For the Republic: A History of the Second American Civil War

Where? This isn't Syria, this is a country that covers half a continent. Canada would be overwhelmed, and Mexico is too far away for most. Most likely refugees are fleeing across the Upper Plains to the West Coast, else somewhere else where there's less fighting. Surprisingly few refugees, many many many IDPs.
Don't forget about sea and air travel, as places like Great Britain, France, Australia and New Zealand are just as viable
On that note, Canada would be a more familiar place for refugees as they'd be settling amongst fellow Anglophones.
 
On that note, Canada would be a more familiar place for refugees as they'd be settling amongst fellow Anglophones.
Which is why I think there will be a substantial American Diaspora that will choose to stay in Canada after the SACW concludes. Either because of the trauma from the conflict or the resolution to the conflict being unsatisfactory for everyone involved, as is implied throughout the chapters.

Besides that, a lot of immigration from Europe to the USA will be diverted to nations in Latin America or Dominions of the Commonwealth.
 
I was thinking the death toll would be higher than that, say 8 to 11 million. Especially if Chemicals get brought out in mass, Natcorps have a high likelihood of doing so.

Besides that, how about the number of people who will leave the US throughout the Second Civil War?
We are playing a lot of these details by ear. 6 million is a number we've brought out in the past, but it can change depending on how many people the plot kills.
 
Thanks, especially with how the core political leadership of the Republicans being IOTL fairly conservative Democrats in ideology is something that this TL very much needs to address with how a lot of their powerbase is left-leaning in their political views.
Yeah, this is definitely a dynamic we've thought about before and this will be VERY important in the near future.
 
Where? This isn't Syria, this is a country that covers half a continent. Canada would be overwhelmed, and Mexico is too far away for most. Most likely refugees are fleeing across the Upper Plains to the West Coast, else somewhere else where there's less fighting. Surprisingly few refugees, many many many IDPs.
This is our thoughts right now too. There will be a lot of displacement, but most American refugees will simply go to other parts of America.
 
"Old World Blues - Paris is Burning" (Chapter 16)

Old World Blues - Paris is Burning​

Our spirit of enjoyment was stronger than our spirit of sacrifice. We wanted to have more than we wanted to give. We tried to spare effort, and met disaster.” -Philippe Pétain.​

Breaking out in 1934, the Second American Civil War sent the already apoplectic global economy into further convulsions. Of those hit hardest were the United States’ closest trading partners, Canada, Mexico, Britain, and France, with France in particular suffering as due to its lack of highly industrialized colonies to fall back on to support the economy in the Métropole.

An already difficult economic situation became even harder as the French mobilized to lend what little support they could muster for the Albany Government. The causes for this were not rooted in a lack of preparedness, but rather in a lack of noted leadership. Albert Lebrun, the President of France, would one day be spoken of in simple but blistering terms by Charles De Gaulle– “As head of state, he lacked two things: there was no state, and he wasn’t a head.”

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Albert Lebrun, final President of the Third Republic

Lebrun, in truth, bears both more responsibility for what was to come for France than most think and less blame than he is often given. For years, the French Communist Party (PCF) had been growing in strength, and though the party won few seats in the 1932 election, the French left dominated. The center-left Republican, Radical, and Radical-Socialist Party (PRRRS) won only twenty-eight more seats than the socialist French Section of the Workers’ International (SFIO). It was therefore understandable that the center-right Lebrun might hesitate in throwing his weight behind Al Smith’s government as the PCF and SFIO demanded that France do so when the Soviet Union began supporting Albany in earnest.

Likewise, the situation in the United States was frequently confusing, as formal diplomatic relations mostly collapsed for the war-torn nation. The French ambassador, André Lefebvre de La Boulaye, had fled Washington as MacArthur began his fateful march upon the city, winding up at the French consulate in New York, where he would stay until his removal from the post in 1937. Nominally, the French government considered Smith to be the rightful leader of the United States. However it would communicate with the neutral western states through its San Francisco consulate, Huey Long’s southern fiefdom through the New Orleans consulate, and even with MacArthur’s regime via unofficial backchannels with Benito Mussolini’s Italy.

Domestically, the loss of the overwhelming majority of American trade was a bodyslam to the fragile French economy. In an era of extreme protectionism, any hits to trade could be extremely significant. Manufactured goods and other luxuries saw massive price hikes, but it was the loss of most tobacco imports that hit the French people the hardest. Cigarette smoking had skyrocketed amidst the outbreak of the Great Depression, and the United States had been France’s primary supplier.

By late 1934, with prices on the vice sky high and supplies painfully dwindling, protests, strikes, and even riots began to break out. In truth, cigarettes were only a relatively small part of these disruptions, but the designation Cigarette Riots was coined by the leading French newspaper, Le Figaro, and the name stuck. The broader causes of the upset were both economic and political, as the French left agitated for France to stake a more aggressive role in combating authoritarianism, especially as Germany used its support for the National-Corporate regime as an excuse to aggressively rearm in wanton violation of the Treaty of Versailles.

All of this instability came in the aftermath of the Veterans’ Riot, a violent response to the discovery of breathtaking levels of corruption within the French government that saw far-right protestors clash with left wing counterprotestors in the Place de la Concorde, spiraling into a riot. The chaos was eerily reminiscent to the Bonus Army in the United States, which had of course decapitated the Smith Administration. Ultimately, the fallout of the riots was sufficient to remove the center-left Prime Minister, Édouard Deladier and see him replaced by the conservative Gaston Doumergue.

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The Veterans' Riot - February 6th, 1934​

The Cigarette Riots would intermittently flare throughout the second half of 1934 as economic hardship grew. Due to growing dissatisfaction with the existing government, which was dominated by conservatives despite the center-left having won the prior election, the government was pressured to amend the constitution to allow for the president to force new elections.

Shortly after this amendment was passed, under immense pressure from all sides, President Lebrun dissolved the French Parliament and ordered new elections, anticipating a grand coalition from the center-left to center-right. Indeed, this was the general perception amongst most of the French press and the upper class. “A government to represent the sensibilities of all sensible Frenchmen,” proclaimed Prime Minister Doumergue, “That is what the people shall return to us!”

That was not what the people returned at all. When the results were totaled on May 9, 1935, the newly-minted Popular Front of France, composed of the PCF, SFIO, and left-wingers from the PRRRS, had won a commanding victory, and in a brutal shock to Lebrun himself, the French Communists had won the most seats. The next morning, Maurice Thorez, the leader of the PCF, would hold a victory rally at the Place de la Concorde, the site of the Veterans’ Riot a year prior.

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Maurice Thorez (right, with arm raised) at his fateful victory rally​

On the morning of May 10, 1935, tens of thousands of Parisians streamed into the Place de la Concorde to witness France’s presumptive Prime Minister deliver his victory speech. Many were jubilant, while others anxiously awaited. Would Thorez declare a total takeover for the communists, turning France from a democratic republic to a Soviet-style dictatorship in the span of a single speech?

After brief speeches by other factions of the Popular Front that lacked much in the way of substance and instead were mostly self-congratulatory odes to their supporters and organizers, Maurice Thorez took to the stage at precisely twelve o’clock to deliver the main event. One attendee described how a seemingly unnatural calm descended over the plaza, in contrast to the frequent cheers and applause in response to the prior speeches.

Thorez, a gifted and charismatic speaker known for his ability to stir crowds, was cordial in victory. He vowed that the intent of the PCF was to preserve the republic, not to annihilate it. “The revolution,” he said, “Does not need to come violently to France. Indeed, this election constitutes the first step in a long road to the revolution. Democracy is our most cherished possession as a free nation, and its preservation is paramount. This government comes to improve lives, not disrupt them. We come to put the common man to work, not put him to the sword.”

Thorez’s speech continued, vowing to work within a constitutional framework and strongly encouraging the defeated parties to join them in passing common sense reforms and improvements. The further along he went, the more the crowd’s mood improved. Thorez was a known quantity for the people, and he certainly wasn’t perceived as a lapdog of Stalin’s. The sense was that change was coming to France, a revolution of the ballot box, not the bullet.

Then, at 12:38, shots rang out from the front of crowd. The first struck Thorez in the shoulder and the second in the right lung, sending him stumbling backwards into the arms of his partner, Jeannette Vermeersch, who was pregnant with their son at the time. The third shot would strike just below his left eye, killing him instantly.

The identity of Thorez’s assassin was lost to history, as he was immediately swamped by the crowd around him and beaten to death so severely that his features were unable to be identified. All that is known is that it was a young man in his late teens to early twenties, and that he bore paraphernalia of the Jeunesses Patriotes, the Patriot Youth, a far-right paramilitary youth organization with similarities to Hitler’s Brownshirts.

It took only a few minutes for the Popular Front’s victory rally to spiral into yet another riot on the steps of the French Parliament. This one, unlike the prior crisis of February 6, 1934, would successfully storm the building while further rioting spread across Paris, driven by vengeful supporters of the Popular Front attacking the offices of various rightist organizations, and even the residences and businesses of prominent members. This, of course, resulted in those rightist groups fighting back. By nightfall, Paris had fallen into chaos.

President Lebrun and his cabinet fled the city for the Palace of Versailles in the Parisian suburbs, joined by elements of the military, including the famous Lion of Verdun, Marshal Philippe Petain, who was the chief of the French military and Minister of War. Alongside the Marshal were his two greatest protégés, Charles de Gaulle and Henri Mordacq, both celebrated heroes of the Great War.

Lebrun and the civilian members of the government wanted to wait out the situation in Paris, figuring that by morning, the fighting would be done and the military could sweep in to restore order. Petain, de Gaulle, and Mordacq protested that this would be tantamount to surrendering the capital, and the long that they were gone, the more likely that they would be unable to retake the city without severe fighting.

Unfortunately for both parties, elements of the French military and government affiliated with the far-right had their own plans, as did the rioting communists. With Thorez dead, leadership of the PCF fell to his deputy, Jacques Duclos. Unlike Thorez, Duclos was more traditional communist, and a known Stalinist. Infuriated, Duclos, having been a part of the storming of the French Parliament, disavowed Thorez’s political revolution, proclaiming that the bourgeois would never permit a peaceful transfer to socialism. On the morning of May 11, 1935, Jacques Duclos stood on the steps of the occupied Palais Bourbon and declared before a crowd of thousands the death of the French Republic and the birth of the French Commune.

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Jacques Duclos, Deputy Secretary-General of the French Communist Party​

Duclos’ proclamation didn’t meet with universal approval, not even amongst the ranks of the party. Many of the moderates within the PCF had shared Thorez’s vision of socialism born through democratic choice, not armed struggle. Duclos had, in their eyes, betrayed everything they had believed in. In the end, nearly half of the PCF’s parliamentarians, and almost every member of the other parties of the Popular Front, fled Paris for Versailles to join the rest of the government.

In response to Duclos’ speech, General Maxime Weygand, another Petain’s students who had not joined the government at Versailles, rallied a regiment of soldiers stationed in nearby Saint-Denis to move against Paris and smother the newborn French Commune in the cradle. He acted unilaterally, and moved onto the city that afternoon. "Like General Mac," he said, "action needs to be taken. Shall the rule of law be the noose the communists hang France with?" This action, taken while the government dithered at Versailles, would seal France’s fate. When word of Weygand’s actions reached the other divisions stationed around Paris, nearly all of them not already at Versailles rallied to his side.

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General Maxime Weygand​

Weygand and his divisions stormed the city, bound directly for the Place de la Concorde and the Palais Bourbon. The communards inside the city attempted to mount a defense in what amounted to a haunting repeat the Paris Commune of 1871, right down to the ending. The ramshackle barricades raised on the major avenues were no match for the tanks that rolled through the capital city, and the small arms and single-shot rifles its defenders held were nothing compared to the army’s automatic weapons and shotguns.

The streets of Paris ran red as Weygand carved a bloody path for the heart of the communist insurrection. By sunset, the still-beating heart of the revolution had been carved out, and Jacques Duclos and the other members of the PCF who had proclaimed the French Commune had come to their bloody ends in the chambers of the French Parliament. With Paris in hand and the support of most of the local military compared to only the couple thousand troops that had followed Lebrun and the government to Versailles, Weygand imperiously summoned Lebrun back to the city, bidding him and his government to return and surrender their authority to him.

Realizing that they were heinously outnumbered, Petain and his two apprentices were able to convince the civilians of the government to retreat to more favorable territory, lest Versailles become the next target of Weygand's bloody ire. By dawn on May 12, the internationally-recognized French government had relocated eighty-three miles south to Orleans, issuing a statement decrying Weygand as a traitor and ordering those units under his command to return to government control and hand him and the city of Paris over.

Weygand, however, had been much more circumspect in his actions while Lebrun’s government made their midnight flight to Orleans. Quietly, he leaned on his years of personal relationships with some of France’s most high-ranking military commanders, and had managed to bring most of the army stationed across northern France into his own camp. “Look at what I was forced to do to our beautiful Paris,” he reportedly said to one commander in a phone call, “The reds forced us to roll tanks through the capital, because that sniveling weakling Lebrun was fool enough to let them try and take power.”

France, it seemed, was destined for a civil war of its own, one that Weygand was uncertain he could win. Thus, he took drastic action. While the divisions in the north of the country settled under his command and the divisions in the south joined with Petain, he was in conference with a parliamentarian who saw a chance amidst the chaos. Marcel D'éat, a former socialist who had seen a massive rightward shift in his politics over the years, convinced Weygand that the only ally their new regime could have was their oldest enemy, the Germans. Déat’s “Neosocialist” ideology had strong connections to National Socialist thought, albeit with French flavorings, and he believed France could be remodeled along the same lines that Hitler had done in Germany.

Reportedly, Weygand was nauseated by the idea, but after a long moment of silence, he muttered the words of the American Founding Father, Benjamin Franklin, “We must all hang together, or surely, we shall all hang separately,” and told Déat to summon the German ambassador, Johannes Bernard von Welczeck. The offer was simple: Alsace-Lorraine, that strip of land along the Rhine which had prompted so much suffering and for which millions of Frenchmen had bled, would go back to Germany. In exchange, the German army would cross the demilitarized Rhineland and enter France, securing Weygand’s position as its leader and creating a new Franco-German alliance.

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Marcel D'eat, Parliamentarian and French Far-Right leader​

So tantalizing was the offer that Adolf Hitler’s secretary, Christa Schroeder, woke him from a dead sleep with the news. Thrilled, the German Führer consented at once. The Rhineland had been declared a permanent demilitarized zone under the terms of the Treaty of Versailles, but the ability to enforce this was essentially non-existent, as the last occupation force had left the Rhineland in 1930.

With Hitler’s support assured, Weygand simply ignored Lebrun’s demands and waited for Germany to come. Meanwhile, Petain, having essentially commandeered the reins of government from an increasingly distraught and incapable Lebrun, relocated the French government once again, this time to the city of Poitiers on the opposite side of the Loire River, which he viewed as an essential sacrifice in order to create a secure border against Weygand and shorten the distance which the southern forces had travel to meet them.

Six days later, on May 20, 1935, thirty thousand German troops swept through the Rhineland and across the deserted Maginot Line, where they made their way directly to Paris. An additional five thousand, without cause or warning, crossed in the neutral Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, a tiny, German-speaking nation which had been occupied by Germany during the First World War. Luxembourg’s ruler, Grand Duchess Charlotte, was smuggled out of the country to neighboring Belgium, where she personally delivered the news that the Germans had launched an invasion to King Leopold III.

Europe’s eyes had been trained entirely on the turmoil in France, and this sudden twist of events caught the world by total surprise. The Belgians passed word of the German invasion along to London, where British Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin, having been appointed to his position as a result of further economic turmoil in Britain from the outbreak of the Second American Civil War, vomited upon hearing the news. In his memoirs, Baldwin recorded the following:

I was so horridly ill that I burst the vessels in my face. How could this have happened? Would fire and suffering rage on all sides surrounding Britain? Would we lose our truest friends to the jackboot in less than two years? When I was finished being sick, I turned to Anthony [Eden, the British Foreign Minister] and barked out, “This cannot happen! Call Lebrun and tell him we’re coming!”

The actual details of Britain’s arrival in France were hashed out rapidly. Fifty thousand British regulars, a tenth of the British Army, would land at Bordeaux and make for the Loire River, as Petain and his students despaired at the idea of the British invading the occupied north and potential spiraling the situation out of control. This massive mobilization of men, ships, and materiel happened in under two days, which Baldwin declared a miracle. By the time Weygand was ready to strike out with his German allies, Petain was just as ready to strike with his own friends. War, it seemed, was inevitable.

Two things, however, brought sufficient pause to all sides to stall the conflict. The first was a second invasion of France, this one conducted by Benito Mussolini. With the Franco-Italian border having been all but deserted due to the internal crisis, the Italians, with Hitler’s encouragement, moved in on the County of Nice and the Duchy of Savoy, territories which had been part of the Kingdom of Sardinia prior to its unification of Italy and ceded to the French in exchange for their assistance in the Sardinians’ conflict against Austria-Hungary.

Mussolini declared the annexation to be a correction of a historical wrong against the Italian people, and the French, having been so focused on Germany, suddenly remembered that they shared a border with a second fascist state, one with irredentist claims on their territory that had just proven they could act on them. At nearly the same moment, fate conspired to distract Adolf Hitler.

Germany under the Nazi Party had long aspired towards unification with Austria, a concept it referred to as Anschluss. Only a year prior, the Fatherland Front, Austria’s fascist government led by Chancellor Kurt Schuschnigg, had endured its own period of turmoil in an attempted overthrow of the government by pro-democracy forces, which was brutally suppressed. Schuschnigg and the Fatherland Front, although German-speaking and fascist, were opposed to unification due to Austria being majority-Catholic and Germany being majority-Protestant.

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Kurt Schuschnigg, fascist dictator of Austria prior to the Anschluss
An Austrian Nazi Party had existed nearly as long as its sister in Germany, and was vehemently pro-unification. Austrian Nazis had used the chaos of the brief Austrian Civil War to assassinate the prior Chancellor, but had failed in seizing the government and went underground. Seeing Hitler go on the march once more, the Austrian Nazis acted unilaterally, seizing control of Vienna in sudden coup d’etat which left Schuschnigg dead and the whole country in limbo. Hitler was now faced with two choices, either to deploy additional forces to France as he was intending to do and be faced with the possibility of the permanent loss of Austria should the Nazis there be forced out by the military, or pause his plans and seize the chance to realize his vision of Greater Germany.

Common sense might have dictated that Hitler should use the simple advantage of sharing a land border with his allies that the Poitiers Government lacked in order to secure France entirely and pivot back to taking Austria by force if necessary, but he frequently made decisions which conflicted with common sense. Unwilling to unnecessarily butcher ethnic Germans, Hitler ordered that the forces he had mustered to boost their numbers in France instead divert down to Austria, where they crossed the border without resistance due to the confusion paralyzing the country.

Securing the Anschluss took several days, however, time which allowed the Poitiers Government and their British allies to further secure their position on the Loire River. Meanwhile, further turmoil rocked France, as the colonies, already a frequent headache for the authorities of the Métropole due to their worsening economic circumstances, were rocked by further turmoil as pro-independence forces sought to capitalize on the chaos to break away. In the end, the French colonial empire shuddered, but did not fall, and the authorities there all recognized Poitiers as the rightful government. In one of only a few boosts for the Free French, as they came to refer to themselves, nearly the whole of the French Navy, most of which was moored in the Mediterranean, pledged allegiance to Lebrun and Petain.

The pause brought on by Italy’s incursion and the Anschluss proved time enough to prevent all-out war. Representatives from Lebrun and Weygand, joined by the British and German foreign ministers, met in Tours on the Loire River and agreed to a ceasefire, as all sides were now wary of the potential for a protracted war that would prove a repeat of the First World War. Formalized on June 1, 1935, the Tours Agreement partitioned France along a roughly even line that used the Loire for a large portion of the border.

North France was declared as the French State, and Marcel Déat was appointed First Minister, the head of state, for the new fascist government, as the Germans made it clear that Weygand was unacceptable due to his status as a war hero against them. Weygand, however, was restored to his role as Chief of the Armed Forces of the French State. Meanwhile, South France, still referring to itself as the French Republic, but more commonly known as Free France, saw its own changing of the guard.

Albert Lebrun, having lost half his country and the confidence of nearly everyone, appointed Marshal Philippe Petain as Prime Minister and then resigned the office of President of France. By the constitution, Petain then immediately became the new president, and he quickly appointed Henri Mordacq, the more politically-minded of his two protégés, as Prime Minister of the new national unity government. Charles de Gaulle, meanwhile, was given command of the Free French forces. These three would soon be referred to as the Triumvirate, and they would go on to lead the Free French for more than a decade through the coming fires.

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Europe by June of 1935, after the Partition of France​
 
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Phew so France has just been divided without a fight and Hitler has obtained his own Vichy without firing a shot.

Free France is in a very difficult situation, at least they have their colonial empire from the start.

Assuming the Spanish Civil War happens anyway, I see Free France actively participating in support of the Second Spanish Republic because "there is no way we are going to be surrounded by fascist states aligned with Hitler if we can help it."

Having the support of France and Great Britain from the beginning (and also the lack of NatCorp support for the rebels) should greatly improve the Spanish Republic's chances of survival...
 
Phew so France has just been divided without a fight and Hitler has obtained his own Vichy without firing a shot.

Free France is in a very difficult situation, at least they have their colonial empire from the start.

Assuming the Spanish Civil War happens anyway, I see Free France actively participating in support of the Second Spanish Republic because "there is no way we are going to be surrounded by fascist states aligned with Hitler if we can help it."

Having the support of France and Great Britain from the beginning (and also the lack of NatCorp support for the rebels) should greatly improve the Spanish Republic's chances of survival...
Yeah, the Spanish Republic OTL got left to the wolves, with the British aristocracy leaning fascist. That definitely won't happen ITL.
 
Yeah, the Spanish Republic OTL got left to the wolves, with the British aristocracy leaning fascist. That definitely won't happen ITL.
That's good, I can also see that with the decisive support of the democracies from the first moment the OTL problem will not happen (that the Stalinists gained more and more influence because the USSR was, along with Mexico, the only country that did something rather than looking at the disaster).

The take in Thorez also caught my attention because I didn't know much about the character and it pleasantly surprised me.

(To be fair, the only take I'd previously seen of him was Thorez being basically a post-WW2 French version of Stalin, actively planning to invade Francoist Spain and purging anyone suspected of not being communists in the name of fighting Vichy collaborationism post WW2...).

I saw what you both did by not identifying the murderer: avoiding speculation that he is some OTL character...
 
That's good, I can also see that with the decisive support of the democracies from the first moment the OTL problem will not happen (that the Stalinists gained more and more influence because the USSR was, along with Mexico, the only country that did something rather than looking at the disaster).
The fascists also will just have a much harder time aiding the Francoists, since they've awoken the sleeping dragon that is the British Empire. The next update will have a segment on Spain.
 
Well, shit. On the one hand, shame to see this happen, but on the other, it's good to see the Allies rallying against the fascists right away.

Also, does anyone else love the irony of Petain running a French government in the south, but as the good guy this time?
 
Wow, I definitely didn't expect that.
But in any case, well written and well justified with ittl logic.

With this change, all the speculations we had before have been thrown out the window.
And it's nice that Hitler is Hitler and makes stupid decisions that are absolutely compatible with NS logic. A few million Aryan brothers are more important than being close to an enemy great power.

But I really don't want to be Polish or Czech at the moment. The furnaces of armaments production must be glowing red with activity there at the moment.

At the moment I'm wondering whether Mussolini will invade Ethiopia.

Does anyone know how the two French states are divided up? Which one has the larger population and which one has more industrial capacity? I always thought northern France was more densely populated and developed but I could be wrong.

I must say, I would love to have an insight of the little people from the different states. Or if a German, Italian and English volunteer from the different sides meet in a bar in America.
 
With this change, all the speculations we had before have been thrown out the window.
You guys have no idea how hard it was sitting on this one while you were all sitting there pronouncing Hitler to be dead in the water, meanwhile I’ve got Old World Blues in @The Angry Observer ’s hands just waiting for upload day to come and set the TL on a completely different track.

This was really fun to write, and I can’t wait for you guys to get part two of this. So glad the update was well-received!
 
Does anyone know how the two French states are divided up? Which one has the larger population and which one has more industrial capacity? I always thought northern France was more densely populated and developed but I could be wrong.
Northern France has more industry and a larger population, I don't have the exact figures but we made that happen very intentionally. Advantage Germany.
I must say, I would love to have an insight of the little people from the different states. Or if a German, Italian and English volunteer from the different sides meet in a bar in America.
In the queue!
 
I do love how both the Republicans and South France would have a dynamic of fairly conservative figures (Smith in America and Petain in France) leading governments who are fairly left-leaning in their powerbase.
 
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