Feeble Constitution - A Red-and-Green Russia 1917 Timeline

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Salvador79, Jan 8, 2019.

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  1. dunHozzie Well-Known Member

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    @Salvador79 - will you take votes? I vote:
    Sounds way more sensible and not otl’s shitshow
     
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  2. Salvador79 Well-Known Member

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    Your votes and commentaries are more than welcome! As a general rule, I shall take them into account (as feeback about what you think is more plausible, more interesting or more desirable), but I won't let the timeline be determined by votes, since in my experience (especially from my Hussite TL "A Different Chalice"), this tends to give timelines a utopian twist. While I'm not fond of overly dystopian timelines myself, I would like to keep things somewhere along a balance of plausibility and interest, and preserve a tiny bit of suspense, too, which means I'll probably resort to real votes only where I think both options are more or less equally plausible and I have no story arc preference or ideas for suspense.
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2019
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  3. 52cardsshortofadeck Well-Known Member

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    If this viewpoint picked up any degree of steam, would it cause the UoE to take a generally anti-colonialist line before the end of the war, or not?
    Would the presence of the UoE on said commission give it some level of legitimacy (although I'd doubt it'd change the partition significantly, it could have later effects)?
     
  4. Salvador79 Well-Known Member

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    I agree, although OTL's Soviet Russia does set the bar pretty low.
    It would have to pick up a lot of steam very quickly. There is considerable reluctance and even outright resistance both within the SDs and SRs, and even more so within the Kadets, who are gobbling up much of what had been to the right of them (a process which began IOTL already throughout late spring and summer 1917) and that includes Russian nationalism... Also, various other strong parties in the Federative Republics installed so far don't find this view quite as attractive, either. But it's not impossible. I have some crazy ideas concerning anti-colonialism and the UoE, but I'm not yet sure if they'll really materialise. How the UoE solves the tensions in its own Southern backyard is, of course, the test to all this. If they continue to support "emirs and sheikhs" there and crack down on protests on the pretext of their being pro-Ottoman, they won't enjoy much credibility.

    When the war is over and the Ottomans and especially their Greater Turanist party are no longer any serious threat, things might be easier. (Or not.)

    The commission proposed entirely different solutions than what happened IOTL. The utter inconsequentiality of its being outright ignored had a lot to do with the combination of it being a pure US thing and then a Wilsonian thing and then the 1920 elections bringing Republicans into the White House and Congress in a landslide victory. It is difficult to imagine the commission being quite as irrelevant as IOTL.
     
  5. Threadmarks: Twenty-Eight: Turati Attacked at Italian Socialist Congress (September 1918)

    Salvador79 Well-Known Member

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    hey everyone,
    this TL is back with a guest posting by @lukedalton -thank you for sharing your intimate knowledge of OTL's Italy and great ideas for how TTL's Italy could turn out...
    Also, while the text was being edited by @Betelgeuse (thank you, too, for your continuously excellent work!), quite a number of thoughts crossed my mind as to what could or should be explained in footnotes and the like - I have added these comments in italics and marked them as mine (they're not edited by @Betelgeuse, so sorry for any language errors or clumsy phrasings there).


    Rome: Il Messaggero [1], 7th September, 1918, p.1

    CONGRESSMAN TURATI SAFE

    This morning Professor Roberto Alessandri has finally declared L’onorevole Filippo Turati, Socialist congressman and one of the most prestigious leaders of the patriotic faction of the PSI, out of danger after the tragic events of the 4th, where he was severely wounded by a mysterious aggressor during the riots that had caused the closure of the Socialist Congress.

    Messages of support for the wounded congressman have arrived from all Italy and His Excellency the Presidente del Consiglio Mr. Vittorio Orlando will come to the Santa Maria della Consolazione Hospital, where Mr. Turati remains under medical and police surveillance, to give his best wishes for a quick recovery and to assure him that those responsible for this great attack on Democracy and the integrity of the nation will be discovered and captured as quickly as possible.

    From our correspondent's reconstruction of the calamitous event [2], the first days of the Socialist Congress were characterized by an extremely heated debate over the role of the socialist congressmen in Parliament and their open support of the government while the direction of the party clearly prohibited anything more than ‘no support and no sabotage’ in relation to the war effort and the defense of the country [3]. Mr. Turati and many of his companions, like Gaetano Salvemini, had been severely criticized by Nicolò Bombacci and others representative of the so-called Maximalist faction and were referred to as bourgeois wannabes, closet reactionaries, class traitors and fools.

    A motion censuring Turati's efforts barely passed the first day, after others, demanding stronger punishment for him and the other rebels, were defeated again and again but always with a thinner margin every time.

    The first day more important resolutions were approved, including one which put all the congressmen in Parliament under the direct control of the party and enforced total political discipline even at the cost of expelling anyone that went against the party directive; naturally many of the participants openly and loudly protested against such diktat, even threatening to leave the PSI and denouncing the promoters of such a directive as Kaiser wannabes more interested in their own power than in the betterment of the people.

    With various representatives almost coming to blows and the mood extremely tense, these events were just an omen of things to come.

    Another point of great contention was how to react and interpret the events happening in Russia and in the rest of Eastern Europe, with Serrati denouncing all collaboration with anyone whose intent was to defend the country and continue the war or even entertain the bourgeois tradition of elections. The Turati faction, however, approved of the continued cooperation between various sides of the revolution and moderation in the pursuit of their goals, and, more importantly, the continued defence of the country against the German oppressor.

    The news of the declaration of the Hungarian Republic [4] inflamed the debate even further, with more and more representatives calling for an immediate cessation of hostilities and a recognition of the new nations born from the arthritic corpse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Amedeo Bordiga was the more vocal, and stated his own views just after having condemned, to great acclamation, the SPD leadership [5], and Avksentiev respectively [6], as tools of the capitalist warmongers and as false socialists. He proposed the immediate recognition of the new nations and the cessation of any act of war against them. Naturally, all possible support would be given to the modernizing socialist forces that would bring with them a new dawn for the now free countries. Immediately this was opposed by men like Modigliani who, while approving the fact that now people that just a day before had been under the Hapsburg tyranny were finally free, believed it was best to have a wait and see attitude and look at the various local developments before stepping in.

    By the penultimate day there were two clear sides at the Congress, with various minor factions and the intransigenti pledging their support to the more moderate or the more extremist wing, with the last having a clear but not overwhelming advantage. It was just before the beginning of the Congress on the 4th that a group of so-called ‘Independent Socialists’ or ‘Renegades’, lead by Benito Mussolini (controversial editor of the Popolo d’Italia [7]), stormed the Casa del Popolo with the intention of disrupting the work of the Congress and gaining visibility.

    Immediately Mussolini was face to face with Gramsci and Claudio Treves (the two had fought a duel in 1915 and never reconciled), who tried to block his attempt to speak to the crowd. This confrontation quickly escalated into a full fight between Mussolini's various supporters and the delegates. It was after many minutes of protracted fighting that a still unidentified man began to shoot into the crowd with a gun, hitting the honorable Turati in the right shoulder while causing massive panic in the palace, with many men being wounded by the mob in its attempt to flee. Only thanks to Divine Providence have there been no dead but only a considerable number of lightly wounded, due both to the fight and the sudden escape attempt of the participants.

    The Questore of Roma, with the full approval of the Presidente del Consiglio and the Minister of the Interior, has decided to authorize both the immediate closure of the Congress for reason of public safety and an investigation to determine who fired the gun. Questions regarding which group was ultimately responsible for the fight have started once news of the event reached authorities, but for now no further information has been revealed.

    From our sources, it would appear that informal reunions between socialist delegates are happening in private homes all over the city to decide the future of the party. It seems that all the vaunted ‘unity of the proletariat’ has been broken, as the numerous fights, all around Italy, between members of the different factions demonstrate. [8]


    [1] – Founded at the end of the 19th Century, it’s one of the most important Italian newspapers and is also considered the quintessential Roman journal; due to its interventionist position it will not have a very good opinion of Bombacci, Lazzari and Gramsci and other Maximalist and Neutralist leaders.

    [2] – The Congress as OTL was behind closed doors with only the Avanti (the official party newspaper) allowed to print a recap of the events of the day, so there were no journalists when the chaos started, and the participants had a tendency to keep their mouths shut that would make the Mafia proud.

    [3] – The Minimalist faction lead by Turati was for supporting the government and the war effort to defend the nation, as he (rightly IMVHO) believed that Italy being defeated and subjugated by a much more conservative nation that also threatened to undo the Unification would result in the effort to better the living conditions of the proletariat becoming pointless and any changes also becoming more difficult to make. The Maximalists were for a ‘let the two kill each other and take what remains’ approach and a peace without border changes or indemnities. They also already declared the creation of a Socialist Republic of Italy and the dictatorship of the proletariat.

    ITTL, they will not even support the CP proposal because they believe it validates the bourgeois conflict and that its goal is to simply buy off the more weak willed socialists. Now with the UoE still in the war and in the Entente camp and the idea of a general white peace not being supported by the revolutionary government, the Minimalists have more political currency and influence at the expense of the Maximalists, and the general liberal establishment, while still fearing and loathing the PSI, understands that the moment is extremely dire after the defeat of Caporetto and that any help is welcome. In addition, the continued presence of the UoE in the alliance helps to quiet some fears about how trustworthy the socialists are. Vittorio Emanuele Orlando, therefore, after some suggestion from Giolitti, in February 1918 decided to bring the Turati faction in the government to form something like the French Union Sacrèe. Naturally this action had an ulterior motive. Giolitti, as the great old man of the Italian politics that he was, even in his self-imposed exile at Cavour, understood perfectly that the PSI was in a crucial moment and that the two factions had reached a situation where the differences could not be healed, so by applying a little pressure be knew that the party would break.

    If by all this you get the impression that I really don’t have a great opinion of Bombacci and all the other intransigents, regardless of political affiliation, who put ideology over everything to remain pure...well it’s the pure truth.

    [4] [by Salvador79:] After the Entente dismissed what Willy and Karl offered them in the Krakow Communiqué, they started a major offensive on the Western front which has pushed, after heavy losses for both sides, the Germans out of Hazebrouck and Ypres again, and on the Italian front, there are slow advances in Southern Tyrol as well as faster advances towards Istria, too. Under these conditions, the German OHL has opted for a position of "safe distant defense", regrouping its forces behind the Hindenburg Line in the West and calling Mackensen back from Romania, all the way up the Danube and into Austria proper, so as to strengthen any weak spots in the Alpine defenses where breakthroughs could become dangerous for Germany herself, too. All of this, together with Bulgaria's collapse and surrender, have caused a state of disintegration of Austria-Hungary which is quite comparable to OTL's October 1918: all around, exile committees are declaring their new countries' independence: Masaryk for Czechoslovakia, the Yugoslav Committee for their namesake country including various bits and pieces of Austria-Hungary... and now in Hungary, something comparable to the Aster Revolution is occurring, too. By escaping from under the Habsburg umbrella and forming a coalition government of liberals and socialists, the Hungarian republican secessionists are also hoping for lenient treatment by the UoE and her allies.

    [5] [by Salvador79:] The SPD is insecure about what to do next really. They have joined the government at the worst possible moment, they realize now, and Philipp Scheidemann, their more-or-less-Foreign Secretary of State, has communicated intensely with Moscow, but the impression he has received is that the Entente will accept nothing short of a surrender in which even large parts of Germany will be occupied by foreign troops, and that the only thing which is open for debate is probably the quantity and quality of reparations and territorial concessions, where Germany's best hope are the US and the UoE, both of whom would rather see a fully democratic (and the latter even a social-democratic) government in place. Scheidemann has, so far, not yet been able to convince Kaiser Wilhelm II. to draw any energetic conclusions from this. But Willy is really angry is Ludendorff whom alone he blames for concealing the true dire state of the war to him and the imperial government. The SPD is, against its own conviction, trotting along and publicly supporting the very costly defensive efforts especially on the Western Front as "without alternative". This is what is being criticised here.


    [6] [by Salvador79:] Avksentiev, together with his close Ukrainian buddy Holubovich, has landed a great electoral campaign coup (and probably more than that) by inviting delegations of various Narodnik or Narodnik-like parties from Poland, the Croat, Czech, Slovak, and Hungarian parts of the decaying Habsburg monarchy, as well as members of the Bulgarian BANU and the Romanian Taranistii to Kiev (not Moscow!) to discuss "the future, peace, justice, and democracy in Central and Eastern Europe". While none of the parties has yet gained secure power in any of their countries, and their agenda and outlooks are wildly divergent, too, the gist of the conference was not at all "toilers of the world, you have no fatherland"... which is why the Italian Maximalists don't like the sound of it all.
    Therefore, blaming Avksentiev here makes sense. But blaming the present Supreme Commissioner Kamkov makes sense, too, if you're only Maximalist enough...


    [7] ITTL, with many of the most relevant socialist intellectuals and politicians still trying to determine their position and the exact significance of what’s happening in Russia/UoE, Benny tries again to gain relevance in the socialist world - more precisely, in a chaotic situation like this he is like a shark that smells blood. While the official Congress of the PSI is happening at the Casa del Popolo in Rome, Mussolini proclaimed a separate meeting of every other socialist that didn't identify with the ‘buffoons’ that prefer to talk rather than act; this anti-congress was held at the concert hall of the Mausoleo Augusteo - by mere chance quite near the original. His plan was to lead these men and women to the Casa del Popolo, forcefully enter and from the stage use his oratory skills to state his position and incite a revolt against the cowardly lot that he believed was strangling the socialist movement; all this in an attempt at a good publicity stunt mixed with truly believing what he was selling. By this time he has gone back to being the editor of the Popolo d’Italia and ITTL it is renamed Quotidiano dei Combattenti Socialisti or Newspaper of the Socialist Fighters; he has already published his ideas regarding a Trenchocracy where the soldiers are the new elite, and after seeing Trosky in action... well… let’s just say that was love at first sight. To describe his political position, imagine the Italian Social Republic with a very strong emphasis on nationalism and militarism. He also promotes the abolition of the monarchy and the establishment of a republic, and considers representative democracy a thing of the weak willed plutocrats.

    [8] Even in OTL the contrasting positions of the Minimalists and the Maximalists were irremediable; but the latter had the advantage of the October Revolution as a ‘rally around the flag’ effect and Lenin seemingly supporting their view. ITTL things are different. From the Italian POV the Minimalists are the ones that have been vindicated, and the absence of the fervor for the revolution will be a great advantage for them. Therefore, they have much less reason to be passively accepting of Bombacci and co's political assault. Probably without Benny's attempt at showmanship the desire to keep party unity would have prevailed and some compromise been reached, but after the attempt at Turati's life things have gone too far and soon the PSI will be divided in three.
     
  6. Salvador79 Well-Known Member

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    Because I can't like something I've postwd myself, gotta use this way to say how much I like lukedalton's idea.
    If the Attacker turns out to be a Maximalist, the moderates may just barely hold it together and the whole eacalation of the Biennio Rosso is probably avoided.
    If he turns out to be a Benny-lover, at least the PSI is warned now and maybe even closes Ranks?
    Wirst Case is If the perpetrator is not found and all sides Blame each other...
     
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  7. lukedalton Well-Known Member

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    thanks:happyblush...personally i will go for the third option, chaos before,during and after will make any attempt to identify the guilty part extremely difficult and everyone will deny any involvment to his deathbed, plus there is always the very italian option to blame it to a goverment agent.

    Regarding the Biennio Rosso, well violence will be unavoidable at this stage, too much sufference, too much blood spent, too much pent up rage and the economy will do downhill; what can change is the degree of violence and the motivation. OTL with the example of the Bolshevick and Hungarian revolution the higher up of the PSI (all maximalist faction) enflamed the already enraged mass of worker to make a lot of politically motivated strike and pretend that the owners bring in the factory's administratio the worker's council (a move that many in the goverment saw as a prelude for a bolshevick revolution in Italy).
    A moderate faction that has been in the goverment, more division in the left, a more peacefull example in Russia/UoE can limit the strike and protest to economic matter and diminishing, at least a little, the general fear for a socialist revolution; the italian goverment, at least in OTL, was OK on give the permission and not use any force to break it...if they were strickly limited to the economic reason and not political, in the second case well, unleash the Royal Guard. Violence will happen, there is no way out of it, but maybe with some luck, things will be less bloodier than OTL.

    Economically the situation can be a little better if the UoE continue to export food, a lot of the immediate postwar expediture was for import food from the USA but with another (and cheaper) supply, not only WW have a less influence but the economy and the social pressure due to the food high prices can be much better, not only for Italy but for the rest of Europe.

    Last thing for Italy (i swear), well if by the time of the armistice she already had conquered a big chunk of the promised territory...Orlando will probably try to expand as possible the italian occupation zone, at least in the Croatia/Slovenia as Dalmatia has been clearly divided and is too near Serbia.
    This for obtain the best possible position in the negotiation at the Peace conference but can create immediately some problem with the jugoslavian commitee, speaking of it, if the Croatian commitee and the green soldiers ITTL are a little better and the Serbian a little worse, well negotiation will be much much more complicated as Belgrade will be even less favorable to any compromise but on a slightly worse negotiating position(OTL initial Jugoslavian position was that there will be no change at the italian eastern border as all the territory of the A-H belonged to them)
     
  8. Salvador79 Well-Known Member

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    Sadly, that is very convincing.

    Can you elaborate a little on your explanation regarding owners, factory administration and workers councils and how the PSI' s decision was seen as prelude to a Bolshevik revolution there? This sounds interesting and I can't find any information pertaining to it.

    The UoE will continue to export food, although maybe not from the 1918 harvest...

    Very good point; the Yugoslavian situation looks different and not necessarily better ITTL, as you have pointed out. One of the next updates - after @Karelian has helped me straighten out my ideas for the end of the Finnish Civil War - will show just how far from OTL the Yugoslavia project has been derailed already...
     
  9. lukedalton Well-Known Member

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    Much is due to the enstablishment great paranoia about a socialist revolution after the events in Russia and in other places...that honestly had more than some grain of truth due to the maximalist put openly in the PSI program the enstablishment of a socialist republic and the dictatorship of the proletariat added to all the fight (political and phisical) during the war.
    Not considering that, at least initially, they considered the occupation of the factory as a prelude for a revolution...but the union and the socialist political leaderships quickly saw that the disparity of force was too great and more importantly the armed forces were really not behind them and in the great majority were loyal to the king (happen if you create a politics that antagonize the veterans and enlarge the already big divide between the soldiers and the factory worker, that were generally seen by the first as people that were paid handsomely to avoid the front).
    So once the revolution option was out, they tried to make the owner and the goverment accepting the creation of soviet style worker council that will have some control of the factory, but as said in the paranoia of the time, any political concession to the socialist/communist/union was considered a prelude to the revolution...and frankly at this stage even if the socialist higher up were for ending the occupation they had inflamed the workers too much and once started it was very difficult to end the battle.

    Luckyly for everyone involved Giolitti and his political students were (usually) generally very keen in using phisical violence in this situation as they feared it will have just started what they wanted to avoid, so insted of hear the owner that asked for using the artillery against the strikers (yes, they really asked to bomb their own factories), he limited the police action to contain the people in the occupied factories and started negotiation with the unions to give the workers more money and better work condition but totally avoiding any political issue.
     
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  10. Salvador79 Well-Known Member

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    Thank you!!
    Hm, it looks like there could be a precedent ITTL for how to solve/defuse the Situation: the Finnish Tokoi-Mannerheim compromise...
    EDIT: I meant the Tokoi-Manner compromise.
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2019
  11. lukedalton Well-Known Member

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    Maybe, but at least the liberals will want the PSI pledge to not be committed to respect democracy and not overthrow the monarchy and enstablish the dictatorships of the proletariat...and good luck with that with Bombacci, Gramsci and the other in charge; plus a move like that in this moment will greatly weaken the liberal goverment and the Giolitti faction aka the more reasonable and that at the moment is trying to avoid violence.
    Basically, if they can get the compromise before any occupation start, it can be possible but even in this case i expect a lot of political repercussion for everyone involved but once the confrontation start well it will be very difficult for both the goverment and the socialist leaderships come to term without looking as the defeated party; plus the PSI at the moment is in troubled water and divided and usually in this case the will to compromise and look weak, expecially for the most ideologically men, is lacking
     
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  12. Salvador79 Well-Known Member

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    So a split is unavoidable so the moderates can go ahead trying to smooth things over even when the party convention forbids them so and excommunicates them as a result. And the Maximalists will try to stoke revolutionary flames, and factories will get occupied. And then we'll see how that goes.
    Where would Mussolini be in all this? Already organising fasci for the factory owners to drive out the red workers?
     
  13. lukedalton Well-Known Member

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    Yep at this stage a rapprochment was impossible, too different objective and too entrenched ideological position and frankly many moderate had kept going on this was to mantain party unity during wartime and hoping to change things internally, but by this time it's too late and everybody understand it; they will try to smooth things, probably even accepting to support (probably externally) the goverment if some economic change are accepted (like the 8 hours day work, somekind of land reform and somekind of tax on the patrimony of the rich...in practice what done by the liberal goverment between the end of the war and the fascist takeover in a uncoordinated manner) and dare the party to really expel them and once it happen they will immediately form their own party (in practice the Unitary Socialist Party a couple of years earlier).

    I believe that the Maximalist will go for the OTL strategy, even if ITTL they are in a worst position, not even including the internal situation with the minimalist; the lack of the example of the bolshevik revolution as a mean to unify and enflame the workers to launch their own violent takeover, the economic situation will be slightly better if the UoE can export food and a lot of the liberal goverment prestige depend on how Versailles go, if it resolve the Adriatic question in a acceptable manner or go back home to return in a humiliating way later as OTL.
    The liberal goverment will really try to avoid transforming the workers occupying the factory in martyrs, risking to start the revolution that they want to stop (in any case, if the worst happen, well i doubt that things will go well for the PSI, they always had the mean to start the fight but not any hope of winning it).

    ITTL Benny seem still attached to the socialist idea but what you PMed earlier can be the reason that he will go for his third way, maybe a little later...and i expect that he and co. will go against the socialist as OTL and Giolitti will look the other way as he will still think that they can be usefull and manovrable. What can change ITTL is if the reformist socialist support the goverment, well at least them they will have some degree of goverment protection from attack from both sides, at least when they are on the same side.
    Naturally the lack (for now) of the communist international and Lenin 21 point, mean that for the various socialist party in world will develop in a very different way than OTL
     
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  14. generalurist Map Staring Expert

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    I'm curious about what will happen to the newly-independent Czechoslovakia and Galicia-Lodomeria when the Hapsburg empire finishes collapsing- mainly because it is looking like that collapse might finish while Germany remains in the war.

    Czechoslovakia might consider itself a Russian ally, since the Czech legion is fighting for the UoE- which would technically put them at war with Germany. But does Germany have the ability to spare troops for an intervention there?

    Galicia-Lodomeria is even more complex- the population is mostly poles who want to be part of Poland, but Poland proper at this point is a German puppet state.
     
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  15. Nuka1 Well-Known Member

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    The what now? What update was that?
     
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  16. 52cardsshortofadeck Well-Known Member

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    Good luck to the Maximalists...
     
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  17. Salvador79 Well-Known Member

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    Sorry, I meant to write Tokoi-Manner compromise (Update 22).
     
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  18. lukedalton Well-Known Member

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    They really need it in their situation but at this stage are even worse off than OTL, not that this really displease me, their zeal and uncompromising attitude had make Benny takeover job much much more easier; not considering the fact that Bombacci in the end had become an extremely zelot fascist, even following Mussolini at Salò.
     
  19. Anarch King of Dipsodes Overlord of All Thirst

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    Was Turati actually targeted? The description is of someone firing indiscriminately into a melee. Was anyone else hit? It would be amusing if he hit members of all three factions.
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2019
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  20. Salvador79 Well-Known Member

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    Czechoslovakia considers itself firmly on the Entente side - not only because of its fighting side by side with the UoE. If you look at Masaryk's "Nová Europa", you can see how deep this attachment to "the democratic powers" as guardians against the German menace went. And that German menace was projected centuries back into history. So yes, Czechoslovakia is going to be at war with Germany. And Germany can't spare any troops, though just how dangerous an attack by the Czechoslovak LEgion plus whatever they can draft is going to be is a different question. Plus, let's not treat the Czechoslovak or even alone the Czech political scene as homogeneous...

    Galicia-Lodomeria might be invaded by the Polish Corps of the UoE alongside other Union troops when the front disintegrates (by the beginning of September, there is not yet a large-scale breakdown across the entire front yet, but the front has certainly begun to disintegrate and there have been probing advances - throughout September, the offensive could begin in earnest there, too). That's when the fight for the nature of Poland's statehood, its centre and territory, its constitution and political orientation, its alliance etc. is going to enter the next stage...
     
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