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...
I assume you are talking about the Baltics. But yes, as it is the Finns are deeply involved to the Estonian side, with British support.
 
I assume you are talking about the Baltics. But yes, as it is the Finns are deeply involved to the Estonian side, with British support.

Ah Christ. That's like the nineteenth time I've written "Balkans" instead of "Baltic". And to think I decided to write a timeline on the damn place...

Yes, indeed. I was recently reading about Hans Kalm, who led a regiment of Finnish volunteer in Estonia. I want to do some more research on the Finnish war against the Bolsheviks in this time period before I involve them in detail. As is typical of the historiography of this time period, there is not a lot of literature on the particulars of their involvement or war goals... You wouldn't happen to be aware of any such literature, by chance?
 
Ah Christ. That's like the nineteenth time I've written "Balkans" instead of "Baltic". And to think I decided to write a timeline on the damn place...
Happens to me all the time as well.

Yes, indeed. I was recently reading about Hans Kalm, who led a regiment of Finnish volunteer in Estonia. I want to do some more research on the Finnish war against the Bolsheviks in this time period before I involve them in detail. As is typical of the historiography of this time period, there is not a lot of literature on the particulars of their involvement or war goals... You wouldn't happen to be aware of any such literature, by chance?
The King of Karelia. Col P.J. Woods and the British Intervention in North Russia 1918-1919. A History & Memoir
The Finnish Civil War 1918: History, Memory, Legacy by Tepora, Roselius et al

A lot of good studies have been published recently, but unless you're fluent in Finnish, they are most likely of little use.




 
The King of Karelia. Col P.J. Woods and the British Intervention in North Russia 1918-1919. A History & Memoir
The Finnish Civil War 1918: History, Memory, Legacy by Tepora, Roselius et al

A lot of good studies have been published recently, but unless you're fluent in Finnish, they are most likely of little use.
Thank you. I'll see if I can't find these somewhere. Appreciate the help, and hopefully I can work in the Finnish in an interesting way!

And as you've correctly guessed, I am not fluent in Finnish.
Cheers! Glad to have you on board.
 
Chapter II: Après Nous, le Déluge, Part V
"Over millennia, society has tamed our impetuous urges and desires; the savage, brutal, shrill tone of our instincts has been polished, smoothed and dampened. Growing refinement has enlightened and ennobled man; yet the beast still sleeps in the depths of his existence. There is still much of the animal in him... and when life's dial swings back to its primitive guiding line the mask falls; primitive man, the cave-dweller, sallies forth naked as ever, with all the savagery of his unfettered instincts."

excerpt from the writings of Ernst Jünger, a Freikorps soldier and novelist who would become famous for publishing Storm of Steel, one of the first significant memoirs about the First World War.


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



Dying Soldier (left) and Nighttime Encounter with a Madman (right) by Otto Dix, 1917.
These two sketches were made by Otto Dix during his time in the trenches of the First World War. Similar to his paintings that we have seen earlier, Dix's pencil sketches sought to portray the brutal realities of war. The sketch on the left depicts the gruesome situation of a soldier wounded by artillery shrapnel, while the sketch on the right depicts the terrifying smile of a shell-shocked man.
Tuckum, 14th of March 1919.

They had been marching for days and days. Weeks and weeks, they had carved their way through the Latvian countryside, through the grey haze of the February rain, sloshing through mud and sleet, pushing their way through the fog. Andreas and Hans hadn't spoken much. They had other things on their minds. Ever since they had taken Goldingen[1]. Then, they had massacred eleven Bolshevik prisoners-of-war. Andreas and Hans had stood above them and shot each one.

Bang! Kla-klack. Bang! Kla-klang. Bang! Kla-klack. Bang! Kla-klack.

The unwieldy, ponderous bolt-action of their aging Gewehr rifles made the process excruciatingly slow. At one point, about half-way through, Andreas had to stop to reload his rifle. This created an awkward pause during which the remaining live prisoners-of-war simply stared dumbly at him. They just looked up at him with wide, teary eyes, but they didn't make a noise. Andreas wanted to say something. But what could he say? That he was sorry for shooting them? What good would that do? These men sentenced to death looked up at him he was God himself. The whole time, Captain Voigt sat off to the side, smoking a pipe and reading a newspaper clipping from Germany, phenomenally uninterested in what was going on.

Bang! Kla-klack. Bang! Kla-klack.

When the work was done, the dead Bolsheviks were thrown into a burning barn. Ever since then, the Baltic had repaid the Freikorps for their cruelty. It poured down cold, stinging rain day in and day out. Wolves circled beyond the horizon. Bullets flew out of nowhere, knocking down stray Germans. When the Freikorps had seized Schrunden[2] on the 3rd of March, the small Bolshevik garrison had surrendered without much of a fight. That was until the Freikorps entered the main square, whereupon a lone sniper started firing. Unable to pin down the location of the sniper, the Freikorps began raiding every house door-to-door. When they eventually found the sniper in a foxhole outside of the town, they dragged him out and beat him to death with their rifle-butts in full view of the townspeople. They left his bloodied and mangled body at the foot of the town hall as a warning. In Laižuva[3], they faced heavy resistance and were unable to enter the heavily-barricaded town. The Freikorps bombarded the town with a field gun, setting it ablaze with a few incendiary rounds, before storming what remained. They discovered that the enemy combatants hadn't been Bolsheviks at all. They were a local Lithuanian militia intent on defending their village against invaders. The Freikorps tried to explain to the few survivors that they were here to help them defend the Baltic from the Bolsheviks, and so they were on the same side, but the explanation got lost in translation. Not that it mattered, the town had been destroyed. Yesterday, they had captured Kandau[4]. They encountered heavy resistance but eventually overwhelmed the Bolsheviks who occupied the town. It had been a fairly standard siege, all things considered. However, a horse-cart rigged with high explosives had been detonated several hours after the Bolshevik surrender. The explosion killed four Germans, several civilians, and reduced many buildings to rubble. By the time the Germans traced the cable back to the detonator, the culprit had long since vanished.

The
Freikorps had no idea how to fight this kind of war. They craved the sorts of grand victories that could be won in large-scale conventional battles, where both sides wore uniforms and had defined defensive and offensive positions. The few times when they got this type of combat — such as the initial seizure of Kandau — they won handily, and the old veterans and ex-officers glowed with a dreadful sort of delight.


In this map, we can see the Freikorps advance out of Libau. As this map is from the German perspective, I have given the names of the towns in German, with their local names in brackets. The Bolshevik front-line is given by the red dotted line. The map is clickable for a larger and clearer resolution.
After Kandau, they hadn't slept. Captain Voigt had force-marched them straight towards Tuckum, leaving a token garrison behind. Entering the town, they found Tuckum to be completely quiet. Many of the shops had been boarded up. No pedestrians were in sight. Clutching his Gewehr, Andreas stalked down the main street uneasily. There were about a dozen or so other soldiers around him. A few birds chirruped somewhere in the distance. A chilly breeze blew down the street. Ahead of him, a burly sergeant motioned for them to start checking the windows and doors. Wordlessly, the soldiers slid to the walls of the buildings, inching along while they peeped into the windows, checking for movement. Andreas crept along the side of a house, and seeing its door ajar, signalled to Hans. Hans nodded, and they positioned themselves on either side of the doorway, and then with their rifles, pushed the door open. The old wooden door creaked loudly as it swung upon. Andreas caught sight of something move quickly in the dark of the doorway.

"Movement!" he shouted.

"Go! Go!" yelled the burly sergeant.

Andreas raised his rifle. "Hands up!"

But he couldn't see anyone. There was a wooden table, some chairs, what looked like a week-old bowl of half-eaten soup on the table, and a mess of tangled clothes and bedsheets strewn across the floor. A drawing of the countryside hung on the wall of the house. Andreas nervously stepped through the doorway and into the house, with Hans close behind.

"I said: put your hands up!"

He heard the sound of a door slam and he swung around.

"In there!" he shouted, pointing his rifle to what seemed to be a bedroom door. It was the only room on the inside of the house. Hans ran to the side of the door-frame, and Andreas kicked it open. He heard a shrill scream. Something fell to the ground and smashed. Hans flew into the room. Andreas bolted in after him. Lying on the ground, next to a large bed, was a young woman. She couldn't be older than twenty.

"Get up! Hands up!"

But she was burbling in Latvian or Estonian or some other language. Hans reached over and grabbed her by the hair, and she started screaming in German: "Get off me!!! Leave me alone!"

Andreas lowered his rifle. "Hans! She's a German!"

Hans dropped her, and she thudded back to the ground. "Leave me alone!" she sobbed.

"Why didn't you say you were German?" demanded Hans, furiously gesturing at her with the barrel of his rifle.

"I d-didn't k-know..." she wept, curling up into a ball.

"Hans, leave her alone!" said Andreas. "She is terrified!"

Hans scowled at Andreas. "What's this about? We're here to liberate her!" he snarled, then he turned back to the woman. "Where are the Reds?"

"I don't k-know... They l-l-left... I think..."

There was something strange about her voice. Andreas couldn't quite place it, but the way she talked made him feel unnerved. She sounded as if her mouth was being animated by strings, her words halted and stuttered.

"Is anyone else here?" asked Hans.

"No..." she said.

"Very well..." said Andreas, and the two of them began backing out of the bedroom, leaving her in a heap on the floor while she sobbed. They the door behind them and began to walk out of the house. However, on their way out, Andreas saw a wooden square on the floor of the main. He walked over and inspected it. It seemed to be a cellar door.

"N-no! Don't open that!"

Andreas turned around to see the woman now standing in the bedroom doorway. He stared at her. She wasn't crying. Instead, she had a wide-eyed and tense expression on her face. Andreas grabbed her by the arm. She tried to push him away, but Andreas shook her.

"What do you mean!?" he shouted. She didn't answer and turned away from him. He turned to Hans. "Open that door!"

Hans swung the cellar door open and looked inside. "I can't see anything! It's too dark!"

But from within the cellar, down the steps, they heard what sounded like a cat. It was a sort of soft mewling. Hans pulled the cord on the Dynamo[5] that hung around his neck and began walking down the steps into the cellar, his rifle raised. Andreas stood above the cellar, clutching the woman by the arm.

"Oh... Oh... God..." muttered Hans from within the cellar.

"What? What is it?" exclaimed Andreas. But Hans didn't answer. He turned to the woman, who had started clawing at him, trying to escape his grip. "What is down there!?!"

She just started screaming.
Freikorps soldiers from outside had started to flood in. The burly sergeant pushed past Andreas and the woman and ran down the steps into the cellar with his revolver raised.

"What the fuck!?" he screamed.

Andreas threw the woman to the ground and followed the sergeant down the steps. There, he saw the sergeant standing next to Hans. Hans was simply standing there, completely still except for his right arm, that was yanking on the Dynamo. The small light of the Dynamo illuminated a wet shape on the floor of the cellar. Andreas felt like throwing up. Lying on the ground, a man in a German uniform lay. He was covered in cuts and bruises. His jaw had been shattered, his left eye had been punctured, and the thick, viscous eye jelly dribbled down the side of his face. One of his arms had been cut clean off at the elbow, and infection had started to set in at the stump, filling the room with the grotesque scent of rotting flesh. The man was writhing there, unable to stand or move, his limbs thrashed helplessly. The guttural mewling was coming from him. He was unable to speak, his tongue had been cut out of his mouth. Andreas' eyes bulged. He ran back up the stairs.

"Get her!" he screamed. The woman, who had been lying on the floor by the cellar, bolted upright in a start. Two German soldiers tried to grab her, but suddenly she procured a revolver.

Blam! Blam! Blam!

Andreas dove to the ground as her shots blew chunks out of the wall behind him. One of the Freikorps men next to him fired his rifle and the woman's head burst open like an overripe watermelon. Her corpse dropped. At that moment, all hell broke loose. The sound of automatic gunfire erupted from somewhere and from his prone position, Andreas saw the windows smash in and the men around him drop. Blood sprayed across the walls. Outside, he saw men dive for cover as machine-gun fire ripped up the cobbled street. The sergeant ran up from the cellar, closely tailed by Hans.

"Get down!" yelled Andreas, and they dropped to the floor. Andreas began to crawl along the floor to the outside door. The men outside had scattered. Some were prone, inching along while bullets tore around them. Some had ducked into houses, but the machine-gun fire seemed to be coming from a high angle, as it was blasting out the windows and doors of the houses as the men ran into them for cover. Using the ajar main door as cover, Andreas peered outside.

"There!" he bellowed. In the bell-tower of the town's church, a mounted Lewis gun rained lead down upon the Germans below. Andreas cracked off a few rounds, but they missed, puffing clouds of dust uselessly against the side of the church.

"Here! Throw this!" said the sergeant, who had crawled up next to Andreas. He handed him an artillery flare.

"What do I do with this!?"

"Throw it at the fucking tower!!!"

Andreas glanced outside again. "It's too far away!"

"You're going to have to run! Throw it from one of the other houses!"

Andreas gulped.
Ah shit. Another dash through the gunfire. He stood up, flung the door upon, and ran. Almost immediately, he could hear the air hiss with lead as the machine-gunner swivelled to shoot at him. He flew down the street, leaping over potholes, sidestepping prone Freikorps men and dead bodies. The ground around him hummed and cracked with bullets. He saw a house ahead of his whose door was open, and he made a running dive through the doorway, crashing through a table and bowling over chairs. The machine-gun fire spat in his wake, narrowly missing, blowing out the windows of the house. Several hands grabbed him, pulling at him.

"Get off! I'm okay!" Andreas sputtered. The hands retracted. Andreas shuffled out of the debris of the table he'd dived into and saw a handful of Freikorps soldiers huddled in the corner, taking cover from the machine-gun fire. Like him, they were young and scared. Andreas showed them the flare. "Look. I've got this. There's a field gun back there, if they see this flare, we're going to blow those bastards to hell!"

They stared at him blankly. Then, one smiled. Andreas crawled back to the doorway and lay there for a few minutes while the machine-gunner pounded the house they were in. Then, after a few moments, the gunner switched targets and began firing at something else. Andreas stood up and pulled the door open. This time, he didn't need to run. He was in range of the tower. He lit the flare and hurled it at the tower. It arced through the air, hit the tower, and bounced off. It landed on the church's roof, where it burned. The machine-gunner stopped firing. He probably realised what was about to happen. For a moment, nothing happened. For another moment, still, nothing happened. Andreas gritted his teeth.

george-grosz-explosion.jpg

Explosion by George Grosz, 1917.
Centred around a red vortex, the heart of an artillery explosion, Grosz attempts to recreate the visceral carnage of an artillery bombardment in this painting. Fire and smoke pour into the sky as men, buildings, and the Earth itself is ripped asunder.

Then, he heard a whistling sound. And then a crack! as something exploded against the front of the church. It wasn't a large explosion, but an extremely bright one. Huge, tall arcs of bright white rose and crackled out of the explosion.

"White phosphorus!" shrieked Andreas. "Why the fuck are we firing white phosphorus!?"

Thick, noxious plumes of white smoke billowed up from the church, rolling down the streets. Andreas saw the tendrils of white phosphorus spiral towards them. If it caught on the roofs of any of the houses, they would be ablaze in minutes.

"Run! We have to run!"

He grabbed the men, yanking them upright. Their stunned faces blinked dumbly at him. Andreas pulled at them, and as if awakening out of a trace, they suddenly hurled themselves out of the door, dashing down the street as the thunder of white smoke rolled after them like the Great Flood itself. Andreas ran after them, barely holding onto his rifle. The sky above him crackled and roared as the white phosphorus nestled itself in the thatched roofs of the houses around him. He saw the Hans and the sergeant dash out of the house that they had found the tortured German in. Red-orange flames leapt up around the glowing white of the phosphorus.

"What's fucking happening!?" screamed the sergeant.

"White phosphorus! We're firing white phosphorus! Why!?"

The sergeant's face blanched. "Shit! I forgot! It's the only artillery munitions we've got left!"

Andreas stared at him. "We've got to get out of here!"

They ran. Everywhere the lancing tendrils of phosphorus had touched, flames sprung up. Typical of most towns in the rural Baltic, Tuckum was built almost entirely out of wood, with a mixture of thatched and wood-slatted roofs. All highly flammable. Andreas heard another crack! and the second ball of white horror exploded, this time against the top of the bell-tower. More tentacles of hot phosphorus shot out. More thick, all-suffocating smoked plumed.

"Make them stop!" huffed Andreas as he ran. "Why are they firing again!?"

"I... don't... know!!" gasped the sergeant, stumbling across the rubble and the bodies. Down the street, they ran, until they reached the perimeter of the town. Several hundred meters away, atop a large hill overlooking the town, they could see the field gun and the rest of the Freikorps men. They were loading another shell.

"Stop!!!" yelled Andreas. He jumped up and down, waving his arms. But it was no use. They were too far away. There was no way the Freikorps field gun could hear him. He started running again, directly towards the field gun. The artillery piece went off, sending another shell hissing over Andreas' head as he ran. Then suddenly, he saw several men on horseback galloping towards him. He stopped. The horsemen flew towards him. They wore the blue-grey uniform and tall felted hats of hussars. He recognised Captain Voigt, with his huge bushy beard and glinting monocle, amongst them.

"You!" bellowed Captain Voigt, his horse whinnying and bucking as he pulled it to an abrupt stop. The other horsemen went to Hans, the sergeant, and the few other Freikorps men who made it out. "We have to get you men out of here!"

"There are other men in there!" exclaimed Andreas, pointing at the town, which by now, was roaring with flames.


"Nevermind them! Get on!"

"They'll die!"

"We don't have time!" Captain Voigt roared. Then, brandishing a sabre, he pointed to the side of the burning town. Andreas saw a mass of moving grey objects. Bolsheviks. Hundreds of them. "The phosphorus drove them out! The whole fucking town was an ambush! Everyone were dead men walking already! Get on!"

Andreas stared. His mouth gaped. He felt the rough hands of Captain Voigt pull him from behind, hoisting him onto the back of the horse.

"H-how... We were... We were just in there..." he stammered.

"It was a fucking ambush! And we wouldn't have known if not for the phosphorus!"

Andreas' world was starting to crash in on itself. The tortured German. He would have died in that cellar, burnt to death amidst his horrible wounds. The woman. Her head blown open. The fire. The hell. It was all swirling and billowing inside of him. He was unable to make sense of any of it. He grabbed at Captain Voigt madly.

"I d-don't want... I don't w-want them to die!"

"Shut the fuck up, boy!"

Captain Voigt pulled at the reins of the horse and they hurtled off, galloping back towards the hill. Andreas clutched onto him for dear life. He felt tears streaming out of his eyes. Suddenly, about halfway to the hill, Captain Voigt pulled on the reins and they came to another abrupt halt.

"Are you crying, boy!?" he roared, seemingly amused. He signalled to the other horsemen to ride on without them.

"I... I could have died... So many..." spluttered Andreas into the back of Captain Voigt's jacket.

"So many... What? So many others died? And you didn't?"

"W-what... What happens... After us? When we d-die?" sobbed Andreas pathetically. He wasn't even thinking, just blurting out nonsense. He felt so small and helpless all of sudden. He felt like he was being crushed.

Captain Voigt craned over his shoulder to look at Andreas. He was grinning madly. His monocle burned red with the fires of the sky, his teeth bared like a wolf's. Andreas recoiled instinctually. "When we die?" laughed Captain Voigt. "What the fuck?" He reached back to grab Andreas. His hands grabbed Andreas by the hair and pulled him, turning his head.

"Look!"

Andreas tensed his neck, fighting the captain, who was pulled his head to the side.

"LOOK!"

Captain Voigt's other arm reached around and grabbed Andreas by the jaw, his nails digging into Andreas' face. He wrenched Andreas' head to the side. The hand that was holding him by the hair reached down, peeling open Andreas' eyelids, which were forced closed and streaming with tears.

"Look, boy!" proclaimed Captain Voigt, his voice booming into the heavens. He held Andreas' face, forcing him to stare at the grey mass of Bolsheviks. He saw them pouring across the horizon, streaming down past the swirling red of Tuckum. Next to him, Captain Voigt loomed over Andreas, his hysterical grin gnashing, his wild eyes flashing. He was not a man. Andreas had not seen men like him. He towered atop his horse, a mad demon. This was his domain. His feeding grounds.

"I've seen it." growled the demon in the hussar uniform. "I've seen what comes after us. And now, you have too."

Andreas' eyes, pried open, could only roll around their sockets and stare at the horizon where the Bolsheviks swirled like an oncoming wave. By now, the Germans had started shelling the Bolsheviks with the white phosphorus shells. Spots of bright white bloomed against the seething mass of grey. Pinpricks of rifle fire danced amongst them. The drum-beat of the artillery thumped away. Somewhere, a machine-gun started rattling.

"After us... There is nothing." hissed Captain Voight. "After us, comes the flood."

* * * * * * *
End of Chapter II
[1]: This was covered in Part II of Chapter II, here.
[2]: Schrunden is also known as Skrunda.
[3]: Laižuva is a small town near to Schrunden.
[4]: Kandau is also known as Kandava.
[5]: A Dynamo is a small, chain-operated flashlight that the Germans used during the First World War. Typically, it was hung around one's neck. It did not require batteries as it was mechanically operated.
Note: this is an entirely narrative chapter, focussed on telling the microhistory of the Freikorps. I won't post these too often, but I do think that they are important.
Another note: the bit about the Freikorps finding a tortured German soldier in the basement of a woman's home is closely based upon an anecdote that was told by Erich Balla. To the Germans, the notion of a woman combatant was a horrifying thought that offended the closely-ordered, neatly categorised worldview of "spaces and races" (e.g. war is a male space; the Germans are a martial race, etc.) that many Freikorps soldiers held. The fact that the woman is ostensibly German, also speaking Latvian, is meant to demonstrate the ethnic "confusion" of the area. The memoirs of the Freikorps soldiers that I have read are full of frustration and anger at the lack of clear ethnic boundaries in Eastern Europe. Constantly confused about who exactly their enemies and allies were, and unable to make sense of the fluid and ambiguous social/ethnic/religious relations of Baltic society, the Freikorps often just collapsed the world into an us/them binary. Simply put: anyone not speaking German is a Bolshevik. But as we have seen in previous chapters, even that doesn't hold much water.
 
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Recap: Ten Posts So Far
Recap: Ten Posts So Far

a9e42c5def0745ca267e6e58efb7d2e7.jpg

She Represents (Carnival Scene) by Jeanne Mammen, 1928.
Jeanne Mammen was a prolific artist who affiliated with George Grosz and Otto Dix, whose art we have seen earlier. However, while Grosz and Dix, who were traumatised veterans of the First World War, expressed deeply cynical and oppositional viewpoints through their art, Mammen portrayed the Interwar period as a time of liberty, prosperity, and freedom. No doubt, this was because as a woman, the Weimar Republic afforded her a welcome relief from the stuffy and oppressive patriarchal society of Wilhelmine Germany. This piece of art bears no relevance to the timeline, I just really like her art a lot and wanted an opportunity to post it somewhere.

If you've made it this far through my timeline, thanks for sticking around! I thought I'd celebrate ten updates with a recap of the events that have transpired. I will be doing this every ten posts, to recap on the narrative and to make sure everyone knows what is going on. I realise that this timeline is a little dense and the updates can be quite long, so I hope these recaps are useful. Also, I will touch upon divergences from IOTL history, and make a note of the different narrative threads that have been left open, to give you an idea of what we will be looking at in future updates. So, without any further ado:

Germany and the Freikorps

  1. Rüdiger von der Goltz is ordered to assemble a Freikorps force to be sent to the Baltic. He is ordered to do this because the Supreme Allied Command has decreed that the German military is responsible for maintaining order in East until they decide the "Russia Question". The Entente hopes to safeguard the independence of the new Baltic republics. Germany (more specifically, Gustav Noske) hopes to use the Freikorps as an instrument to extend waning German influence. Rüdiger von der Goltz's motives are hard to know, but he has no love for the republican government of Germany.
  2. Many of the new Freikorps recruits, such as Andreas Becker and Hans von Sachsenheim, are optimistic about fighting in the Baltic. Gradually, their optimism will be eroded as they experience the hellish conditions there. The continuing brutalisation and ideological development of these men will be an ongoing focus.
  3. Rüdiger von der Goltz and the main force of the Freikorps arrive in Libau in early February. Initially, he has trouble with the Soldiers' Council and the military police (leftovers from the regular German army), who threaten mutiny. This threat is quelled. By the 9th of February, the Freikorps take Goldingen, advancing inland into Latvia.
  4. In late February, Gustav Noske becomes cognizant of the rapid Bolshevik advance and starts to worry about them reaching the German border. Seeing Polish weakness as a potential way to solve the Poznan and Silesia question without Entente meddling, he floats the idea of offering aid. This is a very significant divergence, as IOTL, the Germans refused to talk to the Polish regarding the borders. This will be a narrative thread that will be further examined.
  5. On the 14th of March, the Freikorps reach Tuckum. They are now about halfway to their goal of seizing Riga.
The Polish
  1. On the 10th of January 1919, Józef Piłsudski and Ignacy Paderewski are assassinated by a grenade thrown by a communist revolutionary. The revolutionary is immediately killed. This is the major POD for this timeline.
  2. Taking advantage of the resulting power vacuum, Roman Dmowski returns to Warsaw, now that his erstwhile adversary is dead. He seeks to ally with Wincenty Witos and Józef Haller. Other than those two, Roman Dmowski brings several powerful aristocrats in as allies.
  3. Józef Haller's Blue Army is released from French command in early February, about a month earlier than IOTL. The Blue Army occupies Warsaw, and Roman Dmowski convinces the fragmented Polish government to appoint Józef Haller as the commander-in-chief of Poland's armies.
  4. As the Bolsheviks start their invasion of Poland, Roman Dmowski and his allies decide to stage a full-blown coup and suspend the elections until further notice. On the 13th of February, they stage this coup, and appoint Prince Eustachy Sapieha, though Roman Dmowski rules from behind-the-scenes. The socialists are arrested and barred from participating in government and are currently too disorganised to do anything about it.
  5. The Polish discuss seeking help against the Bolsheviks. They rule out the French, who do not have the resources or manpower, and briefly consider the Germans. Józef Haller refuses to contemplate appealing to the Germans for help.
  6. Roman Dmowski faces a problem when Edward Rydz-Śmigły, commander of the Lublin command and a committed socialist, refuses to mobilise in support of Roman Dmowski's new government. Eventually, Edward Rydz-Śmigły decides to mobilise, but while he tacitly recognises Józef Haller as the commander-in-chief of Poland, he refuses to recognise Roman Dmowski's government. This will be a narrative thread that will be further examined.
  7. Prime Minister Eustachy Sapieha is sent to France to represent Poland to the Supreme Allied Command's Commission on Polish Affairs. This commission is intended to definitively settle the Polish borders. This commission will meet later in March. The results of this commission will be detailed in the coming updates.
  8. Józef Haller and his Blue Army open a counter-offensive against the Bolsheviks out of Bielsk Podlaski.
The Bolsheviks
  1. Felix Dzerzhinsky, head of the Cheka, is directly involved with the assassination of Józef Piłsudski and Ignacy Paderewski.
  2. When Leon Trotsky learns of the assassination, he decides to exploit the chaos in Poland by diverting troops to open an all-out invasion. This lines up with the wider Bolshevik strategic goal of reuniting the former Russian Empire and potentially spreading the revolution to Germany. This is an enormously significant divergence, as IOTL, the Bolsheviks didn't begin an invasion of Poland until several months later.
  3. While the Bolsheviks begin this invasion in the last week of January, it stretches Bolshevik forces quite thin on their western fronts. Leon Trotsky is aware of this problem and seeks to rectify it by freeing up troops in the south and east. To do that, he believes that giving in to Nestor Makhno's requests for arms will allow Makhno to mount an attack into the rearguard of Anton Denikin's armies, distracting Anton Denikin. This is another large divergence. IOTL, Nestor Makhno was effectively blockaded by the Bolsheviks, eventually betrayed, and the Black Armies were destroyed. This will be a narrative thread that will be further examined.
  4. The Bolsheviks are surprised by the counter-offensive of Józef Haller's Blue Army; Bolshevik military intelligence had incorrectly placed the Blue Army in Paris.
  5. Aware of Edward Rydz-Śmigły's socialist sympathies and his dislike for Roman Dmowski, Felix Dzerzhinsky seeks to open a secret channel of communication with him. The end goal of this is to convince Edward Rydz-Śmigły to defect. This will be a narrative thread that will be further explored.
There you have it. In the spirit of celebrating the ten update mark, I'd love to hear any feedback about the structure/narrative of this TL; what works, what doesn't, etc. I'm going to take a little break but I should have Part I of Chapter III done by the end of next week. Chapter III will be entitled "The Betrayal at the Vistula". In addition to the above, I'd like to bring in the Finns, as well as take a closer look at what's going on in Ukraine and the Versailles Peace Conference. If I can, I would also like to begin taking a look at the Russian White armies and some of the other Eastern European states (such as Hungary, Romania, etc.) but that is all contingent upon my research and writing bandwidth.
 
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Deleted member 94680

I’ve been impressed by the TL so far and hope it continues.
 
You have chosen a very interesting topic here, I will be following this with interest.

you may also want to enlist the aid of @General Tirpitz .

I must admit that I have the same problem than Karelian has, namely that I can't really name studies written in English on this topic. There are actually lots of material about heimosodat for example but it is pretty much all in Finnish. (I actually tried to go through some well-known Finnish historians of the period and see what they had published in English but didn't really find much.) I would also ask @DrakonFin by a chance he knows some interesting source on this.

Just in the case you want to get a better feel of the period in general and are planning to do something with Mannerheim, his memoirs have been published in English, assuming you are able to find them somewhere. There is also the relatively recent biography of him Mannerheim: President, Soldier, Spy by Jonathan Clements. J. E. O. Screen also has a biography of him in two volumes, though I haven't personally read them. Those would give you probably relatively good idea what sort of man he was.
 
I’ve been impressed by the TL so far and hope it continues.
No need to worry! It definitely will. Always a pleasure.
You have chosen a very interesting topic here, I will be following this with interest.
Cheers! Glad to have another reader on board.
I must admit that I have the same problem than Karelian has, namely that I can't really name studies written in English on this topic. There are actually lots of material about heimosodat for example but it is pretty much all in Finnish. (I actually tried to go through some well-known Finnish historians of the period and see what they had published in English but didn't really find much.) I would also ask @DrakonFin by a chance he knows some interesting source on this.
Yes, this does seem to be a recurring problem. I appreciate that you looked though, and I am thankful for any help that anyone can offer.
Just in the case you want to get a better feel of the period in general and are planning to do something with Mannerheim, his memoirs have been published in English, assuming you are able to find them somewhere. There is also the relatively recent biography of him Mannerheim: President, Soldier, Spy by Jonathan Clements. J. E. O. Screen also has a biography of him in two volumes, though I haven't personally read them. Those would give you probably relatively good idea what sort of man he was.
I'll see if I can find it somewhere. I have really been enjoying Rudiger von der Goltz's memoirs, and so I wouldn't mind picking through Mannerheim's. A lot of these military men have a real funny style of writing. Although I recognise the problems of Great Man Historiography, the primary source material to be derived from these great men is often super valuable. Of course, if I manage to find the bandwidth to work in the Finns (and I hope that I can), I'll need to do the requisite research so it wouldn't be for awhile. Thank you for putting the effort in to look around for a total stranger, it is a very nice gesture.
 
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Will we see a more successful Hungarian Soviet Republic ITTL?
It depends. I've always viewed the Hungarian Soviet Republic as sort of doomed from the get-go. Largely, due to its geographic situation, being surrounded by hostile powers, but also because Béla Kun's promises to restore the former borders of the Kingdom of Hungary (which a lot of his popular support was based on) was very much untenable. However, we will see. If the Bolsheviks can find some sort of land bridge to Hungary, they might be able to deliver much needed supplies.
 
I am impressed by this TL! The post-armistice 'pigmy wars' in East Europe were a very chaotic time, and a TL about them requires a lot of attention to detail. You seem to be handling that very well! I also like that you do periodic recap posts, helps for following the TL and being aware of divergences from OTL.

I wonder how long Makhno will last in TTL...
 
I am impressed by this TL! The post-armistice 'pigmy wars' in East Europe were a very chaotic time, and a TL about them requires a lot of attention to detail. You seem to be handling that very well! I also like that you do periodic recap posts, helps for following the TL and being aware of divergences from OTL.
Thank you for your kind words! Personally, I view the post-armistice "pygmy wars" to be as consequential (if not more consequential than, hot take, I know...) as the Paris Peace Conference. The politics of Eastern Europe, and by extension, the rest of Europe, was undeniably moulded by these conflicts. However, you're right in identifying the chaos of the time period. I often feel like I'm rolling Sisyphus' boulder uphill: every time I think I've "addressed" a particular aspect of the post-armistice chaos, I realise that there are mountains of stuff I've left unattended... For example, I have hardly touched upon the White armies, the local Latvian, Estonian, and Lithuanian militias, the Baltische Landswehr (an army of Baltic Germans independent from both the Freikorps and their Weimar handlers), the Finns (or the Finnish communists, for that matter), Petlura's Ukrainian nationalists, Pavel Bermondt-Avalov's West Russian Army, et cetera et cetera *Žižek sniff* and so on and so on and so on.

I will endeavour to address as much of the above as I can, and I do things like the recap posts and the dramatis personae because I'm aware that if I'm feeling overwhelmed with how confusing the time-period is (and I consider myself to be well-educated on it), then my readers must be feeling something similar!

Part of the reason that this TL moves so slowly is to give me and the readers the bandwidth to process everything that's going on. Particularly because failing to cover an adequate amount of the history could very quickly unravel the whole TL. But that said, I am really happy people are enjoying it.

I wonder how long Makhno will last in TTL...
This is something that I'm looking forward to writing about. I find Makhno fascinating, and no doubt a better-armed Black Army can survive for longer than it did IOTL. Makhno's government was fundamentally very dysfunctional (personally, I think they were far too idealistic about the whole anarchist thing), but exploring the effects of an anarchist state could be interesting, and even its existence would no doubt have far-reaching consequences. It could serve to "legitimise" anarcho-communism as a viable political alternative to the wider world. We must keep in mind, though, that Trotsky's gamble with arming the Black Armies is purely pragmatic. Neither he nor anyone else in the Bolshevik apparatus considers Makhno to be anything more than a temporary annoyance to eventually be rolled up into the Soviet Union.
 
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In his memoirs, his mother's death commands one sentence; his pseudo-memory of the defeat of France, from when he was four, carries a paragraph.
Ah men’s fantasies. I’ve just discovered your thread. I need a good cry. I’ll be interested in how fake front culture transforms with a variance.
 
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