December 20, 1941, White House, 7:00 PM
"It's a good speech, just a little too long." commented Franklin Delano Roosevelt, trademark cigarette holder clenched in his teeth, as he read Judge Samuel Rosenman's draft for his Christmas Address to the Nation. He looked up and grinned at his speechwriter, the former judge. " It's damned good, in fact. Are you sure you don't celebrate Christmas on the sly, Sam?"
Rosenman shrugged, smiling. "Hell, Franklin, if Christmas is about Christ in this town, or half the country these days, I'll eat that speech. Have you seen that new Coca-Cola Santa Claus? That's the man the Christian kids in this country pray to.", he joked.
The two men chatted for another few minutes; they'd been friends and colleagues for a very long time, since before Roosevelt's first campaign for President in '32, but even with working in the same building and with Sa working for Franklin, they rarely got a chance to just sit down and shoot the breeze for a while.
Especially with what had happened earlier in the month. The face of Washington had changed radically in the last six months; anti-aircraft guns poked up from nearly everywhere these days, and soldiers walked the streets. Still, Rosenman trusted his old friend to get the country through it.
Finally, Judge Rosenman glanced at his watch. "Ah, damn, I promised the wife I'd be home for dinner tonight, I'm already an hour late." He stood up and offered FDR his hand, and the President shook it firmly. Roosevelt was frighteningly strong for a polio victim, thought Rosenman, he wouldn't want to arm-wrestle with him. "I'll edit the speech tonight, put it on your desk in the morning."
"No, I just want to drop a page here and there." said Roosevelt with a jaunty grin. "I won't drop dead from working on my own speeches, you know, Sam." The speechwriter laughed, louder when Roosevelt feigned slumping in his seat. "No, I won't suppose you will, Frank?"
"Franklin?" Roosevelt's cigarette had dropped from his teeth, and was rapidly burning a hole through his suit. His glasses half-hung, on one ear and off the other, and his eyes stared blankly at his feet.
"Oh my God?"
December 21, 1941, Vice-President's residence, 5:00 PM
"My fellow Americans," said President Henry Wallace as he faced the microphone squarely, imagining the millions and millions of people listening to his speech by radio. He'd written this speech himself. Sure, speech-writers were great, but he needed a "This is your President, Henry Wallace." He paused for a moment, and then continued.
"By now, all of you will have heard of the tragedy that befell America yesterday. Our President, the great Franklin Delano Roosevelt, died peacefully at his desk, working, as he always did, for all Americans."
"I will never be the President he was," he said with more truth than he knew, "but I will be the best President a man can hope to be. Together, we will carry forward the struggle against the Japanese and German foes, on land, sea, and air, until at last the forces of democracy, represented by ourselves, General Secretary Stalin, and Prime Minister Churchill, together with our allies in China and the Free French, triumph. As Abraham Lincoln might have said, let us not remember this day as a tragedy, but as a new birth of freedom in the Earth."
All across the nation, a mourning people breathed a sigh of relief. The man who had brought them through the New Deal, had comforted them when the great new war began, was dead. But his chosen successor, a good young farmboy, had manfully taken up his mantle.
For All Time Pt. 2
January 5, 1942, Washington, D.C. Oval Office
"I don't think this is a good idea," said President Henry Wallace firmly, tapping his pen against the memorandum he needed to sign. "Granted, Wavell is experienced, but as I recall, Rommel handed his head to him on more than one occasion, and do we really want this Yamashita fellow doing the same thing? It seems to me we'd be better off with Doug MacArthur, or even Chet Nimitz, over Wavell."
Secretary of War Henry Stimson, whose government experience predated Henry Wallace's own birth, eyed the young President as a faint note of concern sounded in his head. "Well, Mr. President, our policy is full cooperation with our British and other allies, unification of command and basic strategy, pooling of resources. And British, Dutch and Commonwealth forces in that sector of the Pacific do outnumber ours by a substantial margin at this stage. It seemed most practical to President Roosevelt to give command to the British...for the time being." 'Especially with that glory hound MacArthur locked up in Bataan.", he thought grimly.
Wallace eyed the memorandum again and finally, reluctantly signed it. "You're right, they do outnumber us there...no surprise, their half of the war is defending their Empire." He shook his head as he handed the memorandum back to Stimson. "We'll outnumber them there soon enough, once we get our boys in position."
Stimson took the memo and looked at Wallace in some surprise as he rose to leave. "Well, granted that's true, Mr. President, but both of our attentions are on Europe right now, and it seems inadvisable to increase our commitment to that area just to ensure American dominance in the command-"
"Do you think I don't know that?", snapped Wallace, not bothering to get up. He'd tried to get along with Roosevelt's old cabinet, but most new Presidents tended to clear out the old wood in their first year or so anyway, and there was few wood older than Stimson in American government today. "I'll tell you the same thing I told Cordell Hull when he tried to give me that line earlier today. I am the President of the United States, and I will not be trifled with. I make the decisions around here, and while I appreciate your advice, I don't need it."
"Dr. Win the War is the boss now," said President Wallace in his January 12 State of the Union Address, "but don't worry. Dr. New Deal is still alive and well, and very important around these parts."
Wallace outlined a three-step program for the New Deal during the war:
-The National Race Relations Board would ensure "full cooperation and promote mutual trust between the various American races, white and black, Asian and Indian, so that all the free peoples of the continent can unite, without fear or prejudice, against the foes of democracy across the seas." Privately, Wallace had already promised control of the board to Assistant Secretary of the Treasury Harry Dexter White. -The Nationalized Lead-Lease Industrial Board, Wallace's own inspiration, would place all industrial material going to help America's allies under the direct control of the US government. The US would set their wages, prices, corporate policies, while ensuring that even the owners of those companies would get what was coming to them. To head this up, Wallace has delightfully chosen the kind of man he really admires: Henry J. Kaiser. -Current New Deal programs, such as the Works Progress Administration, Securities and Exchange Commission, and Civilian Conservation Corps would remain solidly on the books, and receive strong additional funding. Wallace believed firmly in the New Deal, passionately, even, and would see no reason to funnel money elsewhere in wartime. Plus, it will let him quietly put several supernumeraries from the last administration out to pasture, or so he hopes.
For All Time Pt 3.
-In OTL, early 1942 saw the openings of the first joint Anglo-American economic committees the Combined Raw Materials Board, the Munitions Assignments Board, and the Combined Shipping Adjustment Board, with their goal as coordinating the economic and industrial policies of the Allies. In OTL, they were reasonably efficient and worthwhile...but that was under Roosevelt.
Henry Wallace neither likes nor trusts the British Empire in general and Winston Churchill in particular. While he reluctantly agrees some sort of economic cooperation is needed between the Great Powers, he'd like to have someone on the committee besides Great Britain; and when his lobbying efforts to Stalin fail, he settles for making sure the cooperation is done his way.
Instead of the various boards, policy and planning will be made by the Combined Industrial Board, and its various subcommittees; and Wallace knows just the man to run the American side of things. While the former director of the Securities and Exchange Commission is far to the right of Wallace, he is a self-made millionaire, like the new President, and also shares with him a strong suspicion of the British Empire. Plus, he has extensive experience as the former Ambassador to Great Britain.
-Early 1942 also saw the beginnings of South America turning away from the Axis; the governments of Peru, Uruguay, Bolivia and Paraguay all broke off diplomatic and economic relations with the Axis powers during January and February, after the US (and Secretary of State Cordell Hull) helped show them what a good idea it was.
Henry Wallace, however, with his extensive interest in South America, calls in the foreign ministers of nearly every nation on the continent (consulting but ignoring Hull, who he regards as a bigoted old fossil) and strongly invites them to go one step further, to declare war on the Axis powers.
Many demur, at first, after all, all their countries have a significant rightist political element (many are governed by right-wing governments, especially Vargas in Brazil), and their governments will look like lapdogs if they declare war because Wallace cracks the whip.
Wallace is a businessman, though, and knows how to negotiate with inferiors; he offers them something of a national bribe, lots and lots of Lend-Lease aid, to make up for the economic disruption caused by the loss of German trade.
Argentina is the first to withdraw, President Ramón S. Castillo knows full well he will be overthrown if he turns his back on neutrality, and frankly, he'd rather not be overthrown. Wallace continues to stubbornly insist that every nation involved in the secret talks must declare war, or they'll all look weak, finally going to so far as to make intimations of "cleaning house in the Americas" to Castillo's representative.
Castillo, whose government is on shaky ground back home, realizes the enormous opportunity Wallace has handed him, and has his government release word of much of the negotiations publicly, in mid-February, just as Bolivia is breaking diplomatic relations with Germany.
Riots sweep the capitol cities of South America save Buenos Aires, all of the governments involved in the Wallace negotiations survive, barely, but they all withdraw angrily. There will be no South American economic cooperation with the United States, no post-war trend toward democratization, at least for the moment, detente is dead. Castillo, with his new, solid powerbase, takes the opportunity to purge an ambitious young colonel named Juan Peron.
Cordell Hull comes near to resigning; in two months Wallace has undone almost a decade of his life's work, and Wallace looks, perhaps unfairly, like an idiot, more so after he continues to insist he was right all along.
Meanwhile, on the domestic scene...
-Wallace has submitted his Second New Deal plan to Congress, detailing the Board of Race Relations, the nationalization of war industries, the Food For Victory Commission, and the significantly increased funding for civilian New Deal programs. He could probably get away with creating many programs by executive order, but he wants his Hundred Days, he wants to show America that he's as good as FDR when it comes to handling Congress.
-Unfortunately, he's not. Wallace doesn't even bother to negotiate with Congressional leaders, he calls up Sam Rayburn and Alben Barkley, champions of the New Deal in Congress, Speaker and Senate Majority Leader respectively, and tell them to vote for the bill, and get others to vote for it too, the whole package.
They point out that while some parts of the bills are good ideas, many are pink as a salmon, and that's just not good. For that matter, very, very few Southern Congressmen and Senators are going to vote for anything called the "Board of Race Relations." when it's to be run by a noted, err...leftist like Harry Dexter White.
Wallace says, "Well, make them! That's your job, isn't it?" and hangs up, muttering about professional politicians...
For All Time Pt. 4
-In mid-February of 1942, President Wallace politely but firmly turns down British plans for a commission of mutual cooperation in the Caribbean. He's still determined to set right whatever went wrong in Latin America, and he doesn't trust the British not to come in and gum things up. Not intentionally, mind, but their diplomacy comes across as a bull in a china shop. He acknowledges a need for Anglo-American cooperation in the area, though, and so turns the matter over to the Commander of the United States Navy: Ernest King, who attacks the matter with his usual Anglophobia. (After all, Singapore has just fallen and the "Scharnhorst", "Gneisenau" and "Prinz Eugen" have escaped, how competent can the Limeys be?) With Latin America messed with for no particular reason yet again, a young Under-Secretary of State named Nelson Rockefeller, already uncomfortable in the less than bipartisan Wallace administration, hands in his resignation.
-Cordell Hull comes near to resigning, yet again, when President Wallace
(though not publicly, thank God, he thinks as he throws an empty bottle
across the room) puts strong pressure on the British government, along
with Chiang Kai-Shek, to simply grant India the independence they want, and
not horse around with the Cripps offer extended earlier in the year. But,
Hull is a stubborn man, and he won't go down without being pushed. He knows
full well that Wallace wants him gone, too, and is grooming White House
Chief of Staff Alger Hiss for his job.
-Acting under direct orders from Secretary of War Henry Stimson (who, with his long experience of Presidents, knows the key to dealing with them is just not telling them things), General Douglas MacArthur leaves Bataan Island and surrenders his role as commanding officer there.
-Wallace takes the opportunity of the disastrous Battle of Java Sea (February 27-March 1) to do some house cleaning. The United States lost five ships sunk to a damaged Japanese destroyer; clearly, something is seriously rotten in the civilian parts of the Navy Department. This is good for Wallace on a personal level as well as a political one; he despises Frank Knox, the Secretary of the Navy. Knox is a deeply, deeply conservative Republican, the wealthy head of a major newspaper chain in Chicago, (in fact, he was Landon's running mate in 1936), and he and the arch-liberal Wallace have butted heads on more than one occasion. Knox isn't exactly happy about being ordered to resign, but hey, if he criticized FDR in his papers, he can do three times worse to Wallace...To replace him, Wallace opts to go outside the Department altogether; to Paul McNutt, former Governor of Indiana and High Commissioner of the Philippines, current director of the Federal Security Administration.
In the shuffle as the new Secretary comes into power, a terrible paperwork malfunction loses all the plans for a planned B-25 strike against Tokyo and Yokohama in late April. McNutt is a very, very good administrator, (his enemies called him "The Hoosier Hitler" for his organization abilities) though, and he quickly helps rebuild the plans, so the strike is postponed until the first week of May, when the Hornet and Enterprise will launch the planes of General James Doolittle.
For All Time Pt. 5
-In late April of 1942, General James Doolittle receives word that his planned airstrike against the Japanese Home Islands has been postponed, yet again; Japan is poised to seize Port Moresby and have a gateway against Australia, and the Enterprise and Hornet are needed to reinforce the Yorktown and Lexington in the Coral Sea.
Doolittle has his backers, though, and infighting over the move delays the arrival of the carriers and their battle groups to the night of the eighth of April. Meanwhile, the battle goes as largely as per OTL; the first carrier-on-carrier battles in history see the loss of a few cruisers and support ships, the sinking of the Japanese light carrier Shoho, the savaging of the carrier Shokaku, destroying its ability to launch planes, and the destruction of most of the Zuikaku's planes. The Lexington takes the damage that will sink her as per OTL.
After arriving in the combat area and assisting with attempted repairs of the Lexington, Captain Mason of the Hornet, the senior officer of the arriving fleet (Captain Harriman of the Enterprise being very new, he just was delivered to the ship the Tuesday before.) takes the two fresh, undamaged carriers west, to hunt the Shokaku and Zuikaku.
The two carriers are travelling close together with the survivors of their battered fleet; the Zuikaku's shattered combat air patrol (the only Japanese planes in the air) is at a minimum; after all, thinks Rear Admiral Tadaichi Hara, the Americans are staying behind to lick their wounds...
And thus it is that while Lieutenant Scott Oscuro's recon flight from the Enterprise sees the Japanese fleet, the Japanese don't see him, and, an hour or so later, around high noon, to the delight of jingoistic American film makers of the future, "all the dive-bombers in the world came crashing out of the sky," in the words of one Japanese sailor. The Americans are inexperienced, but they score hit after hit as their Wildcat escorts shred through the thin line of Mitsubishi Zeros.
Two cruisers and a handful of escorts go down in a matter of twenty minutes, and wounded Shokaku is struck again and again, until, with a great groan, the engines fail entirely, just as water begins pouring in through a dozen holes. By this time, the remnants of the Zuikaku's planes are in the air, just in time to face the rested, well-fed pilots of the second wave of American planes, the torpedo bombers and their friends...when all is said and done, the Shokaku is going down fast (she will be gone within the day), the Japanese escort ships are simply fleeing home, and Zuikaku, with no less than five torpedoes in her, is slowed enough that an American submarine will sink her before the week is up.
It is America's first great victory of the war; the tide of the Rising Sun has been turned! America in general, and President Henry Wallace in particular, with his shakeup at the Department of the Navy, looks very good indeed. And he'll need it, too.
-Congress just won't do it. All of Wallace's Second New Deal package makes some people happy in Congress; liberals on race relations like the idea of the Commission on Race Relations; farmers like the Food for Victory Commission, and labor likes the idea of working for the nationalized, consolidated war industries...but, contrary to Wallace's hopes, the result is instead a coalition of Southern Democrats, conservative Republicans, and other opponents of the various bills.
They're in committee, most of them, and don't look prime to leave at all. And with the Congressional session nearly over for the start of the '42 campaigns, they're not going anywhere...
For All Time Pt. 6
-Despite their reservations with the new President's planned policies, Speaker Sam Rayburn and Senate Majority Leader Alben Barkley throw their weight behind at least the general idea of the "Second New Deal." Wallace has been President for only about six months in this, June of 1942, and he's entitled to a honeymoon. Besides, and much more importantly; Party infighting in wartime, in an election year, will do nothing more than make Republican Joe Martin Speaker of the House in 1943.
So, with some effort, after consulting a bipartisan crowd as diverse as Milliard Tydings, Hiram Johnson, and even freshman Margaret Chase Smith of Maine, the Democratic leadership works out a compromise set of bills that is basically acceptable to at least a majority.
The Food for Victory Commission is in; most people not opposed to an expanded government in general like the idea of consolidated agriculture, it promises quite a bit of profit. Too, there's little problem in sustaining and expanding the existing New Deal programs; they're reasonably popular in the mainstream wings of both of the parties.
Nationalization of war industries, barely, survives, though the nationalization is restricted to munitions only, and the promised payments to the corporations involved are trebled. In addition, Congress adds an oversight body to make sure the nationalized companies aren't going to mischief.
One thing (almost) everyone is glad to lose is the Commission on Race Relations; a fair majority of Southern Democrats would have voted against any set of bills that contained such a thing, and wasn't liked by a reasonable number of Congresspeople everywhere.
But, now, they've a working set of Second New Deal bills. They don't make everyone happy, by any means, but the SND package will get the votes of a majority, and be on President Wallace's desk just in time for him to sign, and the Democrats will be assured of increasing their majority in 1942.
Until Henry Wallace gets word that the professional politicians on the Hill have dared to tamper with his package of bills. The marks are clear, they're sabotaging his plans, the expanded New Deal that he knows with every fiber of his being the people want, the Commission on Race Relations...well, he'll fight for it.
He tries. He really does, but it's about the time he's shouting down Sam Rayburn, who's trying to tell him that no Southern Democrat will vote for something likely to do away with segregation that the Second New Deal is dead, at least in 1942.
Wallace tries to keep Congress in session, calling them back twice after recess begins, despite the election in November, but most members of both houses simply leave Washington anyway, even those not up for election in November. In August, bitterly disgusted, Wallace gives up on Congress, which has long since given up on him.
-Meanwhile, in June, the Battle of Midway happens around the same time as OTL. Fresh from the crushing at the Coral Sea, the Japanese pilots are much more aggressive, determined to avenge their brethren, and the Americans don't get the good luck of catching much of the enemy air cover on the deck, refueling.
Instead of four carriers sunk in a matter of minutes, the IJN loses the carriers Akagi and Soryu, while the Kaga's air patrol is so thoroughly savaged that they'll be out of action for quite some time. The US fleet loses the Yorktown as per OTL, but the more aggressive Japanese pilots manage to slip through the American screen and sink the Hornet, while the heavily damaged Enterprise barely manages to limp back to Pearl Harbor.
Despite the different losses, Midway winds up with the same final result; a battle that is a tactical draw is a strategic victory, the Japanese invasion fleet turns about and heads for home, thoroughly chastened by the Americans in two battles in a row, now.
-Secretary of War Henry Stimson takes the opportunity to resign in July; pleading health issues and that he's unnecessary, now that the United States has won two reasonably excellent victories in short order. It's true, but not really true. The Wallace administration is not a pleasant place for Republicans, of which Stimson is a titan of, and Wallace's antipathy toward professional politicians has made relations with a man who has been involved in government since the Taft administration cool at best.
Wallace isn't stupid, though; he knows exactly why Stimson is resigning, and so, when asked for a routine confirmation of Stimson's resignation, he denies it, and says the Secretary is resigning for reasons of basic policy. Angry and humiliated, the normally courtly Stimson pens a blistering attack on Wallace, which is published quite happily by Colonel Frank Knox's Chicago papers.
With the very public fight in all the papers as leaves begin to turn red in Washington, the academics and junior politicians approached by Wallace to take Stimson's place refuse, they've no desire to stick their heads into that particular guillotine. In fact, in sympathy to Stimson, the Secretary of the Treasury, Henry Morgenthau, who'd also been growing unhappy (Morgenthau was a moderate-to-conservative Democrat who went liberal for his friend FDR) quietly resigns and goes home to New York.
Finally, President Wallace finds his man for the War Department in the Navy Department, with Under-Secretary Frank Forrestal, who assumes office in early September. For Treasury, Wallace manages to find (finally) an academic who he can really trust to follow his agenda.
-With the temporary chaos in the civilian sector of the War Department, the Wallace administration is forced to rely heavily on the professionals, so, reluctantly, Wallace takes the advice of Chief of Staff George Marshall and cancels Operation Torch, the planned invasion of North Africa. Even more reluctantly, Wallace agrees to step up aid to British forces in North Africa, that they can do some of the work that the Americans won't be doing.
Frustrated over not being able to open his planned second front in 1942, Wallace aims the planning sectors of the War Department and the Army brass at one great goal in Europe; an invasion of France in 1943. He has already offered command to the man who is perhaps the most distinguished American soldier outside of the Pacific; Marshall, who has accepted.
-In early October of 1942, recognizing the danger the Democratic Party is in, and the risk of getting a Congress full of Republicans after November, Henry Wallace decides that it's time for a grand gesture. He will do something that will unite all Americans, everywhere, behind himself, the Democratic Party, and the war effort in one grand tide of liberty and justice.
And so it is, on October 5, 1942, President Henry Wallace, with George C. Marshall on one side and Benjamin O. Davis (the first black general in the US Army, brought out of retirement by Franklin Roosevelt before his death) on the other, before a great crowd of reporters, Henry Wallace signs an executive order desegregating the armed forces of the United States as of the first day of 1943.
(Historians will debate the racial views of Henry Wallace for years to come; while he is decades ahead of his time in civil rights for blacks, he only pondered the removal of Asian-Americans from the Far West for a few days before authorizing it earlier in the year.)
-El Alamein goes largely as per OTL, though less US Lend-Lease aid means that the British take heavier casualties; it's just not enough to change the outcome of the battle. In distant Algiers, Admiral Pierre Darlan reads the reports, and ponders...
-When all is said and done in the election of 1942, the Democratic Party doesn't lose as badly as they might; the Republicans wind up with 50 Senate seats, a bare majority, and only a lead of 7 seats in the House. However, a conservative Democratic coalition with the Republicans gives the GOP a strong majority in Congress.
For All Time Pt. 7
With both the recent British victories in Libya and the tentative approaches made by the Darlan government in Algiers freshly in mind, the Allies pledge to recognize any French government that becomes hostile to the Germans, Vichy or Free French.
There's a project the US government is funding in Chicago...after some negotiation, the Soviets and Americans agree to cooperate on their projects, such as they are. The liaison between them, chosen to assure Churchill that the British aren't entirely screwed over, is a fine gentleman named Klaus Fuchs, who is soon on his way to the University of Chicago...
In mid-February, Henry Wallace announces his intention to appoint White House Chief of Staff Hiss as his new Secretary of State; in the same press conference, he announces he is simply creating the Food for Victory Commission, nationalizing war industries, and putting White in charge of race relations.
Furious at the blatant executive smackdown, Senate Majority Leader Charles McNary vows to give Hiss the grilling of a lifetime; if Wallace wants to make the war effort partisan, that's exactly what he'll get. Meanwhile, in New York City, a slightly sweaty ex-newspaperman named Whittaker Chambers is pondering his next move.
While the American island-hopping campaign will continue, none of the powers will take the offensive into Burma or another area of jungle, instead the British will move into China, to keep supply lines open that way. Also, the Anglo-Austro-American forces agree to ensure the crushing of the Japanese Navy as soon as possible.
Conscious of just how weak the Wehrmacht looks, Hermann Goering, in his infrequent periods of not being high on heroin...
For All Time Pt. 8
-Not all news is bad news in March of 1943; in the first few days of the month, Allied planes in New Guinea shatter a Japanese troop convoy in the Bismark Sea, sinking six of eight destroyers and every troop transport. Furthermore, in the last week of the month, Tripoli finally falls to Montgomery's Desert Rats, who soon find their main worry to be running out of fuel, as they chase the Germans back into Tunisia. Admiral Pierre Darlan is nearly ready, now. He'll show Petain, and Hitler, and all the bastards. He'll fix them good!
-But much is; the Japanese invasion of New Georgia on the 15th goes off quite well, and Kharkov is besieged by the Germans on the same day. On the 20th, the largest convoy battle in the Atlantic to date sees U-Boat Wolf-Packs sinking thirty-four ships and damaging a dozen more; the American carrier U.S.S. Ranger barely manages to stagger home to New York. In late March, Joseph Stalin dissolves the Comintern as a gesture to his Western Allies. It's a gamble, but if it can make the United Kingdom as strongly allied as the United States, who is he to complain?
-In the United States, meanwhile, Senator Charles McNary is re-reading a massive letter he received from Whittaker Chambers just after the Hiss hearings started on the first. He's not quite sure what to believe; he'd heard the rumors about Hiss, so had most people in Washington. But the idea that the President of the United States would nominate a Communist spy...still, this is Henry Wallace. After a while, he decides to pay a visit on one man who knows a great deal about Communists, or at least about where they are; the director of the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover.
-As preparations for the invasion of France in June are completed, a decision is made in the staff of George Marshall; the German panzers allegedly being refitted in and around the city of Caen are an illusion, a fluke of bad intelligence from the French Resistance and bad photographic intelligence. For all of Marshall's skill, like most generals, he knows pretty much what his staff tells him, so he agrees with them.
-Scandal rocks the American Army in mid-April, and at least a dozen officers resign. General George S. Patton, who was billed to be the commander of the forces coming ashore at OMAHA Beach on D-Day, pays a visit to an Army Air Force hospital to speak to the wounded men and reassure them with the sheer magnitude of his presence.
Near the end of his tour, his heart swelling with pride at the brave American boys, he runs across a man with no visible injuries, huddled on a cot in the corner. Soliticiously (after all, the poor boy might have been unmanned) but with a growing suspicion, he asks the young tail-gunner, Corporal Joseph Heller, where he's hit. "It's my nerves," he responds, "I can't take the flak!"
Patton, in high dungeon, slaps the young man with his gloves and attempts to throw him from the hospital; and finds himself being thrown out. The AAC is not in his direct chain of command, and you just don't do that sort of thing, really.
Word of the dustup gets back to President Wallace; he goes mad, and when all is said and done, George S. Patton is back home, riding a desk as Omar Bradley's immediate underling at the Army General Staff. His replacement is a man who has never commanded a field force in his life, but seems a stalwart pile of man, General Leslie Groves.
-There is, of course, no TRIDENT conference in Washington. Churchill, in conference with Montgomery on the Tunisian border on the 8th of May, formulates a plan for an invasion of Italy in 1944 or '45, once Sicily is secured in late 1943. General Henry Arnold assumes command of American air forces in Europe and Britain in particular; his opposite number on the British side is "Bomber" Harris, the two like each other about as much as any other set of American and British generals in this war.
-In the end, though, it all comes down to June 5, 1943, when approximately 150,000 soldiers, 18,000 vehicles, 1,000 tanks, and 10,000 planes leave Dartmouth, Portland, and Portsmouth, setting out for OMAHA, GOLD, and UTAH Beaches. To oppose them is General Heinz Guderian, the staff officer and the man who'll get the credit, at least, for inventing tank warfare, who is chief of operations for Gerd von Rundstedt, C-in-C in the West for the moment...
For All Time Pt. 9
In the end, D-Day far closer than it will look in hindsight. Despite the best efforts of Congressmen, journalists, and authors for decades afterwards, it is quite difficult indeed to pin the blame for the collapse of the Normandy invasion on any particular facet of the American Army, or even on the actions of the Wehrmacht. War is, after all, a mightily complex thing, and the greatest seaborne invasion in history, up to that time, was perhaps the most complex undertaking of the Allied armies up to that time. Still, some conclusions can be drawn:
-The airborne side of the operation, the landings in late June 4 and early June 5, worked perfectly well until the paratroopers actually touched ground, and were confronted with the three panzer divisions that Intelligence had dismissed as an error. Despite heroic last stands in Bayeaux, Caen, and other names that would be carved in blood in the histories of American airborne units, there were no functional paratrooper groups larger than company-size after June 7.
-The naval contingent offshore simply flattened the three German destroyers and five U-Boats that happened to be caught between Britain and Normandy on the night of the 5; the only casualties were men wounded in the rush of firing. However, faulty reports of a German pocket battleship fleet (The Scharnhost, Tirpitz, Gniesau, and friends, to be precise) sent five American battleships and associated cruisers on a fruitless chase that lasted most of the night of the 5th.
-While the Army Air Corps, Navy pilots, and Marine fliers did signal service over the skies of Normandy, breaking the Luftwaffe into hundreds of pieces (some interceptor units took over 90% casualties, among whom was Adolf Galland, perhaps the premier German aviator of the time), they proved unable to fulfill their second function, which was to bomb and strafe German ground units on the beaches and those moving up the roads to them. Only the heroic rescue missions carried out by bold transport and bomber pilots kept them from recieving blame at the time; they landed again and again, dodging more and more German flak on the narrow beaches, saving hundreds of trapped soldiers, taking heavy casualties themselves.
-As for the men of the initial beachheads, at UTAH, OMAHA, and GOLD...it was probably Bill Mauldin who put it best when he said: "Early on the 7th, I realized I was actually running back across the Channel. It was about that time I started to think we'd lost." Despite heroic fighting, regiments dying to a man to cripple German brigades, it is obvious by the morning of the 7th of June, when the infamous "Five Tigers" made it onto the actual sand at UTAH, destroying a dozen Lees and Shermans before being taken out themselves, that it was obvious the invasion had failed. General George Marshall, American C-in-C Europe, called off any further waves, and ordered an evacuation. When the last soldier had returned, he resigned from the Army. His replacement is General Mark Clark, whose troops at UTAH beach penetrated the farthest, and lasted the longest, of any of the three wings.
-When all is said and done, 58,000 men are dead or dying on the beaches of Normandy, and in the fields around, on the morning of June 8, 1943. The majority are American; the British are focused on North Africa and India, where Archibal Wavell is preparing for a planned Japanese offensive from Burma, and the Canadians, Dieppe fresh in their minds, weren't about to get involved in such a batcrap enterprise. Still, there are 10,000 dead British and five thousand dead from Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, total. Another 40,000 or so have made it back safely to Britain, many of those are wounded and sick, unable to fight for a long time. 50,000 are German prisoners, guarded by, for the nonce, "an Army so broken it couldn't fight a cat, but fortunately the Americans are mice.", as one unkind German observer put it.
-June 9 dawns sunny in the office of Secretary of War James Forrestal; he's been in there all day, reading unfolding reports of the apocalypse that was Normandy. His phones have been ringing constantly; Bradley at Army, President Wallace, the press...they'll all blame him. So he picks up the .45 he borrowed from his Army guard the day before, puts it to his temple, and-!
-Two men are motivated by the disaster in particular; Vargas in Brazil opts not to declare war on Germany in 1943. Despite the strong temptation to go to war against the nation that has been sinking much Brazilian shipping, he's no desire to be yoked to the incompetent, ham-handed Americans. In Washington, meanwhile, Senator Charles McNary decides that there can be no mercy with the sitting government right now, they have to be broken, and broken hard, before more boys can die. That day, on what was originally planned to be the last day of SecState-designate Alger Hiss' interrogation before Congress, he takes out a file of telegrams recovered from a pumpkin.
For All Time Pt. 10
- By a 3/4ths majority, the Senate refuses to approve Alger Hiss as the next Secretary of State. Indeed, Charles McNary begins legal action against Hiss for perjury before Congress, a citation for contempt having failed by a slim margin. Furious at what he regards as the smearing of a good man, President Wallace decides it's time to take action. He retains Hiss as White House Chief of Staff, soon devolving all sorts of responsibilities upon the former State Department official, and nominates Joseph Kennedy Sr. to take the actual job at State. After all, say what you will for Joseph Kennedy, it's hard to call him a Communist spy. He has a much harder time finding someone for War; no one wants to step into the landmine that is James Forrestal's former office. (Forrestal seems to have kept a lot of notes in his head.) Finally, Wallace finds his man in New York Senator Robert Wagner Sr.; after all, the Senate usually approves its own.
But he's not finished, of course. With surprising perspicacity, he recognizes that McNary had to have help to bring down Hiss (Chambers has kept his name quiet.), and that there's only one man in Washington who could have done that: J. Edgar Hoover. Wallace fires the canny F.B.I. director on August 1, 1943, replacing him with the head of the Division of Social Protection of the Federal Security Agency, a man most notable for his ability to harass criminals to the ground. Wallace turns him toward his enemies in Congress, even as they go quite mad over the firing of America's "top cop."
Finally, Wallace decides to head out into the country; once the people see him, hear his message, they'll unite behind him. Franklin made whistlestop tours, didn't he? He organizes a whistlestop tour; New York to Chicago to Denver to San Francisco, and all the towns in between, to last most of the fall and winter. He'll run the government from the train, of course, but he'll leave day-to-day decisions in the hands of Chief of Staff Hiss and SecState-designate Kennedy.
-The end of August sees the area in and around the city of Kursk as a burnt-out shell of a town, besieged by both sides...a second Stalingrad, except a bit more favorable toward the Germans. The Soviet summer offensive has slaughtered millions of Germans, but millions more Russians also were quite surprised to find themselves dead. Still, while the Soviet advance has stalled somewhere in the center of the city and doesn't look to get going again until winter, the Germans are definitely on the defensive.
-In the Pacific, New Georgia falls to the Allies on August 10, 1943. The American forces are doing marginally better in the Pacific, enough that General Lesley McNair's proposal to move America's first and only Marine field army to Europe is granted. McNair himself is soon on a plane to Algiers, to meet with Bernard Montgomery, Pierre Darlan, and Henri Giraud. After all, just because the Army failed in France doesn't mean the Marines must fail against Sicily. Also, Archibald Wavell manages to cut off and destroy Yamashita's offensive into eastern India at Imphal, and has won permission for an offensive west into Burma. His deputy, William Slim, has nicely put down the pro-Japanese revolts led by Subhas Bose; a pity that Mahatma fellow died as well, but if he was going to go walking around in a riot waving his stick, it was his look-out.
-Too, arrangements are finalized for the Tehran conference in November. On the agenda is discussion of the joint American-Soviet-Anglo nuclear program (definitely in that order), there's talk of the Soviets concentrating on one type of bomb and the Americans on another, plans for the invasion of Sicily, tentatively set for early in 1944, and even the postwar division of Europe and Asia.
For All Time Pt. 11
-The newspapers explode with scandal as they've never done before in September, when J. Edgar Hoover releases his papers. They're a Who's Who list of scandals in the Democratic Party; Secretary of State Kennedy's stock manipulation and possible rum-running is prime on the list, and all are met with pardons from the White House, for . President Wallace announces that he will not allow false and unwarranted indictments to be made against his administration. Emboldened (though he was not pardoned, he told Wallace he didn't want to look guilty), Alger Hiss sues J. Edgar Hoover for libel. Two days later, pictures of J. Edgar Hoover in hose and garters, along with a reasonably detailed account of his homosexuality, are released to the press by an anoynmous source. The first is an outright fake, the second is a fake in the sense that it's a fictionalized account of reality. The press eats it up, though carefully, and politely...this is an age of gentlemanly stuff, after all.
-Charles McNary dies of brain cancer in early September, 1943, and is replaced as Majority Leader by the gentlemanly Robert Taft, who has the approximate personality of his father, if Taft pere had lost the weight and taken up jogging. With the Hoover muddle in everyone's mind, Taft decides not to bring charges of lying to Congress against Alger Hiss (He is not a fan of scandals, even for the other side), and instead quietly turns the papers involved over to the federal prosecutor, suggesting a possible indictment for espionage...
-The kindest thing that can be said about President Wallace's nation-wide whistlestop tour is that no one actually took a shot at him. New York is abysmal; Wallace had spoken often of the "Rainbow Army" after integration, made up of white and black, Catholic and Protestant...and now nearly 60,000 of those boys had died in less than a week. Of the thousands that come to see him speak, most have anti-Wallace signs, and the rest have rocks.
Chicago is kinder, Wallace has always been close to labor, and he's pushed the right buttons during his term (John L. Lewis and George Meany, among others, have sat on government committees.) Denver is bad, though, and San Francisco is good only because of the Marine guards posted around the perimeter of the Presidio, where Wallace speaks.
He returns home in early November to prepare for Tehran; vowing to help swing the people away from the Republican press that has led them so astray. He'll fix 'em...he'll fix 'em good!
-There are dustups in America's Big Science projects in this period, too. (of the two man team running the government in early fall, only Chief of Staff Hiss has any interest in it.) David Greenglass at the Manhattan Project is promoted for his good work, winding up as America's #2 scientist, just under Vannevar Bush. To placate frustrated egos at the Manhattan Project, Hiss has Edward Teller created Presidential Science Advisor.
-Just to top everything off, the Tehran Conference, from late November to early December, sets the stage for the post-war world. America and the Soviet Union agree to divide their efforts on nuclear projects as they share knowledge; the Soviet Union will work on the gun-type bomb, while the Americans will work on the implosion-type. As per the war in Europe, all the powers agree to offensives in the summer of 1944.
The British Empire, Americans, and Free French will go north through Sicily and the rest of the Mediterranean, while the Soviets will strike again in the Ukraine. The Soviet Union also pledges to declare war on Japan within a month of Germany's surrender. Very preliminary plans for the post-war world are drawn up; the Soviet Union will occupy Austria, along with eastern and central Germany, until democracy can be established, while the US, the UK, and France will hold the rest.
Finally, all powers will demand unconditional surrender.
For All Time Pt. 12
-The winter of 1943-44 is a dark time in American politics. As J. Edgar Hoover releases his damaging files and is struck by damaging information about himself in return, about a half-dozen Senators and dozen Congressmen quietly retire or resign?but no others. While most politicians manage to endure the storm, it's only through fighting back as dirty as the information on them. The damage is done, though, and the era of the gentlemanly press is coming rapidly to an end.
-And just in time for the '44 campaign, too. President Wallace plans to run for re-election, but he's one of the few people outside of the left of the Democratic party, especially labor, that wants him to. The de facto leader of the opposing wing of the Democrats is Senate Minority Leader Alben Barkley of Kentucky. He is a moderate on race, unlike most Southern Senators he has not blamed the failure of D-Day on the integration of the Army, though he has called it "hasty and unwarranted". Barkley has been speaking to Party bosses since the election of 1942, and has quietly locked down the conventions in several states.
The Republicans, meanwhile, are much more divided; with far more candidates who want to be the nation's 34th President. The conservative wing of the Party is divided between two isolationist Senators, Robert Taft and Arthur Vandenburg, while the liberal is roughly divided between Indiana banker Wendell Willkie (who has not been associated with Democrats and thus not discredited as per OTL) and New York Governor Thomas Dewey.
One man who is not interested in running for any particular office is Missouri Senator Harry S. Truman; he has reluctantly come out in favor of integration in the Army, and the subsequent outcry in his home state was enough to convince him he had no further interest in politics.
-In the Ukraine, both the Reich and the Soviets are planning lots of action for the spring and summer of 1944. Field Marshall Manstein plans a spring offensive against Kursk, aiming to drive the Russians out and seize the great Soviet salient in the area. Zhukov, whose signal intelligences have let him read Manstein's dispatches, plans for a defensive fight in the spring and then a great blow in the summer. Hopefully, this will coincide with the invasion of Sicily, which is now forecast tentatively for July.
-Meanwhile, in North Africa, the first United States Marine Corps field Army is forming; training together with Montgomery's British and Giraud's Free French, for the invasion of Sicily. Morale in the Marines is surprisingly high; many are veterans of the Pacific, and they vow to revenge the defeat of Normandy on the bloody shores of Sicily. The invasion will run into one particular difficulty, though?
-Eliot Ness has no interest in dealing with the Mafia. J. Edgar Hoover might not have recognized that it exists, but he does, and he won't make deals with them. When Charles Luciano comes to him with an offer of keeping the East Coast docks American; Ness threatens him with arrest. Determined to get in with the government, Luciano cracks down on his lieutenants; Albert Anastasia finds himself deep in the East River for planning to burn the Normandie, but it still doesn't convince Ness. With all of the disturbances going on, a handful (five, in fact) of Axis sympathizers manage to get in operation on the docks of New York City?
For All Time Pt. 13
-In February of 1944, as most people in Washington have been expecting for a long time, White House Chief of Staff Alger Hiss is arrested by the FBI for espionage. Wallace appointee he may be, but Director Ness is no more a fan of spying than the next man. (He does allow Hiss to resign his post at the White House first, though, and arrests him at home rather than there.) President Wallace expresses his full confidence in Hiss' innocence (Hiss, convinced he will be acquitted and wanting to preserve his reputation, declines the President's offer of a pardon.) and promises Hiss his job back when he's acquitted.
-It's about that time that Mississippi Congressman William M. Whittington, one of the Democrats on the House Judiciary committee, stands up and submits articles of impeachment for President Henry Wallace. Whittington has the backing of a strong wing of the House Democrats, recognizing how very, very bad Wallace is making them look, not to mention the 60 thousand dead at Normandy, and the whole Communist Spies Everywhere thing. As the committee begins debate, (with resistance mostly based on the fact that there's no grounds for impeachment on the basis of incompetence, plus no one really wants to see Joseph Kennedy President.) Wallace decides it's time to pick his running mate; as can be expected, professional politicians are rather...dubious at the prospect, so he turns to the realm of business.
-Meanwhile, the American Expeditionary Force in North Africa has reached its full size; roughly half that of a standard Corps (38,000 men). Most in it are Marines, enough that the overall commander is a Marine, Major General Alexander Vandegrift. In many ways, having the Marines along is a bad military decision; they're well-trained in amphibious assaults, of course, which makes them very popular in the American military establishment after the failure of D-Day, but not so much in the field fighting that Sicily, and especially Italy will need, but the Wallace administration badly needs a victory. One man who is sure of this is General George S. Patton, commander of the American Army contingent of the invasion, another is the overall commander of the invasion, Bernard Montgomery.
-March of 1944 sees the premeire of The Martyrs of Normandy, the first film about the failed invasion of D-Day, starring John Wayne as Captain Wedge Donovan. Directed by John Ford, who came ashore at Normandy and was badly wounded enough to be invalided out of the Army, the film is largely a bottle piece, as well as shocking for the day, graphically violent, with the suggestion that it was incompetence upstairs that let our boys in France die. On another level, though, the way it is sold to the public, it's simply a particularly daring and honest war movie, if one shot with great speed.
-In early April of 1944, the Soviet defenders of Kursk are awakened by a great rumbling of artillery and panzers in the distance; Manstein's spring offensive has begun, with its aim to strike at Moscow, again. Little do the Germans know, of course, that the Russians are well-prepared for them indeed.
Far to the west, not far from Poitors, Hermann Goering is inspecting his hand-picked crews for the operation he plans to use to rise to the Fuhrer's right hand again. After the humilation of the Luftwaffe over Normandy, he found the Army or SS or Kriegsmarine suddenly in control of half of his former responsiblities. Wermacht men man Germany's flak guns now, Navy men make coastal patrols, and all of his offensive ground forces, including his beloved panzer division, were handed over to the Waffen SS.
He'll show them, he thinks as he looks over the crew for the 50 planes he's building secretly, he'll show them all. Goering has shown surprising political skill in keeping his plan away from the rest of Hitler's higher-ups; ambitious SS #2 man Heydrich has loaned staff to get the glory, as has the Reich's #2 engineer, Albert Speer, who has helped build the Ju-190s Goering wants in secret, in Poland.
For All Time Pt. 14
-Tragedy strikes Washington on April 11th, 1944, as American forces occupy the Marshall Islands in the Pacific and prepare for the strike against Sicily. General Benjamin O. Davis; the first black general in the United States Army, brought off the retired list to command a brigade at Normandy (his was one of the first to hit the beaches and the last to be evacuated) is just leaving the War Department when a shabbily-dressed enlisted man bursts from the crowd of office workers and yells "Die, nigger butcher!" before shooting Davis three times in the chest and fleeing. He leads the Washington police on a merry chase for a day and a half, before being killed in a shootout outside the Lincoln Memorial.
Wallace, horrified, makes a speech promising full restitution to Davis's family, and promises a greater role for blacks in his administration, now and after the election. To show this, he nominates Under-Secretary of State Ralph Bunche to be the next ambassador to Great Britain. In response, the House Judiciary committee draws up three articles of impeachment and votes to send them to the house on May 1, 1944.
-Tragedy strikes the political scene a few weeks later, when, in the middle of a violent debate on Communism (the American politicial scene is much less gentlemanly in the Wallace timeline) between Republican front-runner Wendell Willkie and New York Governor Thomas Dewey during the most recent primary debate on May 20, when Wendell Willkie falls over dead.
Willkie's delegates coalesce around former Minnesota Governor Harold Stassen for the nonce; while Stassen, serving as a naval staff officer in the Pacific, is probably unnominatable at this point, he can serve as a valuable block indeed as the former Willkie delegates plan to choose between the man who killed Wendell Willkie, and the men who might kill his ideals. On June 23, 1944, the Republican Party meets in Chicago to decide just who they'll run for President in 1944.
The convention is acrimonious to say the least; pretty much any Republican candidate has an excellent chance of winning the general election in 1944. Dewey takes the lead in the first few ballots, but liberal-to-moderate favorite-son candidates like Harold Stassen and Henry Cabot Lodge deny him much of the Midwest and New England, respectively, keeping Dewey and his conservative rival, Ohio Senator Bob Taft (who has the endorsement of Arthur Vandenburg), neck and neck for several days of ballots.
Finally, when they're sure Taft will feel indebted to them, Harold Stassen and his former Willkie delegates concede on the 28th of June, throwing their support and states behind Robert Taft. Henry Cabot Lodge recognizes the trend, and so does Dewey, they concede, and Robert Taft has the nomination by luck and acclimation.
In gratitude to the liberals and New Englanders, he picks a man who is both, Vermont Senator George Aiken (who had supported Stassen), as his running mate, and Aiken is quickly selected by the Party on the first of July. As Taft and Aiken shake hands proudly in Taft's hotel suite a few days later, someone turns on a radio, and everyone hears the first reports of the invasion of Sicily...
For All Time Pt. 15
-For all the worries of all parties involved, the invasion of Sicily opens reasonably well. Between July 1-July 3, the British wings of the invasion on the left and right secure Licata and Syracuse, while the Franco-American forces in the center successfully subdue Gela and the German fortifications there. Bit by bit, then, the Allied forces begin slogging their way north; against strong German resistance. Despite the "Colonel Potter" intelligence ploy of the British, even the weakened German forces on Sicily are quite strong, launching multiple offensives against the Franco-Americans in the center throughout the month of July. Benito Mussolini flees to German-held Corsica just ahead of an anti-fascist mob; the Germans do a good job of pretending to believe the Ciano government is serious about continuing the war...
-On July 9, 1944, the last German defenders of Kursk surrender to the Soviet forces there. Field Marshall Zhukov is delighted; the Germans are finally, finally falling back, and the Red Army is on the move, going west! He will be in Kiev by the end of the month; not long after Koniev has finished clearing out every German and associate from in and around Leningrad.
-The success of Sicily boosts the popularity of the Wallace administration, enough that, by the slimmest of margins, the House voted not to hear articles of impeachment before adjourning for the 1944 campaign. "He's going down in November anyway," comments one anonymous Congressman, "why bother with an impeachment?" And indeed, things are looking troubled. Wallace has won only a few isolated primaries in the Midwest, and then only when his opposition was split, and every state convention has gone against him. Plus, with the trial of former White House Chief of Staff Hiss heating up, well, it's a grim time indeed, and the convention in Chicago at the end of July is a bit...bitter.
In fact, it's marvelously violent as black supporters of President Wallace clash with Southern Democrats; as divided labor fights among itself, and as respected Congressmen and Senators almost come to blows. Finally, convention chairman Rankin manages to throw most every disputed seat between Barkleyites and Wallaceites to Barkley's people. As Wallace fumes in his hotel room, vowing to get some payback, the now-unified convention votes, with a minimum of discussion, to nominate Senate Majority Leader Alben Barkley as the Democratic candidate for President in 1944. To please Westerners, the Party picks California Senator Sheridan Downey to go with him on the third ballot.
Two days later, speaking from Washington, Henry Wallace announces that he will be running for President again in 1944 on the Progressive Party ticket. He's rather blunt about it, naming his running mate (Secretary of Agriculture Jay Hormel) in the same speech.
-Meanwhile, in the Pacific, President Wallace authorizes Admiral Chester Nimitz's planned frontal drive on Formosa over General MacArthur's strike at the Philippines on July 10. Tempting as it is, the Army just doesn't have the credibility with amphibious assaults that it might: Wallace trusts the Navy, not the Army that let him down so abominably.
For All Time Pt. 16
-August of 1944 doesn't see any amphibious invasions, but it does see preperations for two grand ones in the next year. In the Pacific, General Douglas MacArthur has ever-so-generously accepted command of Operation Overlord, the American invasion of Formosa, set to begin in January of 1945. MacArthur is in one of his manic phases, organizingly enthuastically and boldly, reasoning that if he cannot take credit for the idea of Overlord, he can at least take credit for the crushing victory that he is sure it will be.
In Europe, meanwhile, General Mark Clark has a bold scheme that will bring him great glory and renown as an American general, and as an added bonus, will prove very helpful to the war effort; an American invasion of Europe's heartland in the spring of 1945. One of Clark's primary associates in planning Operation Anvil is General Curtis Lemay, C-in-C of American air forces in Britain, who has one good way to get through the (vastly weakened) Atlantic Wall; burn it through.
-There are isolated, minor anti-draft riots on many American campuses near the end of the summer of '44; mostly they're against the idea of an integrated Army fighting to liberate Europe for the Godless Russians. The riots are small, though, and poorly organized, after all, no actual politician wants to end the war, especially not with the Allied toehold in Sicily and the Russian summer offensive in the Ukraine doing so well. They just want to complain; it's a small, petty series of incidents, the most high-profile being the egging of musician and President Wallace campaigner Pete Seeger as he tried to play to a hostile crowd in southern California.
-The US armed forces are increasingly black now; the tens of thousands of "Wallace's Boys" who joined up after integration are rapidly being replaced by "Davis's Men", discharged or retired veterans who've joined up in the name of their fallen leader. Blacks still are a minority in the US military, of course, but they hold increasingly prominent positions there. In terms of economic and social status, blacks are better off in the Wallace administration than they were at this point in FDR's term...OTOH, lots and lots of people openly blame the integrated army for the failure of D-Day.
-As August turns to September, a new word enters the American political lexicon. President Wallace's running mate, Secretary of Agriculture Hormel, is one of the wealthier men in America (he's certainly above the mean, at least) and throws his considerable forture foursquare behind the campaign. He pays for hundreds of thousands of mass mailings to be delivered across the countryside to potential Wallace voters; unfortunately, faulty shipping and procurement causes two or three copies of the mailings to arrive at the victims' houses per day for a week or so, all of them cheerfully emblazoned with Hormel's company's most famous product. And thus the term "spamming" was born.
For All Time Pt. 17
-In mid-September of 1944, Sicily finally falls to the combined Allied offensive. Humiliated, Rommel evacuates with the survivors of his command to Italy, where he receives word that Hitler plans to court-martial him for gross incompetence. (He has, after all, "lost" both North Africa and Sicily.) He sreceive permission to resign from the Army instead, and so on September 29, 1944, Field Marshall Erwin Rommel inspects his troops one last time and flies home to Germany, defeated in war and in history. His replacement as commander of troops in the Mediterrean theater is Erwin von Witzleben, former commander of Army Group West.
In two and a half months of fighting, the combined Allied armies have lost 62,000 men, and 19,000 of those, primarily French and Americans, are dead. The victory is a bloody one; but it is the closest thing to a foothold won on the soil of continental Europe that the Allies have seen yet. German resistance was high; and remains high over in Italy despite the new commander; after all, they've won many battles, and made the enemy pay in blood for Sicily. As many of the reinforcements arriving in Sicily are American, Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery authorizes a plan to get them out of his way, so that the fighting can be carried on by British troops under British command; the invasions of Sardinia and Corsica, to be carried out by Franco-American troops. To please the French and Americans, their feathers ruffled at getting the minor operations, command of the invasion forces (Sardinia is set for November, Corsica for early December) will go to a French General and an American one.
-Kiev falls in early October of 1944. The Red Army is on the move west, and the Nazis are beginning a long, long retreat that will hopefully end in Berlin. It's not nearly fast enough for Polish Home Army General Tadeusz Komorowski, who broods irritably in his bunker; the Home Army had had a really good plan for an uprising in August, but the Reds weren't actually close enough to do anything about it. They'll be here soon, though, of that he's very sure. He isn't going to go down like the stupid yids did in 43, shot down like dogs in their ghetto, no, he's going to be the leader of Poland when all this is over.
-October 7 of 1944 is a great day at Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, D.C; it's a big, noisy Shriner's convention! President Wallace blames most of the troubles of the last few years on incompetence or maliciousness among the British; and thus has no particular interest in conferences, especially when his administration is fighting for its life. Even if they had; with Harry Dexter White on indefinite leave to protect the administration and Alger Hiss' jury nearly finished with their espionage deliberations, there would be surprisingly little to talk about. A conference is scheduled for May of 1945 in Cairo; but that is between all three leaders, and most people are sure that Henry Wallace won't be there.
-On a party level, the election of 1944 is shaping up to be a relatively polite one, all things considered. Bob Taft has no interest in fighting dirty; it violates his deeply held political beliefs, many of which are slightly to the right of his late father, and it's bad politics to boot. All the dirt in the election comes from the Democrats and their splinter, the Progressives; Wallace calls Barkley a traitor to the Party, Barkley calls Wallace a fool, and a dupe to boot, and blames him for the failures of the American military. Both men are increasingly desperate; Barkley suspects he doesn't have the votes to really win, and that Wallace may have destroyed the Democratic Party (which Barkley has spent decades polishing); while Wallace looks on Barkley as the worst kind of professional politician, one who stabs his leader in the back for his own political gain. The issues are diverse; everything from Wallace's pardoning of Private Eddie Slovik to Barkley's alleged ties to the Klan. (While that does hurt him among black and liberal voters, many Southern Democrats wonder what's so wrong with that?)
On November 7, 1944, people all over the United States go to the polls to evaluate the four years of the Wallace administration, as well as the competing claims of the two major parties...
For All Time Pt. 18
November 1944-January 1945
Rod Serling is a month away from his 20th birthday on November 25, 1944, when he receives word that The Atlantic has picked up his first short story "Where Is Everybody?" Serling has spent much of the past year in an oxygen tent recovering from a bullet wound to the lungs incurred at Normandy; it was there that he picked up his chewing gum habit and wrote his story, a bitter, pessimistic expose of a military whose top brass still whisper that it was the d*** n****** who lost them D-Day. Serling will manage to draw both hate and praise.
In what many pray will be the final propaganda disaster of the Wallace administration, Alger Hiss is convicted of espionage on December 1, 1944. The convictions are divided; of multiple counts on the indictment, Hiss was acquitted of about half. (As per OTL, Hiss' trial was a mix of the truth and framing of a guilty man, fortunately the jury was a bit more perceptive.) To keep from overly embaressing the government, and since Hiss did spy for a current US ally, after all, Hiss is sentenced to twenty years in a federal prison. Wallace immediately pardons him, prompting the near-instant resignation of Attorney General Rosenman . The Washington federal prosecutor, meanwhile, begins drawing together evidence for a perjury indictment, though he'll make sure to send it to the grand jury after January 20.
It's an unpleasant Christmas for PFC Charles Schulz; Sicily is a rather rugged place at the best of times, made worse when one is far from home and serving in a tiny village in the middle of nowhere, that looks nothing like long-gone Minnesota. He finally assembles a small Christmas tree out of a tiny, scraggly tree he found loose on a hillside, mutters "I've killed it!" as it keels over, and goes out on his date with local girl Sophia Petrillo.
Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. greets the new year with the grim depression that accompanies all of the O.S.S. agents attached to Joseph Stilwell. American relations with the Nationalist Chinese are in terrible shape; Stilwell doesn't like Chiang, and Wallace has been funneling most of the Hump tonnage straight to Mao Tse-Tung. Thoroughly disgusted with the blatant corruption of the Nationalists and the slightly questionable aspects of the Communists, Schlesinger has found himself reading fiction exhaustively, looking for some sort of escape from the banal trap most of the world is. Two days later, his edition of Astounding finally arrives.
As Robert Taft is sworn in as the nation's thirty-fourth President on January 20, 1945, Eva Duarte ponders that life is actually pretty good, all things considered. For all that she misses him, Juan is a rapidly fading memory; they both knew how things were, and if he got himself shot, it was his own fault. Still, he was better than her current attachment, the military attache to the Chilean consulate in New York. Augusto is just...odd. But she's found her niche in the city, learned to speak moderately good English in the two years she's been there, and won great fame in the Latin areas of the city playing the Madonna in a Spanish-language musical last Christmas.
On January 22, 1945, navy pilot George Bush makes himself an ace twice over by shooting down his tenth Japanese airplane in the opening minutes of Operation Overlord, the American invasion of Formosa. The 100 thousand men of the first wave of the invasion have sailed from American-held Saipan and Tinian; with Formosa in American hands, the US will be able to head south to the Philippines, or over to China, or even to Japan...
For All Time Pt. 19
-The American seizure of Formasa is a slow, bloody affair. After a solid month of fighting, the coastal regions of the island are at least de facto in American hands, but at least 20,000 Japanese troops are still well-fortified in the center of the island, especially in the Chung-yang Shan-mo mountain range, along with countless armed Japanese civilians. To win the native Formosans over to their side, and thus facilitate anti-guerilla operations, the American Army establishes the Office of Civilian Administration under Brigadier General William Westmoreland, to ensure the hearts and minds of the Formosan people are all for democracy.
-February also sees the beginnings of President Taft's cabinet shaping up; Henry Stimson is back in Washington (somewhat reluctantly) at State, now serving under his fifth President. Surprisingly, Taft keeps Robert Wagner on as Secretary of War, saying (with rather pointed references to the Wallace administration) that he has no desire to change horses in mid-stream, or at least in wartime. The rest of his Cabinet appointments are more prosaic, mostly conservative-looking Republicans like New Jersey Congressman Fred Hartley at Labor and California Governor Earl Warren as Attorney General. Taft also restores the former O.S.S. director William B. Donovan, who had resigned over procedural issues with President Wallace.
-In Europe, Lewis B. Puller's invasion of Sardinia is well-underway on the first of March, most of the island is secure. Puller estimates that Sardinia will definitely be able to support the planned strike against Corsica later in the month. It will be a Franco-American operation; there are just so many Americans in Sicily and few French, there aren't exactly many replacements coming in.) that the French needed backup. To command the invasion of Corsica, the US military picks General George S. Patton. Like with most American field operations of the war, the British are only mildly consulted, and Bernard Montgomery vows that it will be British and British only who strike against Italy in May. Meanwhile, to the north, the Soviets have cleared the Germans out from around Leningrad and begun an offensive against the Finnish lines north of the city.
-In the first week of March, two quasi-steps forward are taken in military aviation. Hermann Goering, visiting a moderately secret Luftwaffe base in southern France, gets the good word that almost two years of work has paid off; they've an engine for the forty-seven completed planes that can actually sustain flight for 15 hours straight. Goering, delighted, orders his team to work, to finish modifying the Ju-190s in question. Unfortunately (at least for the pilots), Goering hasn't really been paying attention. The jet engines can work for 15 hours, which means that about half the time they'll work for about that long, give or take an hour or two. Still, thinks Goering's staff and engineers with a shrug, it's not like they're flying the planes.
On the sixth day of March, the history of American military aviation takes something of a sideways step. The goal of the LeMay Raids are simple; clog the European road and rail system with refugees and relief efforts (military efforts only, at least) and thus make the invasion of the Low Countries (now set for mid-May) all the easier. The obvious way to do that, of course, is to shatter, via incindiary devices, European cities under German occupation in the area, forcing the local German governments to deal with tens of thousands of civilians roaming the countryside, as well as the military loss of various cities.
First on the list to fall is Amsterdam...
For All Time Pt. 20
-Adolf Hitler's 56th birthday party on April 20, 1945 is a quiet, sedate affair. Despite the greater success of the German armies, Hitler's drug addictions have proceeded apace, and the man largely sequestered in the Berghof is not the champion of 1939, or even 1943. Lots of people take note of the Fuhrer's apparant mortality, everyone from Hermann Goering to Reinhard Heydrich to the Army Chief of Staff for Italy, Claus von Stauffenberg. As the young Generalmajor returns to his post in Rome the next week, he ponders.
Italy is a sunny place to be for the German Army, despite the terrific fighting going on in besieged Sardinia, not that far off-shore. Many officers, including the commander-in-chief, Erich von Witzleben, have moved their families down to Italy to join them. The Ciano government is moderately popular with the Italian people at large.
-Late April also sees the cancellation of the LeMay Raids (thus sparing Flanders a visit). The various American Air Armies involved are pretty happy about that; the raids were deeply unpopular in the rank and file. Furthermore, they haven't really accomplished their goal; while Amsterdam, the Hague, Rotterdam, and Antwerp look as if a hammer has been taken to them, with tens of thousands of dead and hundreds of thousands homeless...well, the Reich has ways of ensuring fleeing refugees don't block the roads, and they're effective. Irritated, LeMay turns his attention to supporting the invasion of the mainland, now set to strike somewhere around the Belgian-Dutch border, set for early May of 1945.
-To the surprise of no one (except perhaps himself) President Robert Taft authorizes use of nuclear weapons in both Europe and Japan as soon as they are viable. (A test detonation is tentatively scheduled for mid-August, with a deployment the next month.) Taft will die long before the use of nuclear weapons become an issue unto themselves, but as he himself said in a private letter, "I was elected to save the lives of people, American, European, Japanese. Stimson and Wagner tell me it will kill a million Americans to reach Berlin after we land in May, and tens of millions of Germans. Well, I will make sure that doesn't happen." The Soviet nuclear program, still in loose cooperation with the American (Taft doesn't want to alienate the Soviets, but he is rather worried about too much cooperation.), estimates that they will have a working device (built from uranium rather than the American plutonium) by January of 1946.
-In the Far East, Formosa (despite terrific Japanese resistance and a strong partisan movement in the interior) is usable to support combat operations by the first of May, 1945. Despite knowledge at the very highest of levels that they may not need to bother, American forces on the ground begin organizing plans for Operation Olympic, the American invasion of Kyushu.
-On May 4, 1945, in the early morning hours, 200,000 Americans leave Norwich, sailing hard and quick for West Flanders in the beginning of the largest naval invasion in history. The Americans were going back to the Continent.
For All Time Pt. 21
May 7-8 1945
-The initial problem with the Great Raid of May 8, 1945 was that it was just not a very good idea to begin with. Even if the initial fifty-three specially modified Ju-290s had all been able to reach their targets (the Brooklyn Naval Yards, Gracie Mansion, and Wall Street), the main effect would have been nothing more than a pinprick to the already-enraged American behemoth. As it was, well, things got unpleasant very fast.
Of the initial fifty-three bombers scheduled to take off at 1700 sharp on May 7, seven simply don't. Frustrated, the pilots and crew of the seven watch as their comrades fly out of the airfield near Bordeaux, ready to do or die for the Fatherland. Most will.
Surprisingly, the forty-six survivors avoid Allied detection on their long, lonely night flight (illuminated by a single slim fragment of the moon) along the 45th parallel, before veering south towards New York City. That didn't help the ten bombers who develop mechanical problems and crash, their crews drowned nearly to a man, the U-Boats supposed to pick them up hundreds of miles away, or sunk (Doenitz would later deny hearing anything about the operation...and laugh and laugh in Goering's face.), but one takes luck where one can.
Especially, since, in a development apparantly revolutionary to the Luftwaffe personnel involved in planning the raid, the Americans have radar! Admittedly, much of the US Army brass in the Northeast (that portion of it awake at the time) does dismiss the three-dozen radar blips traveling down the coast of New England as illusion, but it is a young bird colonel in New York City named Barry Goldwater, a veteran of D-Day and Sicily, who wakes his superiors and persuades them to launch the fifty or so P-51s available for combat at that short notice, and send them hunting the blips at around 6 AM on the morning of the 8th.
They catch twenty-nine Ju-290s over Long Island Sound, just off the city of Huntingtdon, an hour or so later, just as the sun is breaking in the east. The P-51 pilots are rested and ready, with full guns and full gas tanks; the Luftwaffe crews have been flying all night, are low on fuel, and had their armaments stripped nearly bare for the long flight.
None of the Ju-290s survive; most are swatted from the air and crash into the Long Island Sound, a fortunate few manage to land on American soil, or jump from burning planes to parachute to ocean or land. One frustrated pilot manages to drop a portion of his bomb load on Long Island; they land in an abandoned warehouse area, killing five and starting a major fire that will do some millions in property damage. Of that portion of the raid, that's all she wrote.
Except for the five planes under Oberst Otto Remer. The SS officer isn't a particularly able pilot, but he does have loyal crews, men on loan from Reinhard Heydrich as part of his deal with Hermann Goering. With virtually the entire active New York City-area air force out of the way, Remer is feeling confident as New York City comes into view around 7:45 AM, many of the American antiaircraft gunners have never hit a moving target (save for veterans) and his squadron can strike and go as they please.
Until the U.S.S. Massachusetts opens fire. The big battleship had taken a torpedo hit while on convoy duty the year before, and is just leaving drydock in Brooklyn, where she'd been under repair ever since. Her crews are rested, ready, at general quarters; and the men manning her AA guns are veterans to a man. And Remer's planes are passing right overhead.
In a single volley, three of five are down, exploded or straight into the sea, and a fourth is wounded. Ironically, it is Remer's that is hit, one wing is all afire as she begins a slow, slow plunge toward Bedloe's Island. The final plane manages, against all odds, to drop her bombs in full Battle of Britain style. On the completely wrong part of town; the Aurora Theater in Harlem, to be precise.
Remer's plane, meanwhile, as if guided by an angry god or a vicious, dying SS officer, smashes into the primary feature of Bedloe's Island, a copper statue given to the United States by France in the late 19th century. The statue is old, in need of repair, with a thin, thin skin. The Ju-190 smashes directly into the statue's base, whereupon which every bomb on board detonates. Slowly, slowly, Lady Liberty topples, shattering from the high explosive, the old copper that survives landing in the burning pools of incindiary, melting slowly, slowly.
By 8 AM, May 8, 1945, it's all over, except for the cleanup. The Aurora fire destroys most of Harlem; America's civil defense is brave and well-organized, but green as grass. A few hundred die, thousands are homeless, and a great neighborhood will never be the same. The Statue of Liberty will never be, not this version, anyway.
For All Time Pt. 22
-News of the attack on New York is actually a propaganda victory for both sides; for all that Hitler crows for the great Luftwaffe victory (especially the destruction of the Statue of Liberty), the American armed forces charge forward, whipped into a lust for revenge spurred by the attack on American soil. (The British, meanwhile, shrug, as the Americans have taken civilian casualties equal to a bad few days during the Blitz.) Within two weeks of the attack on New York, by May 22, 1945, Antwerp and Brussels have fallen to the American Army, and an armored spearhead has reached as far as Ghent.
American casualties have been high, fifty thousand dead and wounded, but they're nothing compared to the failed D-Day. Civilian casualties have been heavy as well; the Germans have released the tens of thousands of refugees from the terror bombings onto the roads, blocking the American advance in many places and causing many accidental raids on fleeing civilians. The image of a screaming Belgian girl fleeing down a shattered road soon becomes one of the most famous photographs of the war.
Still, most of western Belgium is solidly in American hands by the end of May, with small footholds in northern France and the southwestern tip of the Netherlands.
-In the United States, President Taft moves quickly, greatly ramping up the air defense network over the East Coast and beginning construction of warning radar stations all up and down the East Coast. Secretary of War Robert Wagner resigns; it was his New York that was bombed, and his Department that will take the fall. Taft finds Wagner's replacement in another New Yorker; the head of the O.S.S., William Donovan. Taft speaks personally in New York City two days after the raid, showing surprising fire as he vows to pay the Germans back a hundred-fold for what they've done.
And indeed, he does. Secretary Donovan's first act in office is to order Curtis LeMay to resume his terror raids; this time in conjunction with the British over Germany. On May 25, the 8th Air Force visits Bremen, shattering much of the city over the next few days. Lubeck, Hamburg, Wilhelmshaven, and Bremen have now all been destroyed from the air in the space of a very few weeks by the British and Americans.
-Morale in Germany is a mix of elation and despair; America has been struck and hurt (the attack on New York has been greatly played up by propaganda as total destruction.) but Germany is being struck and hurt worse nearly every day. Tens of thousands are dead and homeless in the cities struck by terror raids; and, worse, a Soviet offensive has finally crossed the border; Russian troops are on the ground in Poland and slowly pushing their way west, and they've cleared the Crimea and Ukraine of German troops.
Worse, for the Army at least, Heinrich Himmler is in charge of a whole front (the German troops, Waffen SS and Army alike) in the Netherlands. Reinhard Heydrich has successfully supplanted him as Reichsfuhrer SS, using the Goering raid as justification (after all, Himmler couldn't even see the Great Raid preperations, right under his nose!), but Hitler has offered his old friend a chance to redeem himself as commander of the troops on the Dutch front.
Horrified at being under a "damned psychotic chicken farmer", anti-Nazi elements in the Army make contact with the Kriesau Circle, long the centerpiece of the German Resistance movement in the Fatherland itself. Already the commander of the Wehrmacht forces in Italy, von Witzleben, is on their side, along with all of his staff. Tentative outreaches to the Ciano government have been quite positive; if the conspirators can somehow get Sardinia back.
-Pierre Darlan transfers his personal headquarters to Corsica in early June; the island is solidly in Franco-American hands, and it is the expected jumping off point for Operation Dragoon in June, the subsidiary invasion of southern France. It is expected to be an American project; something the British are fine with, Montgomery is finally ready for his strike against Italy itself, and the British and Commonwealth forces plan to strike in June as well. It's now clear to everyone that Hitler's Reich is going down, it's just a question of when and how.
-On June 6, 1945, the American invasion of the Philippines begins. Though there was a strong sentiment to simply make the islands the biggest "island prison" holding isolated Japanese troops, the Japanese garrison there is large enough to support bothersome submarine patrols, and it is Luzon that the Yamato was heading towards in late May when she was caught and sunk by torpedo bombers from the USS Ranger after a running gunnery duel with the Iowa and North Carolina...
For All Time Pt. 23
-By early July of 1945, most of the Low Countries are solidly in American and Allied hands. Allied forces driving into France have reached the Somme (with more than a few old American and British soldiers recognizing their old stomping grounds), while the American army has crossed the Meuse in Belgium. Heinrich Himmler's terrible generalship has let the Americans drive to the North Sea in most places, forcing the Wehrmacht back to defensive lines around the city of Arnhem, in eastern Gelderland. Himmler's army deputy Heinz Guderian, the hero of D-Day, after watching in horror the deliberate destruction of most of the Dutch dike system by SS troops, flooding much of the countryside and killing tens of thousands and making hundreds of thousands of refugees, has opted to throw his weight behind the Kriesau Circle, and the quietly growing arm of the German Resistance.
Not because of civilian casualties, of course; Guderian has served on the Eastern Front before Normandy, and it's regrettable, but these things happen in war, but to have to work under the SS?!? It's simply monstrous, and he won't stand for it.
Guderian isn't alone in joining the Resistance; as Kiel, Erfurt, Essen, and Hanover are shattered from the air over the course of July and August by American bombers, and as a whole cross-section of the German military steps into the anti-Hitler column, everyone from Erwin Rommel, the commander of the German Home Army, to Field Marshal Gunther von Kluge, commander of Army Group Center, (and all of his staff) who has fallen back to western and central Poland after a Soviet drive stalled just east of Warsaw.
Adolf Hitler, meanwhile, is growing increasingly isolated in his Berghof headquarters near the former Austria (the Wolf's Lair in East Prussia falls in early August.)
Soviet troops have by this time taken Romania and Bulgaria, and with their forces very near the Hungarian border, Admiral Miklos Horthy, regent of Hungary, has made his decision. He begins quiet chats with the commander of German troops in Hungary, Henning von Treschow, working out arrangements that his Italian counterpart Galeazzo Ciano has already made with the German commander in Italy, von Witzleben.
-In the Pacific, the Philippine Islands are largely in American hands by the end of August. A small remnant of the Japanese troops there continue guerilla operations in the interior, but it's hard to be guerillas when everyone hates you and lots of former Resistance fighters know just where to chase you into the bush.
With the fall of the Philippines, there's really nothing left but Downfall; American planners in Formosa are already putting the finishing touches on the organization of the attack on Okinawa, planned for sometime in early September. After Okinawa, there will literally be nothing left but Japan herself.
There's a new influx of troops as well in the Pacific; those few men who made it through Japanese captivity intact and who wanted to go back into the military. Formosa served as one of the larger Japanese prisoner holding camps, and they were slow to evacuate the prisoners. (Though quick to shoot many.)
Among those now in American hands is Jonathon Wainwright, final commander of American troops in the Philippines before their surrender in 1942, and Richard Sorge, alleged Soviet spy and former German diplomat.
-It is seemingly a season for invasions; on August 9, 1945, the invasion of Italy begins. It is a largely British and Commonwealth affair; Bernard Montgomery is the overall commander, with a Canadian army under Henry Crerar landing at Campania, an Australian under George Vasey striking against Basilicata, and Montgomery himself commanding the invasion of Calabaria.
Like almost everything Bernard Montgomery does, the invasion is slow, meticulously well-planned, and designed to greatly aid his own reputation. Which it does. American troops in the Low Countries have taken terrific casualties; the German army up there has the Panther and King Tiger as its standard model panzers, and nearly every man has an MP-3 assault rifle. In Italy, things are better (for the Allies, anyway.) Those tanks which aren't Italian are usually the obsolscent Panzer IVs; and most of the soldiers still have Mauser '98s. This is good, at least for the Allies.
-South, across the Mediterrean, the Cairo Conference (August 11-29, 1945) has gone marginally well. The massive casualties caused by X-Day (D-Day will remain a lexicon for failure in the American language until the end of the century, and beyond) have only reinforced the fervent isolationism of Robert Taft, he is only too glad to pledge agreement with his predecessor's suggestions for postwar German occupation zones, and even carry them further. (The Soviet Union to administer Austria, Hesse, Schleswig-Holstein, and Bavaria, on top of OTL's claims.)
Plans for post-war treatment of Nazi war criminals are discussed as well; President Taft agrees to recognize any trials carried out by the British, French, and Soviets, but says the United States will not try any war criminals in its possesion; they will be handed over to either the various allies or released into the custody of German civil authorities.
Taft's tentative proposals for some sort of joint nuclear program are soundly rebuffed; Darlan is reasonably interesting, but Stalin doesn't want to share, and Churchill, frankly, just doesn't trust the Americans anymore. Taft doesn't mind, it wasn't at all big on his agenda.
There are, of course, no discussions of any sort of internationalist organization after the war; indeed, all four leaders are increasingly weary of the League of Nations, which is just a living joke at this point. Darlan and Taft agree to sponsor an invasion of southern France by October.
In the Pacific, Stalin renews his pledge to declare war on Japan within a month of the fall of Germany, in exchange for Soviet post-war authority over Sakahiln and Korea, with tentative, half-formed plans made about some sort of soverignty over Hokkaido as well.
On a personal level, Robert Taft's first meetings with the other Allied leaders don't go at all well; Winston Churchill is suspicious of all Americans, especially Taft, the arch pre-war isolationist, Joseph Stalin has come to expect a degree of...pliability from American politicians that Taft is unwilling to provide, and Darlan is...Darlan.
As his plane leaves Cairo for Washington, Taft is heard by an aide to mutter "Let them all hang, when our fight is done."
For All Time Pt. 24
-On September 9, 1945, one of the largest paratroop drops in military history sees an entire American airborne division dropped behind German lines in the eastern Netherlands. Landing amidst shattered infantry units and with a massive armored offensive striking just across the river, the city of Arnhem is in American hands within a week, with virtually all of the Netherlands following it by the next Only a brilliant strategic defense by Heinz Guderian allows the bulk of the German army to escape into Germany herself; a defense Heinrich Himmler successfully takes credit for. A fuming Guderian roars bloody murder at the de jure SS chief (Guderian is the only man not afraid of him) and retires, like a sulking Achilles, to his tent. Forget letting a junior officer do it; he'll see to Himmler himself.
-In Italy, the Australian, British and Canadian beachheads have linked up with each other, putting a big piece of southwestern Italy in Allied hands. Oberg, commander of the small SS force in Rome has begun making dire intimations to Erich von Witzleben, German C-in-C Italy, about just what the Reich does to failures; there's talk of replacing von Witzleben with Oberg's immediate superior Kaltenbrunner, or simply shooting him and putting a more competent Army officer in charge. Von Witzleben, long a figure in the German Resistance, persuades his colleagues actually in the homeland to accelerate the timetable; Major Axel von Bussche's attempt to set a bomb to kill Hitler has failed after Heinrich Himmler failed to show up for the relevant conference, so the conspirators must do something; the new Soviet offensive is gradually blasting the Germans out of Poland, and there is talk of the Red Star over Berlin by Christmas.
-In the Pacific, meanwhile, American forces are surviving the storm that is Okinawa; Japanese resistance is fanatical and tough, and as in Formosa, there is a fair-sized population of civilians. However, Formosa has taught the Americans well about dealing with Japanese civilians and Japanese soldiers themselves; American and Japanese casualties are slightly lower than in OTL's invasion of Okinawa. To the south, unimaginative but competent Archibald Wavell has driven Yamashita back into Thailand after fierce battle; the Japanese exhausted their resources with a poorly-managed offensive into India some years earlier, and are far weaker in the area than in OTL.
-With the death of Hoover-era Supreme Court Justice Owen Roberts, President Robert Taft makes the first new Supreme Court appointment since Robert Jackson (Byrnes not having resigned from the Court as per OTL; after all, the Wallace administration would never give a job to a conservative like him); and to everyone's surprise, it's former Presidential candidate Alfred Mossman Landon. Landon is confirmed with reasonable speed; both houses of Congress are solidly Republican, and Landon isn't as far to the right as he looks.
Meanwhile, Alger Hiss' trial for perjury is over, with a conviction on all five counts, and a sentence of twenty-five years alltogether. The nation is solidly united behind Attorney General Warren (brought in as a special prosecuter, he worked his level best to conduct the trial in a fair and just manner, something he mostly succeeded at.) There will be no move to acquit Hiss in this TL; he will never be a martyered icon of the Left after being convicted of espionage once, and then convicted again of perjury at his first trial. The nation's eye is on Earl Warren, and he is pondering a run for President in 1952, or even earlier.
On September 19, 1945, absolutely nothing happens in Alamagordo, New Mexico. The hundreds of prominent scientists there, from Oppenheimer to Teller to Banner to Hall, are "just fishing" in the words of General Dwight David Eisenhower. The scientists are, however, very concerned about people attempting to spy on their fishing (not that anyone should, since there's nothing happening.), and thus Army guards will arrest or shoot anyone who comes to investigate the large flash, as if from some sort of plutonium explosion, that rocked the skies around the small town at exactly noon.
-In Great Britain, it is abundantly clear that the Churchill government will not survive the next elections, whenever it is that they are held. (Probably after V-E Day.) It's clear too that the left wing of the Labour Party is firmly in the driver's seat; while Clement Atlee remains an important figure in the party, too-public association with the unpopular Conservative government has pretty well tainted him to actually lead them, come election time.
Too, there is no small amount of Americanphobia in the Labour Party; the US has provided quite a bit less Lend-Lease to Britain than per OTL and has been more overtly Anglophobic. Increasingly, the Party has begun turning to the minister of labour and national service, the former union leader Ernest Bevin.
For All Time Pt. 25
-October 9, 1945 dawns clear and bright over Leipzig. The war has been (relatively) good to Leipzig; her industrial centers are large and prosperous, and her famous university is full of good Aryan students from all over Germany, learning all sorts of good Aryan facts, like what a marvelous fellow the Fuhrer is. While Leipzig has, of course, lost thousands of her sons to the Russian bear currently devouring western Poland and the American forces in the Low Countries and northern France, so has every German city; and at least Leipzig has mostly been bombed only by borrowed Russian B-17s; the Soviets are now notorious for their inaccurate bombings. Indeed, the only American B-29s that seem to be overhead lately are weather planes; much of the local populace has stopped ducking into bomb shelters unless there's a really, really good reason.
Among those who don't duck is Dr. Carl Goerdeler, former Mayor of Leipzig and one of the leading figures in the anti-Hitler resistance. (He resigned from office when a statue of Felix Mendelssohn was removed by order of the main government.) Indeed, the resistance plans to make Goerdeler the new Reich Chancellor once Hitler is assasinated. With plans for the assasination becoming more and more urgent, Goerdeler and his colleagues are risking a rare meeting at his home near the center of the city.
Former Army Chief of Staff Ludwig Beck is there, along with former Social Democratic Leader Julius Leber. While Reserve Army commander Erwin Rommel is attending, neither Erich von Witzleben nor Heinz Guderian were able to leave their military responsibilities in Italy and western Germany, respectively, though Witzleben has sent his Chief of Staff, General Count Ulrich von Schwanenfeld to assure the conspirators that Italy, both the German troops there and the Ciano government, will back the conspirators 100%.
Henning von Treschow is there to say the same for Hungary and the Horthy government. Another spearhead of the Resistance not there is Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, former commander of the Abwehr. Forced to retire in February after the defection of several high-ranking Abwehr officers in Turkey, (Canaris was fired in 1943 under similiar circumstances; with the Germans doing much better in the ATL, they defected two years later), Canaris is Being Watched, with Schellenberg (Heydrich's replacement as SD chief) nearly ready to close in on him.
The Enola Gay, meanwhile, is there to kill them all, which it comes close to doing, detonating the first atomic bomb used in wartime at exactly 8:37 AM, October 9, 1945, roughly 1,500 feet over the University of Leipzig, believed to be an important center of the German atomic bomb project. Most of the students are just going to class; most of the city's workers are on their way to work, on the streets.
By 8:40, 70,000 people are dead. Leipzig is on a flat, broad plain, loosely similar to Hiroshima's delta, but the plutonium bomb is significantly more powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima in OTL. Only solid German architecture, brick and stone and steel, keeps the city from being shattered and thousands more dying. A brisk wind kicks up from the west as the Enola Gay flies back to the Netherlands, and the great mushroom cloud begins slowly falling west.
In Dr. Carl Goerdeler's house, nothing stirs, nothing walks. Only one wall is nearly unburnt and uncollapsed; it has but one scar; the frozen, fushed shadow of a man who was once called The Desert Fox.
For All Time Pt. 26
Unpublished diary of Captain Eberhard von Breitenbuch, adjunct to Field Marshal Walter Model
October 15, 1945
They'll be coming for me soon. I know it, I can feel it. Already I hear the SD asking what Beck and von Treschow and Rommel and Goerdler were all doing together in Leipzig; eventually they'll ask the wrong person, they'll crack,
and the whole game will be given away.
[von Bussche] is transferred to France to fight the Darlanists; [Klausing] is at Zossen, preparing for the Fuhrer's imminent move. Of all of us, only I am left here, save for [Stieff,] and he is not a man to do what must be done.
And it must be done. Death is a void of fear, but if he can be stopped, my death is worth it. Nearly 80,000 known to be dead in Leipzig from a single bomb, much less the tens of thousands of maimed and dying, much less the other cities broken from the sky like a child's plaything, much less Poland all Red now, half of Italy and France is American and British...and he speaks only of organizing a Vergeltungswaffen nerve gas strike against Antwerp.
They'll be there tomorrow, von Kesselring to plead for his bombers (as if he stands a chance, with Goering in chains for his failure), Dornbergers for his rockets, and Keitel and the rest of his Army lackeys, Jodl and Blomberg and Reichenau, to bow and scrape before the greatest evil we have ever known.
I fear only failure. Will [Guderian] and [von Witzleben] act, with the plan dead at Leipzig? Horthy hesitated, and the SS taught him the price of such. What lesson shall I teach?
For All Time Pt. 27
-Eberhard von Breitenbuch will become a favorite source of speculation for alternate historians of the future. What if he'd used a bomb, as all of his fellow conspirators had planned? What if he'd shot Hitler two days earlier, or two days later? And, perhaps the most obvious, what if he'd succeeded outright? But, of course, he did none of those things.
What he did do, around noon on October 16, 1945, was shoot Adolf Hitler twice in the chest in the middle of the last Fuhrer Conference to be held at the Berghof, with a small Browning pistol he'd smuggled in past SS Security. The first bullet passed neatly through Hitler's left lung; the second passing through Hitler's arm, rib, and the big muscles of his chest before lodging in his spine.
Just before the Fuhrer was rushed out of the command pillbox, unconcious from shock and with a sucking wound to the chest, a volley from a dozen SS SG-44s took Breitenbuch in the chest, killing the young officer instantly. A moment later, Obergruppenfuehrer Theodor Eicke, commander of Hitler's personal guard, shot Field Marshal Walter Model in the head as an obvious partner in the conspiracy.
A tableau arose for a moment; the unarmed Army officers, including Luftwaffe commander Kesselring and Peenmunde commander Dornberger, frozen at one end of the locked room, Eicke and his men at the other, loaded machine guns trained on the Army men, fingers trembling on the triggers.
It's hard to say what happened next (there is a paucity of reliable eyewitness testimony) but the best evidence suggests that one of the Army officers, perhaps Wilhelm Keitel, slipped on a pool of blood and fell across Breitenbuch's dropped pistol.
The SS immediately opened fire, riddling Keitel with bullets, as the trapped Army officers fled for the locked exit door. In a matters of moments, as Eicke shouted "Kill all the traitors!", Field Marshals Walter von Blomberg, Walter von Reichenau, and Fedor von Bock were dead, shot in the back as they managed to tear the lock off the door. Albert von Kesselring and Walter Dornberger fall as well, critically wounded. Dornberger will linger another few weeks in an Army hospital before dying; von Kesseling will live out the rest of his life in a wheelchair.
Only Erich von Manstein, oppurtunist extraordinarie, is thus still alive and articulate (he ducked under the table) when Lt.-Colonel Wilhelm Heinz and his men break down the pillbox's door a moment later; alive to cry out, "It's the SS, they've shot the Fuhrer and are launching a coup!"
The subsequent exchange of fire is heard by both nearby SS and conventional Army troops, and thanks to foolish aggression and clever calculation, the German Civil War has begun.
As the roar of gunfire grows louder from the camp, an anonymous, forgotten truck, carrying the unconcious Adolf Hitler and two SS doctors, speeds away toward Munich.
-An hour later, in Oldenburg, the headquarters of the German army facing the Americans in the Low Countries, General Heinz Guderian personally executes Heinrich Himmler after the former SS chief is dragged from the ruins of his former command post (Guderian used an entire panzer brigade to bring him down).
Similarly, in Rome, Italian and German Army troops arrest every SS officer in the city; Erich von Witzleben is the most senior surviving Army officer in the Reich, already there is talk of him as the next Chancellor.
But there is no such talk in Berlin, where Reinhard Heydrich has purged every OKH officer that so much as looked at a swastika cross-eyed, and declared himself provisional leader of the loyalist forces of the Reich.
Swiftly, he dispatches Dr. Joseph Goebbels to Nuremburg, to conduct a massive rally with the elite of the Party faithful; to tell the citizens of Greater Germany that the Fuhrer is alive (which he is) and well (which he isn't.)
-There are 10,000 people in Nuremburg Stadium, a mix of administrators, Party officials, SS officers and loyal soliders, on the afternoon of October 16, 1945, cheering with varying degrees of madness as Admiral Karl Doenitz, Joachim von Ribbentrop, and then Joseph Goebbels proclaim their loyalty to the fallen Fuhrer and to the ever-lasting Thousand-Year Reich.
It is perhaps the greatest speech of Joseph Goebbels' long career of speech-making, and when three B-29s fly overhead amid the barking of flak guns, he refuses to take shelter and mocks those few who try to, laughing and pointing to the sky, saying, "These are the Americans you fear? With only three bombers against a great-"
For All Time Pt. 28
Late October-Early November 1945
-With word of the assasination attempt on Hitler and the formation of the three new German governments (Guderian and von Witzleben having realized that they are the men of vision destined to lead the German people into the future) the American government suspends plans for a third nuclear strike against Germany at the end of October, making an attempt to negotiate with all three leaders in concert with the British, French, and Soviets.
It doesn't go well at first; both Francois Darlan and Joseph Stalin recognize a defeated, lapdog Germany is in their best interests, so they ask for the impossible, cession of the Ruhr on the one hand and cession to the Elbe on the other. The Heydrich government (which is fighting a violent civil war between Erich von Manstein's Home Army and Heydrich's SS) refuses to negotiate at all in the hastily-organized conference in Geneva, while Guderian gets bogged down in the Franco-Soviet demands.
Erich von Witzleben is in no position to surrender all German troops fighting; not in the way Guderian or Heydrich might be, but he can save the lives of his men, and of their families, if he moves quickly, which he does. Acting on behalf of both his own command and of the Ciano government in Italy, Field Marshall Erich von Witzleben surrenders to Bernard Montgomery's Commonwealth force on November 1, 1945.
Two days later, the Kingdom of Italy formally declares war on Heydrich's Third Reich, and Italo-German troops join the British Empire's in the swift rush north to the alpine passes on the former Italian-Austrian border.
With von Witzleben down, Guderian begins slowly disengaging from the front in Schleswig-Holstein to aid Manstein's fight, and the Allies resume plans for use of nuclear weapons on German soil.
-On October 29, 1945, Francois Darlan and George S. Patton enter Paris to the cheers of a huge crowd welcoming their liberators from the Nazi threat. In his first hours in the city, Darlan personally awards Raymond Aubrac, the slayer of Gestapo deputy commander Klaus Barbie, the Croix de Guerre.
The former admiral moves as swiftly as a storm in his first few days in power, executing collaborationists and encouraging Frenchmen all over the countryside to do the same. French Resistance forces and Darlan's French Army wind up taking perhaps a third as many prisoners as George S. Patton's American's forces.
Despite Darlan's rhetoric of a "Révolution culturelle" to purge the un-French elements, especially Communists and fascists, from the newly-liberated Republic, the purges are really a way to eliminate anyone who remembers too strongly that Francois Darlan himself was the arch-collaborationist extraordinarie, along with anyone who might politically oppose him in the post-war era.
Among the first to die is a Vichy government minister with alleged ties to the Gaullist resistance; beaten to death by a Darlanist mob, Francois Mitterand.
-In Okinawa, damage from the apocalyptic Typhoon Louise of early October has been largely repaired, and the an invasion armada is being assembled around the American-held island. American fire-bombing raids have already largely destroyed the cities of Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and Kokura, and while Japanese morale has plummeted, the Annami goverment is determined to fight on. The atomic bomb will be deployed in the Pacific within two weeks of the surrender of Germany; but that may be too late, as the invasion is set to begin in mid-December of 1945.
-In the east, meanwhile, Waffen SS General Sepp Dietrich has managed to keep Zhukov across the Oder, fighting desperatly just a relative handful of miles from Berlin herself. Dietrich is the only successful German commander in the east, though: Koniev enters Vienna on November 3, 1945, and begins the process of cleaning the city of its Nazified elements by the expedient of shooting/working them to death.
To the cheers of a crowd of liberated Serbs, SS officer Kurt Waldeim is beaten nearly to death by an enraged Red Army officer before being sent on the long trains back to Siberia to be worked till he dies.
For All Time Pt. 29
Early to mid-November, 1945
-For all that it will be a centerpiece of an outcry against weapons of mass destruction as grand as the nuked cities of the world, the sarin gas attacks upon Soviet troops along the Oder on November 9, 1945 are far less than they might have been.
The three V-2s launched from a cleared area behind German lines are not terribly accurate; one misses entirely, destroying a small German farming community, and the two that strike hit prepared troops (thanks to Enigma) in two areas several dozen miles apart with a moderate supply of gas equipment and antidote. Of 200,000 men in the affected areas, only 8,000 die, and not that many more are even disabled.
With the areas of devastation so far apart, the subsequent German armored offensive across the Oder fails bloodily for both sides, and Zhukov begins driving Dietrich back towards Berlin. He's not the only one heading there; Guderian's troops are stopped a dozen miles outside the city limits by a mobilized Hitler Youth, and Clark's army, despite having taken more casualities per its size than any other American Army up to that time, is not that far behind him.
To the south, George Vasey's Australians and Koniev's Soviets are racing for Munich, where a paralyzed Adolf Hitler drifts in and out of a morphine-induced haze. While he ponders what to do, Heydrich executes the surviving techs from Peenmunde (including the civilian director, Dr. Werner Von Braun) for their failure.
-With the nerve gas attack, Stalin purges a fair number of military intelligence officers, handing over intelligence-gathering to Laverenti Beria's NKVD. Some Red Army officers protest. They don't do it more than once.
He then tells Beria, rather bluntly, that if the Soviet atomic bomb (which is under Beria's direction) isn't finished by the first day of 1946, the NKVD will have a new director. Quite motivated, Beria throws all of his reserved resources into the bomb, the first prototype will be ready by mid-December. Do they test or do they nuke? It's a good question.
There's no question, of course, about moving mustard gas to the front, or using it against the Waffen SS in the chase back to Berlin, using loaned American tactical bombers and even B-29s.
-There's also no question for the American government about the use of the next atomic bomb, either. President Taft ponders for a while, but doesn't even need to think. (He's seen pictures of Dachau by now, and Auschwitz.)
The only real delay is passing messages on to Guderian and Zhukov, suggesting it might be an excellent idea not to press too close to Berlin around November 12-13th: both of them take that advice.
When the air raid sirens begin around 2 AM in Berlin on November 13, 1945, Fuhrer Heydrich takes shelter in the Fuhrer-bunker, the command post buried deep, deep under the surface of Berlin. Heydrich takes a moment to inspect his troops; so he's inside the armory, one of the lowest and best-protected levels of the bunker, when three hundred B-29s and their escorts peel away from three lone bombers flying over the central city, and moment later, a sun blossoms over the Brandenburg Gate.
For All Time Pt. 30
-Even with Fuhrer Heydrich alive and moderately well, it's clear to all but the most fanatical citizens of the Third Reich that the struggle is all over. The nuclear destruction of Berlin on November 13 has decapitated virtually the entire Reich government but Heydrich himself, and the Waffen SS forces facing Guderian and Zhukov don't so much surrender as crumble under mustard gas attack and utterly shattered morale. Sepp Dietrich surrenders to Georgi Zhukov on November 16 and then calmly walks into his tent and pulls the pin on a hand grenade.
Guderian's forces, being closer, win the race for Berlin on November 16, and the inventor of panzer warfare investigates the ruins of the city, personally inspecting the melted rubble that was once the Brandenburg Gate. Kripo Commander Obergruppenfuehrer Arthur Nebe, the highest-ranking official left alive in Berlin, has already placed his old rival Heydrich under arrest, and hands him over (reluctantly) to the Soviets when they arrive on November 19, 1945, even as Guderian (even more reluctantly) hands the city over to them.
In the meantime, the Allied powers are moving to occupy their assigned zones of, well, occupation: The Americans in Lower Saxony and North Rhine-Westphalia; the French in Rhineland-Palatine and Saarland, and the United Kingdom in Baden-Wurtemburg and the western half of Bavaria.
Nebe and Guderian sign the formal surrender of Germany in Weimar on November 21, 1945, V-E Day. It's over.
-Except for Japan! Paul Tibbets' 509th Composite Group begins the long journey from the western Netherlands to Tinian on November 22, once they're sure as not shooting that the Third Reich is toast; along with a transfer of several hundred thousand American and British Commonwealth troops.
The Soviet Union moves quickly as well; building...Pacific barges! They're cheap and not very good, many are Soviet-flagged Liberty Ships given away by the Wallace administration, but they'll carry a few thousand troops to northern Hokkaido, give or take a few hundred men who die frozen in agony dumped into the sea. But this is Stalinist USSR, what have they to complain about?
This is in sharp contrast to the professional American armada growing off of Okinawa, ready to begin Operation Olympic if the atomic bombs fail, once they arrive in early December, if all goes well, but both will fulfill their goal of actually getting people to land on Japan and not be killed by the ocean.
-On November 23rd, 1945, Polish troops under British command investigate a small mental hospital located on the outskirts of Munich. The hospital was struck by a burning Spitfire during the very last days of the war, and most of the staff fled or died, the survivors surrender, and lead the Poles to a crumbling bunker and a lone, ranting figure in a wheelchair and diapers.
Thus is Adolf Hitler taken.
For All Time Pt. 31
Late November-Early December 1945
-With the Third Reich smashed, President Taft's popularity grows to an all-time high; even House Minority Leader Rayburn praises his bold executive leadership. Taft's popularity is such that only men like Walter Reuther really notice the quietly-passed Labor?Management Relations Act of 1945, sponsored by Senator Styles Bridges of New Hampshire and passed easily by the solidly conservative and Republican Congress.
It outlaws the closed shop, permits union shops only where legal under state law and with worker approval; requires 60 day strike notification; authorizes federal strike injunctions when a strike might imperil national safety; changes the definition of unfair labour practices; goes into lots and lots of unfair union practices; all but does away with union political contributions; and outlaws jurisdictional strikes and secondary boycotts.
To head the new Labor Relations Board, Taft picks Secretary of Labor Fred Hartley, the former Congressman from New Jersey.
-Taft has been quiet about his post-war plans for Europe, though he does comment to reporters just after V-E Day that "The commitment of a land army to Europe is a program into which we should not drift." *
It's about this time that Henry Stimson, Taft's Secretary of State, retires on grounds of age; he's an old man (born in 1867) and deeply uncomfortable with the way the US has been forced to use both nuclear and chemical weapons in Europe and Japan (With evidence of attempted Japanese bacteriological warfare found in Formosa and China, American bombers drop several thousand tons of mustard gas on Kobe on the first of December.)
To replace him, Taft picks long-serving New York Congressman and isolationist Hamilton Fish; fresh from a narrow re-election victory in the 1944 election. 1944 was a good year for the Republicans, the House and Senate are solidly Republican, and with the deeply conservative Southern Senators and Congressman on Taft's side, Taft has an chance like no President since FDR to make policy.
-Later commentators, men like William Manchester, will write of the air of anticipation hanging over the Pacific at the beginning of December, 1945. Virtually every major Japanese island possesion in the Pacific is in American hands; all the way up to Tanega off the coast of Kyushu. Even the Japanese half of Sakahiln has been raided by a US Marine team under Captain B.A. Baracus on December 4.
The Olympic armada is ready; Raymond Spruance's Fifth Fleet and Maurice Rose's Sixth Army, for the planned landings at Kushniko on the west coast, another in the south at Ariake Bay, and the last near Miyazaki City on the east coast. But, being opposed to hundreds of thousands of Americans and even more Japanese dying in an invasion, the Taft administration prefers to wait.
But they won't have to do that for long; on December 7, 1945, the first of a few dozen B-29s of Composite Group 509 touch down at a very, very impressive airstrip built by the Seabees on the island of Tinian over the past few months.
-The Soviets, meanwhile, are only waiting for resources to arrive; Stalin has shifted an a large, heavily armored army to the Manchurian border, ready to drive the Japanese all the way into the sea at the southern tip of Korea, as well as make sure Mao Zedong wins out in China.
But that's for the future: in Vladivostok, Stalin has assembled a force of around 2,500 light infantry; the heaviest weapon anyone is likely to have will be American bazookas, though a single company of T-34s will come along for the ride. Supplementing the infantry and tiny armored contingent are 500 armed sailors, the only members of the Soviet military really trained in amphibious operations.
Of course, in an actual invasion, even against lightly defended and invaded Hokkaido, they'll be killed, probably while still on the beaches. And worse, by Stalin's standards; they'll fail. Admiral Nikolai Kuznetsov, overall commander of the invasion, works up the courage to tell Stalin this on December 10...and the great dictator for once just laughs. "Comrade Beria will ensure our soldiers land on empty beaches."
For All Time Pt. 32
-Contrary to wartime American and Allied projections, Japanese morale in the last days of 1945 is abominable. The Straits of Tsushima are under American blockade as of the 12th of December; nearly 400,000 (above OTL) are dead after firebombings and mustard gas attacks on Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Kokura, Kobe, Osaka, Kyoto, and a host of other major cities.
As a final humiliation, on December 14, 1945, Red Army tanks cross the Amur River just after Molotov delivers a declaration of war to Foreign Minister Togo. Despite the terrain and season, the Soviet advance is quick and violent, the Kwangtung Army has been largely evacuated to the Home Islands, except for those tens of thousands sunk by American submarines in the Sea of Japan.
Only the personal leadership of General Korechika Anami, Prime Minister since Tojo's fall after the American conquest of Formosa, has kept the nation's fighting spirit going on, defeat after defeat after defeat. With the Soviet invasion of Manchuria, Anami moves quickly, pulling out the reserve 19th Army and sending it to the port city of Niigata, acting under the assurances of Admiral Toyoda that the troops can be sent to reinforce Manchuria and Korea by cover of night.
-It's a cold, clear morning on December 17, 1945 in Niigata. The newly-arrived 19th Army is doing morning calisthenics at their base in the center of the old port city; most people are just waking up, getting ready for a long day at the local munitions plant or just in keeping body and soul together. The rice ration has been cut, again, and fishing is difficult when every boat is sunk by American submarines or aircraft. Life is hard for Niigatians, young and old, rich and poor, Army and civilian.
And the 25 kiloton bomb detonated over the exercising 19th Army (which dies nearly to a man) at 7:04 AM local time doesn't help matters much either. In an instant, 49,000 people are dead, Japan's last even somewhat functional port to the outside world is gone, and Joseph Stalin makes his move.
On December 18, 1945, an American-made B-29 takes off from a secret airstrip in the Ural Mountains, carrying the most secret cargo in the Soviet Union since Lenin's sealed train. Laverenti Beria himself is on board as the plane wings its way to Vladivostok...
For All Time Pt. 33
December 20, 1945
-Wakkanai is a frontier port town, or rather, it would be if there was anywhere to go in the north. Wakkanai sits in the northernmost part of the northernmost island of Japan, Hokkaido, and is the northernmost city in Japan. The people that aren't dairymen are fishermen, and hardy ones at that.
It's cold all the time in Wakkanai, especially for Japan, especially on December 20, 1945, with a strong wind blowing in fron the ocean. Life hasn't changed terribly much since the war began; while it is barely within the range of bombers from the Aleutians, there's nothing there to bomb. Wakkanai sits on a rail line, but only at the very end of one, a rail foot, if you will. People's main worries are getting through the winter, living off cattle and salt fish, and with the new terror, Americans sinking fishing boats.
The main military excitement came over December 16-19, when a single B-29 would fly over the town from the west, and back, seeming to be taking pictures, scouting. Troop strength in the ring of bunkers facing the coast is increased from 1,500 to 2,000 in response, but it doesn't do much good, the new troops are mostly battered, recuperating veterans from bombed-out cities. An isolated dozen are from Niigata.
Airplanes and artillery are, of course, reserved for the defenders of Kyushu and southern Honshu, far to the south.
When the bell rings for a sighted enemy aircraft at 2:15 AM, most citizens of Wakkanai don't bother to move to their shelters (most people don't have them anyway), but every soldier in the area gets to their beachside bunkers. The beaches are flat, the terrain doesn't slope up until well in back of the town.
-Suravikhino is 75 centimeters in diameter and 3.5 meters long, in the system of its native Soviet Union. Though it weighs 4090 kilograms, most of that is ballast, the central core of uranium weighs only 12 kilograms. Even that would be lighter, but Soviet refining processes are not as they should be.
The "City of Rostov" is an American-built B-29, traded to the Soviets in early 1944 as part of Henry Wallace's last great Lend-Lease package. Her crew ran her through a series of milk runs over northern Finland and Bulgaria during that year, and have spent most of 1945 practicing accurate single bomb drops off the coast of Vladivostok.
"Suravikhino" fits comfortably into her hull on December 20, 1945 as she takes off from her isolated airstrip near the former Korean border. It is a lonely mission, lit by the eerie glow of a full moon. There are seven men aboard, pilot, commander, bombardier, navigator, the flight engineer, and Sergei Korolev, who will finish assembling the bomb once they're in the air.
Operating the radio is Laverenti Beria himself; carrying a machine pistol. If the plane goes down or the bomb malfunctions, he will shoot every man on board, starting with Korolev. The flight engineer is also carrying a machine pistol, unknown to Beria. If the bomb malfunctions or the plane goes down, he will shoot Beria.
It is a milk run despite this; a survivor of the crew comments years later that it felt like just another photographing mission, even after dropping Suravikhino and bugging out an instant later. Until 2:19 AM, when the first Soviet atomic bomb detonates three miles off-shore and a dozen meters above the surface of the Pacific.
The blast turns the cold, damp arctic night into a slice of hell: Wakkanai is instantly ablaze, over twenty thousand civilians (out of thirty) dead in an instant. Only in the protected beach bunkers and pillboxes do soldiers survive the blast; even there, a fair percentage, those too near doors facing the beach or looking out vision trenches are left burned, blind, dying.
Fractions of a second later, the wave hits. The nuclear tsunami is seven meters high and traveling at nearly 200 feet per second. Bunkers are smashed, the soldiers drowned and battered to death in matters of seconds, the town itself is washed nearly clean, the water receding so far as to leave the harbor relatively unobstructed.
Six hours later, the first wave of Soviet troops land, parachutists are already doing the best they can to clear the last of the harbor and beach debris, as well as raid south, into Hokkaido.
For All Time Pt. 34
Late December, 1945
-The Soviet landings on Hokkaido stun and shock the American government. In reaction to the Russophilia of its predecessor; the Taft administration had assumed that Stalin wouldn't be able to finish an atomic bomb on time, much less get it to Japan and pull off a semi-successful invasion.
"Climb Mt. Olympus!" is the ironic code to begin the American invasion of Japan on December 22, 1945. Almost simultaneous with the rapid American landings in southern Kyushu (5,000 Americans die in those initial few hours, and thousands more Japanese) comes the nuclear destruction of Fukuoka, one of the largest industrial cities on Kyushu. Eighty thousand are dead there.
-Deliberation in Tokyo is violent and bloody; Army head General Yoshijiro Umezu nearly attacks the Keeper of the Lord Privy Seal, Marquis Kido, for suggesting a peace, both men are put under naval (the Army is too...erratic) guard and kept far away from each other.
It is a difficult decision for Korechika Anami. He is a professional soldier; he knows that with the Americans stubbornly in Kyushu and the Soviets firmly clinging on to Hokkaido, the military will fail. Japanese civilian morale is at an all time low as American, British, Soviet bombers fly freely overhead, nearly every major city has had an incendiary or chemical attack in the past month. Over a million Japanese civilians have died in aerial attacks since summer.
Still, surrender means, from his perspective, the death of Japanese civilization, the loss of national honor, and the enslavement of the greatest warriors the nation has ever known. Better for them to live on their knees, with a chance to rise again, or simply die?
As a light snow falls over ravaged Tokyo, he makes his decision. On December 25, 1945, the Emperor of Japan makes the following annoucement:
"To Our Good and Loyal Subjects:
After pondering deeply the general trends of the world and the actual conditions obtaining in our Empire today, We have decided to effect a settlement of the present situation by resorting to an extraordinary measure...."
World War Two is over.
Map of Europe, 1946
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On to the post-WWII world