A Bleeding Heart of Steel: Stalin Dies Early

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Kerguelen, Apr 29, 2019.

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  1. Threadmarks: Introduction

    Kerguelen Prime Specimen

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    stalin.jpg

    "I know that after my death, they will heap a pile of rubbish on my grave, but the wind of history will sooner or later sweep it away without mercy."
    -Joseph Stalin (OTL)


    "On one cloudy day on May 1942, a Red Army officer known as Polikov Shilo deserted to Nazi Germany. While the Germans had been reluctant to accept him, he showed the Germans his many war medals and claimed to have connections with the Red Army High Command, also known as the Stavka. The leader the SS, Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler feared that Shilo was a Russian spy, but Reinhard Heydrich, head of the Reich Security Office, reminded his superior of the lack of qualified recruits within German espionage operations. This was due to the fact that most Soviet defectors were either illiterate countrymen or prisoners freed from war camps with conflicting ideological beliefs.

    Shilo was eventually recruited in Operation Zeppelin, a massive plot to sabotage the Soviet war effort behind the frontlines. While the original plan was for Shilo to gather military intelligence from the Stavka, Heydrich had greater plans in mind. His plan being the assassination of Joseph Stalin. It was hoped that the assassination of Joseph Stalin would cause his underlings to fight for power, sending the Soviet Union into civil war. While the Red Army never fought amongst itself, Heydrich would at the least, create a political struggle within the Politburo.

    The spy would assume the identity of Pyotr Ivanovich Tavrin, an injured Russian major. On the night of September 3rd, 1944, an Arado Ar 232B transport plane left Riga airfield and landed in the Moscow region. To maintain contact with the Nazi headquarters, Shilo's wife, Lidia Yakovlevna Shilova, a radio operator would relay transmissions to her husband. During the operation, Shilio would be given a multitude of weapons to make his mission possible such as a miniature grenade launcher which he hid under his trenchcoat, a multitude of different handguns, and a radio-activated magnetic mine.

    The assassin's plane would land smoothly and Shilo would make his way to Moscow with his co-conspirator by his side. However, the transport would not complete its trip back to Germany as it was shot down by an anti-aircraft gun and crashed in the Kovalevsky forest, leaving no survivors. it was known that Stalin had become increasingly withdrawn as he grew older, so Shilio would bide his time before an opportunity to complete the plot took place. That opportunity would come on November 6, 1944, when the Leader of the Soviet Union made a grand speech to the Politburo on the October Revolution's 27th anniversary.

    On 10:30 PM, an explosion shook the Senate, sending wooden shards and shrapnel flying across the room. NKGB agents investigated the scene and quickly found the culprit: a German-made explosive device placed beneath the podium. Shilo and Lidia attempted to flee Moscow in a motorcade but were quickly apprehended by security guards and later executed for conspiracy against the Soviet Union. Despite their best efforts, Stalin's doctors could not save him and declared their leader dead the following day, along with Chairman of the Presidium, Mikhail Kalilin. But within the Politburo, a different story began to take place. The Red Tsar who had slaughtered his enemies, real and imagined had finally passed away, with a wooden plank stuck into his chest. Now that the people knew who had murdered him, a new question was asked by the Soviet Union. Who would become the next Stalin?"

    -Spies and Lies: How Espionage Changed History, by Robert Harris


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    Shilo and Lidia

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    A replica of the Hafthohlladung anti-tank mine used to assassinate Stalin



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    Last edited: May 3, 2019
  2. ComradeH Engineering student, hyped by coffee and tea

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    Hmmm, with the assassination takes place on 6/11/1944, I would say that the German has a major morale boost, both after Bagration and before Ardennes. This alone can change a lot of things. Over the grand scheme of WW2, there is no major change, the Nazi will still fall (they have already lost too much material, manpower and resources after all). Even with the boosted morale, they can prolong the war, but not by much. I would say the latest date would be mid-August.

    The main problem is on who would replace him, for the time being and for good?
     
  3. Unknown Member

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    They can delay it...until the A-bomb comes into play; then, things end horribly for the Nazis...
     
  4. frenchiestfries His Highness

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    Jeez, I'm watching too many threats. Footprint of Mussolini, Red Star, House of Saddam, and now this one. I need to file these.

    As for who replaces him, I would think Beria would probably be the most likely choice. He was already basically on the path to become Stalin's successor, and Stalin would even refer to him as "his Himmler".
     
  5. AkulaKursk Well-Known Member

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    Yeah but Stalin hated his guts and only kept him around because he was good at his job. That being a ruthless secret police runner and not a child rapist.
     
  6. Cregan Well-Known Member

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    No way Beria gets the job, everyone else hated him (as evidenced by his OTL downfall). I’d say Molotov is well placed to takeover and is an ideal compromise candidate between the various magnates/factions.

    And IOTL Molotov lived until 1986.
     
  7. ObssesedNuker Commander of 10 million men

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    He was also a pretty unapologectic Stalinist all the way until he died, so the very near future wouldn't look all that different. We can still expect Soviet domination of Eastern Europe and a Cold War with the West, as well as continuing totalitarian atmosphere domestically (although maybe with somewhat fewer people getting shot). Where things get interesting is when you move outside of Europe and the USSR's domestic scene: would Molotov take the same actions Stalin did towards China? Korea? Turkey? Iran?
     
  8. Cregan Well-Known Member

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    Well he wasn’t an anti-Semite so he won’t be carrying out the Doctors Plot, Night of Murdered Poets, and general anti-“Zionist” purge in the Eastern Bloc that Stalin did. In fact, Israel and the USSR might even be closer due to the friendship between Polina and Golda Meir.
     
  9. Whiteshore Defender of Myrcella Baratheon

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    Pro-Western Arab world, anyone?
     
  10. lukedalton Well-Known Member

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    Between the morale boost for the German and the chaos in the Soviet goverment due to Stalin death as i image there will be chaos to decide who's in charge, Germany can buy a couple of months and frankly anything that increase Soviet loss will mean a weaker postwar URSS, even because a later Operation August mean that the Japanese will be more prepared (they expected the invasion in September IRC)
     
  11. Gabzcervo Timeline raises FAQs

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    An alternate Yalta Conference will follow since due to assassination of Stalin will have Allies have an extra time as I imagined that Allies will get much more time in fighting back against the Germans and would be more tougher because I know that Allies might face difficulties due to weaker Soviet Union.

    I imagined that Allied forces could take much hard time in defeating Germans, meaning that Poland, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, and Hungary would be restored as a respective democratic governments if it possible.
     
  12. Milites Not a sahib

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    Gonna bag this on my watched list. Looks very promising!
     
  13. stubear1012 Well-Known Member

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    This is very interesting and I am looking forward to reading more.
     
    karatachi likes this.
  14. fasquardon Cosmonaut

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    I think Molotov in charge is a huge change from day 1.

    Molotov had very different ideas about foreign policy (and much better ideas, though it's not like that's hard - Stalin's ideas on foreign relations were apocalyptically bad), he's not paranoid (of course, he may become paranoid given time in the top job), he'd probably further centralize farming (eliminating the collective farms and replacing them with state farms, rather than maintaining a mix between collective and state farms as Stalin did). And there's a host of decisions coming up for the Soviet leadership that are sensitive to the character of the man at the top that I hesitate to call one way or the other, except that Molotov is likely to make a different call than Stalin.

    For example, does Molotov even pretend to support democracy in Eastern Europe at the end of WW2? My reading of the man is he would be less likely to do so than Stalin (who I think genuinely expected the Communists to honestly win the elections he allowed, thus rubber-stamping the imposition of mini-Stalins on the satellites).

    I think initially the Soviets will get a troika that will project the image of calm and control, trying to keep jockying for power out of sight until the war is over, whereupon a single leader soon emerges. And while I agree that Beria can't win, he still has plenty of cards to play, so it's hard to say who will survive this power struggle. Beria was really weakened by losing direct control of the NKVD in 1946, so in some ways he'll be stronger. On the other hand, the Leningrad party hasn't been purged and Zhdanov hasn't died (though he isn't in charge of culture in the USSR yet, he has, 2 days before the PoD, been made head of the Allied Control Commission in Finland). It would be fun to see the Leningrad party having a strong influence on the battle for succession. The whole experience of the siege of Leningrad seems to have given the Party members there interesting ideas about what the role of the Communist Party should be.

    Another interesting effect of this PoD: Beria hasn't been made head of the Soviet bomb program (that happened in December 1944). If Beria isn't made head of the program, it may end up taking longer for the Soviets to advance in nuclear physics (Beria was very firm to Stalin that if he was serious about getting A-bombs, he needed the very best people, regardless of their perceived political reliability and while the eventual cost may have been too high - witness the Lake Karachay disaster and the Kyshtym Disaster, Beria definitely got a bomb quickly). So does the troika that replaces Stalin trust Beria with the nuclear program?

    fasquardon
     
  15. ObssesedNuker Commander of 10 million men

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    I doubt they trust him with it, but I don’t see them acting in much a different way in their attitude towards atomic weapons, especially once Hiroshima goes off. The recognition that the Soviets need an atomic counterweight to the West is still going to drive them to gather up the best people regardless of political concerns.
     
  16. Cregan Well-Known Member

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    Also how was Kaganovich not injured? He’s right there in the background of Stalin during the speech
     
  17. Threadmarks: Three Wise Men

    Kerguelen Prime Specimen

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    Three Wise Men
    “At the beginning of his life, Andrei Zhdanov was a small boy in Mavropool, Ukraine, born in by the Azov Sea in 14 Feburary, 1896. In a family of five daughters, he was born as the only son and the youngest child. His father, Aleksandr Zhdanov, worked as the local school inspector while his mother, Ekaterina Gorskaia was a noble-blooded woman who meet her husband at her brother’s university. At the age of nineteen, Zhdanov moved to Moscow to further his education and there, he enlisted in the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party.

    After being drafted in the Imperial Army, he began to gravitate further to the left, becoming enamored by communist ideals, and eventually becoming a member of the Bolsheviks. During the Russian Revolution, Zhdanov quickly fled to the Urals, and was enlisted into the Red Army, overseeing military production and collectivization programs. During the revolution would not see any fighting, instead of being tasked to maintain party loyalty as an “inspector-organizer” and a local “agitation-propaganda administrator”.

    It is widely thought that his time as propaganda administrator would make way for the nation-wide cultural purges that took place under his reign. During the rise of Joseph Stalin, Zhdanov became a favorite of the dictator’s due to his unyielding loyalty and bureaucratic efficiency. Eventually, Zhdanov rose in the party ranks yet again as Leningrad Party Secretary following the assassination of Sergey Kirov [1].

    During his time as Secretary, Zhdanov oversaw the deportation and mass murder of thousands of suspected wreckers and counter-revolutionaries connected to the death of his predecessor. As Stalin’s chief contractor, he would play a massive role in redirecting the Soviet Union towards mass consumption, Russian culture, and Stalin’s personality cult. By the late 1930’s he had become the third highest ranking member in Stalin’s inner circle behind Vyacheslav Molotov.

    During the Second World War, Zhdanov oversaw the nine-hundred day long Seige of Leningrad. However, his illness often forced his deputies, Alexei Kuznetsov and Nikolai Voznesensky to take control of the city’s defenses. While the Germans had been beaten back, Stalin would soon lay bleeding and burned on the floor of the Kremlin at the hands of spies and traitors. It had quickly became clear that only one man would stand above the rest, the man who Stalin treated not as a minion, but as a trusted friend. On November 6, 1944, Andrei Zhdanov, who had been but a lowly spin doctor at the beginning of his career had risen to the highest office of the Soviet Union.”

    - The Zhdanovshichina by Carmen Powell

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    From the Kremlin balcony, General Secretary Zhdanov salutes a funeral parade honoring the death of his predecessor

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    “Ultimatley, there was little question amongst the Russian people that the death of Stalin would send his inner circle into a cycle of squabbling and backstabbing in their quests for power. It is often said that after the explosion, the silence was broken by NKVD Director Beria who, after seeing Stalin’s dead body, said a single word “Blin” [2]. Eventually, it had become clear that the reigns of power would be passed onto the Second Secretary of the Communist Party, Andrei Zhdanov.

    Beria knew that Zhdanov would most likely seek to replace him with a loyalist or weaken the power of the NKVD, due to the personal enmity between the two. Even before Hitler had launched Operation Barbarossa, Zhdanov and Beria were bitter rivals, fighting for the approval of their Red Tsar [3]. During the war, Stalin would use this to his advantage, turning his own subordinates against each other to prevent them from forming any plots against him. As Zhdandov rose to power, it became clear that Beria needed to find potential counterweights against him.

    Much like Zhdanov, Foreign Secretary Vyacheslav Molotov was considered to be another one of Stalin’s “pets” who viewed their leader as a living god and could not possibly imagine a world without their Red Tsar. The both had supported Stalin’s cultural, political, and economic policies with a great amount of enthusiasm, and worked tirelessly to please their Vohdz. And that was where the similarities ended.

    Zhdanov was seen as a grand, verbose man who drunk often and spoke bluntly. Molotov was a serious man who suffered from a mild stutter and made efficiency a top priority [4]. As such, Molotov began to hold a deep dislike for Zhdanov due to his crass and unprofessional behavior. Meanwhile, Zhdanov viewed Molotov as an “iron-ass technocrat” who sought to create his own brand of communism which diverged from Stalinist policies. As a close friend of the Vohdz, Zhdanov was strongly opposed to most policies proposed by Molotov, such as cooperation with the West or loosening ties with Finland [5].

    It was this enmity that made Molotov the perfect counterweight to Zhdanov. In addition, Molotov was seen as Stalin’s right-hand man during the war and had a large say in foreign policy, whereas Zhdanov had none. Another reason why Beria backed Molotov was that he was seen as a weak candidate due to his injuries. The Kremlin Bombing had damaged Molotov’s spine, forcing him to temporarily move around in a wheelchair to prevent his back pains from becoming too serious. Despite Zhdanov’s best efforts to obstruct the efforts of the “iron-ass diplomat”, Vyacheslav Molotov quickly replaced Joseph Stalin as Premier of the Council of Ministers.

    The final member of the power axis would be Andrey Andreyevich Andreyev, Chairman of the powerful Party Control Commission and Head Soviet of the Union. Despite his wide array of titles, he would be supplanted by younger party members within Stalin’s inner circle during World War Two. But it was this distance from Stalin, along with his political experience that allowed him to become the compromise candidate between "culturalists" led by Zhdanov and the "rationalists" of the Molotov faction. Despite suffering from mild tinnitus after the bombing [6], Andreyev would become Chairman of the Presidium of the Soviet Union. And thus, a troika was formed.”

    -The Blood Red Throne: A History of Soviet Leadership by Harland Bridges

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    A Troika is Formed

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    [1] Sergey Kirov, a loyal Stalinist and Party Secretary of Leningrad was assassinated by NKVD officer Leonid Nikolayev in 1934. However, it is widely rumored that Stalin himself ordered the assassination despite lack of evidence.

    [2] Blin is a mild Russian swear word, translating to either crap or damn

    [3] The Beria/Zhdanov feud started over Zhdanov’s concerns regarding the NKVD’s control over wartime production and security during World War Two

    [4] According to one of Moltov’s assistants “he was not the primitive clerk many portray him to be, he was a family man who dressed modestly and refused to tolerate untidiness, in work or at home.”

    [5] IOTL, Zhdanov proposed a military alliance with Finnish President Marshall Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim, angering Molotov who saw it as a foolish proposal

    [6] IOTL, Andreyev was forced to resign by Stalin in 1952 due to hearing difficulties
     
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2019
  18. traveller76 Member

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    This I shall watch
     
  19. frustrated progressive Insert Witticism Here

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    @Kerguelen Great stuff!
    (Also, you have two #5 footnotes)
     
  20. Sam R. Well-Known Member

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    May 11, 2011
    So we already know there is a negative Zhadanov phenomenon, and that it was perceived as negative by Russian speakers early enough for it to become a more common title than “Zhadanovism” in English. Compare: Stalinishchina. So Zhadanov is viewed more harshly and as more significant by Russian speakers than English speakers st the time.

    An early spring killed by frosts? More interestingly an economic new course halted when the people’s democracies are democratised?
     
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