Es Geloybte Aretz - a Germanwank

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abc123

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Frankly I expected a peace update by now. :)

The bleak picture Carlton is sketching suggests Russia is frighteningly close to the abyss, and we 'know' they're not falling into it just yet. As soon as the Germans launch their next offensive they'll find out the Russian army is falling apart at the seams, and advancing is indeed their only problem left (a big one, in Russia, but still).

Me too...;)
 
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There's something morbidly curious in staring at the abyss Russia is on the precipice of, and seeing that both the Germans and Russians can't appreciate just what the impending train crash is going to be like.

It's almost farcical: Russia's overestimation of its strength is not leading to obliteration only because Germany is also overestimating it. But how long will that last?
 
There's something morbidly curious in staring at the abyss Russia is on the precipice of, and seeing that both the Germans and Russians can't appreciate just what the impending train crash is going to be like.

It's almost farcical: Russia's overestimation of its strength is not leading to obliteration only because Germany is also overestimating it. But how long will that last?

I would expect not long, now. In winter the Germans may have been satisfed with just patrolling, but as the weather clears up there's going to be agressive scouting as preludes to offensives, which is already likely to trigger the collapse. Once the actual offensives start, it's game over.
 
It's almost farcical: Russia's overestimation of its strength is not leading to obliteration only because Germany is also overestimating it. But how long will that last?

I wouldn't call it farcical considering how Russia's strength (both past and present) is overestimated even today and how it has continually been overestimated for... well, for centuries now.
 
I wouldn't call it farcical considering how Russia's strength (both past and present) is overestimated even today and how it has continually been overestimated for... well, for centuries now.

Yet Napoleon and Hitler both proved in the end they had badly underestimated "strength," overall anyway. In the latter case, so did foreign military experts whose governments (British and USA) were sympathetic to the Soviet cause--at any rate, wanted to see the Russians as successful as possible in absorbing and neutralizing Third Reich strength. Whether the American and British military experts were overly pessimistic in predicting Soviet collapse because they were themselves less sympathetic than their political masters, or were in error for technical reasons, is something people might argue about.

Russia is different from typical Western nations; I think that's fair to say. It throws monkey wrenches into foreign attempts to second-guess them. One factor is the obsessive tendency to secrecy and deception of foreigners that seems to carry over regardless of the nature of the regime. Another, that experts might more or less understand and try to correct for, is depth; the country is just bloody huge and Russian leaders are often willing to trade space for time, scorching the earth on retreat as much as they can regardless of the dismay this may produce among her people. It is much less densely populated than Western European nations, which is an aspect of geographical hugeness that I suppose throws off powers drawing their conventional wisdom from Western European experience. Eastern European nations, especially in the eras of Napoleon and even Hitler, may present Western (and still more, local) powers with experience in that respect--but then, as long as they are analogizing from experience with places like Poland or Romania, they are not factoring the sorts of resources that Russians can draw (if with painful slowness and inefficiency) from the vast as yet untouched hinterland--in the Napoleonic era, sheer manpower, compounded in the Soviet era with advanced war machinery produced east of the Urals. The Soviets compounded great sparse depth with a top level of people quite as familiar with machine era warfare as the most advanced European powers--fewer of those per capita, of course, than say Germany or France, but they have a lot of "capita." Also, insofar as their machinery is infamously somewhat less sophisticated than top-level Western rivals, by that same token it is "closer to the ground;" Soviet citizens were used to working with simpler and often heavier machines that weren't as efficient when working at spec, but which they were better able to improvise fixes for--from long, bitter experience with substandard, end-of-month-to-fullfill-the-Plan junk that had to be cannibalized to piece together fewer, but functional, products.

The key factor is morale, and given Russian diffidence in tipping their hand to foreigners (or their own overlords for that matter) this is hard for outsiders to judge. We have the inside track on reliable barometers of Integralist Russian desperation and despair here, but it would be foolhardy indeed for the Germanic invaders and their allies to jump to the conclusion that the morale of the Russian soldier was finally at the breaking point, even if Western spies in Russia can observe and report these signs. It takes a lot to break Russian will to resist invaders of the Motherland; no matter how badly their lives run under their own misrulers, they hardly have any reason to hope it won't be worse under foreigners. And it is so bad for them normally that when they imagine "worse" it is a grim picture indeed. Better to die defending than live to witness and suffer what they can well fear will happen under a foreign yoke.

Ironically in this current circumstance such fears might be less well grounded than usual, but how can Ivan know and believe that?

"Don't invade Russia" strikes me as sound advice in all generations and circumstances--if one must, expect a grim hard expensive slog, for little reward compared to the price. Defeating them outside their homeland might be another matter entirely, as might be seizing territory long ill-reconciled to their rule. A fair rule of thumb might be if you can reasonably say you are "liberating" it, you have a chance. But of course in that circumstance the Russians are not yet defending their home territories, which is to say they are available to back the extended Russian forces with all the resources their motherland can provide.

We know, from an omniscient narrative, that Russia is indeed closer to the breaking point than the German alliance is. The Germans and Poles can guess they ought to be, but Russian resistance has persisted much longer already than it reasonably ought to have by their standards, so they must assume the worst for the moment.

Since we can be pretty sure the governments in Berlin, Vienna and Warsaw (and Amsterdam, and I've lost track whether the Swedes are "in" openly and completely or not yet) can still yet manage to keep their people more or less committed despite grumbling and protests) and are indeed planning another round of offensives they will have the will to carry out, the collapse is coming soon and will be spectacular. Unless the ruling gang in Moscow see the writing on the wall, know they can't stretch any further for better conditions (and after all, they ought to get some concessions if they surrender now, such as keeping most of Ukraine for instance) and end it top down; that would be another version of spectacular collapse of course. Otherwise, it might take the form of local front commanders putting up white flags, or of them stubbornly ordering troops to fight who simply disintegrate and surrender or flee piecemeal as the regime itself evaporates. Even the Austro-Hungarians, with some German and Polish reinforcement, can probably surge forward with amazing speed then.

But a wise Mitteleuropan commander will believe it only when he sees it, and take care not to move too fast lest it prove to be some kind of planned or accidental trap. Any territory they take, they have to keep some minimal order in in very challenging circumstances, facing starvation and desperation among the suddenly conquered people. The need to secure their rear lines lest they overextend themselves might prove to be the main check on their speed of advance.

Even if one can reasonably hope that this foreign invasion of formerly Russian soil will not prove as alienating as the locals have reason to fear and expect, it will take time for conciliation to convince them; a time scale that might be short in years, but quite long compared to war; essentially all former Tsarist territory populated by people who regard themselves as "Russians" in the Integralist sense will be sullen and difficult to hold profitably for at least as long as it takes to end the war.
 
THe dragging on might be the only way to keep Russia together - as soon there are peace talks i.e. the national emergecy is over Revolution and/or breaking away of fringe parts of the empire might happen.
 
THe dragging on might be the only way to keep Russia together - as soon there are peace talks i.e. the national emergecy is over Revolution and/or breaking away of fringe parts of the empire might happen.

There's not much fringe left to go, is there? Other than Central Asia south of the steppes, it's really just Chechnya et al and a few desert towns on the Chinese border....
 
26 April 1908, east of Borisov

Russia had changed. It wasn’t just the weather, though the sun helped. A wide expanse of green grass and silvery birches, dotted with whitewashed villages and dark green clusters of trees, was a far cry from the endless frozen waste they had seemed trapped in since they broke out of the Baltic. It was pretty, Vicewachtmeister Kanngiesser had to admit. It had a certain postcard charm. You could imagine enjoying holidays here. Not that Kanngiesser would ever want to come back, but in principle, he could see the appeal. No, Russia had changed in much more concrete and practical ways. It had houses to be billeted in, food to requisition and people you had to deal with. It made a big difference from the hellscape of burned villages and ghost towns they had become used to. In fact, the place looked a lot like Eastern Poland had last spring. Back then, though, there had been good boots. The felt or plaited straw monstrosities that most Russian prisoners wore these days were not even worth stealing. Knobelbecher were bad, but they weren’t that bad.

It figured, though. The Vicewachtmeister stretched out on his bed of straw, looking into the square of the tiny village they had settled into for the night. The Russians were simply no longer able to keep up with destroying things. If that meant roofs to sleep under, kasha and mushrooms to eat, and the occasional bottle of vodka to liberate, that was fine by him. Kanngiesser’s men could use the relief. They had been through the wringer a few times since they’d ridden out of their barracks, every man mounted on a cavalry horse and certain they’d be facing the foe galloping into action, caissons clattering and harness jingling. Now, they were mostly walking. Even the foul-tempered., unseasoned Argentinian horses they’d come to hate last year were treasured as more and more guns now sported panye ponies. If that cut into their speed, it hadn’t mattered too much during the muddy season. Now – they just had to make do and walk as best they could. It was, they’d said more often than Kanngiesser cared to remember, one hell of a way to fight a war. Maybe next year they’d have lorries to drag the guns. But of course nobody had the least intention to still be fighting next year. The war had been going on too long as it was.

.Out here, with the horses stabled for the night and the wind rustling in the birches, a fire softly glowing, it felt oddly peaceful. Kanngiesser had checked the posts and settled his men in for the night, passing around the last of the spirits they had taken along from the last town they’d come through and listening to them gripe. Damn, why couldn’t the Russians see they were beat? What was the point risking your life if the only thing you got was more of the bastards coming out of the woodwork? The Austrians were about to grab Kiev, at least if the papers they got were good for anything other than arsewipes. The Chinese and Turks had beaten them, which just went to show they were hot stuff if you kicked them into proper shape first. And it looked like the only thing stopping everybody from going home was that the government was asking for more than the Czar would give them. Kanngiesser could see how that would annoy the emperor. His boys had bled for the victory. He’d lost three quarters of the original force, buried or invalided home. But still, Russia was a big place. Even a modest bite should be quite enough for any appetite. He had no desire to lose more of his comrades.

A shadow passing by the watchfire – Kanngiesser set aside his bottle. Wachtmeister Helwig was making his rounds, no doubt spreading cheer wherever he passed. That bastard was always more than happy to enforce every chickenshit order from clueless officers who thought themselves called to raise fucking morale. Perhaps he wouldn’t have minded so much if Helwig wasn’t a living reminder how Kanngiesser, despite his Iron Cross first class, despite his five years of service, despite his excellent marks on every test, was always second choice for promotion. They’d brought Mehling in from the god-damned lifeguard cavalry when old Wachtmeister Mehling’s head had intersected with the path of a Russian shrapnel fragment. Not the first clue about how to fight a gun, but big ideas of spit and polish. But you couldn’t have a Socialist in charge of the company. And sure enough he was passing around Division Field Order # 1243 – on singing German folk songs to maintain morale. A spirited rendition of the Wacht am Rhein died two fires over.

Very well – they could sing. Kanngiesser fumbled for the dog-eared songbook in his knapsack and beckoned his corporal: “Bernoth, die Klampfe! Es wird gesungen.”

Of all the things to take on a thousand-kilometre hike illegally, a guitar was not the first that came to mind, but by now none of the men in the battery wanted to miss it. Bernoth was a damned good player. He’d been with some youth group or other before being drafted, apparently.

“Page 27. Bernwardsturm.” Bernoth opened the page and shot him a questioning glance. Kanngiesser nodded firmly. The first chords were exhilarating, joyful, defiant. A manly song. Helwig came closer, still smiling.

Die Glocken stürmten vom Bernwardsturm,
Der Regen durchrauschte die Straßen.
Und durch die Glocken und durch den Sturm,
Gellte des Urhorns blasen.


“Kanngiesser!” The voices fell.

“Yes, Wachtmeister?”

“This is not on the list of approved songs.” Helwig straightened himself, looking around the circle of men around the fire. “The order clearly states….”

Kanngiesser took a step forward, facing his superior directly. “The order calls for the songs of German folk memory and historical greatness. I think this song should qualify.”

“You think?” An unpleasant smirk. “I didn’t know you could do that. Best leave it to people who get paid for it, you hear?”

Kanngiesser turned to Bernoth. “Keep playing.” The music continued. Helwig’s eyes widened. “I don’t know what the fuck you are doing, but if you think you’ll get away with this…”

… Die Klingsburg hoch am Berge lag,
Sie zogen hinauf in Waffen,
Auframmte der Schmied mit einem Schlag
Das Tor, das er fronend geschaffen. …

Kanngiesser spat. “Get away? I’m getting away with as many of my men alive as I can. Right good men in a fight, too. Not that you’d know much about that.”

The Wachtmeister stared openly. “Are you drunk?”

Kanngiesser smiled grimly. “Not enough vodka in this shithole to get a man drunk, Herr Wachtmeister. Not that I would, being on duty. I’m just keeping up the morale of the men, as ordered.” He turned around. “Keep singing!”

For a brief moment, Helwig stood completely motionless. Corporal Bernoth launched into the next stanza, fingers flying over the fretboard. Kanngiesser balled his fists. If that lickspittle bastard was going to make a fight out of it, he’d break a few teeth.

Dem Ritter fuhr ein Schlag ins Gesicht,
Ein Spaten ihm zwischen die Rippen,
Er brachte das Schwert aus der Scheide nicht
Und nicht den Fluch von den Lippen.

“That song is not permitted!” Helwing’s voice trembled. “Stop it or….”

Kanngiesser laughed. He couldn’t help it. “Or what? You’ll have us sent to the Russian front?”

Helwig stared uncomprehendingly. “Kanngiesser, I am going to assume you are drunk. We will clear this matter up in the morning.”

Still laughing, eyes locked on the Wachtmeister’s retreating back, Kanngiesser joined his men in their song again. Maybe something would happen tomorrow, but probably not. And Helwig would know not to fuck with him one way or another.

Auf rauschte die Flamme mit aller Kraft
Brach Balken, Bogen und Bande,
Ja, gnade dir Gott, du Ritterschaft:
Der Bauer stund auf im Lande!
 
Someone starting a bit of socialist push...

Why does this sound like a bad idea? Bfore you know it there's commies getting crushed somewhere...
 
Someone starting a bit of socialist push...

Why does this sound like a bad idea? Bfore you know it there's commies getting crushed somewhere...

It's nothing that organised, It's just that the German army isn't gpoing to stand for the same old shit any more. THe leadership is still stuck in prewar mode on many issues, but the troops and junior officers have changed considerably. This is not going to be an army you can easily use as an instrument of repression any longer. The men have developed an almost proletarian pride in succeeding in spite of the idiocy of their leaders.

I have yet to meet any veteran who came back from the war with a high opinion of the brass. In Germany, with its crusty old militaristic social pecking order, that will be a big deal.


Were those Landsknechte songs as prominent in OTL during the war as they are ITTL, or is that something original?

I just like them a lot, but they really were a thing in the 1910s and 1920s IOTL. Landsknecht romanticism gave frontline soldiers a model to base their identity on when more conventional imagery failed to work. A lot of what we think of as 'landsknecht' songs are actually products of the First World War and the Freikorps. (You don't make yourself popular with reenactpors when you point this out to them, BTW). Both songs I used in my scenes are from that period, exact dates of composition unknown, but around 1914-1920. I'm assuming against probability, but with artistic license, that they will come into being sort-of as they did.

Oh dear, a song glorifying the peasant side of the peasant wars ? Many a junker won't like this at any date.

Few junkers will be able to do anything about it. The song is a calculated provocation, and "I will assume you are drunk" is as good as a surrender. From today on, everybody knows who really is in charge of the company. That kind of thing was unthinkable in 1906, but now it is almost becoming the norm.
 
So, what happened to Russian gold? And will Russia start negotiatins with Germans?

The Russian gold is on its way to Persia (but will not make it there in one piece)
And Russia is going to request an armistice very soon. Bear in mind the updates are very close together in gametime now, just very far apart in real time because of real-life suckage.
 

abc123

Banned
The Russian gold is on its way to Persia (but will not make it there in one piece)
And Russia is going to request an armistice very soon. Bear in mind the updates are very close together in gametime now, just very far apart in real time because of real-life suckage.

OK, thanks for the information...

Keep 'em coming...;)
 
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