Trotsky claimed that he wanted the Soviets to stop at the Curzon line instead of advancing to Warsaw. It was already obvious by then that there would be no rekindling of the Spartacist revolt. There was a better source I've seen, but this is all I can find right now.
https://www.jstor.org/stable/151929
I just finished reading your source, and I can't find the part which mentions the Curzon Line. Actually, I would find it very strange for Lenin & co. to decide to respect the Curzon Line, to be honest, given that by January 1919, they had already broached more-or-less all of the Entente's major decisions thus far in Eastern Europe (such as Latvia, Lithuania, Finland, Estonia's independence, et cetera). There was an attempt in 1920 to negotiate a ceasefire along the Curzon Line, which both the Polish and the Soviets wouldn't agree to, maybe you are thinking of that? The source that I am using (The Outbreak of the Polish-Soviet War: A Polish Perspective by Jerzy Borzecki) asserts the following:

"Indeed, as a well-informed Soviet historian asserts, the Kremlin treated the military ‘operations in Lithuania, Belarus, and Poland as one strategic-political whole’. It is therefore hardly surprising that the Bolshevik leadership intended to capture territories on the Vistula, that is, so-called Congress Poland with its capital, Warsaw. Accordingly, Soviet military planners codenamed the operation ‘Target Vistula’, although the term ‘Operation against Warsaw’ was used as well. The task of implementing these plans was given to the Red Army. In mid-November 1918, the Soviets transformed the Western Defense Region into the Western Army with headquarters in Smolensk. It was to reach the border of East Prussia after first having taken Belarus and Lithuania. The next point on its itinerary was Poland."

And then it goes on to describe the minutiae. In your source, the only things I can find that corroborate what you're saying are two quotes by Lenin and Trotsky, each saying that they never intended war. I find that hard to believe due to the fact that they had already invaded territories considered integral to Poland (the Polish government had directly contacted Moscow warning them that they would consider the occupation of Wilno as an invasion; Moscow ignored this). We must remember that when Soviet forces occupied Wilno in January of 1919, they besieged and defeated troops from the Polish army. Not only that, but Lenin and Trotsky's statements were made after they had already lost the war. I think it would be naive to take these post-defeat statements at face value.

From Norman Davies' White Eagle, Red Star:

"The belief that Soviet Russia could not easily survive without a favourable end to the confrontation with Poland was universally accepted. Poland was the ‘Red Bridge’ to the west, Russia’s natural link with the advanced societies of Europe, with technical progress, with proletarian solidarity, with future revolution. Although the quiet on the Polish front in the autumn of 1919 was welcome, it was generally recognised that a solution of the Polish problem could not be postponed indefinitely. The debate in Russia was not whether the Polish bridge should be crossed, but how and when."

In regards to the Spartacist thing: admittedly, I was sort of spitballing as I haven't yet decided weather or not to include anything resembling a rekindling of a Spartacist Revolt (I haven't even decided how the Polish-Soviet War will pan out in this timeline yet), but I believe I am still correct in asserting that the Polish-Soviet War can be seen as part of a wider drive for revolution across Europe. Your source mentions that other than Karl Radek, the Soviet leaders saw victory in the Polish-Soviet War as key to exporting revolution. Admittedly, they did not seek to actually invade beyond Poland, and the source is ambiguous about what exactly they planned to do with Poland in the event of a victory. From your source, a quotation form Lenin: "During the Polish war, the Executive believed that revolutionary movements were maturing in Western Europe, that in the drive toward the West the aim was not to impose Bolshevism at bayonet point, but only to break through the crust of the military might of the ruling classes, since there were already sufficient internal forces unleashed in Germany to keep things under control". And, from the source's author: "The Soviet leaders regarded Germany as particularly ripe for a toppling of the regime".

Great timeline with an interesting idea behind it, I like the inclusion of art as well. I'm wondering how the Enetre powers are reacting to this mess. I get the feeling Britian is rather annoyed.

Also I get the feeling that by the end of this Soviet Russia will have mixed emotions about the Polish Adventure.
Britain will be annoyed... But also, France! France is one of the most ardent supporters of an independent Poland, and in OTL, they even briefly considered a minor military involvement with the Polish against the Bolsheviks. We will see...

As for your nice comments about the art and the timeline, thank you! I think that the art of the interwar period is really unique and captures a very distinct vibe that I am trying to convey in my narrative. Also, much of the subject matter of the art is chosen with foreshadowing in mind...
 
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Nice start. Interested to see where this ends up. Watched.

quote attributed to Rüdiger von der Goltz, on the subject of his mission to the Balkans.

The Baltic yes, or did he also fight in SE Europe?

Furthermore, the Soviet armies had already occupied many cities that the Polish government considered to be integral to Poland. They occupied Wilno in early January of 1919

they had already invaded territories considered integral to Poland (the Polish government had directly contacted Moscow warning them that they would consider the occupation of Wilno as an invasion

An example of the complications in the region: The Poles may have considered them integral but so did Lithuania who were none to happy that their capital city ended up inside Poland.

My understanding was von der Goltz didn't land at Libau until 1 February 1919. Don't know if that affects your TL so far or if you have a different source.
 
Nice start. Interested to see where this ends up. Watched.
Glad to have you on board! And thank you for your kind comment.
The Baltic yes, or did he also fight in SE Europe?
Shit, my bad. Classic Balkans/Baltic typo, I will amend that. Thanks for pointing that out.
My understanding was von der Goltz didn't land at Libau until 1 February 1919. Don't know if that affects your TL so far or if you have a different source.
Quite right. He's currently on the way to Libau, it's not a short journey (well, it is in terms of distance, but not in terms of the travel time). I probably should have made it clearer that he's not there yet. But the next update will cover his arrival to Libau on the 1st of February.
 
I am enjoying this timeline. I have always felt that this time period was the last chance to change how the 20th century unfolded. Depending on how you develop this timeline, the butterflies could be significant.

Please keep posting.
 
I am enjoying this timeline. I have always felt that this time period was the last chance to change how the 20th century unfolded. Depending on how you develop this timeline, the butterflies could be significant.

Please keep posting.
Thank you very much! The butterflies will be interesting, that is for sure. I'll have another update out soon, so stay tuned!
 
Chapter II: Après Nous, le Déluge, Part I
"The nation becomes the master of its fate not only when it has many good sons, but also when it possesses enough strength to restrain its bad ones."

quote attributed to Roman Dmowksi, circa 1905.


* * *
Chapter II: Après Nous, le Déluge
Part I

C4pJ1n0XUAEi4IO.jpg

New Planet by Konstantin Yuon, 1921.
In this painting, Konstantin Yuon imagines the Russian Revolution as a cosmic event so powerful that it literally forms a new planet ⁠— and with the cataclysmic birth of this new planet, comes the death of the old world.
On the 1st of February 1919, Major General Rüdiger von der Goltz arrived in Libau. The Bolshevik front line had already swept through almost all of Latvia, and Libau was the only town of any significant population left untouched by the Bolshevik advance. Rüdiger von der Goltz took control of the remaining Latvian and German troops there, and quickly began reorganising them according to his design: the native Latvian regiments were disbanded and merged with regiments of the Baltische Landeswehr, and the remnants of the 8th Army and the VI Reserve Corps were incorporated into the incoming Freikorps battalions hailing from Germany[1]. Rüdiger came to conflict with the Soldiers' Council of Libau and the military police almost immediately; the latter of whom mutinied a few days after Rüdiger assumed command, but he convinced them to fall into line when it became apparent that their mutiny might encourage a wholesale defection to the Bolsheviks. As for the Soldiers' Council, they had briefly challenged Rüdiger by attempting to form subordinate soldiers' councils amongst Rüdiger's incoming troops. They asserted that they could request the removal of an "unsuitable superior" from Gustav Noske's War Ministry — until Rüdiger threatened the liquidation of the Soldiers' Council by those troops loyal to him. His command was challenged internally as well as externally, and very quickly, Rüdiger realised that his position was far more precarious than he had previously imagined.

Libau, 6th of February, 1919.

Andreas Stefan Becker stood at attention, his Gewehr 98 hoisted upright. Its barrel and mechanism had been polished, and the wood cleaned. Next to him, Hans von Sachsenheim stood. A tall, slender officer in a blue hussar's uniform craned over the pair of them, his monocle glinting in the sun at them. The hussar had a huge, shaggy beard that was streaked with grey. Andreas was sure that he had never seen a hussar with a beard — in fact, every soldier he'd ever seen had been clean-shaven.

"Very good." rasped the hussar, nodding in mild approval at their rifles.

Hans and Andreas sighed in relief. The hussar strolled past them to inspect the other new arrivals in turn. In front and behind them were rows of fresh arrivals from Germany. There were boys like Andreas who had never seen war, they could be given away not necessary by their age (though that was very obvious) but by their mannerisms. They laughed and joked loudly, and at night smoked and drank with youthful energy; sometimes they got so drunk they danced with each other. The veterans and ex-officers kept their distance. They were of another race entirely and seemed to keep concert with cosmic laws that Andreas was unaware of. These men had travelled with the younger recruits, but they didn't mingle. They rarely smiled and seldom laughed. The veterans seemed to all have an unspoken understanding with each other and didn't need to talk out loud often. At night, they drank and smoked too, but did so quietly; sometimes one would get so drunk he would weep in silence. The other men would pretend this wasn't happening and carry on as usual. This hussar officer belonged to this latter group, and when he looked at you, he seemed to be gazing through you at something far away on the horizon.

By now, the hussar officer had finished his inspection and walked to the front of the company. He picked up a megaphone and began to speak to the company as a group: "I see that many amongst you are quite young, and perhaps have never seen war before, do not worry, we will develop you into men."

A single laugh was heard. It seemed to come from a viciously scarred older man a couple of men down from Andreas, who Andreas had never seen display any sort of emotion until now.

The hussar officer looked at the scarred man with a bemused expression and then continued: "I am Captain Voigt, and I am the commanding officer of this company. Now, Major General von der Goltz is preparing for an offensive against Goldingen[2]. We will leave later this evening, and we will march through the night and then assault Bolshevik positions at the break of dawn. It is expected that there will be heavy resistance, but we have better weapons and more ammunition than them... And better men." Captain Voig
ht paused briefly. "Okay. You may now break rank and take supper."

Elsewhere in Libau, away from the rank-and-file, Major General Rüdiger von der Goltz had spent the entire evening attempting to negotiate a parlour car from the Latvian government for use on the railroads. The condition of Latvia's railroads were appalling — to travel 70 kilometres, it took over seven hours. Furthermore, most of the rail cars had been completely ransacked and vandalised. Rüdiger demanded a refitted and armoured parlour car in which his general staff could sleep, and that he could use as a sort of mobile headquarters, and the Latvian government refused. He appealed to Noske's War Ministry, who informed him that they lacked the funds to send one over. Rüdiger was incensed and whipped off a furiously sarcastic telegram to the War Ministry. He remarked that he felt the German Republic was waging a war not against Bolshevism, but against Prussian militarism: the republican government was perfectly happy to allow Prussian generals to defend Germany's borders, but didn't seem to care if said Prussian generals died in the process. Rüdiger sometimes thought the snubs from Noske were deliberately intended to expedite his ageing, just to get Rüdiger a little closer to the grave. The parlour car debacle would be the first of many altercations between Rüdiger, the Latvian government, and Noske's War Ministry, and the recalcitrance of Rüdiger in the face of his supposed superiors would set the tone for later relationships.

* * *
220px-Genera%C5%82_J%C3%B3zef_Haller.jpg
225px-W._Witos.JPG
200px-E_Sapieha.jpg

On the left is General Józef Haller, looking very dashing in a fur coat. In the centre is Wincenty Witos. On the right is Prince Eustachy Sapieha.
Meanwhile, in Poland, a lot was happening. On the 23rd of January, Roman Dmowski arrived in Warsaw via train. He had brought General Józef Haller with him from Paris. Acting on the advice of Prince Sapieha, who had telegraphed them from Warsaw, they negotiated the early release of General Haller's Blue Army from the command of the French. This army of Polish volunteers had previously been attached to the French forces on the Western Front[3]. The Blue Army was transported via rail to Poland shortly after Dmowski, at the expense of the French, who considered it a personal favour to General Haller. They would arrive in waves between the 1st and 8th of February. The Blue Army numbered 68,000 strong, and it was battle-hardened and well-equipped. It was also ferociously loyal to General Haller, who had seen them through the hellish fighting in the last stages of the war. At the same time, Prince Sapieha's allies amongst the Polish army's Warsaw command seized control of the capital and the surrounding towns. With reinforcements from the Blue Army, their control seemed assured. Whispers of a coup permeated Warsaw, but the army stated that they were merely securing order in the light of Piłsudski's assassination. This explanation was accepted given the heightened state of anxiety — many Polish newspapers had started to print sensationalist stories about a possible Bolshevik insurrection.

In this environment, Roman Dmowski played his cards cautiously. He spoke to the Cabinet on the 7th of February and demanded that the Polish government appoint General Haller to the commander-in-chief of Poland's armies, and disband Piłsudski's old office of Chief of State. Piłsudski's death made the office of Chief of State unnecessary, said Roman, since there were no suitable candidates to replace him. The Cabinet felt forlorn and anxious, and after Wincenty Witos pledged his support to Dmowski's proposals, the majority of the Cabinet followed suit and ratified the measures. Now, the highest civilian office in Poland was the currently vacant Prime Minister, and the highest military office was held by General Haller. The atmosphere in Warsaw was extremely tense — so far, no one had attempted to gather power and challenge Roman Dmowski and his allies. The left-wing opposition, headed by the Polish Socialist Party (the PPS), tentatively reached out to Witos to form a coalition in the Sejm against Dmowski's National Democrats when the elections were resumed. As Poland's most powerful left-wing party, the PPS was aware of the scrutiny that they would be under following the assassination, and so consciously acted strictly within the confines of the law. But Witos rebuffed them. As we know (but the PPS did not), Witos had already agreed to form a government with Roman Dmowski. As for Roman, he seemed to be moving at a glacial pace, wary of stepping on any toes, but this changed very quickly.

Warsaw, 9th of February 1919.


Roman Dmowski was drinking coffee in his office. It had previously been the office of a National Democrat functionary, but Dmowski had cleaned him out of there and claimed the office for himself. Nevertheless, it was cramped, windowless, thoroughly disorganised, and tucked away in an obscure corner of the National Democrat's headquarters. Very few people knew that Dmowski was based in this particular office. One of those men who did know, however, was General Haller.

knock! knock! knock!

"Yes, come in!" said Roman, stirring his coffee slowly. The door opened, and General Haller marched in, flanked by two aides. Roman saw the general and was completely taken aback. General Haller was dressed in full uniform, and he looked thoroughly pissed off.

"G-General! I didn't realise we had a meeting..." stammered Roman, as he stood up to shake the man's hand.

"We didn't." barked General Haller, ignoring the hand. "I came here as soon as I could. There was no time to warn you of my arrival."

Roman's hand hung limply in the air for a moment, and then he withdrew it and sat back down. "Well, what can I help you with?" he asked.

"What can you help me with? Well. Good question. We need to act quickly, Roman. I propose that my men seize the apparatus of government."

"A proper coup? No... No. We must do this thing according to the rules. I have managed to postpone the elections, but we still must secure a parliamentary majority."

"There is no time!" shouted General Haller. The aides nodded in sycophantic agreement.

"What do you mean?"

"A border patrol have seized a party of Bolshevik scouts near Sejny! We managed to get one of them to talk, and he said that they had been ordered to infiltrate and report on the size and strength of our lines and that they were not alone in their mission. They said there were other scouting parties, and what's more, the scout said that he's heard of Bolshevik troops from Minsk arriving in Wilno!"

"So? What does thi-"

"It means!" thundered General Haller, "I mean that the Bolsheviks are planning an attack of some sort! Why else would they be concentrating men in Wilno? Maybe against us! Maybe against Lithuanian positions, who knows! But we cannot afford to be caught with our dicks in our hands!"

Suddenly, it all clicked in Roman's head. The Bolsheviks killed Piłsudski. Now, they will attack Poland during the chaos. There were probably revolutionary cells in Poland that were being activated! Right now! And Piłsudski, who had ingratiated himself with the left-wing, would have allowed the Polish Socialist Party and their friends to occupy positions in the Sejm, and take powerful positions within the government. Roman furiously mulled over this in his head.

"Very well! Your men will seize the government. Proclaim the Sejm dissolved, and sack the cabinet. Go and find Prince Sapieha and get him to go with you. He has friends in the Warsaw garrison. And also, we must purge ourselves... Round up the socialists and the communists... Do not formally arrest them, not yet. But intern them. For their own safety, tell them that." Roman said this slowly and carefully, and General Haller nodded sternly.

"We will need to cordon Warsaw off as well. Form a military garrison to prevent anyone from leaving. Also, we must seek out allies in the other army commands." proclaimed General Haller.

"Yes... Yes." replied Roman.

"And the office of Prime Minister? Will you take it?"

"No. Make Prince Sapieha do it."

"Very well."

* * * * * * *
End of Part I of Chapter II

Note on the chapter title: the phrase "Après nous, le déluge" is French, and in the conventional sense it is very indifferent and arrogant — it means something like "after us, who cares what happens?". However, its literal translation is "After us, the flood". In a lot of German literature from this period, the imagery of the Bolsheviks as an oncoming flood or tidal wave occurs again and again. The implication being that not only is the Bolshevik advance seemingly unstoppable, but that it covers and drowns everything that it touches. One could only hope to stand their ground and weather the storm, for to try and swim would to become part of the flood itself. In this chapter, I will be reversing the tone of the phrase "Après nous, le déluge", to be "oh shit, after us, the flood!".
[1]: The 8th Army and the VI Reserve Corps were part of the regular German Army on the Eastern Front, and many of their ranks joined the Freikorps rather than demobilise and return to Germany.
[2]: Goldingen is now known as Kuldīga.
[3]: In OTL, the Blue Army returns to Poland in April. In this timeline, they are coming home one month early.


 
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Chapter II: Après Nous, le Déluge, Part II
"To force a way through the prisoning wall of the world, to march over burning fields, to stamp over ruins and scattered ashes, to dash recklessly through wild forests, over blasted heaths, to push, conquer, eat our way through towards the East. To the white, hot, dark, cold land that stretched between ourselves and Asia — was that what we wanted? I do not know if that was truly our desire, but that is what we did. And the search for the reason why was lost in the tumult of continuous fighting."

quote attributed to Ernst von Salomon, in his autobiographical novel The Outlaws.


* * *
Chapter II: Après Nous, le Déluge
Part II

dix-wartriptych.jpg

Der Krieg by Otto Dix, 1932.
This piece, its form inspired by medieval triptychs, attempted to depict the hellish conditions of the First World War. The format of the triptych invokes the religious iconography of medieval triptychs, equating the apocalyptic martyrdom of man in the First World War with the crucifixion of Christ.

Goldingen, 9th of February 1919.

The air around Andreas steamed and billowed as bullets cracked and whizzed passed him, and through trees, and through other men. In front of him, a cluster of houses and a barn burned ferociously, a spiralling torrent of flames lit the skies and poured smoke into the heavens. Behind him, German voices cried out into the night. Captain Voigt was somewhere back there. Andreas could hear his voice bellowing orders: "Get out of the way! Move, you idiot! Get to the machine gun! Load the damn thing!"

Andreas Stefan Becker was completely unprepared for the fighting in the Baltic. It was nothing like the tales of war that he had heard from the Western Front, where days and days would pass without even seeing a single enemy soldier emerge from a trench. It was not even like the stories he had from veterans of the Eastern Front, where cavalry and machine guns mixed in a maelstrom of rapid skirmishes and where the front line danced back and forth over the marshes. Here, there was no front line. Grey shapes would occasionally pop out of the periphery — from behind trees, or from the windows of houses, and the Germans promptly would mow them down. But most of the time, there was no enemy to be seen, and bullets and explosions would appear spontaneously and cut down men and horses, as if Zeus himself was throwing them down from Mount Olympus like lightning bolts.

"I SAID GET THE MACHINE GUN!"

Andreas snapped to attention. About seventy metres to his left behind him, Captain Voigt was lying prone, one arm propped around a groaning soldier whose left arm had been blown off. Captain Voigt was looking directly at him, his eyes alight with indignation. Andreas stared blankly at Captain Voigt, who began to gesticulate frantically with his free hand. Andreas looked to where he was pointing. About fifty metres away was a machine gun, set up behind an overturned cart. Its previous operator lay next to it, still alive but bleeding out. Andreas gripped his rifle and gulped. Next to him, sitting shielded behind the carcass of a horse, Hans von Sachsenheim looked up at him: "Fuck man."

He broke cover and ran.

Blat! Blat! Blat! Blat! Blat!

From somewhere, a rifle cracked at him, and Andreas could hear the spinning whizz of bullets passing near him. His breathing was ragged as he desperately tried to pick up his pace. His foot hit a root and he went tumbling down.

Blat! Blat! Whoomph! Whoomph!

The soil around him spat up into the air. A hand grabbed him from behind. Hans swung Andreas' body behind the overturned cart. Wood splintered and cracked as the rifle fire tore over the cart.

"GIVE ME THE AMMO!"

Suddenly, as bullets ripped over his head, Andreas got the acute sensation that he was dreaming. He could see Hans next to him, holding the machine gun and pointing. He could see the wood of the cart cracking as the Bolshevik gunman honed in on them, each shot getting closer. But it seemed as to Andreas as if he was controlling himself from above, like a puppet. Everything seemed to have taken on a quality of enormous distance. He gingerly reached to his left and handed Hans a belt of ammunition. Hans loaded it and began firing.

BRATATATATATATATA!

Hans sprayed machine-gun fire over the houses, tearing out their windows and doors. Some grey shapes fell. The rifle fire stopped. From his left, Andreas saw a wave of Germans suddenly rush past their position, emboldened by their control of the machine gun.

Sometime later, after the Germans had secured the village, they rounded up a group of about eleven men. These were Bolsheviks who had surrendered. Only a few of them had real uniforms; six of them wore plainclothes, with either a felt hat adorned with a red star or a red armband. Andreas watched as Captain Voigt interrogated a man who seemed to be a leader amongst them.

"A German!? You're a German?" spat Captain Voigt.

The man blinked at Captain Voigt, with an expression of exhausted annoyance. "Yes. From Lüneburg. There are many of us."

The German Bolshevik explained that he had been a prisoner of war from the Great War, captured by Russians and sent to Siberia. He had escaped and joined the Red Army after a Hungarian who had been at the same penal colony had told him about the writings of Lenin. Of the other prisoners, only four were Russians. Two were Czechs, two were Latvians, one was a Yiddish Jew, and one was a Finn. After hearing this, Captain Voigt ambled back to the sergeant in charge of holding the men.

"Sir, what should we do with them?" he asked.

Captain Voigt eyed them. These men were no soldiers. They barely had uniforms. Now, he learned they weren't even Russians. They were a motley crew of random assorted races, bound together by the false idolatry of Bolshevism. They were bandits, mutineers, traitors. He had come to the Baltic expecting to liberate the Latvians and the Germans, now he found that were Germans and Latvians within the ranks of the enemy. As Captain Voigt fumed, the German Bolshevik lounged in the dirt lazily. The Czechs were sobbing silently, holding each other. The Russians were scowling, their ugly little faces screwed up and covered in mud. The Yiddish Jew was muttering curse words under his breath.

"Fucking shoot them!" he barked.

They were shot, and their bodies were thrown into the burning barn.

* * *
general-smigly-rydz-1.jpg

Brigadier General Edward Rydz-Śmigły, head of the army command in Lublin. Also, aligned with the socialists.
General Józef Haller and his Blue Army, along with Prince Eustachy Sapieha's allies in the Warsaw garrison, seized control of the Polish government on the 13th of February. Despite Roman Dmowski's hesitations, the undertaking proved remarkably easy. Warsaw was already filled with troops, and so General Haller ordered his men to round up Warsaw's politicians and march them into an emergency session of the Sejm. General Haller explicitly gave no warning, and so when his troops appeared outside the homes of Poland's socialist politicians, many of them fled, fearing the worst. Those caught in flight were arrested and detained, preventing them from attending this emergency session. Those that didn't flee were not formally arrested but placed under house arrest. Therefore, at this emergency session of the Sejm, no members of the Polish Socialist Party (PPS) were present — this was precisely what General Haller and Roman Dmowski wanted. Bleary-eyed and shaken, the politicians of Poland were completely taken aback when Roman Dmowski announced his intention to form a "government of national unity", and disband parliamentary activity. From the podium, ominously flanked by General Haller and soldiers of the Blue Army, Roman implored the Sejm to dissolve itself and subsume themselves to his new government. Roman Dmowski assured them that it would be temporary. He reminded them that he was a staunch believer in democracy, and that "there could be no Poland without the Sejm", but the current situation demanded resolute authority and unity. It was a very surreal and bizarre political situation, as the Sejm had not officially been elected yet, given that the elections had been postponed. The assembled politicians were not really parliamentarians, but were electoral candidates from the important parties who had been rounded up in Warsaw. They had no official legislative power, but neither did Roman Dmowski, who was now speaking to them from the podium as if he was already the Prime Minister. A not-yet-elected legislative body was being demanded to dissolve itself with legislative power it did not yet possess, by a man with no legal authority. In fact, the only person who had any legal authority was General Haller as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.

In a manner properly befitting a coup, Roman Dmowski called a tally of votes by hand, to be counted by one of the Sejm marshals. With his National Democrats, he commanded about half of those present at this ramshackle meeting. When Wincenty Witos signalled to his Piast Party to fall in line, Roman Dmowski commanded an outright majority. Just like that, Roman Dmowski and his allies seized control of the government. He sacked the Cabinet and stacked the ministerial positions with Piast and National Democrat members, then appointed Prince Eustachy Sapieha as Prime Minister. Roman Dmowski still did not possess any legal title, but he was calling the shots. It was the way he preferred it right now. Privately, Roman Dmowski and Wincenty Witos considered the backslide into a dictatorship as a temporary measure justified by extreme circumstances and the precarious state of the Polish government. However, as any astute student of history knows (this no doubt includes you, my dear reader), it is far more difficult to relinquish the reigns of unchecked power than it is to seize it.

Shortly after the Sejm voted itself out of existence, General Haller sent out envoys to the other army commands, demanding that they fall in line. All of them did, except for one: Brigadier General Edward Rydz-Śmigły, head of the Lublin command[1], sent back a demand for the resumption of elections and the release of PPS members. This would be trouble: Lublin had briefly been the site of a socialist government independent of Warsaw at the end of 1918, and Rydz-Śmigły still had control of the troops in that area.

* * *
Warsaw, 16th of February 1919.

"What the fuck!?" spat Roman Dmowski. In front of him, sat General Haller and Prince Sapieha. Standing next to them was Wincenty Witos, who had taken on the cabinet portfolios of Minister of the Interior and Minister of the Economy. "The Bolsheviks have already seized Kobryń, and now you tell me that Edward Rydz-Śmigły is refusing to mobilise!?"

Prince Sapieha eyed Roman nervously, "Look... All we need to do is appeal to him on the basis of national unity... Surely, when he recognises the Bolshevi-"

"Goddamn it!" shouted Roman, completely cutting off the Prime Minister of Poland. "This is realpolitik now! There's no fucking 'national unity' rhetoric in this circumstance! Haller, can we pacify him?"

General Haller bit his lip in hesitation. "No. We cannot."

"Fuck! What th-"

"Hey!" General Haller stood up, suddenly towering over Roman. "Shut the fuck up! We need to think constructively here and now just be assholes about it!"

There was a brief pause as General Haller eyed down Roman. Then, General Haller resumed talking: "We cannot spare troops while the Bolsheviks advance on us from two fronts. If Rydz-Śmigły mobilises against us, we will be caught in a civil war as well as a war against the Bolsheviks. But we also cannot rehabilitate the socialists all of a sudden and resume the elections. Our government is incredibly fragile as it is."

"Maybe we seek help?" chimed in Wincenty Witos, with a tone of hesitation. "I mean... The French?"

"The French?" said Roman. "I know them better than anyone and trust me, they may spare materials, but they cannot spare men."

"The... The Germans?"

"Really?" demanded General Haller. "The Germans? We are literally fighting them in Poznań and Silesia right now[2]. What the hell?"

"So we accede them certain concessions for their help with the Bolsheviks."

"That is absolutely not up for the discussion!" thundered General Haller.

But they were running out of the time. The Bolshevik advance would pick up speed soon, and unless Poland either found friends or solved her internal strife, it would not last this war. The Germans were hostile to Poland, and even the most left-leaning German politicians viewed her as a threat and a blight on the world map. But they feared the Bolsheviks far more, and the memory of the Spartacist Revolt lingered in the German consciousness. The French were amenable to Polish interests — it had been them who had negotiated the transport of the Blue Army — but they were war-weary and distant. The Romanians to the south were friendly to the Poles, but they were ravaged by their losses in the Great War and barely possessed a functioning military. It seemed that a creative solution was sorely needed.

* * * * * * *
End of Part II of Chapter II

[1]: at the close of the First World War, several Polish governments established themselves in competition with each other. In Lublin, a socialist politician by the name of Ignacy Daszyński formed a government in opposition to both Roman Dmowski and Józef Piłsudski. Ignacy Daszyński's military was commanded by Edward Rydz-Śmigły, who would go on to command Poland's armies during the Second World War in our version of history. Edward Rydz-Śmigły and Ignacy Daszyński capitulated to Józef Piłsudski at the end of 1918, and Edward Rydz-Śmigły's condition was that he keep his command as a brigadier general.
[2]: in the months of January and February of 1919, the Poles of Silesia and the Poznań region revolted against German rule. War was never declared, but the Polish insurgency was able to seize most of the region before a ceasefire was called in early February. Under Polish control but legally part of the German Empire (in our timeline, they would be formally annexed to Poland later in 1919 as part of the Versailles Treaty), this unsolved revolt is an enormous strain on Polish-German relations.
Quick note: the tone and style of the narrative sections are meant to reflect the attitudes of the protagonists and their realities. Therefore, the tone of the Freikorps sections will get increasingly violent, angry, and bitter as the protagonists undergo a process of brutalisation by war. In our version of history, many members of the Freikorps denigrated into ruthlessness and atavistic sadism, and they ended up committing a variety of awful atrocities in the Baltic that were informed by racist and chauvinistic ideology. The views and attitudes implied or espoused by these characters do not reflect my actual views, and I do not endorse them.

 
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Deleted member 94680

Good update. Happy this TL is back in action.

Keep up the good work!
 
Good update. Happy this TL is back in action.

Keep up the good work!
Thank you. Yes, I took an unexpected hiatus because classes resumed and the workload was more than I thought. Will try and have an update at least once a week from this point on, however!
This is fucking GOOD! Well done!
Thank you so much! I am really glad that you are enjoying it.
Out of curiosity but will these changes impact the upcoming Greco Turkish war?
The Greco-Turkish War will no doubt be somewhat affected by butterflies. The Entente Powers will probably be more strained than IOTL, which will affect how they react to Greek ambitions. As this timeline develops, I will try and illustrate some of wider impacts in world politics.
 
Heard that the Freikorps in the East were fighting a somewhat savage war against the Bolsheviks, hopefully may cool down eventually. Excellent update like always.
 
Thank you. Yes, I took an unexpected hiatus because classes resumed and the workload was more than I thought. Will try and have an update at least once a week from this point on, however!

Thank you so much! I am really glad that you are enjoying it.

The Greco-Turkish War will no doubt be somewhat affected by butterflies. The Entente Powers will probably be more strained than IOTL, which will affect how they react to Greek ambitions. As this timeline develops, I will try and illustrate some of wider impacts in world politics.

I will interpret that as the Entente being more stringent on forging a peace that benefits neither combatant, since 'they can't have regional hegemony now can they'.
 
I will interpret that as the Entente being more stringent on forging a peace that benefits neither combatant, since 'they can't have regional hegemony now can they'.

Smyrne occupation was OKed as a mean to counteract the italian landing in Adalia as the italian goverment wanted to create a fait accomploit regarding his claimo on the Turkish zone, also Greece used the fact that Italy had left the conference due to the Adriatic question at her advantage.

Much depend if the situation on the east take much attention of the Anglo-French and more importantly of Wilson stance towards the Italo-Jugoslavian negotiation,
 
Much depend if the situation on the east take much attention of the Anglo-French and more importantly of Wilson stance towards the Italo-Jugoslavian negotiation

Well the Adriatic region is the gateway to East Europe, so clear waterways will be necessary.
Although I am terrified if Dalmatia question will spin out of control as the East is biggest focus.
 
Well the Adriatic region is the gateway to East Europe, so clear waterways will be necessary.
Although I am terrified if Dalmatia question will spin out of control as the East is biggest focus.

On the other hand, the situation had becoming so problematic and Jugoslavia had the capacity to punch way beyond his weight (diplomatically speaking) thanks to Wilson support.
 
So a rump Poland, reduced in both the east and west and perhaps a semi Germany aligned Baltic state(s). Along with a bigger USSR, that looks more threatening.
 
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