Eagles of the Reichsbanner | A firmly republican Germany

Discussion in 'Alternate History Maps and Graphics' started by KanonenKartoffel, Dec 23, 2018.

  1. KanonenKartoffel Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2018
    Assuming the community of historycounterfactuals.com is a close enough mirror of alternatehistory.com I mean, yes

    Also, here's this!

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    (Disclaimer: I've never actually graded a paper like this, so my teacher-notes may be ASB.)
     
  2. ST15RM Ich bin ein AH.commer!

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2017
    Location:
    Taxachusetts
    1. Nobody gets away with using “I” in an academic paper (not even an 8th grader) and the introductory paragraph is horrible
    2. The body paragraphs are WAY too short
    3. Too many run-on sentences


    This kid should’ve gotten a C.
     
  3. Ameck16 There are too many Rabbits in my head.

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2014
    Location:
    London UK
    Poor Hungary.:frown:

    subbed watched
     
  4. KanonenKartoffel Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2018
    Heh; it seems like I went too easy on little Thomas, here. If he pops up again, I'll be keeping this in mind!

    Yeah, they got the short end of the stick for sure. But...things will get better for them, at least somewhat.

    --

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  5. KanonenKartoffel Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2018
    This is a beefier update, so let's start off with some good old-fashioned propaganda!

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    And if you're wondering about the details of that "retaken from traitors in 1927", well...

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    The Baltic Blitz
    By Jeff_III
    The Prusso-German war saw units of the Republikwehr advance as much as 750 kilometers, going from starting positions west of Danzig all the way to the outskirts of Riga (the fighting at the edge of Riga is the event focused on in the Poleyn song Defence on the Daugava). Contrary to popular expectations at the time, the German advance was rapid and their losses minimal, due to an early breakthrough of republican armor near Danzig.

    The Prussian defense plan was built around two ideas: force multiplication, and buying time. Prussia had a population of around three million at the time, compared to around 80 million in Germany - even including all of the Prussian League, the Germans still had more than four times the population. This, and Germany’s far larger economy, made any kind of “straight fight” a lost cause for the Prussians. The second idea was buying time; Prussian planners hoped that Poland would, if they didn’t join immediately, come to Prussia’s aid if the German attack could be stalled for long enough.

    An ideal war would look something like this, for Prussia - Germany attacks and is stopped at the prepared defenses build up during the seven years of peace. Prussian forces fight a delaying action in and around Danzig, withdrawing once the port is destroyed and arranging into their positions along the Weichsel (AKA Vistula). At this point, troops from the rest of the League would be arriving, and the Prussian reserves would be fully mobilized; the upper estimates of the available forces were around 250,000 men.

    Unable to push through Prussian defenses, Germany would be forced to either attack into Poland to try and flank them, drawing Poland into the war, or simply engage in costly attack after costly attack. Public opinion would turn against the fighting and the republic, Poland would join (if they hadn’t already) when Germany seemed weak, and League forces would advance west.

    This entire plan (which really resembled a fantasy more than anything else) collapsed when, only days into the fighting, a German naval attack took Westerplatte and Prussian defenders to the south were routed by advancing German tank forces. Fearing an encirclement, the garrison of Danzig was withdrawn, along with the other forces in the area, to behind the Weichsel. It didn’t work; the Danzig garrison left the city only to be cut off by advancing tanks. Prussian reserves, assembling behind some of the bridges, panicked when German tanks arrived, falling back without managing to destroy the bridges and allowing reinforcements to cross.

    By mid July, the situation was critical for Prussia - German forces had taken Danzig, and were now turning in a sickle-like manner to cut off the defensive positions along the front. Eventually, the order came for them to withdraw, but it was again too late. By the end of July, when the last pockets of Prussian troops surrendered, the Prussian side had lost almost 45,000 men. With the backbone of their forces gone, and many of the mobilizing reserves finding themselves face to face with a German Oberschlesien just as they were putting themselves together, it wasn’t until the defense of Königsberg that they would be able to meaningfully resist the German advance.

    Marienburg, Elbing, Osterode and Allenstein, each meant to be a regional center for coordinating the ongoing defense, a rallying point for scattered Prussian troops and the site of bloody fighting that would drain the resolve of the republic, fell with little to no fighting. Marienburg’s reservists (or those that managed to assemble in time) joined a handful of scattered retreating soldiers in a two-day battle against advancing German forces, but were defeated outside the town. It and its railway hub were captured hours later, the hastily scratched-together “second reserve” capitulating in the face of odds in excess of 40:1.

    Outside Königsberg, Prussian forces finally found their footing, massing in proper numbers (roughly 15,000, with an additional 5,000 Lithuanian and Latvian forces arriving during the battle) and managing an effective defense for several days until the collapse of the overstretched defenders to the northeast resulted in Germans flanking the city. With the Baltic Sea firmly under German control, Willhelm III barely slipped out of the city in a plane before the Germans arrived at the gates.

    Supposedly, the Prussians had planned to fight in Königsberg until the end - large caches of weapons and ammunition were present in the city, and the urban fighting would allow for neutralization of many of Germany’s advantages. The mass of local reservists available would whittle away at republican forces and the city would only fall after heavy losses had been inflicted - the explicit goal of the defense was to “force the republican units to endure unacceptably high levels of attrition, of both men and materiel, and take from the remaining force the drive to attack”.

    This plan collapsed when, just as German artillery began pummeling Prussian defenses at the edge of the city, the news spread that Wilhelm III had fled. Apparently, there was a competing rumor that he had shot himself, declaring that he would die before he saw the city burn, which is supposedly what inspired many otherwise determined officers to lay down their arms. Either way, after a day of skirmishing, the Prussian defenders of Königsberg surrendered.

    It’s at this point, after the fall of Königsberg, that the German offensive slows. With German logistics stretched, several divisions scattered after chaotic fighting with retreating Prussian forces, and an ongoing drive to the south to secure the southern portion of Prussia, the remaining League forces were safe for the time being. They gathered around Tilsit, preparing for a defense of the town; despite Lithuanian objections, the path to Vilnius remained all but undefended - Prussian plans involved a swift attack against the flank of any German advance into Lithuania, making a stronger defense unnecessary.

    When the Germans, having now secured the Masurian Lakes and surrounding area, re-started their attacks, both plans fell apart immediately. The defense around Tilsit had to be abandoned after two days of fighting resulted in the mauling of the Lithuanian 1st Armored Brigade and near-destruction of the Latvian troops that relieved it. The balance of force could hardly be called such - based on German records, roughly 120,000 men were around Tilsit during the second week of August, facing off against around 65,000 defenders.

    To make matters worse for the Prussian generals, the Germans had several divisions pushing towards Vilnius, brushing aside the meagre defense and rapidly approaching the city. Kaunas fell after a multi-day standoff that got its own post (seriously, go check it out - 150 Lithuanians managed to trick the Germans into thinking they were up against almost 12,000 men for three days straight), but it fell nonetheless - it was the 20th of August and things were not looking good for the League.

    After the retreat from Tilsit, across the Memel (AKA Neman/Niemen) and into northern Lithuania, the League forces pretty much spent the rest of the war on the move. The Germans rolled up through Memel after a brief fight, caught a few clumps of infantry here and there, and generally had it easy - by the time they got to the Latvian border on August 28th, the Lithuanian surrender was being hammered out in Vilnius (which was a stone’s throw from the German troops, which I’m sure helped the negotiations remain very calm).

    It’s linky time again, because the “Courland Cutoff” is something Dusty wrote about only a few weeks back. Fun times - imagine you and about 50 thousand of your pals being pushed further and further up the Courland Peninsula until you start getting shot at by ships and decide to call it quits. Just a grand old time, really.

    Anyways - with the majority of League forces dealt with (of the ~120k killed/captured/and so on they suffered, this plus the opening encirclement accounted for 90 thousand!) the Germans were free to push east again, and they did. Jelgava fell after a few days of fighting, but between it and the time taken to properly reorganize and reposition, it had already gone into October.
    On the 2nd of October, the last German attacks started, with the goal of capturing Riga. But as any Poleyn fan will tell you, Riga did not fall that night, nor any of the nights thereafter.

    On the night of October 9th, a ceasefire was signed, and two days later the war officially ended (which isn’t quite accurate - German troops were sitting in Courland and Lithuania for another three weeks before pulling out, but the was was technically over). Lithuania officially left the Prussian League, though British complaints ensured they didn’t enter any definitely-not-one-sided deals with Germany for “protection”, while Latvia agreed to hand over the Prussians holed up in Riga (including the ones on the ships that had avoided capture by hiding in the Gulf of Riga).
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2019
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  6. Suvareshkin Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2014
    Archangalesk's flag is that of...Wales?
     
  7. KanonenKartoffel Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2018
    I, uh, have no idea what you're talking about!

    (In reality - it turns out I accidentally uploaded the WIP version of the wikibox, and not the finished version, so it still had placeholder flags on it. Oops!)
     
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  8. APeninSpace Pretty sure I'm the only sapient pen on the board

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2018
    Location:
    A Land Down Under
    Did Germany annex Prussia in this timeline?
     
  9. KanonenKartoffel Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2018
    At the end of the Prusso-German war, they do, yes - Prussia was reformed at the end of the 1920 German Civil War, which erupted as a result of the Kapp Putsch and the return of Friedrich Wilhelm to Königsberg at the head of an army of Freikorps.
     
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  10. KanonenKartoffel Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2018
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    A small update (sorry for the long time in between, I've ended up busier than expected with some other matters), while I work on the long write-ups for the next big topic, the Polish Civil War.

    I'm on the fence regarding updates (of this and in general), though - would you folks prefer it if they came more frequently, but were generally smaller, or if I 'bundle' a few things together and release them in larger chunks, with more time in between?
     
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  11. fernerdave on the boat now

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2008
    Location:
    My name is Yon Yonsin, I now live in Visconsin
    Either way is good.
     
  12. KanonenKartoffel Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2018
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    The Long Summer - Poland on the Brink of Civil War
    By Wojciech Kowalski

    Wincenty Witos’ government was never on stable ground. It had come to power at the end of the turbulent period following the “great foreign adventure” of the 1925 intervention in Hungary. The intervention had failed to bear fruit: the economy, struggling before the decision to intervene, wasn’t revitalized by the mobilization (as had been promised and publicly proclaimed too many times to be easily forgotten). Instead, the cost of the war and the sudden slump in demand for various goods at the end of the fighting only further weighed down the already-slumping economy. The intervention could not even yield success as a prestige project; stepping down from its original demand for an independent Slovakia (which would of course be quite friendly to Poland) in favor of a plebiscite that allowed Czechslovakia, a state under strong German influence, to expand - both cutting Poland off from a potentially-friendly Hungary and presenting what the Polish right saw as an increasing threat via Germany.

    The government that began the intervention in July of 1925 fell just before its end, due to a corruption scandal involving several ministers. The coalition of parties that would oversee the period of post-intervention negotiations and occupation was reliant on the support of the PPS (the Polish Socialist Party), which eventually withdrew from the government in February 1926. A new government formed in early March of 1926, just before the Slovakian plebiscite. Public pressure caused the “March government” to fold in late April. With the final piece of the intervention’s promised gains lost in the results of the March plebiscite, it was somewhat ironic that the government that came to power as a result of its failures was close to the one which had originally begun it. The new government, headed by Wincenty Witos and supported by the parties of the Lanckorona Pact (and often called the "Wojciechowski government" due to the president's support) saw only one solution to Poland’s economic and political turmoil: rallying of Polish society around a unifying Polish culture and the Catholic Church.

    Though he had resigned from office, Piłsudski was far from removed from the levers of power in Poland; the coalition of the Lanckorona Pact’s apparent mishandling of the economic and political situation had led him to renewing his old contacts. The old marshal retained a great number of supporters in the military and administration, many driven into his camp by further economic decline and the policies of the Witos government.

    During May and early June, the Witos government found itself increasingly isolated - in foreign policy and domestically. Abroad, the British were contending with a general strike amidst further economic stagnation; at the time, it was expected that the resultant British withdrawal from continental politics would be longer-lasting. The French, facing colonial revolts and an uncertain economic situation, had recently signed a five-year pact with Germany that would ensure peace and loosen trade restrictions; while not explicitly naming them, it effectively meant that any promises of aid France had made to Poland in the event of German aggression could not be relied upon.

    The matter of the German-Polish border remained unsettled, despite the recent agreement in 1925 and the brief thawing of relations due to the military cooperation during the Hungarian Intervention. When the Polish-occupied area claimed by Czechoslovakia was brought under their control and a German-friendly government took control of Budapest, relations deteriorated again. At the same time, conflicts between paramilitary groups and border guards in the Posen/Poznań region intensified, partly in response to a crackdown of Polish authorities in the German Minority Region.

    The failure of the Witos government to expand, or even maintain, Poland’s foreign ties fed into their increasing domestic isolation. Especially in the eastern regions of Poland, the Kresy, dominated by the Belarusian Autonomous Zone and Ukrainian Autonomous Zone, the policies of the Lanckorona Pact coalition were increasingly unpopular. When, in late May, it became clear that the Witos government was preparing to dismantle the autonomous zones entirely, to pave the way for the planned Polonization of the regions, the last great obstacle for the building of an anti-government coalition by Piłsudski fell.

    With the regional governments of the autonomous zones supporting him, Piłsudski made final preparations and then moved to Warsaw; allies within the military had arranged for loyal troops to be nearby for maneuvers. On June 21st, 1926, troops loyal to Piłsudski captured several bridges near Warsaw; a state of emergency was declared and on the Poniatowski Bridge Piłsudski and Wojciechowski met in an attempt to resolve the situation. Each rejected the other’s demands (the demands of Piłsudski: the immediate dismissal of the Witos cabinet; the demands of Wojciechowski: the immediate capitulation of Piłsudski), and fighting erupted only hours later.

    After the first day of fighting, a truce was called. The second round of negotiations failed after several hours, and Piłsudski’s forces gained significant ground. On June 24th, Witos’ cabinet voted to flee the city by a narrow margin, moving to Łódź. This move, as well as the pledge of various segments of the army to support the government against Piłsudski and his allies, effectively ended the final pre-civil war phase, when the fighting may have been contained and the results restricted to a coup or negotiated agreement.


    Poland at the beginning of the civil war
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    A Third Party
    By Alexander Kavalskaja
    Shortly after the fighting in Warsaw came to an end, with Piłsudski gaining control of the city, a last-ditch (though they were neither the first nor last 'final' attempt at a peaceful resolution to the conflict) effort to halt the civil war was made by an unlikely coalition: a portion of the Polish army, under Władysław Sikorski, as well as members of the clergy, local politicians and a portion of the PPS. Forming the 'United Polish Peace Front', they formed a potent counterweight to both sides - holding much of Poland's most heavily-industrialized region, and splitting the government loyalists in the southeast from the remainder of the pro-government forces. While the stances of the various groups within the Peace Front varied, they were generally opposed to Piłsudski's coup but primarily concerned with avoiding a civil war; a common theme among the letters, memoirs and so on of important members of the Peace Front was a worry that Poland would not survive a civil war with its sovereignty intact, becoming a German puppet and being forced to give up land to buy the loyalty of the forces of Belarus and Ukraine.

    For a brief window, the Peace Front possessed a force large enough to potentially overwhelm either faction of the developing civil war; this, combined with their control of much of the industry that would be vital in any extended conflict, led to a de facto ceasefire for several weeks. Unfortunately, this did not allow Poland to avoid the coming storm. In late July, only days before a planned set of negotiations between representatives of both the government and Piłsudski's coalition, Sikorski was assassinated. The threads holding the Peace Front together snapped almost immediately: without Sikorski, the Polish Army troops split into pro-government and pro-Piłsudski factions, while the Catholic clergy and PPS elements of the Peace Front came into conflict. Fighting broke out in several areas, although the majority of local governmental bodies continued to support the Peace Front. However, without the cooperation between various groups and the backing of a significant military force, these areas would swiftly be swept up in the fighting, submitting to advancing government or Piłsudski-coalition troops.

    Not all was lost, however. Near the end of the fighting, the actions of a certain group in Krakow would be led by the example set by the Peace Front and enabled by their high degree of autonomy gained during their separation from the Łódź-centered government forces...
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  13. KanonenKartoffel Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2018
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    Excerpt of the Ukrainian Galician Army's faction page, in the Full Conflict: Warsaw fan-wiki.

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    The Przemysl Government
    By Alexander Kavalskaja
    After the death of Władysław Sikorski, there were several attempts to rebuild a single Peace Front and bring about an end to the fighting within Poland. Ironically, the very energy and increasing appeal to specific perceived threats that propelled several factions of the Peace Front to greater influence also undermined any efforts to unite them in order to force the opposing parties to come to an agreement. The primary split within the Peace Front was between the PPS-aligned left-wing faction and an alliance of nationalist groups - of these two, the former retained a greater degree of coordination and communication across the front, but saw its influence waning rapidly, while the latter grew in local influence but had little in terms of “cross-front” support.

    It was the latter group that gathered in Przemysl for what would be the last attempt by groups of the Peace Front to end the fighting by establishing their own rival government and negotiating a “tri-party” peace. Founded by those who would become its first, and only, cabinet, the Przemysl Government was supported primarily by nationalist groups; local elements of the PPS tolerated, supported or even worked against the Przemysl Government based on the decisions of local leadership. As explicitly mentioned in their founding document, the Collection of Principles for Restoring Polish Peace:

    These words stem from the pen of Janusz Głogowsk, but the fears they describe were common among the Polish right. Both in Łódź and Warsaw, voices calling for a rapid, if not necessary peaceful, ending of the fighting often described a continuation or escalation as likely to result in a new partition or the collapse of Polish influence beyond a significantly smaller territory. While these concerns would be of great importance later, during the post-war reconstruction, greatly aiding the reconciliation and public burying of civil war feuds that allowed for politics to rapidly return to normal once the fighting ended, for the duration of the war itself they were never strong enough to weld together a “cross-front” coalition of military and political leaders who may have been able to force peace.

    Instead, the Przemysl Government was a collection of local elites and sidelined officers. On-paper, the Przemysl Government was of significant strategic importance, simultaneously threatening and guarding the southern flanks of either of the primary factions while also offering a rival to the rapidly-expanding Ukrainian Galician Army. Its armed forces, the ‘Provisional Army for the Defence of Polish Peace’, numbered almost seventy-five thousand, with a reserve force of almost twice that size theoretically available. This force consisted primarily of infantry, with the support of exactly one under-strength cavalry regiment and four recently-delivered Oberschlesien tanks. According to the first report of the Przemysl Minister of Defence, the force was “to be considered readily available and formidable on the defensive, especially when given time to prepare positions”[sup]1[/sup], but “unlikely to succeed in offensive action”[sup]2[/sup].

    The unexpectedly poor performance of the Provisional Army was one of the major factors leading to the rapid collapse of the Przemysl Government. Following the defeats in both the northwest and northeast, both of which featured mass desertions shortly after fighting commenced, a refusal of called-up reservists to join the Provisional Army and a general collapse of the forces fighting the Ukrainian Galician Army (and the subsequent integration of several brigades of the Provisional Army into the UGA), the Przemysl Government began to disintegrate.

    In another case of mismatched de facto and de jure situations, the Przemysl Government was the last “rebel organisation” to be officially disbanded and criminalised following the civil war. As a result, it theoretically lasted longer than many more resilient and influential groups that arose during the same period, remaining until 1935.
     
  14. KanonenKartoffel Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2018
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    The Ukrainian Intervention

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    Collapse of the UGA
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  15. Miranda Brawner Trans Woman

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2013
    Location:
    Savannah, Georgia, USA
    Very impressive maps, @KanonenKartoffel . I especially like the map of the Russian civil war.
     
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  16. KanonenKartoffel Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2018
    Thanks! Once the Polish Civil War is done (which should be soon, I want to speed up this last update) I'll probably be revisiting Russia after some more in-depth stuff about post-revolutionary Germany.

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    Collapse of the UGA
    Excerpt from ‘Ukrainian Uprisings of the 20th Century’, by Albina Hordiyenko


    With enemies on three sides and the supplies coming via Czechoslovakia and Romania ever-dwindling in the face of crackdowns on the border, the Ukrainian Galician Army (UGA) faced swiftly-growing obstacles in [time period]. With their explosive success had come control of a large region of Poland which required some form of administration - especially in the west, where the support of the local population and pre-existing institutions could not always be relied upon to the extent it was in the portion of UGA-held land within the Ukrainian Autonomous Zone. This, along with the lengthy front and poor state of infrastructure in the more heavily-contested regions, led to growing strains on already-overburdened UGA logistics.

    The expansion of the UGA itself from its first militias and paramilitary forces was a double-edged sword in the period following their rapid expansion. It was only because of this expansion that the UGA was able to hold onto its gains for any meaningful amount of time, as a smaller force would have been easily outmaneuvered and either encircled or bypassed by pro-Piłsudski forces; only in the west were the “old guard” of the UGA packed tightly enough to ensure they could not be bypassed, without the need of reinforcement.

    Despite this necessity, the “new army” was far from what UGA leadership hoped it would be. Underequipped, generally poorly motivated and in many cases lacking more than basic training, it was described by one UGA commander as “fit primarily for supporting roles; unsuitable for offence; suitable for defence only when strengthened by officers from higher-quality units or occupying previously-fortified positions”. Plans were drawn up to break apart several old guard formations, to be used as cadres which would train and ‘harden’ larger units of the new army. For various reasons, these plans were never enacted (the potential for these measures to turn the tide of the war are discussed in Chapter 5).

    When the joint Piłsudski loyalist and Ukrainian offensive against the UGA began, these existing weaknesses of the new army were only exacerbated. Low morale dropped further after initial defeats, and the old guard formations that remained were rapidly attrited. The relatively slow speed of the Ukrainian advance (compared to the earlier Anti-Bolshevik War and the contemporary Prusso-German War) was due primarily to the lack of quality on the Ukrainian side; several instances were recorded of UGA forces retreating from a position only for Ukrainian troops to remain in place for multiple hours without advancing or, in one case, even notifying their superiors.

    Despite the poor state of the Ukrainian forces, the UGA was still outmatched. Not only were the infantry (generally) fully-equipped, the Ukrainians brought roughly six times as much artillery support to almost every engagement of the first phase of the offensive. This unbalance would only grow, as the retreats of the UGA left ammunition depots abandoned and overrun formations left their artillery in the field. Beyond the material, the ability for Ukrainian leaders to rapidly adapt to the conditions of the conflict led to an improvement that was not matched by the UGA, which in fact lost several of its most competent officers to capture, death or encirclement.

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    The rapid decline of the UGA increased in speed: poor morale resulted in a continuous rise in desertion and mass surrenders, as well as mutinies in response to orders to mount counterattacks. Logistical support fell from insufficient to all but nonexistent when, within four days, half of the UGA’s locomotives were destroyed or captured, with many of the remainder cut off by damage to railways or other infrastructure.
    As military defeat grew into a disintegration of the front line, the already-fragile balance of UGA politics collapsed. The socialist wing of the UGA, already isolated within the shaky coalition, officially withdrew its support, beginning peace negotiations with representatives of the PPS. When the socialists were arrested by the right-wing UGA faction, the liberal and moderate-left members of the provisional government resigned. Practically, this gesture had little impact: the ministers of education, finance and transportation were officially replaced within hours, and their replacements were as successful as they were in organizing and undertaking the projects under their purview (namely, not at all).

    Symbolically, this meant the UGA was now supported only by conservative and far-right groups. The already weak control the Lwów-based government had over its territory vanished. Popular support was already crumbling in the face of famine and the failure of the UGA to push back its enemies or even hold the front, this rapid splintering meant even the former bastions of UGA support were no longer secure. The military situation was further worsened, with several formations of the UGA’s “old guard” taking the side of one of the disgraced ex-government factions or simply dissolving in response to the apparent collapse of political authority.
    As UGA-held territory was swept over by Ukrainian, Polish pro-Piłsudski and Polish government forces, some areas continued to resist, but the UGA as an entity was effectively destroyed. Within several weeks, each pocket surrendered or was overrun, the end of a collapse as rapid as the UGA’s explosive growth.
     
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  17. KanonenKartoffel Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2018
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    The Polish Civil War draws to a close

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    The Final Battle
    Excerpt from "The Killing Grounds" in Epoch History issue 37 (Poland: An Overview)
    By Robert Lorentz and Stacy Nickelson

    After the stunning advance of the forces of Józef Piłsudski's loyalists past the Vistula, and the "magician's masterpiece" that led to the escape of almost 20,000 men from potential encirclement south of Radom, the stage was set for what would become the final battle of the Polish Civil War. It would see a force of just over 90,000 men clash in a fashion not seen in Europe since August 1914; both sides uncertain of the position of their enemy and eager to strike the decisive blow that would free them from a grinding attritional battle. It would see the destruction of veteran formations on both sides, including many who had fought during the great conflict of 1914-1918, the old Legiony Polskie, the Polish Legions. It was a multi-day affair, each bloodier than the last, taking place under the bright cloudless mid-September sky in and around Piotrków Trybunalski, as lesser battles raged nearby.

    Due to the various names used to refer to it and the ongoing discussion regarding the implications of several, the simplest of the more common was chosen: the Battle of Droga. While the name is itself not descriptive of any particular place ("Droga" means "road" in Polish), its frequent use and emergence from a mistranslation rather than a deliberate, politicized process makes it appropriate for those seeking to avoid the controversy surrounding the other names.

    A final note, regarding terminology - "government" will be used to refer to troops following the orders of the Witos government in Łódź, while "loyalist" will be used to indicate forces under the command of Józef Piłsudski.

    The stage was set for what would become the Battle of Droga on September 13th, 1928. Amidst an ongoing political crisis in Łódź, the recently-reinforced government Southern Army was moved southeast in response to the concentration of loyalist forces in the area; the existing forces were insufficient to cover the front and requested assistance. The Southern Army, consisting of roughly 42,500 men under the temporary command of Lucjan Żeligowski, reached Piotrków Trybunalski in the evening of September 13th. The following day, elements of the cavalry were dispatched to scout for a potential advance by loyalist forces, while defenses were erected in Piotrków Trybunalski, a logistical hub in the area and referred to as "the gate to Łódź" in an order given by Żeligowski.

    The scouting cavalry of the Southern Army stumbled across their loyalist counterparts on September 14th, just after noon. Men of the 50,000 man strong loyalist Central Army, sent ahead of the main force to spot and probe government positions, requested support after overestimating the size of the scouting party they were trading fire with. By evening, the fighting had escalated, with hundreds of men taking cover in the woods and already beginning to dig in. At this point, only a handful of losses were reported on each side. The following morning's fighting would overshadow these almost immediately.

    Żeligowski, seeing an opportunity to overwhelm a small portion of the loyalist forces before reinforcements arrived, ordered a flanking maneuver through the nearby fields. On September 15th, shortly after dawn, these men advanced, moving through the unusually heavy fog expecting to find an unprotected flank near the treeline, only to instead come face-to-face with a slightly larger force of loyalist troops performing the same maneuver. The fighting that broke out almost destroyed both forces, each finding no cover from their enemy's fire. As reinforcements were funneled into the engagement by both loyalist and government officers, all operating on a series of contradictory reports, the engagement became a bloodbath. An hour after the first shots were fired, the ragged remnants of both forces retreated into the thinning fog, leaving behind thousands of dead.

    The afternoon saw further fighting, first as government forces (reinforced before their loyalist counterparts) attempted a second flanking push, then as loyalist troops counterattacked across the same fields. Rapidly-strengthened defenses cut down both of these attempts, though that evening an ad-hoc formation of several tanks and fresh infantry, supported by all loyalist artillery in the area, punched through the government line only to find themselves attacked by newly-arrived reserves. Another several hours of bloody fighting later, and the loyalist foothold remained, being reinforced overnight and then attacked again on the morning of the 16th.

    While they paled in comparison to the charnel houses of Flanders and northern France, the dead of the Battle of Droga already outnumbered those of previous battles of similar scale in the civil war. Further disruption was caused by their concentration - rather than being evenly distributed over several formations, it was a handful of units that were all but destroyed by intense fighting, often without the typical defensive positions that helped keep losses low during other battles of the civil war. The fighting on the 16th and 17th, another series of attacks and counterattacks with increasingly-exhausted forces, was similarly bloody; by the time both sides were entirely aware they a full breakthrough was not possible, each side had lost nearly a fifth of its men.

    Combined with the intensifying engagements to the west, which eventually led to government forces abandoning Piotrków Trybunalski on the 20th of September, the battle claimed almost 26,000 lives. While the popular explanation - that the political leadership in both Warsaw and Łódź were horrified by the number of dead, and immediately moved for peace - is not correct, the battle did result in a strengthening of the remaining "peace factions" in both camps. The damage taken by the Southern Army, the Łódź government's most potent force, and the display of the ability for Piłsudski's loyalists to effectively break through their defenses, destroyed what hope there was in Łódź for a successful repulsion of the enemy advance. While the Central Army, Piłsudski's most battle-ready force at the time, had been bloodied and would require weeks to recover before another attack, its effectiveness likely blunted for the remainder of all further fighting, it remained in far better condition than the Southern Army.

    Combined with the existing political crisis undermining Witos' position, the battle effectively sealed the fate of the Łódź government: on September 29th, a ceasefire was signed, and the Polish Civil War ended. Piłsudski had triumphed, with only minor concessions made in the following negotiations, and Poland entered a new age. The war had cost the country much, its position as hegemon of much of Eastern Europe was lost, but it remained first among equals in the tripartite alliance with Belarus and Ukraine, its political crises solved for the time being. The "Marshal's Era" was about to begin.

    ---

    And that's that! Hopefully things won't slow down the way they did for a while there; I'll be working on some things digging into Germany and its politics/economy next.​
     
  18. KanonenKartoffel Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2018
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    The Kapp-Lüttwitz Putsch

    Excerpt from "The Kapp-Lüttwitz Putsch and the German Civil War"
    in Epoche: Magazin für Zeitgeschichte
    by Reinhard Stiefel

    Just after dawn on October 19th of 1919, one of the last Freikorps remaining in Germany marches into Berlin under a dark grey sky. Its orders are to “ruthlessly break any resistance”, to occupy government buildings and seize control of the city. Officers carry lists with them, names of men who are to be arrested on sight - or shot. The Freikorps’ cars carry the illegal black-white-red tricolour of the German Empire, displaying their loyalty to the old order which collapsed less than a full year ago.

    A total of 5,500 men move into Berlin, in which almost 8,000 regular soldiers are still stationed. Without shots being fired, the latter allow the Freikorps men to pass, occupying the publishing building of the Berliner Morgenpost and several other newspapers, then moving into the Regierungsviertel. Within hours, the centre of government in Germany is in the hands of the men of the Marinebrigade von Loewenfeld. The flags flown at the Reichstag are exchanged, the old imperial colours flying once again. By the time the city awakens, messages have already gone out to other cities, to sympathetic formations of the Republikwehr, and Berlin is rapidly becoming the centre of a new order in Germany.

    Despite the optimism of those leading the putsch, that very evening called an “excellent beginning to the final closing of this shameful chapter of German history” by Lüttwitz, the ease with which Berlin fell was deceptive. For while the city was in their hands, the republic had not yet fallen.



    The discussions in the Bendlerblock, the home of the provisional Ministry of Military Reorganization, had lasted hours by the time an exhausted Gustav Noske emerged. It was in the early morning of October 19th, and Hans von Seeckt had just recently said what would become his most famous words. As recorded by one of the other officers, present: “Truppe schießt night auf Truppe”, “Troops (of the Republikwehr) do not fire on other troops (of the Republikwehr)”. In effect, a flat refusal by the military to protect its government from the rebellious Freikorps.

    The timing of von Seeckt’s refusal could not have been better for the putsch. Only a day before, the last pro-republican paramilitary forces of Berlin had been moved out of the city. Now they were scattered, the majority still grouped around the train stations of Nuremberg and other Bavarian cities as the final negotiations of the Frankfurter Compromise continue. Their absence was taken as an opportunity for a final parade by the Marinebrigade von Loewenfeld - immediately after which the force would be disarmed and dissolved.

    But when the parade reached its end, Lüttwitz’s speech turned from praise of the men’s accomplishments in previous battles to the necessity for “a further service to the Fatherland”, and an explicit promise to ensure that “a force such as this, a vital component of national defence against all enemies of Germany, will never be destroyed by the political machinations of men who have no concept of what it means to take up arms to defend one’s country”. While an explicit call to rebellion would not immediately follow, the intent was already clear.

    At five in the morning, only roughly two and a half hours before the Marinebrigade von Loewenfeld would enter the city, an emergency meeting of the Council of the People’s Deputies ends with the “three-point declaration” that will forever change the course of Germany’s development: the government will not allow itself to be captured, all officers of the armed forces that did not “explicitly and actively” support the government would be treated as traitors, and finally - the *putsch* would be put down with military force if its supporters did not surrender themselves within two days.

    By the time the Council had reconvened in Magdeburg, this ultimatum had only hours remaining, and there was no sign that Lüttwitz, Kapp, or their primary supporters would surrender themselves. The putsch had successfully expanded its control over most of eastern Germany - in Silesia, Breslau had been placed under martial law by army forces cooperating with the “new Reich government”, with many of the border areas following suit. The situation grew worse when the hastily-arranged ferrying of the heads of the anti-Bolshevik “Prussian League” led to Rüdiger von der Goltz and Prince Friedrich Wilhelm of Prussia arriving in Königsberg.

    Over the next few days, a front gradually formed; the putsch failed to expand further west, with several high officers arrested for excessive delays in announcing their support for the government and republican paramilitaries disarming, then interning, many formations suspected of supporting the *putsch*. The situation in Bavaria was resolved, and the Provisional Government of German-Austria had announced it would not acknowledge the putsch.

    Still, it was not until the last days of October that the frantic attempts at negotiation by moderates were brought to an end. On the 30th, in Dresden, a number of officers were arrested for expressing support of Kapp and Lüttwitz. A few hours later, two truckloads of armed men seeking to enter the city are fought off by the local police and paramilitaries. The next day, as word spread of the event, several hundred men of the Marinebrigade von Loewenfeld attempted to enter the city, fighting their way to the prison but being forced back before they could release the officers.

    As November began, the first republican push towards Berlin started. The putsch was over.

    The German Civil War had begun.

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    Understanding the Collapse of the Anti-Republican Right
    by Richard Jenson


    In the conflict generally referred to as the German Civil War (Erin Baines makes a good case for it simply being an "extended putsch" here), there are three main phases - understanding the circumstances of each, and what brings about each "phase change" allows one to more easily follow the events of the conflict, which may seem confusing at a glance. For the sake of convenience, the anti-republican coalition around Kapp and Lüttwitz (and later involving Rüdiger von der Goltz and Friedrich Wilhelm of Prussia) will be referred to as either "monarchists" or "putschists". The more eclectic alliance, generally on Germany's eastern border, that was involved in the border conflict with Poland and eventually became hostile to the monarchists, will be referred to as "nationalists". Regarding this latter group, it is worthy of noting that the term 'nationalist' is not a fully accurate descriptor, especially given the expansion of the coalition to include pro-republican anti-monarchist forces following the Polish intervention - however, this term will be used given the lack of more accurate ones that would not involve a lengthy descriptor. (Editor's Note: While the usage of "Breslau Coalition" is common, it is generally based on the incorrect belief of the "Breslau Border Pact", which did not exist.) The terms "republican" and "government" will be used interchangeably to denote all groups loyal to or allied with the Council of People's Deputies

    The first phase of the civil war is characterized by the brief parity of military strength. While the republican forces were far larger, many needed to be brought to the front from other parts of the country, and many were bound in various locations ensuring that groups of dubious reliability or army units suspected of holding (or confirmed to have) putschist sympathies did not threaten the local government. Furthermore, the most politically reliable forces on the republican side were paramilitary groups often lacking in proper equipment or cohesion. As a result, even when starting from a stronger position than their opposition, republican attacks were often only successful when they could bring far larger forces to bear and had sufficient reinforcements to allow for "shifts" of attack, in which advancing troops would stop once they had lost too much cohesion to effectively continue, recuperate behind the still-advancing front, and then continue later. Meanwhile, monarchist forces would often be either ex-military formations with connections to the army or military units that had chosen to fight for the putsch government.

    As a result of these discrepancies, the only major offensive of republican forces during this phase was unable to meet its goals, despite advancing through enemy resistance and threatening the city of Brandenburg. Intended to be a push to Berlin, it was halted despite the large numerical superiority of the government troops in all three major engagements; in the third, regrouping monarchists were successfully able to drive back the advancing republicans and force an advance towards Potsdam to be halted in fear of exposing the flanks of the advancing force.

    The civil war's second phase began when the Republic of German-Austria escalated their policy of non-acknowledgement into intervention. While German-Austria would not technically join the Republic of Germany until the signing of the Unification Treaty in Berlin, in December, they joined the republican effort after the final resolution of internal disputes. At this point, republican forces had been strengthened (and in some cases, re-organized or merged together) significantly, allowing for two more successful offensives in the north, along the western Baltic coast, and another in the south, to drive monarchist forces from Saxony. Both had more modest goals, but met them without the difficulties that had plagued the previous major attack. One observer wrote that "the advance requires a smaller superiority in numbers, due to improved supply and support from heavy weapons; however in many cases there is an even larger gap between forces than before".

    The reason for the increased disparity in numbers is not only the strengthening of republican positions, but also the weakening of monarchist ones; in the north, troops were withdrawn and a planned offensive cancelled both to better protect Berlin and to deal with a new problem. Along the eastern border, the sporadic border fighting had flared up as many Poles rose up in Silesia and in the German province of Posen; Warsaw chose to intervene in the ongoing conflict, officially sending in troops that would ensure stability and security in Silesia. Many local paramilitary groups, previously favorable to the right-wing putsch government, declared that this amounted to a betrayal of Germany by Kapp, Lüttwitz and the young Friedrich Wilhelm's advisors. While not turning to the republican side, they began fighting Polish and putsch-aligned Freikorps, swiftly gaining control of a strip along the border and seizing Breslau.

    Starting in mid-November, the monarchist forces were in full retreat across the entire front. Eastern Silesia fell to nationalist uprisings (or, often, a handful of armed men who got out at every town with a train station to demand the local government pledge loyalty to "Deutschland, statt Berlin" ("Germany, instead of Berlin", in reference to the monarchist and soon republican hold on the capital). Republican troops advanced with little to no resistance, while the withdrawing putchists were held up by strikes, administrative resistance and similar actions which caused several monarchist units to simply dissolve instead of retreat. Berlin was briefly defended, but the city itself saw no fighting and was handed over to government forces on November 28th. The only victory the monarchists had during this period was the successful seizure of Thorn and its fortress defenses, after a siege that had started in October.

    Unlike the first phase, where withdrawing putschist forces had been able to rally and halt a large republican attack, the few cases where a large monarchist force was caught by advancing republicans led to the defeat of the defenders. The best-case result was exemplified by the battle around Frankfurt (a.O.), where a monarchist rear guard was able to hold out long enough to allow for the main force to retreat across the river. Even then, material losses were significant, with heavy artillery and ammunition falling into the hands of the republicans - helping equalize the one advantage most monarchist formations had over their republican counterparts.

    In Pomerania, the third phase began. By mid-January, republican forces had taken Stolp, the last city of over 20,000 inhabitants on the line to Danzig. After pausing to regroup, resupply the frontline units and plan the way forwards, the advance continued. However, by then the monarchists had been able to reassemble their forces: with a far shorter front line, and consolidating the troops that had previously been in Poland into the defense, as well as some volunteer reinforcements from the ongoing Anti-Bolshevik War in the east. The republicans pushed forwards, but far slower. Monarchists primarily fought to slow the republican advance, in the hopes that negotiations between higher-level members of the putsch and potential allies would produce results (these are the meetings often cited by those who believe the Schleswig Conspiracy and the less-popular "Alsace-Lorraine Conspiracy"), before falling back to stronger defenses along or in front of the Weichsel/Vistula.

    From February 25th to April 11th, republican forces attempted to pierce monarchist defenses, but failed - their greatest military success was to drive a portion of the putschist defenders onto the other bank of the Weichsel, while a significant symbolic victory was achieved in the destruction of the Marinebrigade von Loewenfeld, which had been the basis of the original putsch attempt. The formation's last survivors surrendered after three says of heavy fighting following an encirclement. Of the 5,000 that had marched into Berlin, only 187 original members remained (Editor's Note: That is, remained in combat - a number had been wounded and evacuated, relieved from duty or deserted in the previous fighting.) and their symbols were taken back to Berlin as trophies signifying the coming complete victory over the putsch.

    That victory did not materialize; continued attacks grew difficult, as the supply situation worsened, morale began to break down and the putsch government (now situated in Königsberg) asked for an armistice. While originally intended to result in diplomatic unification, it quickly became clear that it effectively froze the civil war, de facto making the monarchist-held East Prussia a breakaway state for the next seven years.
     
  19. KanonenKartoffel Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2018
    There's actually something I had meant to post earlier, which I'll do now...

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    And one of those books is more related to what I'm focusing on presently...

    First, the cover:

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    Then of course, a quick look inside.

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  20. KanonenKartoffel Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2018
    A pair of graphics!

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    Political organization of the German Republic under the 1920 constitution
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