ernst Thalmann. At Moscow’s command Thalmann began a policy of Stalinization to bring the organization more in line with Moscow’s dictates. This did not sit well with certain elements of the KPD, who were used to charting a more independent course and sympathized with Trotsky and other opposition figures. There was an abortive movement in 1926 to form an opposition party, but it fell into bickering about whether the party should be more ore less radical than the KPD. Instead a small group under the young firebrand Hans Moller decided that they would provide an example that would force the KPD to follow the course they set.

    In doing so Moller would become almost as important as Muhamed Mehmedbašić in contributing to the madness of the early 20th century…

    -Excerpt from Unfinished Business: The Making of the Second World War, New American Press, Chicago, 2007

    Moller is not a historical figure, just some random German casualty of OTL who survived ITTL and became a mid level KPD member by 1926
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    Part 3-23 Columbia's Sword
  • …The efforts by the Army Air Corps to get a dedicated branch of service were stymied by staunch opposition both from within the Army and without. Other branches of the Army saw the fixation of the higher ups of the Air Corps on long range bombers to the exclusion of other types as a problem in the making, desiring a more balanced mix of aircraft than the Air Corps wanted. The Navy and Marines were quite concerned by proposals for an Independent Air Force to control all military aviation and jealousy guarded their own aviation.

    The effects of this on the coming war are still hotly debated. Proponents of aviation say that an independent air service would have seen more money devoted to aviation R&D, pushing ahead aircraft design as much as several years from what happened. Opponents argue it would have simply meant a lot of poorly employed heavy bombers at the expense of other more vital programs, both aviation and otherwise…

    …After considerable testing it was determined that a .276 cartridge was the optimum solution for a shorter ranged mobilization rifle. However plans to issue the rifle to the National Guard during peacetime were scuppered by concerns of ammunition sharing between the Guard and Regulars. Instead it was determined that a stock of .276 caliber weapons and ammo would be maintained to reequip the Guard and Regulars in case of a Second World War upon which production would switch entirely to the mobilization rifle…

    …Testing and experience determined that the new semi-automatic rifle under development should utilize detachable box magazines rather than en-bloc clips in order to enable the use of a higher capacity magazine for assaults…

    …One deficiency the artillery branch noticed in their plans by the end of the 20’s was a lack of a dedicated anti-tank weapon. Lacking a domestic weapons efforts were made to find one abroad. Contacts in France revealed that Hotchkiss had been working on a weapon for the French Army since 1928 that would fit American needs…

    …The Chemical Corps found its prototype 4.7” mortar acceptable, however its 6.1” and 9.4” weapons were found to be unsatisfactory. They were too short ranged for the role envisioned, having range less than a 75mm field gun while being less mobile. For providing support at higher echelons something either longer ranged or more mobile was needed. While the former proved elusive without intruding on the territory of the Air Corps the latter did not. The 3” rocket being adopted by the infantry as a replacement for the much maligned 37mm infantry guns showed that one could get a relatively high payload weapon that was mobile if one accepted the penalties in ammunition weight…

    …The Infantry’s colonial tank program was based on a 12 ton chassis, with prototypes varying in engine and suspension. All were armed with a unique turreted weapons system, 5 .30 caliber machine guns attached together in an adjustable manner, so the spread of the weapons could be adjusted depending on the range to target to suppress a wider area.

    In practice the concept was highly flawed, the adjustment system was prone to breaking down from the recoil of the guns and managing five machine guns proved difficult for the two men in the turret. Most were refitted with either a pair of .50 caliber heavy machine guns, or a .50 caliber, .30 caliber and a flamethrower. This abandonment of the primary feature of the Colonial Tank saw the project abandoned and replaced with the cheaper light tanks developed by International Harvester for export…

    …The Infantry’s European Tank program was similar to the colonial tank program in that it produced a number of unique prototypes. In addition to varying engine and suspension configurations the ET series varied number and arrangement of the machine guns that accompanied the 75mm mountain gun that was its main armament. Mountings included secondary turrets, sponsons, fixed mounts and various locations within the main turret. The ET was however much larger at 30 tons and up for most prototypes compared to the 12 ton CT.

    No agreement had been made to standardize on a design for production before requirements for a Mark II were established. With the growing prevalence of tanks, it was clear that the European tank would be facing enemy tanks. Thus a new requirement was established for carrying front armor proof against the common 37mm tank guns of the Great War and a 25mm Anti-Tank gun, in addition to its current loadout. This would push the design to over 40 tons…

    …The most significant tank development was arguably private. International Harvester had in house designed a 5 ton two man vehicle capable of 30mph in service and carrying either two medium machine guns or a machine gun and an anti-tank rifle in a turret. Several vehicles were purchased by the USMC for use in the Banana wars and after the failure of the CT program the Army adopted the cheaper International Harvester design as the basis for a replacement.

    The Army variant was a ton larger to fit third crewmember and a .50 caliber M2 in place of one of the medium machine guns…

    …The Cavalry Branch experimented with half tracks to get around the infantry branch’s monopoly on tanks, having greater rough terrain performance than armored cars while not qualifying as tanks to congress.

    Two basic designs were developed. The first was based on an existing truck chassis and weighed 8 tons, carrying a .50 and a .30 caliber machine gun in a turret. The second was larger and based on a private tank design by Walter Christie, weighing 15 tons it had a 4 pounder and a .30 machine gun in a turret. Both vehicles were capable of about 35mph in service.

    Both would be influential in their own way, the former design was recognized as having great potential as a supplement to conventional trucks in off road conditions. In the case of the latter tank it was noticed that before they could pry the 4 pounders out of the navy, that with the signal gun mock up they were using there was room for a third man in the turret, which provided a marked improvement in situational awareness…

    -Excerpt from Forging Columbia’s Sword, The United States Army between the Wars, Norwich University Press, Northfield, 2009
    Part 3-24 Unfinished Business
  • …The next major event to disrupt the Versailles order came not from Europe but rather the far east. The Qing dynasty had fallen in 1912, replaced by a fledgling republic under first Sun Yat-Sen of the KMT party, quickly taken over by General Yuan Shikai, who controlled the only modern military force in China. Shikai ruled as an autocrat despite only nominally being president and briefly tried to make himself emperor, before being forced to return to his status as a mere president. His death in 1916 saw the Beiyang army, the only effective military force in China fracture. A debate over whether to enter WWI in exchange for Entente loans splintered the political system and a brief putsch by Qing loyalists shattered the government’s reputation and forced the KMT party to flee to Canton.

    After several years the KMT party established a rival government in Canton, as well as a secure base of operations. They then began the process of building up an Army to take over the rest of the country from the warlords who dominated the corpse of the previous government in Peking. The first step of this was to create a truly professional officer corps trained on western models at a new officer academy. The second was to find a supplier of arms, given that the KMT was broke and not recognized by any major power this proved difficult. Only through a devils bargain with the Soviet Union, requiring them to share power with the Chinese Communist Party in exchange for military support.

    By 1927 the KMT was ready to attack. Under the brilliant general Chiang Kai-Shek the KMT was able to exploit divisions among the warlords nominally loyal to Peking to turn many to his side, and engage others one at a time. By spring of 1928 Chiang and his allies had conquered almost all of China south of the Hwai River, with only Nanking and the surrounding areas holding out. By the beginning of April the noose around that city was tightening and the warlord coalition of the NPA decided to pull out of Nanking to save their best troops for holding the Hwai against the KMT. The KMT forces entered Nanking on April 20th and trouble immediately ensued.

    While better disciplined than most, the KMT’s National Revolutionary Army was by objective standards poorly disciplined. Upon entering such a large city without resistance it degenerated into an unruly mob, with raping, looting and murder rampant. The latter proved most troublesome for the KMT, as their soldiers, or their communist “allies” murdered many prominent foreigners including an American University President and the Japanese Consul. This spurred large scale foreign intervention and warships from six navies ended up firing on KMT troops in order to evacuate their citizens.

    Chiang and the KMT were forced to make huge concessions in order to avoid a foreign intervention, damages were paid and the offensive was stopped in order to avoid provoking the Japanese who were on the edge of war. Chiang blamed the incident, probably correctly, on the Communists in the Army. The Communists and Left Wing parts of the KMT blamed Chiang. The latter view won out and Chiang was removed as leader of the KMT in favor of Wang Jingwei and sent into exile.

    Jingwei however soon learned that Chiang was correct in not trusting the communists, as in August the Communists attempted to seize Canton in a coup. The KMT loyal NRA was able to crush it quickly, but other revolts broke out and were not crushed so easily. By November Chaing was back and the devils alliance with the Communists was over. The limited support the USSR provided was replaced with the ability to purchase supplies on the work market, thanks to diplomatic recognition from the US and UK in the wake of the Nanking incident.

    In 1929 the KMT was able to resume their offensive against the remaining warlords and crossed the Hwai in force. The warlord forces of the NPA were quickly routed. Peking fell in August and the warlords of the NPA were forced to flee to Manchuria. The Manchurian Warlords of the Zhang family in an effort to save their hides from the KMT invited the Japanese in for protection. China had almost been completely reunited …

    …Arguably more important than the capture of Peking in August was the offensive into Shantung in June. During the offensive KMT troops approached the provincial capital of Tsinan, which was garrisoned by Japanese troops to protect Japanese interests in the province. Things began peacefully as the Chinese were studious in avoiding another Nanking incident. However on June 23rd KMT forces began setting up a field battery on a hill located above the city. The Colonel in command of the Japanese regiment garrisoning Tsinan complained about it in the presence of his troops.

    Two company commanders took it in their own initiative to act and remove the battery. On the 24th at dawn two companies of Japanese infantry arrived and demanded the battery be removed. The Chinese refused an a confrontation occurred between the Chinse captain and his Japanese counterparts. Words were said and after ten minutes someone drew a sword. From there the Japanese infantry stormed the battery after first blood broke out among the officers.

    The Chinese sent a counterattack to retake the battery while the Japanese sent reinforcements. The commanders on both sides called for further reinforcements and over the next three days the battle escalated to the point of involving a full division on each side before the Chinese backed down…

    …On the Japanese side the civilian government was furious at the actions of the Captains who started the incident. However the Prime Minister had campaigned on being tough on the Chinese after the Nanking incident and was trapped by his rhetoric. This led to his eventual dismissal by Emperor Hirohito for his inability to punish the officers in question. Hirohito wanted to punish them himself, but was convinced by his military advisors that doing so would be disadvantageous to maintaining a strong position in China.

    Thus the precedent was set, junior officers would not be punished for taking matters into their own hands in China…

    -Excerpt from Unfinished Business: The Making of the Second World War, New American Press, Chicago, 2007
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    Part 3-25 Unfinished Business, Deals with the Devil, Sideways
  • …The Republican convention of 1928 was a foregone conclusion. With a booming economy and a successful record of handling the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 President Curtis saw no opposition to renomination. For a Vice President, former governor Channing Cox of Massachusetts was chosen as a Progressive and Easterner to balance the ticket…

    …The Democratic Convention of 1928 saw the final destruction of the Wilson wing of the Democratic Party. Not one Wilson man was in serious contention for the top spot. Instead it was merely a question of whether Al Smith of New York would receive the nomination or not. Smith was an unusual candidate for the party and time, being both a wet and a catholic, things which did not endear him to the Democratic base in the Solid South.

    Smith did have rock solid support from the urban political machines and the increasingly wet northern delegations. Furthermore he had the advantage that his opposition was lacking. With Curtiss’s popularity and advantages of incumbency and a booming economy, his victory seemed inevitable, thus the heavyweights of the party decided to stay out of the race. Because of this no clear leader of either the progressive or conservative opposition to Smith emerged and he was elected on the first ballot. As a balance to the ticket Senator Duncan Fletcher of Florida was chosen as Vice President…

    …Smith performed better than any democrat since Wilson in 1916. However his Catholicism held him back, with the religion being seen as foreign and unamerican by many at the time. Similarly despite an openly dry platform, his wet sympathies cost him many votes as many thought he would backdoor an end to prohibition. Finally of course the general prosperity of the period induced a don’t rock the boat attitude in voters, Curtis had done well so why change things now?

    Smith managed 39% of the vote compared to Curtis’s 59%, but only won six southern states and Massachusetts. This saw Curtis win 449 to 87 in the electoral college as a candidate in his own right…

    -Excerpt from Unfinished Business: The Making of the Second World War, New American Press, Chicago, 2007

    …On the eve of the Depression there were few indeed who would believe that the United States might again enter a world war. For many of course the horrors of another World War were simply too horrible to contemplate. Surely no one would dare risk a repeat of such butchery. For those who could contemplate such occurring, the thought was that the United States would stay out.

    The US felt burned by its participation in the First World War, as the elation of the so called victory faded the costs were clearly seen alongside the lack of benefits. The United States had gained nothing from the war, while her cobelligerents had profited mightily. Claims of making the world Safe for Democracy rang hollow as nation after nation in Europe fell into dictatorship. Entente propaganda was seen for the lies it was. The Central Powers were seen as little better, with Prussian militarists, Austrian tyrants and Ottoman genocides coloring opinions. The general feeling was “a pox on both their houses,” let the Europeans kill each other if they want, we will stay out of this.

    That this would change in less than a decade and a half was impossible to foresee…

    -Excerpt From Deals with Devils: Diplomacy before and During the Second World War, Johnstone Press, Seattle, 2005

    …PODs involving the Great Depression are significantly harder to manage. For all the temptation to blame matters on Curtis, the fact is the situation was already baked in by the time he took office as Vice President, let alone became president. The nature of WWI saw an enormous inflow of capital into the United States, turning the nation from a debtor to a creditor. While much of this was lent back out, enough was retained to increase the amount available for lending within the United States considerably. This saw credit terms loosened to insane degrees.

    As long as there was a Great War such a thing is inevitable. Actions could have been done to avoid it. Increased taxation and greater government spending on things other than debt repayment would have mitigated the impact. A surviving Leonard Wood, or a different Vice President than Curtis might have done that, on the other hand there were influential voices such as Andrew Mellon calling for much greater tax cuts and others calling for less government spending.

    Curtis did actually attempt to react to the warning signs present, however he did so within what he saw as the limits of executive power. He thus pressured the federal reserve to rescue rural banks, who were failing one a day, and to raise interest rates to avoid excess borrowing. He endorsed a statement by the treasury department warning against buying stock on margin and provided informal support for a rural bank rescue bill that died in committee. Another may have been more vigorous, yet another may have ignored the warning signs altogether.

    Curtis’s actions after the outbreak of the Depression were orthodox for the time and according to the advice of then reputable economists. Most other possible president candidates in 1928 would have done the same in his shoes, and the others based on their expressed views would have done worse. Thus it is very hard to avoid the depression purely through changing the top man in the office…

    …The effects of the depression world wide were to create a class of angry unemployed people who would vote for whoever promised a solution to the issue. In many countries the established parties were unable to provide such and the electorate began turning to the far left and right. This saw the latter take power in many fragile democracies in Eastern and Southern Europe, seeing Sanna’s Italy as a success and seeing the communists as a greater threat. It further exacerbated the instability in France and contributed to the takeover of the SVP in Germany. In doing so it set the geopolitical stage for the Second World War.

    It further made a long war possible. The democratic powers were compelled to cut arms spending by the Depression, giving a chance for the Fascists and Communists to catch up and achieve near parity if not superiority…

    …Avoiding the Depression would likely avoid WWII as we know it, without the Depression the nature of the Emergency coalition in Germany is different and the SVP is not formed and Germany retains sane leadership. Germany is still likely to eventually unite with Austria in a peaceful manner, and may fight either Czechoslovakia or Poland for territory. No plausible alternative government however would be willing to take a risk and start a war that may lead to the involvement of Britain or France.

    Similarly Sanna would start a war with Greece or Yugoslavia if he was certain they were diplomatically isolated and there would be not intervention. At the same time he would not risk a possible confrontation with Britain or France on his own.

    Stalin was a monster, but he was a cautious and patient one, he may start a war, but like Sanna would not risk coming in conflict with one of the Great European powers, and thus would not start a world war.

    Japan is the most likely to start a major war, given the tendencies of her junior army officers, but events in Asia are unlikely to cause an outbreak of war in Europe. Even if the French and British battle fleets were drawn off, their armies and air forces would still be mostly at home and remain a powerful deterrent. Japan at best could cause a large regional war.

    Thus without the Great Depression the world would avoid the Second World War and all the horrors that came with and followed it…

    -Excerpt from Sideways: An Examination of Common Divergences in Counterfactual History, Gate Publishing, Atlanta, 2016

    This Concludes Part III of Ghastly Victories: The United States in the World Wars

    Part IV: Dark Depression will begin shortly

    Yes this is a day late, I spent three and a half hours yesterday sitting in my car waiting for a Covid test with the highest fever I'd had in ten years. I should have ignored that clerk and gone home for two hours, would have been much less miserable and maybe updated on time
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    Part 4-1 Unfinished Business, Historical Madness, Revisionist Viewpoints
  • Ghastly Victories: The United States in the World Wars

    A TL by RamscoopRaider

    Part IV: Dark Depression

    Wherever there is excess, an Axe remedies it-Sumerian Proverb, 3rd Millennium BC

    Accursed thirst for Gold! What dost thou not compel mortals to do?-Virgil, the Aeneid

    The illustration that solves one difficulty by raising another settles nothing- Horace, Satires, II.3.103

    Idle Hands are the Devils Workshop-Proverb derived from St. Jerome

    It is necessity and not pleasure that compels us-Dante Alighieri, the Inferno

    Nothing has more strength than dire necessity-Euripedes, Helen

    Necessity Dominates Inclination, Will and Right-Napoleon Bonaparte

    …The Great Depression arguably began on April 1st 1929 with Black Monday. No exact trigger has been found, though a common belief is that numerous investors were liquidating stock to pay for taxes that were due in two weeks. Whatever happened there was heavy trading in the early part of the day that saw the market drop 9% at the opening bell, and overwhelmed stock tickers across the country, blinding those outside Wall Street to the true price of stocks.

    A coalition of bankers attempted to stem the panic with a major infusion of cash purchasing blue chip stocks in mass. This worked and on average the market only fell 1% on April first as measured by the Dow Jones Average. However the next day something similar happened and there was not a coalition of major investors willing to try to bail out the market, leading to mass liquidation of stocks as investors facing margin calls sold to balance their accounts. This saw the market drop 10% on the 2nd.

    By the 3rd people were selling in mass, and those facing margin calls were being increasing wiped out as the prices fell too low to pay back the money borrowed. Despite an effort by the Rockefellers and other hyper rich to rescue the market, the Dow fell 11% on the 3rd. Thing rebounded slightly on the Fourth, but then fell even more on the fifth, leaving the Dow down 25% since the opening bell on the 1st. This was the start of a long low slide that on May 9th 1932 saw the Dow down 81% compared to its April 1st opening. Recovery would only begin in earnest in December 1932 and only reach its pre-crash value in the late 50’s.

    The stock market crash itself did not directly cause the Great Depression. What caused it was the crash wiping out billions of dollars of bank reserves when investors could not pay back the loans they used to buy stocks. This caused a severe contraction in the supply of money. This was made much worse by the Federal Reserve having shifted in 1928 from a policy of price stability to one of Real Bills only, which led the Fed to only lend to banks which could offer commercial paper backed by in process inventory, and the 1929 policy of requiring bankers wishing for loans to submit to interrogation that they never offered speculative loans for stock purchases. As a result banks either could not or would not borrow money from the Federal Reserve, which often meant they did not possess the reserves to cover withdrawals, especially given the increased demands for such withdrawals. As a result banks failed en masse, roughly 7500 over the next four years, shrinking the money supply further.

    The bank failures had knock on effects. Even as Banks curtailed their new lending to maintain reserves against withdrawals, they also called back existing loans, further shrinking the money supply. All of these factors led to a massive credit crunch as banks had very little money to lend. This is what hurt the real economy, as businesses who needed to borrow money in the normal course of their business found that they could not do so. This led to business failures and layoffs, which reduced demand, leading to further business failures and layoffs in a cycle that resulted in slightly over 20% unemployment by the beginning of 1933…

    …The Black Monday Stock Market crash spread into the overseas financial markets almost instantly. Panic selling started almost as soon as word of Wall Streets misfortune reached the international markets, with only Tokyo avoiding a major crash. While the misfortunes of the international stock markets were largely lesser than those of Wall Street, they were still significant. What was perhaps more significant was a cessation in the flow of American capital. Since WWI the United States had become the primary, if not only, major source of international lending capital. With the credit crunch at home American financial institution were no longer lending abroad. This saw much of the rest of the world enter the same feedback loop as the United States, with ever increasing unemployment as business failures due to lack of credit spiraled out of control…

    …One of the factors that truly made the Great Depression great was part of the American response. Namely to protect employment in manufacturing and agriculture the US passed the enormously restrictive Hawley-Smoot Tariff in 1930, which made importing almost anything into the United States both expensive and difficult. Other countries attempted to do the same thing with tariffs of their own and international trade plummeted, making an already bad situation even worse…

    -Excerpt from Unfinished Business: The Making of the Second World War, New American Press, Chicago, 2007

    …The reaction of President Curtis to the Great Depression in often mischaracterized, with Curtis portrayed as a heartless do nothing willing to let people starve. Those who know more generally blame him for raising taxes to allow a balanced budget and not vetoing the Hawley-Smoot Tariff, which has a far better claim to the moniker of Tariff of Abominations that the 1828 one.

    Curtis however was merely acting on the advice of his cabinet members and then accepted economic theory. Raising taxes, maintaining a balanced budget and placing a protective tariff up was right out of the dominant American School of economics that was the orthodoxy of the day. The primary alternative advice Curtis got from his advisors early in the crisis was to let things be completely and do nothing, saying that intervening would only make things worse. Recovery would come on its own and anything they did would merely make things worse.

    Curtis being a lawyer rather than an economist, listened to his advisers. While he got advice from economists to veto the Hawley-Smoot Tariff, he also received advice from those with agricultural interests that the agricultural component of the tariff was necessary to make sure the $100 million a year agricultural relief package he signed and supported was not in vain. That the agricultural tariffs came bundled with other tariffs was a reality of getting them through the senate and Curtis thought it a needed compromise.

    It is to Curtis’s credit that he eventually recognized that he was receiving bad advice and turned to better advisers…

    -Excerpt from Why did they do THAT!?! Historical Madness in Context: Volume III, Harper & Brothers, New York, 2015

    …While public perception and pop history places the beginning of the great depression at April 1st 1929, there are arguments that can be made that the depression began even earlier. The Stock Market Crash of April 1st 1929 while portrayed as the single defining cause of the Depression is arguably not.

    Sales of automobiles and other major manufactured goods had fallen in the first quarter of 1929 relative to the same time in 1928. Profits had similarly peaked in 1928 compared to 1929. Bank failures were already occurring at a rate of 1 per day or greater even before the Stock Market crash. These and other indicators show that the economic decline began before the Stock Market crash and that a significant part of the depression cannot be laid on the Stock Market Crash itself…

    -Excerpt from Revisionist Viewpoints in History Volume X, University of California Press: Berkley, 2000
    Part 4-2 Unfinished Business
  • …The economic crash made enormous shockwaves in Europe. As depression and unemployment spread so too did dissatisfaction with the current regimes. The ruling parties, center, center-right, center-left or moderate left or moderate right were seen as responsible for the financial crisis. The conventional responses to economic downturns were overwhelmed by the sheer scale of the Great Depression. The political center was slow to realize this, and was deluged with poor advice by certain economists arguing that they should do nothing, or that they should balance the budget by raising taxes and embracing austerity.

    With the center not offering a solution many despondent voters turned to both the Far Left and Far Right for answers. The far left of course argued that this was inherent to capitalism and that embracing communism, most specifically the Marxist-Leninism as practiced by Stalin’s USSR. Embracing Communism would see all monetary worries go away as everyone would receive all that they need, and much that they want, while working in improved conditions to the benefit of all. This of course was a complete fabrication, given the poor conditions of soviet workers, the ongoing starvation in the Ukraine, harsh working conditions and general oppression. However the Soviet propaganda arm was masterful and many with nothing to lose were easily duped by it and joined the far left in the hopes that it would be better.

    On the other side of the spectrum the far right offered a third way. Rather than tear everything down and start again as the communists proposed, the Far Right proposed taking elements of what the communists wanted to do, along with some wartime measures from the Great War, and applying them to the current situation. This proved a popular choice, taking some of the economic wind out of the Communist sails without selling out to a foreign power or betraying their nation.

    Sanna’s Italy was the model here. Of the world leader he more than anyone else handled the Depression correctly. He recognized that unemployment would lead to uncertainty, and would weaken his legitimacy, thus he launched large scale public infrastructure projects to deal with the masses of unemployed. Generally these took a more manpower intensive approach than necessary in order to reduce financial costs, but reclaiming land and improving infrastructure proved useful investments in the Italian economy.

    Furthermore in order to maintain competitiveness and free up economic policy, Sanna was the first leader to leave the gold standard. This made Italian exports competitive despite the tariff walls rising up across the world. It further gave the Italian monetary system room to maneuver, avoiding the liquidity trap most nations found themselves in, and along with a bank holiday, preventing the cascading chains of bank failures seen in other countries. It is thus no wonder that the Fascist system was a model to most of the world, with Sanna’s policies being eventually adopted across much of the world…

    …The 1931 Reichstag elections saw the DNVP, DSP and NSDAP form the German National Front, the DNF, in the model of the Italian National Front from the early 20’s. By working together they could avoid splitting the vote and win more seats in total. This was a godsend for the DNVP, who had been losing seats to the better organized DSP and NSDAP, and for the NSDAP who were nearing bankruptcy. For the DSP it promised a route to power which their leadership took advantage of, and a way to marginalize their Propaganda Chief, whose split with the party brass was becoming increasingly vicious.

    In the elections the SPD, Zentrum and DVP lost seats, as did many of the smaller parties. The National Front became the largest Party, and the Communist Party the third largest. Due to this it was impossible to form a coalition without including either of them. This in turn meant it was impossible to form a majority government, the SPD was unwilling to work with the National Front and Zentrum and the DVP were adamantly unwilling to work with the Communists.

    President Hindenburg thus had to appoint a minority government. It was the DVP who were the kingmakers in this arrangement, whoever they chose would be the governing party. Given the SPD’s closeness to the communists, the DVP chose to coalition with the National Front. This met Hindenburg’s approval and Eduard Dingledey became Chancellor of Germany…

    …Hans Moller became an increasingly loud dissident within the KPD. However he was increasingly isolated. Most of the dissent within the KPD was over Thalmann’s orders from Moscow which placed the SPD as the KPD’s prime enemies, rather than the far right. The so called moderate dissidents preferred to work with the SPD as part of a path to power through the ballot box. Moller on the other hand thought Thalmann was not going far enough. Stalin had betrayed Communism with his Socialism in one country policy, rather Trotsky had the right idea with a policy of permanent revolution. Thus Moller thought the KPD should get power through the Bayonet rather than the ballot box.

    Realizing that most of the KPD would disagree with him, Moller and his associates decided that they would present the KPD with a fait accompli that would force them to follow his ideas. And to do so he would take an idea right out of the playbook of the Communist’s anarchist rivals…

    -Excerpt from Unfinished Business: The Making of the Second World War, New American Press, Chicago, 2007
    Part 4-3 Unfinished Business
  • …1930 saw the United States enter a climate crisis to go with the economic crisis. Excess farming of semi-arid portions of the Great Plains with unsuitable techniques created conditions that made the area ripe for erosion and dust storms once a dry year hit. The Summer of 1930 was the start of one such dry year especially at the epicenter of the future Dustbowl in the Texas/Oklahoma Panhandle region. While the droughts would reach their height in 1935, even by fall of 1930 the impact on the plains states was notable and people were beginning to flee in search of greener pastures elsewhere.

    President Curtis, a Kansan, recognized the impact the Dust Bowl had on both his state and others and in 1931 successfully lobbied for an expansion to the agricultural relief bills of the past years…

    …Curtiss followed the orthodox economic advice of the day in the early part of the Depression. He made public appeals to support charity, but did not support government intervention outside of agriculture. Unemployment relief was a matter for the states and private charity, not the federal government he reasoned, the standard conservative position of the day. Furthermore his advisors of the day told him that the best solution for the depression was to wait for it to go away on its own, doing something to mitigate it would only make things worse. In the early part of the Depression Curtis listened to this advice, with one exception. Namely he would not further raise domestic taxes at this time, the US had been slowly retiring its debt during the twenties, it could afford to rack up somewhat more…

    …At the advice of Herbert Hoover, who Curtis personally and politically disliked but whose disaster management credentials were impeccable, Curtis proposed a yearlong moratorium on war debt payments in 1931. Germany would not pay reparations, the Entente powers would not have to pay their debts, and no interest would accumulate. This would give time for the Europeans to get their house in order, which according to Hoover would mean American recovery, as he blamed European economic weakness for the Depression

    The Curtis/Hoover moratorium was eagerly accepted by most of Europe, save France, and more reluctantly by Congress and took effect in early 1932. However in 1933 when the Moratorium expired, debt payments did not resume. Germany refused to pay the former Entente anymore reparations and the Entente only paid off the pre US entry loans to avoid seizure of collateral. This was something that all involved would regret doing, though it would be the former Entente that did so first.

    American attitudes to the Entente were once more poisoned and many in the US vowed that the US would get every penny back that was borrowed from it in good faith, come hell or high water…

    …The 1930 elections saw the Democrats return to control of Congress for the first time since Wilson. This was a different party than Wilson led. Gone was Wilsonian moralism and internationalism. The new Democrats were more pragmatic and focused on matters closer to hand compared to high minded idealism. International affairs were taking a backseat compared to the need to do something about the Depression engulfing the nation. Many in the party were beginning to look at the success of Sanna’s Italy at handling the Depression as something to be imitated…

    -Excerpt from Unfinished Business: The Making of the Second World War, New American Press, Chicago, 2007

    Okay it's short, I spent too much time working on one of the later updates and what I think is the single most implausible facet of the TL
    Part 4-4 End of Empire
  • …The 1931 Statue of Westminster affirmed the results of the 1923 and 1926 Imperial Conferences, namely that the Dominions of the British Empire were self-governing entities that were functionally countries in their own right. It expanded on this by removing the ability of the British Parliament to effectively legislate for the Dominions. Britain retained the ability to do so only with the consent of that Dominion.

    Originally the Statue was supposed to exclude the Irish Free State from the Dominions in question. However the Irish were able to convince the other Dominions to support them on their inclusion. Arguably the Free State already had such independence, however that was based on the Anglo-Irish treaty, something both parties were deeply unsatisfied with. Thus the Irish wanted another backing to their legislative independence. The Dominions supported the Irish, based on the idea of a united front.

    The Statue had the effect of de facto independence of the Dominions, even if true independence took much longer and was never achieved by Newfoundland…

    …The Statue of Westminster left Michael Collins confident enough to begin dismantling monarchial elements of the constitution of the Irish Free State as early as 1932, the first steps in the process that culminated in his Unilateral Declaration…

    …The 1932 Imperial Conference was the first such to occur after the Statue of Westminster. Unlike previous conferences, which had been working to that goal, it was instead focused on economic matters. Namely reacting to the Great Depression. An agreement was made to form a unified tariff policy whereupon there would be free trade within the Empire, but steep barriers on trade from outside the Empire. The Imperial Preference system had long been proposed, however it went against the free trade orthodoxy that prevailed in British thinking for a century. Now with tariff barriers emerging everywhere Britain was finally willing to reciprocate. This led to a split in the British Liberal party into pro and anti-tariff factions, leading to a long period of Conservative domination of British politics.

    In addition to the Tariff it was proposed that the Empire adopt the ideas of economist John Maynard Keynes, who had developed most of the same ideas as Erasmo Sanna before Sanna did and provided a solid theoretical underpinning to boot. Keynes however had been ignored by the British government ever since he had argued for low war reparations payments at the conference of Versailles. Now with an economic crisis and the successful example of Sanna in Italy his ideas were finally being looked at.

    Keynes proposed that the members of the empire who had not already left the Gold Standard, as Australia and New Zealand had, leave it. Doing so would enable an expansion of the money supply and the lowering of interest rates which would solve the current credit crunch. Furthermore the government spending would increase on things such as public works to reduce unemployment and stimulate demand.

    Keyne’s ideas ran into a major stumbling block in the mother country, the Old Lady of Threadneedle Street. The Bank of England was responsible for British monetary policy and it was a privately owned institution. Its governor, Montagu Norman, was adamantly opposed to leaving the Gold Standard. An attempt to work around him by abandoning the gold standard while he was on vacation was foiled when the ship suffered a low speed collision leaving the harbor and was forced to turn back. Norman would eventually give in, after Parliament threatened to remove much of the Bank’s independence in 1933, but by that point considerable economic damage had been done…

    …The Reichenbach Conference of 1932 was a last ditch attempt at avoiding a general European default. Representatives of the British Empire, France and Belgium met with the German government in an attempt to determine what would happen once the Curtis/Hoover Moratorium expired. The former Allies realized that Germany was not in good shape to resume payments on her reparations immediately, or much at all. Rather than see Germany default on her payments they proposed a 90% reduction in reparations and a substantial delay in payments to let Germany get its house in order.

    However none of the former allies were in good financial shape themselves, and they owed considerable war debts to the United States. Therefore they determined that forgiving Germany’s obligations was to be contingent on a similar forgiveness by the United States in order to avoid their fiscal situations from deteriorating further.

    The United States government refused to countenance the forgiveness of their war loans to their former Allies. President Curtis responded with a public statement saying that there was no connection between the loans contracted by the Allied powers with the United States and Germany’s war reparations, the United States had been generous in giving a moratorium on debt repayments already. In this despite his low popularity he was supported almost unanimously by the American press and political class. The United States would not forgive loans made to their former allies.

    Without American agreement the expiration of the Curtis/Hoover Moratorium technically caused a reversion to the payment plan established in the 1928 debt renegotiations. Germany did not resume payments, leaving 90% of her reparations outstanding, and with Germany not paying the former allied only resumed payment on those loans secured by collateral, a bare seventh of the total...

    -Excerpt from The End of Empire: The British Empire from 1914 to 1964, Southern Hemisphere Press, Wellington, 2005
    Part 4-5 Naval History
  • …With the onset of the Depression the impetus for greater naval limitations which had failed after Geneva returned. The fiscally conservative President Curtis was one of the first leaders to realize the full implications of the Depression and invited the parties of the London Naval Treaty to the United States to work out new limitations and deal with various brewing issues. Wilmington Delaware was chosen as the site of the conference, as Washington DC itself was thought too hot and muggy during the summer when the Conference would take place.

    At the suggestion of the British the Dutch and Germans were invited, mostly due to the British desire to halt further construction of their Panzerschiffs…

    …The most politically fraught issue of the conference was to determine who would be added to their ranks. There was no objection to bringing the Dutch in at the same level as Spain. There was however considerable objection from France at the prospect of bringing in Germany. The French saw that admitting Germany into the naval treaty system essentially meant eliminating the naval limitation clauses of the Versailles Treaty. And if the naval clauses of the Versailles Treaty were eliminated, then other clauses might be. Not willing to risk a slippery slope leading to a strong German army once more threatening France the French refused to allow this. Given that altering the Versailles Treaty required the consent of all the Big Four, the result was the exclusion of Germany…

    …The biggest issue leftover from the LNT was limiting cruiser tonnage below the First Class. The United States wanted to build a limited number of 10,000 ton 6” cruisers to supplement their large 8” cruisers. Britain wanted to build large numbers of under 8000 ton cruisers with 6” or possibly smaller guns. The United States had no interest in building such cruisers nor interest in building enough larger cruisers to provide Britain the aggregate tonnage that she wanted. This dichotomy had sunk the Geneva Naval Conference.

    At Wilmington however the Americans were willing enough to compromise. The Depression had hit hard and extensive spending was on the horizon. The oldest capital ships in the American battle line were nearing replacement age. Japan had finished ordering her 8” cruisers allotment and was starting a series of 10,000 ton 6” cruisers that could spark a costly race if unrestricted. There was an ongoing competition in Destroyer construction, with Japan having effectively upended the board with the Akatsuki class and actually managing to outbuild the US in destroyers, mostly as Congress saw the mass of WWI era flush decker types as a sufficiency of destroyers. If avoiding these meant having to accept a bunch of cruiser tonnage the US would not actually build, that was the price of saving money.

    The US proposed as the 6” cruiser limits for the chief powers 250,000 tons, matching the limits on the A class cruisers established in the LNT. Britain proposed a 200,000 ton B class of 7501-10,000 ton ships and 150,000 ton C class of 7500 tons and under with a wrinkle. Namely that Britain, would be able to trade A class and B class cruiser tonnage for C class at ratios of 2 for 3 and 3 for 4 respectively. This would allow Britain the ability to retain the existing cruisers of the RN and commonwealth Navies and build 30 more vessels of around 6,000 tons, or a 7:23 mix of 7500 and 5500 ton vessels, to fill their requirements.

    The US was nervous about the prospects of anything less than complete equality. However they were willing to agree to it, if they got something in return. Namely that the British would agree to their proposal about extending the Capital Ship building holiday for the three principal powers, the US being well aware the French and Italians would never agree if it applied to them. This was something the British were very leery about given how hard used their remaining 13.5” ships were. However they had just gotten the Americans to agree on a proposal that gave them enough cruiser tonnage for their needs, and a superiority in total cruiser tonnage they could use to proclaim the continued paramount status of the RN. In what was probably the biggest British mistake of the conference they agreed to the American proposal for extending the Capital Ship building holiday until 1936.

    As a result the cruiser limits for the United States were 250,000, 200,000 and 150,000 tons. For Britain 205,000, 80,000 and 380,000 tons. For Japan they were 175,000, 140,000 and 105,000. For France and Italy they were 100,000, and 140,000 tons of combined 6” cruiser tonnage. For Spain and the Netherlands it was 37,500 and 52,500 tons of combined 6” cruiser tonnage below 10,000 tons, the smaller powers being allowed to do so to avoid having to build ships too large for their needs…

    …Following cruisers was the matter of destroyers. While individually cheap, ton for ton they were the most expensive surface vessels and if not limited could prove costly. The US proposed a tonnage limitation of 200,000, 200,000, 140,000. 80,000, 80,000, 30,000 and 30,000 tons. This was enough to let the US keep their 20 “Destroyer Leaders” built or building, as well as 160 of the 237 remaining Flush Deck destroyers. Destroyers would be limited to 2,000 tons and 130mm/5.1” guns, with the few ex-German war prizes with 150mm guns grandfathered in. This limit allowed most of the extant destroyers to qualify, save the French Super Destroyers and largest Italian Esploratori, which would go under their cruiser tonnage, which both parties could afford.

    At British insistence a rule was made than only 20% of Destroyer tonnage could exceed 1500 tons, in order to allow them to build enough to be sufficient and avoid having to replace too many vessels. This was accepted and a 16 year replacement rule was put into place for post LNT Destroyers, with 12 years for pre LNT destroyers…

    …Aside from surface vessels submarines also had to be regulated. Namely the fact that construction of large submarines was beginning to be a significant budgetary issue. France was building a 3500 ton sub with a pair of 8” guns, intended to be the first of a class, Britain had a 2800 ton design with 4 5.2” guns, Japan was building a class of 2200 long endurance vessels, and the US had 27 large submarines of between 2100 and 3200 tons built or building in 9 different classes. Continuing to build subs like this was now too expensive.

    Of course the issue was how to limit the submarine. It was decided that 2,000 tons would be an upper limit for new submarines, existing submarines larger than that could be retained, but no new vessels larger than that could be built. This was at US insistence so that they could keep the large submarines they intended to fight Japan with. Furthermore no new submarine could carry a gun larger than 5.1”, nor could an existing submarine be refitted with such a gun. Replacement time would be 13 years

    Tonnage limitations ended up defined by US and French minimums. The US wanted 100,000 tons to keep its existing large subs and gradually replace the S boats from WWI. France, having been forced by circumstances to abandon its 90,000 ton goal, still wanted 75,000 tons. Thus the ratios had to be modified. The US and UK would receive 100,000 tons, Japan, France and Italy 75,000 tons, and 25,000 tons for the Spanish and Dutch…

    …One thorny question was the matter of light carriers. The United States had Bunker Hill, France Bleriot and Japan Hosho and Eisho, Britain having reconverted Egeria and Cavendish back to cruisers after determining they were of minimal value as carriers. These ships had been built under the assumption that there was no treaty, or that ships under 10,000 tons were not counted. Now that cruisers under 10,000 tons were counted they could no longer be cruisers and avoid being counted under aircraft carriers. Britain and Italy were all for counting them, Britain and France preferred to count them as carriers, best befitting the treaty, while Italy preferred cruisers to deny France one more cruiser. The United States and Japan however preferred they did not count. Doing so would deny them considerable tonnage that would make subsequent carriers they would build smaller.

    Instead the US and Japan proposed that they be loopholed in. Of course both parties were well aware that doing so would require some horse trading, so they agreed that certain vessels would not count under any category, such as the large colonial Avisos of France and Italy. A list was made of armed vessels that would be excused from counting under any treaty category, which just so happened to include the three light carriers in question…

    …In order to avoid arguments about minor classes of vessels it was decided that surface vessels of under 600 tons would not be counted. The United States had suggested 750 tons, but Spain commented that such was sufficient for a warship for Mediterranean operations and would not deter the French and Italians. It was further decided that ships of 600-2000 tons, that carried 4 or fewer guns above 3.1”, lacked provision for torpedoes and were capable of 20 knots or less would be unregulated, in order for all the powers to construct gunboats and patrol craft for colonial duty as they saw fit and avoid arguments there…

    …The United States Navy saw no real way to build an effective cruiser for their needs on 7500 tons. Even with the improved alloys and machinery available to them the situation remained much the same it had been at the London Naval Treaty, with weight saving measures being offset by new sources of weight being found. They could build a cruiser with the speed, range, seakeeping and main armament to be useful, at the cost of inadequate armor and air defense. Fixing those meant compromising elsewhere, which meant something else was deficient. However the USN saw that they could build a very nice destroyer on 3,000 tons and that doing so was a way to get ahead of the Japanese.

    The Japanese had invested heavily in 3500 and 5500 ton cruisers in the late teens and early twenties, ships of minimal combat value that were taking up their C class tonnage and could not be replaced until the late thirties and early forties. By contrast the United States, by dint of Congress not paying for any cruisers between 1905 and 1916, had no such vessels. If Congress would pay for them they could have 40 or 50 super destroyers built before then.

    These would not be like the ships built by the French and Italians. Rather than trying to cram every possible knot of speed into the hull, the United States would settle for a mere 36 or 37 knots instead of trying to go above forty. Instead the ships would be much more seaworthy and far longer ranged, with a powerful DP armament of 8 5” guns rather than a fewer number of heavier anti-surface guns. The question of course was how many “Scout Cruisers” congress would pay for…

    …Japan saw one important loophole in the treaty. Namely that vessels below 600 tons were unregulated. This was under the assumption that building a vessel both speedy, seaworthy and possessing both a gun and torpedo armament of note on that tonnage was impossible. The Japanese did not believe that it was. Their view was that based on a combat area off the Philippines they could build such vessels that could operate with the Combined Fleet. This would give them a leg up over the Americans, who having to operate from across the Pacific could not make use of such in concert with their Battle Fleet. Such vessels at most could be part of the Asiatic fleet, which would be dealt with in isolation before the Battle fleet was able to move.

    The IJN wanted 20 of the vessels built as soon as possible. The Finance Ministry disagreed but rather than get into a fight about it they proposed a compromise. The Finance Ministry would fund several prototypes now, and if they still wanted those ships after seeing the performance of the prototypes the funds would be found for 20 of them.

    The IJN agreed and four prototypes were proposed with varying combinations of propulsion machinery, armament and hull design, but all trying to fit half the firepower of an Akatsuki class destroyer on a third the displacement…

    …Along with the Prototype torpedo boats the Japanese funded a “Special Type Gunboat”. A 20 knot, 2000 ton vessel, it had two twin 13cm DP guns and extensive accommodation for landing detachments. Accommodations that were located so that a second or third machinery plant could be fitted Aft, increasing speed to 27 or 31 knots, and that a third turret could be fitted fore, with torpedo flats replacing additional boat handling equipment amidships…

    …Britain’s problem with the Treaty quickly became apparent. That their eight 13.5” armed battleships and two battlecruisers were hard used was well known. However the poor state they were kept in was not, and when they were inspected after the treaty their truly deplorable condition was discovered. Maintenance of the reserve fleet had been skimped on, given the ten year rule it was expected that the ships would be replaced before a conflict hence no need to put any money into them.

    The WNT changed this. Now Britain had to keep those ships until at least 1936. Of them Tiger was in decent shape, as she had went into reserve only in 1929, but was the most worn out. The Iron Dukes were in poor but manageable shape, however the Princess Royal and older battleships were sufficiently degraded that returning them to service would require a functional rebuild. This left Britain with a major problem when the naval race of the late 30’s kicked off…

    …Despite the Depression and the WNT both the French and Italians persisted with their plans for new battleships. Quite simply both of their battle fleets were of limited value and there was concern that their battleships were vulnerable to 8” shells from modern heavy cruisers at long range given their lack of deck armor. This could be fixed given rebuilds, but such rebuilds would still leave their ships inferior to even the oldest battleships of Britain, Japan and the United States, and behind the newest vessels of Russia and Spain.

    Thus even with tight financial situations both navies were able to successfully argue that new battleships were needed in the early 30’s. Both came up with very similar plans, 4 light battleships of just over 30,000 tons which would be followed by 4 45,000 ton battleships when the financial situation improved, thus using up their allotted 315,000 tons. The 30,000 ton ships would be able to face the oldest capital ships of the dominant powers, be much superior to the existing vessels and be cheap enough for the strained environment of the 30’s.

    The difference between the ships was due to the design philosophy in question. The French ships were an enlarged version of the Spanish Castila class using a new design of 330mm guns while the Italian ships had 9 343mm guns in three triple turrets, two fore, one aft and one of the fore superfiring over the other. Both were capable of over 30 knots of speed and were reasonably protected against their own armaments. The French design was better armored, but its two forward quads left it vulnerable to losing all its armament and gave it a blind spot aft. The Italian design was slightly bigger than the French design and was less vulnerable to such a catastrophic kill.

    Of course both sides plans would change shortly after they were announced…

    -Excerpt from Naval History Between the Wars, Harper & Brothers, New York, 2007
    Part 4-6 Unfinished Business, Revisionist Viewpoints, Columbia's Sword
  • …With the Federal government under President Curtiss seemingly unwilling to conduct major relief efforts, some of the states attempted their own. Most prominent of these states was new York under Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt. Franklin Roosevelt was an unlikely candidate, only selected after the original candidate Lt. Governor Corning became sick and five other prominent politicians declined, he was elected with less than .1% of the vote in 1928. He had the Roosevelt name, being a fifth cousin to the late President Theodore Roosevelt, and connections to other prominent New York families. However he was also tainted by his association with the Wilson Administration, having served as Assistant Secretary of the Navy.

    By 1930 however circumstances had changed, Roosevelt had proved himself competent in office, successfully fought against the corrupt Tammany Hall political machine in New York and reorganized much of the state Bureaucracy. Combined with the Democratic Wave as voters blamed the Republicans for the Depression and he was reelected with a 15% margin of victory. From there he could truly make his mark.

    Inspired by Sanna in Italy, Roosevelt established a public works agency, the Temporary Emergency Relief Agency, to put people to work on construction projects that benefitted the public good. He further passed banking legislation, was the first governor to unambiguously support government unemployment insurance and supported reforestation of marginal farmland. Roosevelt was thus in a strong position to seek higher office in 1932…

    …1932 saw Curtis belatedly began pushing Fascist style public relief measures. The government owned Reconstruction Finance Corporation began as a vehicle to bail out smaller banks that the Federal Reserve could not, giving loans to end bank failures and ensure depositors got this money. It’s scope was soon expanded to lending to other businesses, and then to municipalities and states to finance public works. The corporation at government insistence disbursed a large amount for federal projects, including the modernization of certain military facilities and procurement of military equipment to a limited degree…

    …By 1932 Curtis was feeling overwhelmed by the Depression and realized his relative unpopularity. Thus he announced in late January that he had no intention of running for reelection, for the good of both the country and the Republican party…

    -Excerpt from Unfinished Business: The Making of the Second World War, New American Press, Chicago, 2007

    …The popular narrative of Fascism is that it pioneered the approaches that ended the Depression and that all successful countries copied Sanna’s Italy. This paper will look at the influences behind major decision makers in the Anglosphere of the period and demonstrate that the anti-depression measures of the day owed little to nothing to Erasmo Sanna’s policies in Italy. Significant domestic voices existed that came to the same conclusions independently and it was these voices that formed the basis of the successful Anglosphere response to the depression…

    -Excerpt from Revisionist Viewpoints in History Volume XV, University of California Press: Berkley, 2005

    ...While the Depression imposed budget cuts were problematic for most of the Army for the fledgling tank units it was a blessing in disguise. The prototypes for the European conflict Tank had universally grown into 40-50+ ton multi turreted monsters. With tightened budgets serial production of these was obviously unaffordable. Thus it was made clear that the design would have to shrink.

    The easiest way to do that was to eliminate the constant 360 degree machine gun coverage requirement, thus eliminating the need for more than two or three machine guns, one in the front hull, one coaxial with the main gun, and possibly one at the commander’s hatch. This meant no need for fixed mounts on the side and rear of the turret, sponsons or secondary turrets, and that the design could thus shrink appropriately. Similarly it was decided to coaxially mount the 25mm AT gun with the main gun, eliminating that secondary turret as well. This meant that with the removal of the 25mm gun later in the decade to fit a longer barreled 75mm, there was enough room for a third man in the turret, a feature that would remain with later American tanks. These changes brought the weight of the vehicle down to 30 tons, which while large was still small enough to enter serial production…

    Excerpt from Forging Columbia’s Sword, The United States Army between the Wars, Norwich University Press, Northfield, 2009
    Part 4-7 The Third Way
  • …1933 saw Sanna invite the increasingly influential leaders of the World Fascist Parties to Rome for a Global Conference of Fascists. His goal was to create a uniform manifesto and encourage international cooperation among Fascists, primarily to increase his own influence.

    It was immediately apparent that most of these would be Fascists were by Sanna’s standards nothing of the sort, rather a bunch of garden variety reactionaries hiding under the Fascist name. Rather than being motivated by a new vision of how the world works after the failures of the previous system were well illustrated during the preceding decades, most seemed to embrace the old systems. Fascism was to them a justification for petty grudges or maintenance of the old system against the growing communist menace…

    …Sanna’s Manifesto of Fascist Economics was killed before it was even due to be revealed at the conference. Only a minority of the delegates were seen as favorable to it during the economics discussions within the conference. A smaller minority hewed too close to communism in their desire for a third way, while a bare majority considered fascist economics to be capitalism with more union bashing thugs. Rather than lose prestige by revealing a manifesto just for it to be voted down, Sanna declined to let it see the light of day, in doing so failing one of his goals for the conference…

    …Sanna was privately appalled by the degree of antisemitism present at the conference. While no philosemite himself he was a practical man and saw the Conference’s excessive discussion of the “Jewish Question” as a waste of time and effort that would be better turned to other matters. Yes many anarchists and communists were jews, but Sanna recognized that as pure happenstance, both groups recruited from the unsatisfied and jews had plenty of reasons to be unsatisfied with their position in life. Yet despite constant subtle attempts to steer the conference away from the topic, it always returned to the forefront…

    …Despite his personal misgivings on the topic, to maintain his preeminence in the Fascist movement Sanna publicly endorsed the antisemitic portions of the Unified Fascist Manifesto along with the rest of the document…

    …The Unified Fascist Manifesto was an open and honest attack on both the post-Revolutionary liberal order of the Western World and the empty visions of the Communists and Anarchists. It listed the numerous failures of the system and how Fascism would fix them and produce a better society combining the true benefits of the Revolution, the best ideas of post-Revolutionary thinkers and the best values of the time before…

    …Geopolitically the most significant even of the conference was the private security guarantee Erasmo Sanna gave to Engelbert Dollfuss, the Fascist Chancellor of Austria…

    …The First Global Conference of Fascists would be the most successful of the Global Conferences of Fascists. Unlike any of the other conferences it did produce a manifesto as well as several agreements between the leaders of the Fascist World. It is not a coincidence that this was the only Global Conference of Fascists where Sanna remained the undisputed leader of the Fascist World…

    …Unfortunately despite the best efforts of Sanna the subsequent Global Conferences of Fascists went the same was as the Communist Internationals, turning to factional fighting and not accomplishing anything of note. Too many saw the German Volkism of […] as a viable alternative to Sanna’s Fascism, rather than the dangerous perversion it was and too many saw Germany’s growing strength and projected the nation onto its leader…

    -Excerpt from The Third Way: A History of Fascism, American Fascist Party Presshouse, Jersey City, 2008
    Part 4-8 Unfinished Business
  • …The consolidation of the KMT’s authority in the Central Plains War alarmed the Japanese Kwangtung Army. Attempts by Northern Warlords to resist Chiang Kai Shek’s demands of demilitarization led to them launching a futile uprising, which was now being crushed. With the warlords soon to be neutered, the KMT would be able to build a real centralized state, and thus a powerful army that could threaten the Japanese position on the Asian mainland.

    Obviously the leadership of the Kwangtung Army thought this situation was intolerable. However the civilian government of Japan was unwilling to make any aggressive moves in China, lest Japan’s position on the world stage be weakened substantially. At this point the senior leadership of the IJA was not yet willing to defy Tokyo to such an extent. Their attitudes did however influence the hyper nationalistic lower ranks to take matters into their own hands, confident of support from higher up.

    In November 1932 a Major of the IJA’s 8th division, commanding a garrison in Jehol province as per the terms of the Boxer Armistice, took action when the KMT government replaced a police inspector who had been loyal to the Zhang family, who led the Japanese puppet Beiyang government in Manchuria. The Major demanded that the local NRA garrison replace the police inspector, claiming they did not have the authority to replace him. When the NRA commander removed, the Major faked an attack on his garrison and called for reinforcements.

    The 8th Division quickly sent such, followed by the remainder of the Kwangtung Army and even elements of the IJN. A large scale battle soon erupted as the Japanese routed the NRA and pushed them out of Jehol Province and the rest of the area north of the Great Wall. Had that been all to the incident it may well have been papered over, the Great Wall still being seen as the border between China proper and its outer territories, Jehol and bits of Inner Mongolia being added to Manchuria alone would not have aroused much condemnation.

    The actions of the Japanese garrison in Shantung could not be so ignored. With the division commander having taken ill several battalion and a regimental commander were free to act on their own initiative. This led to a serious of “preemptive” attacks on NRA troops that were “menacing” their positions. This quickly escalated to involve the entire Japanese garrison of Shantung, along with reinforcements from Korea and naval forces. Like in Jehol the Chinese were routed and the Japanese rapidly overran the entirety of the province. Unlike Jehol, Shantung was considered an integral part of China proper and was something that the world was not prepared to ignore…

    …Condemnations from the nations of the world began to pour in and the United States announced that under no circumstances would it recognize any change of Chinese territory by force of arms. The League of Nations, after almost a year of deliberating and fact finding expeditions condemned the act in late 1933, resulting in Japan leaving the body and demonstrating the general uselessness and powerlessness of the organization…

    …Emperor Hirohito and the elected government of Prime Minister Baron Wakatsuki were both furious about the Army acting without authorization. Steps were taken to bring the Army under control and the Prime Minister began negotiations with the KMT about a face saving withdrawal. Word of these negotiations soon reached the pseudo-Volkist Cherry Blossom Society and the similar League of Blood.

    Composed of hypernationalist young officers and cadets aligned with the pseudo-Volkist Kodoha movement the two secret societies saw a withdrawal of the recently taken territory as intolerable. Thus on March 22nd 1933 they attempted a coup, successfully assassinating the Prime Minister, but failing to achieve their other objectives. The survivors were rapidly taken into custody during the night.

    Emperor Hirohito was positively livid about the assassination of the prime minister and had to be dissuaded by his advisors from ordering the plotters to make use of the Gardens of the Imperial Palace. In what he later claimed was his greatest mistake as Emperor he agreed with them, instead they would be given very public trials to show why this was not acceptable, something that would preserve the aloofness of the Imperial throne.

    This backfired in the worst possible manner. The plotters used the trials as a platform to spread their ideology, giving long speeches why they did what they did and how it was for the good of Japan. The Japanese public was exposed to their rhetoric and found they agreed with it. Demonstrations in support of the plotter soon broke out and public pressure resulted in most of them receiving mere slaps on the wrist. Rather than reestablishing civilian control it had been weakened…

    …The March 22nd Incident did have one important effect. The Kodoha movement was severely weakened relative to its more reasonable and fascist inspired rival the Toseiha. The Toseiha were far more clear eyed about Japan’s position and prospects, militarist expansionists with Volkist tendencies still, but conscious that Japanese Spirit was not an adequate substitute for firepower and industrial might…

    …The need to divert troops to deal with the Japanese expansion in Jehol and Shantung weakened the KMT in the south, strengthening the local warlords and setting back centralization efforts. Guangzhou would attempt to secede under a splinter faction of the KMT and remain defiant until 1936. Even worse the campaigns against the Communists in the south were impacted, giving the Chinese Communists a respite when they were on the verge of total defeat. This was inarguably the worst result of the offensives in that it allowed the Communists to survive and rebuild from their losses…

    -Excerpt from Unfinished Business: The Making of the Second World War, New American Press, Chicago, 2007
    Part 4-9 Unfinished Business
  • …In order to have some chance at winning the election despite a deep association with the Depression the Republicans turned to a popular outsider with excellent rebuilding and disaster management credentials. Herbert Hoover had been the coordinator for the late WWI and immediate postwar famine relief efforts in Europe. He had further involvement with the reconstruction of France and Belgium and had been appointed by Curtis to handle the relief from the Great Mississippi floods. He thus had perfect credentials to lead the recovery from the Depression and was endorsed by President Curtis. Thus with no more than token opposition from favorite son candidates he was chosen on the first ballot as the Republican candidate. Senator Irvine Lenroot was chosen as his running mate…

    …The Democratic choice for candidate was more troublesome than the Republican one. Governor Roosevelt of New York was the most popular choice, having assembled a wide base of support from all walks of the democratic party. His opposition was in the form of the preceding candidate Al Smith, who represented the political machines Roosevelt had made an enemy of, and Speaker of the house John Garner, who did not campaign for it but was backed by newspaperman William Randolph Hearst.

    Roosevelt came in slightly under the required 770 votes on the first ballot, but managed to squeak through on the second after some favorite son candidates conceded their votes. Governor Albert Ritchie of Maryland was chosen as Vice President, a conservative Southerner to mollify the Deep South Wing of the party after Roosevelt’s attempt to do away with the two thirds rule for nomination alienated many of them…

    …Despite a fierce campaign on the part of Hoover the outcome was not really in doubt. The Depression had been ingrained in too many minds as a problem caused by the Republican Party. Roosevelt too lacked many of the weaknesses that had haunted past democratic candidates, being Protestant, not machine backed and having only a tenuous connection with Wilson. Roosevelts association with the Wet cause was in 1932 not the problem it was in 1928 for Smith, and Hoover made himself particularly vulnerable by proposing a compromise that offended both Wets and Drys alike. He was further hindered by the Bonus Army incident during the Summer, where a veterans march asking for early payment of their pensions authorized in 1922 was dispersed by the Army with excessive force after its infiltration by Communists, with the latter not generally known at the time.

    Both candidates made active campaigns with numerous speeches and travels across the country. Indeed both had relatively similar platforms, with Hoovers providing somewhat less government aid than Roosevelts. The Roosevelt campaign made much greater use of the medium of Radio than its counterpart and this was arguably the reason the results were so lopsided.

    When the polls closed on November 8th Roosevelt won 54% of the popular vote, compared to 42.5% for Hoover. In the electoral college Roosevelt won 413 to Hoover’s 118 in an election second in its lopsidedness only to 1920’s. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected the 32nd President of the United States…

    …Moller’s plan took time to organize. He knew that the tactic his chose to copy from the anarchists had failed when they used it. For Moller, that failure was because they lacked both a greater plan and did not act on a large enough scale for their propaganda of the deed. For the former Moller had a plan to hijack the apparatus of the KPD, which had over 300,000 members and a 100,000 strong paramilitary force. Through them he thought he could mobilize 12 million workers, in a similar manner to the strike of 1920. With them he thought he could succeed where the Spartacists had failed in 1919, given the demobilization of the Freikorps and the small size of the Reichswehr under the Versailles treaty.

    However he needed something big enough to get the KPD to act, something that would also paralyze a response by the Weimar government to give him time to work. Given his limited resources he could not make a very large gesture, thus he needed to make the gesture he could make disproportionately effective. That required an opportunity to both present itself and for his group to learn of it in a timely manner so they could make final preparations, preliminary preparations for several scenarios having already been made.

    In late 1932 such an opportunity presented itself when a sympathetic staff member at the Hotel Kaiserhof approached Moller’s group…

    …The DNF held a major convention in the second week of December 1932 at the luxurious Kaiserhof Hotel as part of a movement to more tightly integrate the disparate parties that made it up before the next election. On Thursday December 8th, while the convention was ongoing, the higher ups of the DVP came to meet with the leaders of the DNF to negotiate further arrangements for the 1933 elections. This amounted to having the entire cabinet in one room, even if it was not officially a cabinet meeting and not at the Reich Chancellery.

    Ordinarily this would not have been a problem, but one of the desk staff was a closet communist sympathizer and friends with a member of the Moller group. He had seen a copy of the agenda when arrangements were being made in November and informed the Moller group. This had been the opportunity they were waiting for and final preparations were quickly made.

    A hundred and ten pounds of dynamite were stolen from a quarry and packed in a used Magirus truck of dubious origin along with several tons of Ammonium nitrate fertilizer purchased through an intermediary. On December 8th the truck was driven to the Hotel Kaiserhof and stopped right outside the window where the conference was to take place. The driver set off a small smoke device in the hood and claimed a breakdown, in order to provide an excuse for the grungy old truck to be improperly parked next to a luxury hotel for twenty minutes. He then set a timer and left to supposedly make a phone call about a tow, while really clearing the blast radius.

    At 1:37 PM Berlin time the bomb detonated and the Cabinet of the Weimar Republic, along with the leadership of its most prominent parties ceased to exist. 137 people died and over 1000 more were injured, with damage extending for blocks. The Hotel Kaiserhof had to be completely rebuilt from the damage it sustained in the blast…

    ..The senior surviving member of the governing parties was the scar-faced propaganda chief of the DSP, absent due to political friction with the rest of the party leadership. With the senior survivor on the DNVP being out of step with the rest of the party since the early 20’s and that of the DVP being a bureaucratic nonentity he was unfortunately the logical choice for Hindenburg to appoint as Chancellor. Hindenburg did so on December 11th despite profound personal misgivings that would be proven correct in the worst possible manner over the coming decade and a half…

    -Excerpt from Unfinished Business: The Making of the Second World War, New American Press, Chicago, 2007

    Okay this should be the second to last update for P4, I wanted it to be the last but I'm too fond of cliffhangers for that. Anyways this last bit of this one and part of the next one are what I think the most single implausible element of the TL is