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.

Well depend for the URSS, the Polish-soviet war was part of the Russian civil war so change there (even with a more succesfull URSS) can have butterfly in other parts.
 
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! And yes, we will continue to follow the savagery in the Baltic... But whether or not it cools down remains to be seen.
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'.
The Entente will likely be far more determined to force a peace. And material support from either the Italians or Brits/French will likely be less forthcoming to the Turkish/Greek. I will need to examine the Greco-Turkish War in more detail, though.
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,
So far, what I have planned will result in a very distracted British/French indeed, and probably a far messier Paris Peace Conference. Additionally, if the Germans become involved in the wars against the Bolsheviks, this will give them a lot of leverage in the conferences that they did not have IOTL.
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.
I wouldn't count on a rump Poland just yet! Remember that IOTL, the Soviets advanced right up to Warsaw in 1920, and still the Poland were able to annex a lot of territory in the aftermath.
It will be even worse if they decide to incorporate mongolia as a SSR this time around.
Might be an interesting butterfly...
This is a really interesting TL -- here's hoping Rydz-Smigly ends up defecting to the good guys/Reds :p
Thank you for your kind words! At the present moment there is a low chance of Rydz-Smigly defecting, as although he is a socialist, he is also a Polish patriot. However, Rydz-Smigly does put Dmowski and Haller in an awkward spot: subduing him via military means would not only look very bad and risk ripping open Poland in a civil war, but it would divert much-needed troops. On the other hand, reversing the coup for the sake of Rydz-Smigly would undermine the legitimacy and authority of Dmowski and Haller in a big way, and might embolden the socialist opposition.
Well depend for the URSS, the Polish-soviet war was part of the Russian civil war so change there (even with a more succesfull URSS) can have butterfly in other parts.
Indeed. Changes in the Polish-Soviet War will definitely change how the Russian Civil War at large plays out — there are an awful lot of moving parts here to keep track of.
 
Chapter II: Après Nous, le Déluge, Part III
"Diplomats were invented simply to waste time."

remark made by David Lloyd George during the Paris Peace Conference.


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


Unia_Lubelska.JPG

Union of Lublin by Jan Alojzy Matejko, 1869.
This painting depicts the signing of the Union of Lublin, which formalised the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth as a single state. The Union of Lublin is often viewed as a high point of Polish power by nationalists, and was a pivotal moment in the development of Eastern Europe. The themes of unity are probably on many peoples' minds as a fractured Poland attempts to pull itself together before the Russian advance.
Lublin, 21st of February 1919.

Brigadier General Edward Rydz-Śmigły was not a man to be trifled with. A large man with a shaved head and a booming voice, Rydz-Śmigły had served under Józef Piłsudski in the First World War against the Russians. In that war, he distinguished himself as an exceptionally capable commander and became a friend and confidant of Piłsudski. He had remained in command of the Lublin Army Command and was not very happy about what had been going on in Warsaw. You see, Rydz-Śmigły was closely aligned with Poland's socialist faction, and considered the internship of his friends in the Polish Socialist Party to be egregious and personally threating. In fact, "not happy" was a severe underestimation of Rydz-Śmigły's feelings. He was livid.

In his office, he was sitting behind a small wooden desk. He gripped his pen in his hand tightly, staring at the sheet of white paper in front of him. A vein in the side of his head bulged. To his right, a nervous young aide sat there with a tray of tea and biscuits. Rydz-Śmigły tried to write:

Dear Mr. Dmowski,

As your friend compatriot and ally, I must alert you to my severe grievances regarding the unenviable situation in Warsaw. Naturally, you are aware of my political inclination party affiliation, and I am concerned about the welfare safety of my friend comrades in the Polish Socialist Party. I have been requested instructed to recognise your new government the new democratic government. While I am inclined to do so, especially in such dire times, I must ask demand the resumption of elections and the release of those members of the Polish Socialist Party that you have imprisoned. If not, I will be forced to
Forced to what? He stopped writing. He lit a cigarette and fumed. Forced to what? To abandon Poland? Join the Bolsheviks? Rydz-Śmigły grabbed the piece of paper and scrunched it up. He threw it at the ground. The aide got up in a start and reached for the crumpled ball of paper.

"No!" barked Rydz-Śmigły. "No... Just... Stay there!"

The aide sat back down wordlessly. Rydz-Śmigły picked up his pen, and he started again:

To Mr. Dmowski,

Your coup in Warsaw has not gone unnoticed! I am deeply alarmed and upset. I have received orders to fall in line behind your government, and I feel that I must convey express my deep dissatisfaction. However, at the same time, I recognise the perilous disastrous situation and the rapid Soviet advance. Therefore, I am prepared to mobilise in support of the government your new government, in exchange

Again, he found himself at a loss. Although he wanted to demand the elections, he knew that Dmowski would not fold on that. He thought maybe he should write for the release of the Polish Socialist Party politicians and leave the question of the elections to later, but what would that achieve? He screwed that letter up and threw it at the wall. It bounced onto the floor and rolled next to the other scrunched up letter.

Roman,

You stupid fucking idiot jackass!!! You pull off a coup while I got Russians at my goddamn motherfucking doorstep! They're fuck advancing! They're in Prużana!!! Why do you send this stupid goddamn letter demanding
He threw that letter at the floor as well. He huffed and puffed. The aide nervously tried to offer tea, hoping it would calm him down. Rydz-Śmigły threw a biscuit at him, which caused the poor young man to scurry out of the office. He didn't know Roman Dmowski, in spite of the forced friendliness in his letters, and he certainly did not trust him. Dmowski surrounded himself with aristocrats and pompous ass-kissers. The man had cut his teeth licking the boots of the Russian Tsars and smooth-talking his way around Paris[1]. In contrast, Edward Rydz-Śmigły had fought for Poland on the battlefields. His men had died for the Polish flag. He decided that Dmowski was not the right person to talk to.

Dear General Haller,

Let us talk. One soldier to another. I will be leaving Lublin to mobilise my men to the front. I have decided that I will not busy myself with politics in this hour, but I am deeply dissatisfied with your friend Dmowski. I await your correspondence.

Sincerely,
Brigadier General Edward Rydz-Śmigły
Finally satisfied, Rydz-Śmigły took the letter to be delivered. His lack of direct communication with Dmowski (or indeed, Prime Minister Eustachy Sapieha, or any other member of the civilian government, for that matter) was a deliberate slight. Rydz-Śmigły was effectively denying them the legitimacy they desired, but while also signalling his loyalty to Poland. Besides, he had more pressing matters to attend to. He had to get to the front. And fast.

* * *

2959_Gustav_Noske.jpeg

Gustav Noske, the German Minister for War[2].
Berlin, 25th of February 1919.

Gustav Noske was on his way to work. It was a cold February morning in Berlin, a light drizzle accentuated the dour mood of the capital. On the sides of streets, youths loitered and crippled veterans hobbled along. Noske was an unremarkable man and was not well publicly known. This suited him just fine. He did not want to get shot by some raving Freikorps lunatic, or stabbed by a Spartacist. Berlin was a dangerous place nowadays. He stopped at a newsagent to buy some tobacco. As he paid, something caught his eye. A newspaper with the headline: "REDS IN
METENBURG!"

"W-when was that printed?" demanded Noske, pointing at the paper.

The newsagent regarded him with a raised eyebrow. "I dunno. Today? If it's on the rack, probably today."

Noske snatched up the paper. He paid. And on his walk, he glanced over the story. His eyes boggled. The paper described, with fantastic embellishment, how several Freikorps soldiers travelling to Libau had tried to stop in Metenburg[3] for the night, only to be warned away at the border because it was under siege by Bolshevik forces. The story went on to recount the testimonies of some German farmers near the Polish border, who said that they had heard artillery fire.

He ran. Down the streets of Berlin he flew, dodging startled pedestrians and weaving through honking motorcars. Luckily no-one recognised that this small, bespectacled man hurtling past them was the Minister for War. The tabloids would've loved that. He reached the Ministry for War and bounded up the stairs, bursting through the double doors to his office, panting and heaving. Noske wasn't fit. He was pouring sweat. His secretary and a coterie of deputies and understudies sat in a circle of armchairs, drinking coffee and smoking. They had bemused expressions on their faces. Noske struggled to catch his breath.

"Everything alright, sir?" asked the secretary, tentatively. She furrowed her brow, very visibly concerned.

"N-no..." stammered Noske. He adjusted his spectacles, which had come loose with sweat. "You... Any of you read this?"

"Read what?" piped up one of the deputies.

Noske pointed at the headline. Despite how shook he was, Noske spoke very calmly: "Look. Russians on our border. When did that happen? How come no-one told me? I'm the minister in charge here. Who's keeping things from me?"

The secretary, the deputies, and the understudies sat there for a moment, silent. Then one cracked a wry grin. "Oh, that story... No, no...You see, the Reds haven't made it that far. But they have redirected a lot of their forces into Poland... They have made substantial advances in the last month. But, I don't know exactly where that paper got this story from, but we've been in communication with the border guard, and there have been no sightings of any Reds from their end." The deputy waved his hand in the air dismissively. "That story is totally unverified.[4]"

"Well... Well, why didn't anyone tell me that?" said Noske.

"Tell you what? That... Everything is normal?"

"No. That... I mean. Why didn't anyone tell me that this story is false? I ran all the way here."

"I didn't... We didn't know that you had read that story? How were we meant to tell you it was false if we didn't know that you had read it or not?"

"That's not what I... Alright. Okay. Let me just..." Noske wheezed and collapsed into an armchair. "Let me just catch my breath for a moment."

He sat there and dabbed at his sweat with a handkerchief for a few minutes. Then, he began speaking again: "Well, this whole shock has brought to my attention the whole situation with the Bolsheviks... Where do we stand with them?"

"We have a formal ceasefire with them. Brest-Litovsk." said a young deputy, who looked fresh out of the academy.

"Technically, that treaty is with the Hohenzollern government." said Noske. "And they seem to be pretty determined to reverse that treaty anyway."

"Still, they wouldn't risk war with us." replied the young deputy. "Their war is with the Poles and the Lithuanians and the White armies."

"And yet we are engaged in combat with them currently!" piped up an older man who wore a thick moustache and a monocle. He seemed to be an ex-officer.

"Where?" demanded the young deputy.

"In the Baltics. Tens of thousands of our men fight there against the Bolsheviks..."

"They're not technically our men." Noske cut in. "They're volunteers fighting for Latvia and Lithuania."

The moustached ex-officer harrumphed with amusement. "Save it for the jury! You think the Bolsheviks care about the technicalities? They see German soldiers with German uniforms shooting German guns. Our man up there, Rüdiger von der Goltz, fought against the Bolsheviks in Finland. They sure as hell remember him."

Noske pondered this. He remembered Rüdiger von der Goltz well. They had met before von der Goltz had departed up to the Baltics. They had a strained relationship, as von der Goltz didn't trust the socialist-leaning Noske, and Noske had little patience for the hot-headed Prussian aristocrat. But with the threat of Bolsheviks cutting through Poland and touching the German border, men like von der Goltz might suddenly find themselves in high demand.

"What are the chances of the Bolsheviks actually reaching Metenburg?" Noske inquired.

"Honestly? Pretty damn high." said the moustached ex-officer.

"I agree." said the younger deputy. "That fake news story is based on something real. You can hear artillery from the German border. Very faintly. But the whole thing about the farmers is real. They're close."

"Plus, the Polish are not a particularly martial race. They're disastrously ill-suited for war. Especially against the bestial and savage Russians." added the moustached ex-officer.

"And... We are genuinely worried about war if the Bolsheviks do take Poland?" asked Noske.

"I'll say we are!" exclaimed the moustached ex-officer. "Have you read what Lenin and his friends keep saying? World revolution! Berlin is next! The Spartacists were just the first taste!"

"Yes..." agreed the young deputy. "The threat is credible. I concur."

"Right. Here's what we will do. I want someone to telegram Rüdiger von der Goltz about the possibility of opening a southern front in the Baltics. I want us to increase the Freikorps recruitment drives. And I want someone to get in touch with whoever the hell is running Poland."

"I believe that's Roman Dmowski. He and Józef Haller staged a coup recently, after Piłsudski's assassination."

"Haller. We know Haller. He fought with us against the Russians."

"...And then against us at Kaniów." interjected the young deputy.

"Whatever. We can forget Kaniów for the moment. Someone get in touch with Haller. Telegram him or get a courier to wherever he is. If the Bolsheviks are cutting down the Poles as quickly as I'm hearing, then they'll be willing to talk. Maybe we can settle the Poznań and Silesia question without the French or the British dicking us over."

"Indeed." said the moustached ex-officer. "Let's get going, then!"

* * *
On the 29th of February, Prime Minister Sapieha received an official notice from the Supreme Allied Command, who requested a "more complete" diplomatic presence at the ongoing Versailles Conference. The Commission on Polish Affairs was convening in March to review the Polish-German borders, and it had been noted that both Roman Dmowski and Count Maurycy Zamoyski had abandoned the Polish diplomatic mission in Paris[5]. The tone of the notice, which bore signatures from the secretaries of David Lloyd George and Georges Clemenceau, came across to Prime Minister Sapieha as officious and haughty. He passed the note on to Roman Dmowski, who wrote out a long and furious letter explaining that Poland was in the middle of being invaded after having its leaders assassinated and that they were therefore rather preoccupied with not getting killed. But after writing the letter out and reading it aloud to Prime Minister Sapieha and Count Maurycy Zamoyski, he decided on a more diplomatic course of action. All three of them knew that the Supreme Allied Command should be cajoled and flattered rather than yelled at. Lloyd George and Clemenceau were both sympathetic to the Polish cause, and it was important that Dmowski and Haller's new government be received warmly, rather than alienated. It was decided that Prime Minister Sapieha be dispatched to Paris to personally handle the negotiations in March. This was done for three reasons: first, the presence of the Prime Minister himself would impress the Allies. Secondly, it would keep Sapieha out of harm's way should there be a counter-coup in Warsaw. Dispersing the leadership of the new government made it less vulnerable to a sudden change of fortunes. Thirdly, and most crucially, it would give Haller and Dmowski more room to exercise their authority. Of course, the third reason wasn't said out loud at any point in the discussions. But, there was an understanding. The office of the Prime Minister was still technically bound by legal perimeters and parliamentary protocol (even if the Sejm was suspended), but Dmowski's unofficial dictatorial position was outside scrutiny.

Other than intrigue with the Supreme Allied Command and the German War Ministry, events on the front had been rapidly unravelling. The Soviets had seized Brest-Litowsk[6] after a protracted siege and heavy resistance from local militias. The Bolsheviks spent several days looting the city in orgiastic celebration. They had taken the city in which the reviled Treaty of Brest-Litovsk had been signed. They were well on their way to unravelling that treaty.

Meanwhile, General Józef Haller was on his way with the Blue Army to open a counter-offensive against the Bolsheviks out of Bielsk Podlaski when a courier brought him the letter from Rydz-Śmigły. He briefly considered making a copy of it and forwarding it to Roman Dmowski, but, for unknown reasons, decided against doing that.

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

[1]: Roman Dmowski had spent a long time as a member of the Duma in Russian Poland. In this capacity, he tried to toe a line between his Polish nationalism and his desire to keep his job (aka, pleasing his Russian masters). Compared to his contemporaries such as Piłsudski, Dmowski placed a great deal of importance upon the aristocracy and the Catholic Church. He was also far more anti-Semitic. One could view these things as having roots in his Russian political environment. Weirdly enough, a lot of the loyalties and political persuasions of different actors in post-WWI Poland can be loosely correlated with whether or not they were from German, Austrian, or Russian parts of Poland.
[2]: The official title of Gustav Noske is "Minister for Defence". Historically speaking, the "Minister for War" was the name of the ministerial position before the German surrender. The reason that I refer to him as "Minister for War" is because he is referred to as such in a German primary source I was reading, and I found the idea that the Germans would deliberately eschew the term "Minister for Defence" in favour of the older term rather amusing.
[3]: Metenburg is the German name for Augustów, which we can see on our map here.
[4]: Fake news is not a new thing! The uncertain situation of the East was ripe for fear-mongering and hysteria. One famous example is the fact that after the Battle of Warsaw, many German newspapers printed stories that said that the Soviets had won, not the Polish.
[5]: This correlates with OTL, in which the Commission on Polish Affairs meets in March. Over the next couple of months, this convention would draw up a favourable settlement for Poland IOTL. But without a strong diplomatic presence in this new timeline, it is entirely possible that the settlement wouldn't be as generous.
[6]: Brest-Litowsk = Brest-Litovsk. The Polish like replacing Russian Vs with Ws, apparently.



 
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Hello all. I must apologise for repeatedly disappearing. I have been getting blasted in the ass by university and so haven't been able to make any posts. However, things have eased up, and so I have some time to do some writing. I thought that I'd ease back into things with an update focused on the political intrigues and diplomatic goings-ons. Then, I have an update planned for later this week that focuses on the Freikorps in the Baltics and the German side of things. In that update, I'd also like to address the Polish-German insurgencies in Silesia and Poznan. After that, I want to write up an update that focuses on the Bolsheviks and what they're thinking about. If you're still reading this timeline, thank you. I appreciate your patience.
 
Hello all. I must apologise for repeatedly disappearing. I have been getting blasted in the ass by university and so haven't been able to make any posts. However, things have eased up, and so I have some time to do some writing. I thought that I'd ease back into things with an update focused on the political intrigues and diplomatic goings-ons. Then, I have an update planned for later this week that focuses on the Freikorps in the Baltics and the German side of things. In that update, I'd also like to address the Polish-German insurgencies in Silesia and Poznan. After that, I want to write up an update that focuses on the Bolsheviks and what they're thinking about. If you're still reading this timeline, thank you. I appreciate your patience.

Woo hoo :)

No need to apologise, just glad this interesting TL is still going.

Seconded!
 
Chapter II: Après Nous, le Déluge, Part IV
"Now times have changed. There is no question now of a lengthy preparation for the battle; we are now living in the period after the storm, in the period after the first great victory over the bourgeoisie. Now there is only one other problem before the working class: to finally and irretrievably break up the resistance of the bourgeoisie. That is why the working class, acting in the name of the liberation of the whole of humanity from the atrocities and terrors of capitalism, must carry out this task to a definite end and with unswerving firmness. No indulgence for the bourgeoisie and no leniency – but complete liberty and the possibility of realising this liberty, to the working class and poorest peasants."

closing statement of Nikolai Bukharin's
Programme of the World Revolution, which was a pamphlet published in 1917.

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


image-asset.jpeg

The Bolshevik by Boris Mikhailovich Kustodiev, 1920.
In this painting, Boris Kustodiev celebrates the victory of the proletariat by representing the "Bolshevik hero" as a nondescript, generic man. The message here is clear: anyone can be a Bolshevik hero, and the Bolshevik hero is everyone. Additionally, the Bolshevik hero appears to rise out of the crowd, an effect that Boris Kustodiev hoped would capture "the spontaneous in Bolshevism".
Moscow, 2nd of March 1919.

Leon Trotsky had been drowning in documents, maps, files, letters, dossiers, telegraph messages, and various other loose bits of correspondence and schematics. Each day, his harried secretaries dumped armloads of documents on him. But he preferred it this way: even as the stacks and stacks of books and papers piled up around him, the frenetic Trotsky worked away. Day and night. By March of 1919, the Bolshevik offensive against Poland was well underway, and this meant more and more maps for Trotsky to pour over, telegraphs to sign off, pins to push around, generals to call up and yell at. On this particular morning, Trotsky was standing on his chair, looking over a huge map of Poland that he had unravelled over his desk. Everything was going as planned. Well, everything had been going as planned. Near the Polish city of Bielsk Podlaski, there had been a sudden and rapid breakthrough of the Bolshevik front line. The assault had appeared seemingly out of nowhere.

"When did we get wind of this attack?" demanded Trotsky. He said this to his empty office, his hands on his hips. Naturally, no-one answered. Because the office was empty. Trotsky leapt off the chair. He circled his desk, pondering the situation. He had been reliably informed that the Polish front line had been suddenly reinforced by over 60,000 soldiers of the Blue Army. These men would be under Józef Haller's command, and they were battle-hardened and well-equipped. Bolshevik military intelligence had placed the Blue Army in France. It was estimated that they wouldn't be able to return to Poland until mid-April. But it seemed that somehow they had secured passage to Poland earlier than expected. This was quite the pickle for Leon Trotsky. On one hand, Vācietis and Nadyozhny had already made strong progress, but on the other hand, the Bolsheviks couldn't afford to suffer surprises like the sudden return of Haller.

Pacing around his office, Trotsky briefly considered calling up the head of military intelligence and demanding an explanation. But there wasn't much point. The Bolshevik intelligence services were disorganised and understaffed, and the chaotic environment meant that information was often delayed if not entirely incorrect.


In this map, we can see the Bolshevik theatre of war as Trotsky views it. The dotted red line indicates the Bolshevik front line. The placement of the commanders is approximate. The Freikorps under Rüdiger von der Goltz are not yet registered by Trotsky as a credible threat (although he probably should), and so he doesn't appear on this map.

The situation was troubling. Attacked from all sides by innumerable enemies, every flank of the Bolshevik front was threatened. To the south, General Anton Denikin marched on Tsaritsyn. Rumours said that Denikin planned to mount an assault on Moscow[1]. In Ukraine, a four-way war between Symon Petlura's nationalists, Nestor Makhno's Black Armies, the Bolsheviks, and the Polish waged. Trotsky's men, who recently wrested Kiev from Petlura, advanced from the north, while the Poles occupied Western Ukraine, around Lwów. The truce with Makhno's Black Armies was extremely tense, especially since several Red Army detachments in Crimea had defected to Makhno[2]. But Trotsky maintained the upper hand in this relationship. For months, Makhno had been trying to turn their truce into a formal alliance. The Black Armies had been petitioning Moscow to send them guns and ammunition, but Trotsky viewed Makhno as a threat, especially as the long-term goal of the Bolsheviks was to seize Ukraine. Therefore, these requests for guns and ammunition were constantly ignored, creating a situation of an undeclared embargo of Makhno's Black Armies.

"What I really need..." murmured Trotsky to himself. "Is to take the steam out of Denikin... Then, I could move men from that front to the west, and prepare for a decisive push towards Warsaw..."

He shuffled some pins around on the map, and then stood back to consider it.

"But how..."

Trotsky grimaced. He knew that he did not have the available men or material to make a crushing assault against Denikin just yet. The rear of Denikin's army was already harassed by Makhno's Black Armies. But Makhno was unable to do any substantial damage right now: his men were ill-armed and constantly low on ammunition.

"Perhaps... Maybe I give Makhno those guns after all..."

Indeed, if Makhno received the weapons he was constantly asking for, then the Black Armies might be capable of mounting an actual offensive into Denikin's rear. Of course, this would mean that Trotsky would have to give up the goal of seizing Ukraine for the time being, but if he could tie down Denikin with a surprise attack from Makhno, then he could pull men from that front and move them west to the Polish front.

"And if I can move men from that front, I could poach Tukhachevsky as well... Voroshilov could take command of that front... And if I can move Tukhachevsky into Poland, I give my best commander control of the assault on Poland, have that over and done within a matter of months, and then mop up Ukraine after Warsaw falls..."

Trotsky walked over to his desk and picked up his phone. He dialled in a number and called: "Yes. Hello? Listen: change of course. Makhno will have his guns. Let's send Lev[3] down to talk to him. I'm sure he can come to come kind of agreement..."


* * *
Moscow, 4th of March 1919.

In a dank cellar somewhere beneath the city, far from the prying eyes of anyone, a thin, wispy-haired Polish man sat on a stool across from two other men. The two other men wore military uniforms. They have shaved heads and muscular torsos. The small Polish man named Felix Dzerzhinsky sat cross-legged, craning himself towards the two men. A single tungsten light dangled from the ceiling, illuminating the room. It had the effect of making this thin man look unusually small.

"Tell me..." croaked Dzerzhinsky. "What have you learned from our prisoners..."

The prisoners that Dzerzhinsky referred to were two Polish officers who had been captured when the Bolsheviks had seized Brest-Litovsk. One of them was a colonel. The other was a major. They had both been brutally tortured and then shot. Their bodies were doused in gasoline and burnt.

"Well..." began the larger of the two officers. "The colonel... He was difficult to talk to..."

"But we did get him to talk!" interjected the smaller officer.

"Oh yes?" said Dzerzhinsky, with a raised eyebrow.

"Yes... He served under General Rydz-Śmigły... Yes, and what he said was that his boss hates Dmowski..."

"Oh?"

"Really!" exclaimed the larger officer. "He said that Rydz-Śmigły once talked to him about how Dmowski was wrecking Poland's democracy by locking up the socialists!"

"He said that?" asked Dzerzhinsky.

"He did! And what's more, he said that Rydz-Śmigły isn't recognising Dmowski's government!"

Dzerzhinsky sat there for a moment to mull this over. This was very, very interesting information.

"Perhaps... A sympathiser?" queried Dzerzhinsky.

"Oh, well... I don't know about that." said the smaller officer. "It seemed to me that Rydz-Śmigły was more of a pink bourgeois socialist than a Bolshevik... You know, a reformist type... Lily-livered. "

"No, no." disagreed the larger officer. "I think it sounded like Rydz-Śmigły really hates Dmowski. I think he could be radicalised!"

Dzerzhinsky smiled. "Well, what have we got to lose? This could be the sort of victory that we need... Imagine, we've already assassinated Piłsudski... Just think about if we managed to turn Rydz-Śmigły! Poland would be the first modern country to be conquered by intrigue alone... I'd love to see Trotsky's face when I tell him that his armies aren't needed anymore!"

"Yes!" exclaimed the larger officer.

"Dispatch the orders!" barked Dzerzhinsky. "Let's see if we can't get Rydz-Śmigły to the table, at least to talk... I think we might be onto something here!"

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

[1]: In our timeline, Denikin would launch an assault on Moscow in the summer of 1919 after seizing Tsaritsyn. He would make it as far as Orel, just 360 kilometres from Moscow, before his supply lines collapsed after an assault into his rearguard by Makhno's Black Armies in October of 1919. But now, Trotsky is willing to foment an earlier assault by the Black Armies against Denikin, while he plans to shift the balance of Soviet troops to the west, the course of the Russian Civil War will be irrevocably altered. Already, just one month after our Point of Divergence, far-reaching and powerful effects are being felt.
[2]: In our timeline, the uneasy truce with Makhno will be maintained until 1920, when the Bolsheviks would surprise attack the Black Armies and wipe them out.
[3]: This refers to Lev Kamenev, not be confused with Sergey Kamenev. Lev Kamenev is a prominent Soviet functionary who IOTL handles a lot of the diplomatic relations between Makhno and the Bolsheviks. In this timeline, he will be reprising this role. Sergey Kamenev is the general in charge of the Bolsheviks' eastern-most front, and he is the "Kamenev" that is indicated on the map.
Note: I decided to do the Bolshevik post first rather than the Freikorps/German post. The next update, and final part of Chapter II, will focus on the Freikorps, though! Stay tuned.
 
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Deleted member 94680

And so, ladies and gentlemen, we have another major breach in the normal course of historical events. In our own timeline, Denikin would launch an assault on Moscow in the summer of 1919 after seizing Tsaritsyn. He would make it as far as Orel, just 360 kilometres from Moscow, before his supply lines collapsed after an assault into his rearguard by Makhno's Black Armies in October of 1919. But now, Trotsky is willing to foment an earlier assault by the Black Armies against Denikin, while he plans to shift the balance of Soviet troops to the west, the course of the Russian Civil War will be irrevocably altered. Already, just one month after our Point of Divergence, far-reaching and powerful effects are being felt.

I like this update to the TL, but I feel the part highlighted either needs to go in the “notes” section or be left unsaid until it comes up in discussion. It just breaks up the flow of the alternate history TL that you’ve got going to jolt into “real history” and show what’s different and what’s going to happen.

Just my tuppence worth.​
 
I like this update to the TL, but I feel the part highlighted either needs to go in the “notes” section or be left unsaid until it comes up in discussion. It just breaks up the flow of the alternate history TL that you’ve got going to jolt into “real history” and show what’s different and what’s going to happen.

Just my tuppence worth.​
That is a very reasonable critique and I appreciate it. I don't want to break the immersion. I have moved that section to a note that deals with Denikin. I do enjoy writing "directly to the reader" in that style sometimes, but I think I will leave that sort of thing to when I put out a recap post in the next few weeks.
 

Deleted member 94680

That is a very reasonable critique and I appreciate it. I don't want to break the immersion. I have moved that section to a note that deals with Denikin. I do enjoy writing "directly to the reader" in that style sometimes, but I think I will leave that sort of thing to when I put out a recap post in the next few weeks.

Thank you for taking the critique in the spirit it was meant.

I’m finding this TL fascinating and hope it continues apace.
 
Thank you for pointing out the divergence in the footnotes -- helps me realize the significance. Here's hoping the Red Army rings in the 20s singing Warszawianka in Warsaw...
 
Thank you for taking the critique in the spirit it was meant.

I’m finding this TL fascinating and hope it continues apace.
Of course! I am always open to critique and discussion. And I'm really glad you're enjoying the TL so far.
Thank you for pointing out the divergence in the footnotes -- helps me realize the significance. Here's hoping the Red Army rings in the 20s singing Warszawianka in Warsaw...
I will try to make a point of including major breaks from OTL. Of course, I'll only be able to do this in the beginning of the TL as there'll eventually be a point where this TL diverges entirely... ;)

As for the Red Army in Warsaw... We will see! Haller will have a very hard time mounting an effective defence if Rydz-Śmigły defects or hesitates... But on the other hand, the Polish do have far more men at their disposal than the Bolsheviks initially calculated for. I think the crucial factor will be the Bolshevik's ability to incapacitate, distract, or delay Denikin, and therefore free up forces for the western front. One thing that I'm really looking forwards to playing with is a better-armed Makhno. IOTL, lack of ammunition and small arms was one of the defining weaknesses of the Black Armies... Which in turn, was due to the Bolsheviks effectively blockading them.
 
The events described here are bound to mirror the situation in Finland and Eastern Karelia as well. Now, the Finnish government considered itself to be de jure at war with the Bolsheviks, and Mannerheim and the Activist faction wanted to conduct an assault to Petrograd. In OTL the Aunus expedition was just about to start at this time as a really limited endeavor with tact British approval. Things were really unclear until the first Presidential elections in 1919, and should Mannerheim declare martial law and disband the Eduskunta, there wouldn't really be anyone able to stop him from doing so.
 
The events described here are bound to mirror the situation in Finland and Eastern Karelia as well. Now, the Finnish government considered itself to be de jure at war with the Bolsheviks, and Mannerheim and the Activist faction wanted to conduct an assault to Petrograd. In OTL the Aunus expedition was just about to start at this time as a really limited endeavor with tact British approval. Things were really unclear until the first Presidential elections in 1919, and should Mannerheim declare martial law and disband the Eduskunta, there wouldn't really be anyone able to stop him from doing so.

Yes, the Finnish involvement will be very interesting. I'm thinking about von der Goltz using his Finnish connections somehow, as he served with them against the Russians in the closing days of the First World War. A more successful Freikorps mission in the Balkans could have extremely interesting implications for Mannerhaim and his friends...
 
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