Hell and Fury in the Damned East

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by God-Eater of the Marshes, Jun 7, 2019.

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  1. Threadmarks: Prologue: The Summonings

    God-Eater of the Marshes chill ass dude

    Joined:
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    Introduction: This is a timeline about Eastern Europe following the First World War. In this timeline, Józef Klemens Piłsudski is assassinated in 1919. Piłsudski was the leader of Poland from 1919 until 1935 (with some breaks) in our timeline, and he was an enormously influential man. Additionally, this timeline will have a special focus upon the Freikorps in the Baltic. This is for two reasons. First of all, the Freikorps in the Baltic was an immensely interesting, but relatively unknown, portion of Eastern European history. In OTL, many ideas that came to dominant far-right discourse in Germany were incubated in the Baltic, by the men who were sent up there to fight. Secondly, I would like to use the Freikorps as a vehicle to explore the impacts of war, and the microhistory of the soldiers who fought in this region — I would like to ask "what if" the war in the Baltic had happened in a different manner, how would this affect the soldiers' experience of war. In turn, when we explore this microhistory, we can examine knock-on effects: if these soldiers have a different experience of this particular war, the ideas that they bring home might be different. I will still do a great deal of writing about the state-level events, and about the "great men" of this period. In this timeline, we will meet men such as Roman Dmowski, Leon Trotsky, Miklós Horthy, Vladimir Lenin, King Ferdinand I, Kārlis Ulmanis, and the various statesmen of Germany. We will also track how changing events affect the Versailles Conference (albeit with less of an intense focus, as I don't want to ruminate upon Western Europe too much). So, I will try and do a nice and even balance between microhistory and macrohistory. I will also try and interweave them as best that I can, so we can see how shifting global events can quickly affect the lived experiences of unimportant men and women. Anyway, I hope to see some of you stick around. I promise that this timeline will be fun. Or, I'll try to make it fun.

    * * *
    "The fighting in the Baltic was of a wildness and grimness, which I had experienced neither before in the World War nor afterwards in all the Freikorps fighting. There was hardly an actual front, the enemy was everywhere. And when it came to a clash, it became a slaughter to the point of complete destruction. There I saw for the first time horrors visited on the civilian population. Countless times I saw the horrible pictures with the burned-out huts and the charred or smeared corpses of women and children. When I saw this for the first time, it was as if I had been turned to stone. Back then I believed that a further intensification of human destructive madness was not possible. Even though I later had to see incessantly far more gruesome pictures, today still there stands clearly before my eyes the half-burned hut with the entire family which had perished inside, there at the edge of the forest on the Düna. Back then I could still pray and I did so!"

    quote attributed to Rudolf Höss, aged 18[1].

    * * *
    Hell and Fury in the Damned East
    a timeline about the Freikorps, communists, nationalists, Eastern Europe, and where it all went wrong.


    [​IMG]
    Pillars of Society by George Grosz, 1928.
    This painting satirically depicts the elite ruling class of Germany: businessmen, clergymen, and generals, continuing to reproduce the same selfish militarism that led to the First World War.

    Prologue: The Summonings

    Major General Gustav Adolf Joachim Rüdiger Graf von der Goltz was born in 1865, in a small town called Züllichau in East Prussia, not far from Posen. As his name suggests, Rüdiger was of aristocratic descent, though his lineage had fallen into obscurity and his father had been a lowly district administrator. In 1870, when he was four years old, he saw Prussia defeat France. Around the same time, his mother died. In his memoirs, his mother's death commands one sentence; his pseudo-memory of the defeat of France, from when he was four, carries a paragraph. In 1918, the war was lost, and Rüdiger was 53. He had been in Finland for some time, advising the Finnish Army in their fight against the Bolsheviks, but he returned to Germany in January of 1919. His stay in Germany was short.


    [​IMG]

    Photograph of Rüdiger Graf von der Goltz.
    Larger, higher-resolution photograph can be found here.

    Berlin, January of 1919.

    brrng brrng brr-

    "von der Goltz, Guten Tag!"

    On the other end, a rasping cough hacked away in response. Rüdiger brushed bread crumbs off his shoulder with his left hand. In his right hand, he fondled a beer, trying to put it down without losing the telephone handset balanced on his shoulder. Outside, it was raining.

    "Rüdiger von der Goltz?" the voice on the other end said, hoarse after its substantial coughing fit.

    "Yes, the only one that I'm aware of."

    "Rüdiger von der Goltz, the scourge of the Bolsheviks?" the voice crooned. "You were in Finland, no?"

    Rüdiger chuckled. The nickname of Bolshewikenschreck was charming but slightly juvenile. "Yes, I'm that guy. How can I help you?"

    "This is General Wilhelm Groener. Deputy Chief of Staff under Field Marshall Hindenburg. I will be brief." the voice paused for another cough. "We would like to summon you to meet with us. We have a special assignment. It isn't strictly within the purview of the Army, but we think that you are the right man for the job."

    And so Rüdiger put on his uniform. He combed his moustache. And went to meet with Groener and his generals. After his meeting, he went to Königsberg. On the precipice of the German Empire (now the German Republic, according to Friedrich Ebert and his friends), Königsberg was a suitable last-stop for Rüdiger. Centuries ago, Königsberg had been a stronghold for the Teutonic Knights from which they plunged into the bloody heart of paganism, driving to pacify Lithuania.

    You see, Rüdiger had just been assigned his own crusade, if one could call it that. He certainly would, after all. The Armistice of Compiègne, which effectively began the surrender of the German Empire, had stipulated that the German Army withdraws to behind the Rhine. But there was no similar stipulation for the Eastern Front. This was because the Eastern Front hadn't been "resolved". The Entente Powers hadn't decided what to do about the "Russia Question", and lacking manpower and resources to send to the Eastern Front, they preferred that the German military administration, the Ober Ost, hold the line for a while, at least until they could figure what they were going to do. There was a slight problem. The Ober Ost was rapidly collapsing. The Bolsheviks sought to revise the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk and had begun attacking German positions on the 18th of November, 1918. Furthermore, the German soldiers stationed on the Eastern Front had begun to mutiny en masse following the Armistice of Compiègne. The conditions in the East were terrible, and now that there was no war to speak of, they desired to return home. In some areas, such as Grodno, Riga, and Minsk, soldier's councils were formed with the intent of returning authority to the common man, and officers were chased away or decommissioned. The new republican government under Ebert, alarmed at the tales of mutiny and fearing a full-scale revolt, dissolved the Ober Ost and ordered the soldiers to return home. They happily obliged.

    However, there remained the question of the German military commitment to "holding the line" in the East. The Entente Powers demanded that the German Army be responsible for this. But there were far more powerful motivating factors at work: the Bolsheviks, now unhindered to advance across previously German-held territories, represented a grave existential threat to Germany. Foreign policy aspirations were also at play: the new governments of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia were viewed with suspicion by the Germans, and military involvement in the region, even as Entente-sponsored protectors, might sway these nascent governments to the German fold. Finally, these regions contained tens of thousands of Baltic Germans, leftovers from the Teutonic glory days. The Baltic Germans comprised the aristocratic ruling class of the Baltic and were subject of romantic fascination for many Germans, especially those who regretted the demise of the Hohenzollern monarchy. Therefore, the German Military High Command (the Oberste Heeresleitung or OHL) felt that securing what remained of the Eastern Front, specifically the Baltic, was in their best interests.

    Rüdiger had been sent to the Baltic to establish a German military presence there. However, the regular Army units were in the process of demobilising, so Rüdiger would have to seek other avenues of military power.

    * * *

    Andreas Stefan Becker was born in 1902, in a small town called Stallupönen in East Prussia, not far from Königsberg. As his name would suggest, Andreas was of ordinary descent, with no notable lineage. His father farmed sugar beets and potatoes. In 1915, when he was 13, his older brother had been killed in Belgium. He had been manning a trench when a nearby officer's pistol had misfired and shot him in the face. Unable to bear the humiliation of friendly fire, the Beckers told their neighbours that their eldest son had been killed charging a Belgian machine gun position. Andreas held this humiliation deep in his heart, and even as he pretended to be one of them, he resented all the other families because their sons died gloriously. Or, they had returned home undefeated in battle but betrayed on the home front. Of course, this last part was hardly true — in 1918, the situation of the German Army was so dire that even the most patriotic amongst the officer corps admitted that they could only fight with strength for a few more weeks. But Andreas didn't know that, and he trusted in the local politicians who lamented the Armistice of Compiègne as a betrayal of Germany. In small towns such as Stallupönen, information was controlled by those with access to it, and it was dispensed at the discretion of the powers that be.

    In January of 1919, an official from the regional military office came through Stallupönen with pamphlets. The man gave one to Andreas, explaining that the military was organising a campaign into the Baltic to destroy the Bolsheviks. He explained that it wasn't a regular military operation, but one that was more mercenary in nature. Andreas would be paid generously, first of all. Secondly, more loot and plunder was awaiting him in the Baltic when he got there. And thirdly, Andreas could experience the thrill of the fight!

    The next morning, Andreas informed his parents that he was going. His mother wept for the loss of her second son, and his father was grim and melancholic. They knew that they could not stop him from leaving. That was the last they saw of Andreas Stefan Becker; his blonde hair tousled, the morning sun illuminating his rosy cheeks as he walked out the door. As he left, Andreas told his parents that he was making a life for himself. The pay was good, he would buy them some land, and they could raise pigs or sheep.

    Andreas was one of tens of thousands of impressionable young men who were cajoled into joining the ranks of what would be known as the Freikorps. Too young to have served in the First World War, and lured by promises of loot and glory, they made up one of two groups that formed the backbone of the Freikorps. The other group was those belonging to Rüdiger von der Goltz's class: aristocrats and officers who were repelled by the republican tendencies of the new German government. This odd coupling would fuse to create a strange and potent psychological character — on one hand, optimistic, energetic, and vigorous, and on the other hand, deeply pessimistic, bitter, and arrogant.

    It is early January 1919. We will track these men as they go East.

    * * * * * * *
    End of Prologue.

    [1]: This is a real quote by the real Rudolf Höss from his memoirs. Rudolf Höss was the commandant of Auschwitz, and personally oversaw the deaths of millions of Jews during the Holocaust.
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2019
  2. Threadmarks: Dramatis Personæ

    God-Eater of the Marshes chill ass dude

    Joined:
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    Dramatis Personae

    Below, you will find a list of characters organised alphabetically. There is a next description of the character, with both OTL and ATL information. Also, there is a link to the first appearance of the character. Important characters are highlighted in dark green. I will be editing this post periodically to make that it is up-to-date. If you're a new reader, it is absolutely not necessary to read this post. The purpose of this post is more to refer back to as you're reading new chapters.


    • Andreas Stefan Becker: Fictional character. He is seventeen years old as of 1919, from a small town called Stallupönen, which is in Eastern Prussia. Andreas serves as a fictional proxy for the experiences of the thousands of young Freikorps volunteers who served in the Baltics. He first appears in the Prologue.
    • Roman Dmowski: Polish politician and nationalist. Roman Dmowski was an archrival of Józef Piłsudski, despite having the same goal of Polish independence. Contrary to the left-leaning Piłsudski, Dmowski was conservative, deeply religious, and felt that ethnic minorities had no place in an independent Poland. In this alternate timeline, he has seized control of Poland in a coup with support from Lieutenant General Józef Haller and Prince Eustachy Sapieha. He first appears in Part II of Chapter I.
    • Felix Edmundovich Dzerzhinsky: Bolshevik revolutionary and head of the Cheka. Dzerzhinsky is a ruthless and cunning man, who was the chief architect of the Red Terror. He was known as "Iron Felix" amongst his peers. Interesting fact: he is actually Polish, of noble birth. In this alternate timeline, he is involved with the assassination of Józef Piłsudski and Ignacy Paderewski. He first appears in Part III of Chapter I.
    • General Wilhelm Groener: German general and Deputy Chief of Staff in the German Army. He convenes a meeting with Rüdiger von der Goltz and organises the Freikorps expedition to the Baltics. He first appears in the Prologue.
    • Lieutenant General Józef Haller: Polish general and war hero. Haller was in charge of the famous Blue Army, which fought with France against the Central Powers. Prior to that, Haller fought under the Austro-Hungarian flag against the Russians. Similar to Dmowski, Haller takes a more conservative view than Józef Piłsudski. In this alternate timeline, he helps Dmowski seize control of the Polish government following the assassination of Piłsudski and Ignacy Paderewski. He first appears in Part III of Chapter I.
    • Lieutenant General Dmitry Nikolayevich Nadyozhny: Bolshevik general. Along with Commander Jukums Vācietis, he commands the Bolshevik forces on their northern front, near the Baltics. In this alternate timeline, he is directed by Leon Trotsky to redirect troops to mount an offensive against Poland in February of 1919, following the assassination of Józef Piłsudski and Ignacy Paderewski. He first appears in Part III of Chapter I.
    • Gustav Noske: German Minister for Defence. He is a member of the Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands (SPD), and is regarded as controversial because of his involvement with the violent suppression of the Sparaticists. He is a cunning and pragmatic figure who survives on his political acumen. He first appears in Part I of Chapter I.
    • Ignacy Jan Paderewski: Polish politician, pianist, composer, and nationalist. Paderewski was a world-famous musician who was chosen to serve as the first Prime Minister under the Piłsudski government. Incredibly popular both at home and abroad, it was hoped that Paderewski would be able to bridge the gap between all the infighting factions of Poland. In this alternate timeline, he is assassinated on the 10th of January, 1919. He first appears in Part I of Chapter I.
    • Józef Klemens Piłsudski: Polish stateman, war hero, general, and nationalist. Piłsudski was a domineering force of Polish politics, who was instrumental in securing an independent Poland. Enormously popular amongst the army and the general population, Piłsudski was viewed with suspicion by Poland's traditional elite, due to his socialist inclinations. In our timeline, his military genius would culminate in the Miracle at the Vistula, arguably one of the most decisive victories in modern European history. In this alternate timeline, he is assassinated on the 10th of January, 1919. He first appears in Part I of Chapter I.
    • Brigadier General Edward Rydz-Śmigły: Polish general and nationalist. Rydz-Śmigły is a prominent commander in the Polish military, currently in charge of the Lublin command. Like Piłsudski, Rydz-Śmigły leans left, but he wears his socialist beliefs more prominently. In our timeline, Rydz-Śmigły would be the principal force behind the Polish defence against the Nazi German invasion in 1939. In this alternate timeline, he fights alongside Haller in defence of Dmowski's government, but only due to the existential Bolshevik threat. He first appears in Part II of Chapter II.
    • Prince Eustachy Sapieha: Polish nobleman and politician. A prominent prince (in Polish aristocracy, a "prince" is roughly equivalent to a duke), Sapieha allies himself with Dmowski and Haller in their coup. By no coincidence, Sapieha had actually attempted a coup of his own against Piłsudski on the 5th of January. In this alternate timeline, Sapieha is chosen as Dmowski's Prime Minister, though he is a puppet. He first appears in Part III of Chapter I.
    • Leon Trotsky: Bolshevik politician and revolutionary. Leon Trotsky is in charge of the Red Army, but you already knew that. In this alternate timeline, Trotsky directs Commander Jukums Vācietis and Lieutenant General Dmitry Nadyozhny to open an offensive against Poland in February of 1919. He first appears in Part III of Chapter I.
    • Commander Jukums Vācietis: Bolshevik general. Along with Lieutenant General Dmitry Nadyozhny, he commands the Bolshevik forces on their northern front, near the Baltics. In this alternate timeline, he is directed by Leon Trotsky to redirect troops to mount an offensive against Poland in February of 1919, following the assassination of Józef Piłsudski and Ignacy Paderewski. He first appears in Part III of Chapter I.
    • Captain Jürg Voigt: Fictional character. Voigt is a Freikorps volunteer in charge of the unit which Andreas Becker and Hans von Sachsenheim serve in. A bitter and ruthless hussar ex-officer, he fights simply because it is the only life he knows. He first appears in Part I of Chapter II.
    • Major General Gustav Adolf Joachim Rüdiger Graf von der Goltz: German general and the principal architect behind the Freikorps campaign in the Baltics. He also has an absurdly long name. He is a brilliant and adventurous commander who has a turbulent relationship with the German Republic. Unsatisfied with the overthrow of the Hohenzollern monarchy, the long-term goals of von der Goltz are unknowable and constantly in flux. In his memoirs, he claims that the strategic goal of the Freikorps campaign was to re-install a monarchy in Russia that would be sympathetic to Germany, however, this is not corroborated with the official accounts of that conflict. He first appears in the Prologue.
    • Hans Karl Maria von Sachsenheim: Fictional character. Von Sachsenheim is a friend of Andreas Becker who serves in the Freikorps. He is designed as a proxy to the "fallen aristocrat" trope of German literature of this period, and seeks to reclaim some of his family's lost glory in the Baltics. He first appears in Part I of Chapter I.
    • Wincenty Witos: Polish politician and nationalist. Witos is the head of the Piast party, which represents the interests of small landholders and the farmers. Although not as politically savvy as Roman Dmowski or Józef Piłsudski, Witos is an important politician who commands deep loyalty amongst his rural electorate. In this alternate timeline, he has formed a strategic alliance with Dmowski, supporting his coup. However, in the long term, Witos aims for a restoration of democracy. He first appears in Part II of Chapter I.
    • Count Maurycy Zamoyski: Polish nobleman and politician. Zamoyski is an ally of Dmowski and is one of the largest landholders in Poland. He is deeply conservative and supported Dmowski's coup. He first appears in Part II of Chapter I.
     
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2019
    TimTurner, Stenz, Pera and 2 others like this.
  3. Threadmarks: Chapter I: The Polish Waltz, Part I

    God-Eater of the Marshes chill ass dude

    Joined:
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    Lost in Paddington Station
    "The assignment was attractive and tempted me. I had no idea that I had been handed a blunt sword, that I would be absolutely surrounded only by enemies, and that my worst enemy would be my own people and my own government. Once I saw things more clearly, I often characterised my job as the squaring of a circle; and yet it was successfully carried out by me and my admirable staff, against a world of enemies."

    quote attributed to Rüdiger von der Goltz, on the subject of his mission to the Baltic.

    * * *

    Chapter I: The Polish Waltz
    Part I


    [​IMG]
    The Skat Players by Otto Dix, 1920.
    This painting depicts several mutilated and disfigured veterans of the First World War playing a card game. Many disabled veterans were shunned by society although they had sacrificed their bodies for the Fatherland.

    Throughout Germany, recruiting offices returned to action. They churned out pamphlets and posters that recommended joining a new adventure to the Baltic. Gustav Noske, the Minister for War, convened the German Recruitment Office for the Baltic Land (the Anwerbestelle Baltenland), which was placed in charge of registering volunteers for the Freikorps. Andreas Stefan Becker was promised lucrative pay for his service; indeed, the Freikorps salary was 30 gold marks for a three-month contract. This was excellent pay considering the economic turmoil of post-war Germany. There were also many veterans returned to the homeland who were unable to properly adjust to civilian life. Furthermore, there was an outraged minority of returnees who were disgusted at the new republican government and its socialist tendencies. Recruitment efforts targeted these sentiments directly.

    The Königsberg Train Station, early January of 1919.

    Andreas sat atop his bags, in a large group of young men. Most of them were no older than 18 or 19, and about half of them were 17 or younger. They wore shabby uniforms, and all of them had caps rather than helmets. Some carried the standard-issue Gewehr 98, but many of them carried ancient Gewehr 88s and Gewehr 71s. All of them were anxious, though some were better at hiding it than others. Andreas lit a cigarette. To his right, a boy slightly older than him read a pamphlet aloud.

    "Comrades! Those who are unable to adjust to the transition from the military service to civilian life; those who still want to see foreign countries; those who see their future in them, they all must join the volunteers of the 10th army" the boy announced, putting on an officious voice. "Fuck civilian life, anyhow. I don't want to die at the age of 72 at the office like my old man."

    The boy looked up at Andreas expectantly. Andreas hadn't realised that the boy was talking to him specifically.

    "Oh um... Yeah. I mean, my parents farm potatoes..." he said. "My dad fought in the war against France, though. The one that we won, I mean."

    "Ahh... 1870. Now, then we were men." the boy mused, a starry look in his eyes. He turned to Andreas and stuck out his hand. "Hans Karl Maria von Sachsenheim. I come from Berggießhübel, it's a town in Saxony."

    Andreas shook the hand, and then asked: "von Sachsenheim? Your parents must have been important, no?"

    "They were. Well, no. They weren't. But my great-grandfather had been a count, and he had some holdings. Our family had a castle that overlooked a lake. But his son, my grandfather, gambled and drank away his estates. He was an idiot. My father was able to get a job in the Kingdom's tax administration using my great-grandfather's old connections, but he was never able to recover his heritage."

    It was an archetypal story that Andreas had heard before. For Hans, this was an opportunity to redeem the honour his family had lost. Hans folded up the pamphlet and put it away.

    "Did you hear about the land grants?" Hans asked suddenly. Andreas hadn't, and told him so. "Well, apparently the Latvian government is granting each German soldier a parcel of land. And citizenship[1]. This is assuming that we can kill the Bolshies, that is."

    "Why would I want to become a Latvian?" asked Andreas.

    "You won't become a Latvian. You will just have Latvian citizenship. There are thousands of us up there. The Baltic Germans, you see. They ruled those lands under the Russian Empire." explained Hans. "Do you know Yevgeny Miller?"

    "No."

    "Yevgeny Miller is one of the White Russian generals. He's one of the good ones, hates the fuckin' Bolshies. Anyway, he's a German, but he was born in Dünaburg[2]. You see, you can retain your Germanness, and not be a citizen of Ebert's shit-for-brains government. General Miller's family goes back centuries through the Russian Empire, but every one of them was raised speaking German."

    "I see." said Andreas. This was a lot to think about. He had always tied his Germanness to the land upon which he had been raised. He considered himself to be a son of Stallupönen, and then a Prussian, and then a German. In that order. But Hans was right: he didn't feel at home in post-war Germany. His entire life had been structured around religion and family, with the monarchy looming large over his shoulder. Now, things had changed. His brother had died a humiliating death for nothing. He felt a distant animosity towards the Berliners and the urbanites that had elected the Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands (the SPD). Maybe, there was a better life to be made.

    With these thoughts in his head, Andreas took the train out of Königsberg. They would go as far as the German border, before they would march north-east through Lithuania, towards Libau in Latvia[3]. At the same time as Andreas and his new friend, Hans, were headed in that direction, tens of thousands of regular German Army units across the Eastern Front were in the final stages of their demobilisation. As they left a front that stretched from Kiev to Narwa[4], the Bolsheviks advanced, rapidly gaining ground. To the south, the nascent Polish state under Józef Klemens Piłsudski was making its own preparations for war. The Poles feared that a front that was now largely undefended would permit the Bolsheviks to attack them directly; their fears were well-founded. Vladimir I. Lenin's Bolshevik government regarded the new Polish state as an aberration and sought to conquer it. In our version of history, the Polish-Soviet War would thwart the Bolshevik attempts to expand eastwards; the war would sap the energies of the Red Armies, and direct their animosities towards Piłsudski. The fighting in the Baltic, by contrast, would be over in a manner of months. The Red Army would be expelled from Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia by the end of April 1919. The Freikorps would return home before the end of 1919. However, as we are here to examine what could have gone wrong, rather than what did go wrong, things will play out a little differently. Ladies and gentlemen, buckle your seat-belts, let's get this party started.

    * * *

    Warsaw, 10th of January 1919

    The winter rain poured on Warsaw, blanketing the city. The streetlights flickered through the rain, looking like distant stars. A motorcade rumbled down the road through the water. Aleksander Wojciechowski sat under an awning in a café. He was the only person seated outside, and he was shivering as he sipped a vodka. It was barely above freezing. The proprietor had thought him mad to sit outside on a day like this. Perhaps, Aleksander was mad. Certainly, tomorrow everyone would think him to be mad for what he was about to do. Comrade Dzerzhinsky's instructions had been very clear. Aleksander was born into nothing, the son of a pauper and without a wife or children. But he would not die as a nothing. The motorcade drew closer. There were four cars, two smaller cars, one truck, and one larger car. The larger car was in the middle, with the smaller cars on either side. The truck, filled with soldiers, trailed the other three. Aleksander stood up. He finished his vodka in one gulp and stepped forwards.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Józef Klemens Piłsudski on the left, Ignacy Jan Paderewski on the right.

    Inside the larger car, a muscular man with a bushy moustache and hard eyes sat opposite a thin, tall man who had wild white hair. The first man was General Józef Klemens Piłsudski. He was a hero of the Polish efforts for independence, and believed that Poland's future lay eastwards — he had been born near Wilno[5] and considered himself a Polish-Lithuanian. The other man was Ignacy Jan Paderewski, an internationally renowned classical pianist and Polish nationalist. In our version of history, Paderewski would become the Prime Minister of Poland later on in January. He was not its first Prime Minister, but he was arguably the first one to be internationally respected. Importantly, Paderewski would lend significant credibility to Piłsudski, who was viewed with suspicion by the Entente Powers. Unfortunately for both of them, this was not to happen. As Piłsudski harrumphed and smoked a large cigar, Paderewski leaned forwards to look out of the window of the car. He saw a man on the other side of the street, standing in the awning of a café. He saw the man was holding something in his hands, maybe a ball or a cylinder of some sort. And then, he saw the man throw the thing directly at the car[6].

    It was the last thing he saw.

    * * * * * * *
    End of Part I of Chapter I
    [1]: The promises of Latvian citizenship to the Freikorps fighters were real. The promises of land were not, but it was a pernicious rumour that spread through their ranks.
    [2]: Dünaburg is now called Daugavpils.
    [3]: Libau is now called Liepāja.
    [4]: Narwa is now called Narva.
    [5]: Wilno is now called Vilnius.
    [6]: The assassination of Piłsudski and Paderewski is our POD. In our timeline, Piłsudski was the subject of many plots and schemes, and assassinations in interwar Poland was not uncommon. Piłsudski would survive an assassination attempt in 1921. In this timeline, he is successfully assassinated in 1919. The removal of Piłsudski will greatly change how Poland fights the Soviet-Polish War, which will, in turn, affect the war in the Baltic. Although this timeline's POD is Polish, we will spend a lot of our time later on in this TL exploring its indirect consequences with the Freikorps in the Baltic. Of course, we will spend some time on Europe in general, and especially early on in this TL, we will spend quite a bit of time on Poland.
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2019
  4. Yankeewolf Member

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2019
    seems to be an incredibly novel POD. I really hope to see this continue.
     
  5. God-Eater of the Marshes chill ass dude

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    Thank you. :)

    I should have another update coming out soon. Stay tuned.
     
  6. Threadmarks: Chapter I: The Polish Waltz, Part II

    God-Eater of the Marshes chill ass dude

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    "The Russians are all more or less disguised imperialists, including the revolutionaries. The trait of these minds, always longing for the absolute, is a vivid centralism. They loathe varieties, cannot conciliate dissonances — such things dull their will and imagination to the extent that they cannot combine varieties into one whole; they reject even the idea of conscious social organisations. Let everything happen by itself — that is the wisest solution according to them, because it is the simplest and the easiest. Which is why there are so many anarchists among them. A strange thing, but I have never met any republicans among Russians!"

    quote attributed to Józef Klemens Piłsudski, circa 1915.


    * * *
    Chapter I: The Polish Waltz
    Part II

    [​IMG]
    Rejtan: the Fall of Poland by Jan Matejko, 1866.
    This painting depicts members of the Sejm deliberating upon the demands of Poland's neighbours to partition her. Tadeusz Rejtan, a patriotic deputy in the Sejm, can be seen on the right, lying on the ground in front of the doorway to prevent other members from leaving. Leaving the chamber would signify an end to the discussion, and therefore, a capitulation to the demands of partition.

    In our version of history, Józef Klemens Piłsudski would turn out to be the most important man in Eastern Europe during the interwar period outside of the Soviet Union. Not only was he instrumental in the defeat of the Soviets during the Polish-Soviet War, but his vision of Poland as a multicultural, pluralistic state became the dominant ideal of Poland. Furthermore, as he dominated Polish foreign policy until his death in 1935, he emphasised Poland's position as a barrier between both Germany and the Soviet Union, and was careful to avoid becoming too cordial with either one. Rather, he attempted to procure alliances with France and the other Eastern European states, such as Romania, Hungary, and Latvia, to deter German and the Soviet aspirations. In the sphere of domestic policy, Piłsudski advocated a status of "non-partisan government cooperation", in which individual political parties were expected to subsume themselves to Piłsudski's quasi-dictatorial regime. Policies from both the right- and left-wings were legislated, in an attempt to placate as many people as possible and prevent revolutions from either side, but this also had the effect of incensing Poland's opposition politicians. It must be noted that these policies, while they became mainstays of the Polish state due to Piłsudski's domineering influence, were actually rather idiosyncratic to Piłsudski himself. He had a lot of opponents within Poland who articulated radically different ideas of what Poland should look like and how it should function. But now Piłsudski is dead, and the threads of history are being spun in a completely different direction.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    On the left is Roman Dmowski, on the right is Count Maurycy Zamoyski.

    Paris, 15th of January 1919.

    Snow crested the copper rooftops of Paris, a slight breeze buffeted the snowflakes as they fell. It was early evening, and the cafés were slowing filling up with Parisians enjoying their apéritifs before dinner. A low hum of pleasant conversation hung over the streets. Men and women ambled up and down the street. Some cats hanging out in an alleyway mewed. The war was over, people were unwinding from four years of carnage. This pleasant scene was rather interrupted by the sound of snow being kicked up as a man dashed down the pavement, clutching a dossier of papers. The man is wholly unimportant; he was a clerk working with the Polish National Committee, an organisation based in Paris that purported to be the legitimate legal representatives of Poland to the Versailles Conference. However, the dossier of papers the man held was incredibly important — it contained the details of the assassination of Piłsudski and Paderewski. The clerk ran until he reached the apartment of one Roman Dmowski. He began pounding the door frantically. The door flew open.

    "What!?" exclaimed a small, well-dressed man, with a tone of indignation. "I have a doorbell, you know! You're going to damage the bloody door! I just had it varnished!"

    "I-I'm sorry, Mr. Dmowski!" replied the clerk. "You must take these! They are of vital importance!"

    Roman Dmowski snatched the dossier out of the clerk's hands. He looked at the front cover: "DIRECT FROM WARSAW. VERY IMPORTANT. DELIVER TO ROMAN DMOWSKI." Roman leafed through the first couple of pages, still standing in the doorway. Suddenly, his face took on an expression of intense seriousness.

    "You must go... I must attend to this." said Roman to the clerk. The clerk nodded and turned to leave. Roman took the dossier to his office. Sitting at his desk, he poured himself a drink and began to scrutinise the dossier, underlining bits and pieces with a pen. After some time, Roman picked up his telephone and rang in a number. The phone dialled, and then the other end picked up.

    "Hello? Who is this?" on the other end.

    "Maurycy, it's me. Roman. Have you heard the news?" said Roman. The man that Roman was calling was Count Maurycy Zamoyski, a prominent nobleman who was in charge of the Polish National Committee's foreign affairs and its vice-chairman.

    "No... What news?"

    "Piłsudski... He has been killed. Paderewski too. Someone threw a bomb at them in Warsaw..."

    "Oh..." There was a pause as Count Zamoyski gathered his thoughts. "What are we going to do? Is this good for us... I mean... You kno-"

    "Good for us!?" spat Roman violently. "You idiot. No, this is not good for us. Would I prefer that Piłsudski was less of a pain in the arse? Yes! Would I prefer that it was one of us, not him and Paderewski, that was running shit back in Warsaw? Of course! Do I want Piłsudski dead? No!"

    Let's pause for a moment. Okay, so we had Piłsudski in Poland, with Paderewski slated to become the Prime Minister. They were killed. So who is this Roman Dmowski guy? What is the Polish National Committee? Fear not, this will be explained. It was mentioned earlier that Piłsudski had a lot of opponents. Actually, that is a slight understatement. In January of 1919, there were two governments of Poland. One was in Warsaw. It was headed by Piłsudski, who controlled the Polish army, and had many allies within the Polish left-wing (though not amongst those who were aligned with the Bolsheviks, who had their own networks within Poland). In Paris, Roman Dmowski headed the Polish National Committee, which was a government-in-exile that was recognised by the Entente Powers as the legitimate and legal government of Poland. Dmowski's government had a lot of allies amongst Poland's aristocracy and landholders and was friendly with other parties of the right-wing. The Entente, and the French, in particular, did not trust Piłsudski, and they were very fond of Dmowski. But Dmowski and Piłsudski, though they were opponents, were not enemies per se. Piłsudski needed the international support and recognition that Dmowski had because, without support from the Entente, Piłsudski would find it extremely difficult to rebuild the Polish state. On the other hand, Dmowski recognised that as Piłsudski controlled the Polish Army, he was far more powerful than himself, even if Dmowski temporarily enjoyed status as the "correct" government of Poland. In our timeline, the two men would reach a rapprochement when Dmowski would agree to Piłsudski's proposition to form a coalition government between his allies and Dmowski's allies, with Paderewski as Prime Minister. In effect, this would lead to the gradual decline of Dmowski's power, as Piłsudski remained in charge of the Polish Army, and Dmowski and his allies would be sidelined completely in 1926 when Piłsudski would successfully initiate a coup and install himself as Prime Minister. Anyway, let's return to the story. Dmowski and Count Zamoyski had been talking on the phone, yes?

    "I'm sorry... Look, I know that was deeply insensitive of me. We have indeed lost a patriot and a son of Poland... But we must act and we must act fast." said Count Zamoyski.

    Dmowski sighed. "Yes, we must. I will call a meeting with the rest of the committee. We will meet with the French and talk with them. If Piłsudski is dead, the army will fall into disarray quickly. You have to go to Warsaw, you must leave the first thing tomorrow morning. Find Wincenty Witos[1], and find out who's calling the shots in the army now that Piłsudski is dead."

    "Yes, Roman. I will go."

    * * *
    Königsberg, 18th of January 1919.

    Rüdiger von der Goltz sipped his coffee and listened to the man in front of him blabber on and on. It was bloody cold, and Rüdiger did not fancy staying still in such weather. He would much rather be walking, or moving in some capacity, to stay warm. His coat was not nearly thick enough. The man seated in front of him was General Johannes von Eben, a pleasant but rather dry man who was a caricature of the Prussian aristocracy. General von Eben had a thick, white handlebar moustache and impossibly correct posture. He had also spent most of the Great War fighting with the Austro-Hungarian Empire, subordinated to their 2nd Austrian Army. In Rüdiger's opinion, the Austrians had made a complete fool of themselves, and their Hungarian bedfellows were a tribe of incompetent morons. While he was thinking this, it became painfully clear to General von Eben that Rüdiger was completely uninterested. There was a pause, and then General von Eben awkwardly tapped the tabletop.

    "Oh no, I'm terribly sorry... I drifted off for a moment there." stammered Rüdiger, snapping back to attention.

    "It's no worry. I was just asking: how many men have you got for your expedition?"

    "How many men? Well, let's see. So far, we have recruited about 10,000 men. I think I can double that number. Also, our friends, the Baltic Germans, have begun forming their own armed forces. I suspect that we will be able to incorporate them too. The Latvian government wants me to take on their men, but... Well, I will be honest, I don't trust the Latvians."

    "Ha ha! Of course. They know nothing about fighting. What do you expect?"

    "Yes, and also their loyalties are... Questionable. Although we are meant to protect the Latvian government, I cannot say for certain that I would like their men in my ranks."

    "Wholly understandable. It's dangerous up there. I was up there with the 10th Army, we took Wilna[2]. Whatever, you'll find out for yourself but the East is not civilised. It's barely human." General von Eben said the last few words with considerable malice. Then he paused as if annoyed by what he had said. He decided to change the subject. "You hear about what's happened in Poland?"

    "No..."

    "They killed Piłsudski. The rumours say that it was either Ukrainian nationalists or Bolshevik operatives. But they're still not ruling out anarchists, of course."

    "Who?"

    "Piłsudski is... Well, was, the head of the Polish army. Anyway, it doesn't matter. Fuck him. The point is that it may have been the bloody Reds, and that they're dangerous. Bloody dangerous."

    "Sure. Well, that's why I'm going up there."

    General von Eben smiled knowingly. "How are you getting up there?"

    "Train. 3rd and 4th class. Unheated carriage. Don't fucking ask me how that happened. Apparently, our government is too preoccupied to get me a decent bloody seat, so I had to do it myself last minute."

    "Yikes. Well, you're certainly travelling exactly to the right place. Hopefully, you'll still get there before the Bolsheviks do."

    Rüdiger nodded in agreement. Hopefully, indeed.

    * * * * * * *
    End of Part II of Chapter I

    [1]: Wincenty Witos was the head of the Piast Party, and an important populist and agrarian politician in Poland, who often allied with the right-wing. He was quite popular with the rural peasantry.
    [2]: Wilna is yet another name for Vilnius, or Wilno, if you're Polish. Getting confused yet? Good.
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2019
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  7. traveller76 Member

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    This is getting good. Watching.
     
  8. God-Eater of the Marshes chill ass dude

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    Thank you very much. Glad to have you on board. I will be churning out more updates over the next couple of days, so stay plugged in!
     
  9. Threadmarks: Chapter I: The Polish Waltz, Part III

    God-Eater of the Marshes chill ass dude

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    "An independent Poland is very dangerous to Soviet Russia."

    remark made by Vladimir I. Lenin in 1920.

    * * *

    Chapter I: The Polish Waltz
    Part III

    [​IMG]
    We Want Warsaw! by Pavel Sokolov-Skalya, 1929.
    This painting depicts Soviet efforts to capture Warsaw during the Polish-Soviet War. The fact that it was painted nearly ten years after the unsuccessful war highlights the Soviet preoccupation with capturing Poland.

    The assassination of Józef Klemens Piłsudski and Ignacy Jan Paderewski was already having far-reaching implications. Count Maurycy Zamoyski left Paris on the 16th of January to return to Warsaw. There, he would broker an agreement with Piłsudski's allies to postpone the upcoming elections, which had been scheduled for the 26th of January. Count Zamoyski made contact with Wincenty Witos, the leader of the agrarian-populist Piast Party, where he enlisted his consent to support a government formed by Roman Dmowski's Polish National Committee. Who exactly would compose this proposed government was yet to be determined, but it was agreed that Piłsudski's allies in the left-wing would be excluded. Count Zamoyski also met with a powerful aristocrat by the name of Prince Eustachy Sapieha[1]. Prince Sapieha had recently gained notoriety for attempting an ill-planned coup against Piłsudski on the 5th of January, earlier that very month. He had been exonerated for his misdemeanour on the insistence of Piłsudski, who wished to convey a benevolent attitude of reconciliation, but the fact that he was even being met was a rather ominous omen. Count Zamoyski asked Price Sapieha to recruit his allies in the Polish officer corps to support a government formed by Roman Dmowski[2]. Piłsudski's allies were disarrayed and hamstrung not only by the assassination of their man, but by the fact that the assassin appeared to have been a Bolshevik; the parties of the Polish left-wing suddenly became acutely aware of the possibility of pro-Bolshevik sympathisers within their ranks. Leaders amongst the left-wing began convening urgent meetings to mitigate this possibility. Meanwhile, the Polish Army didn't immediately react — disorganised and demoralised, they chose to wait out the partisan infighting before picking a side. The chess pieces were rapidly moving across the board, as Poland struggled to react to the decapitation of her leadership.

    Meanwhile, far away in Petrograd, a certain Polish man by the name of Felix Edmundovich Dzerzhinsky was particularly delighted. Felix Dzerzhinsky, known to both friend and foe as Iron Felix, was the director of the Cheka, the notorious state security agency and secret police of Lenin's Soviet Union. He had ordered the assassination of Piłsudski in order to cripple the Polish Army, as the Red Army was currently advancing through land formerly occupied by the demobilising German Army, it would be inevitable that they would come into contact with the Polish sooner-or-later. Dzerzhinsky hadn't thought the assassination attempt would succeed. To him, it was a gamble with an unlikely upside and absolutely no downside, since the Soviet Union could simply deny that the useful idiot carrying out the assassination had anything to do with them. Lone wolf terrorists shot and bombed people all the time in Europe. It happens. Furthermore, Dzerzhinsky had no idea that Paderewski would be travelling with Piłsudski. A happy coincidence.

    When Dzerzhinsky reported this news to Leon Trotsky, who was in charge of the Red Army, he was equally pleased.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Felix Edmundovich Dzerzhinsky on the left, Leon Trotsky on the right.

    Petrograd, 20th of January 1919.

    Leon Trotsky's office was not small, but it was modest. A simple wooden desk and a chair without a cushion in a large, spacious room that was filled with books stacked vertically in piles. Behind the desk, there was a large poster board, upon which Trotsky had posted several maps. Most of these maps depicted troop movements or supply routes, and all of them were covered in multicoloured pins and cryptic notes. Trotsky had been trying to organise the mess of papers on his desk when the door opened and Felix Dzerzhinsky walked into the room. Trotsky shrunk into his chair at the sight of him. Dzerzhinsky was not a scary-looking man. He was small, with wispy hair and beady eyes. He wore a simple cap and an undecorated uniform that did not bare his rank. But men knew him, and they feared him. The man they called Iron Felix emanated an aura that could only be described as definitively Satanic.

    "We killed Piłsudski." announced Dzerzhinsky. "We killed Paderewski, too."

    Leon Trotsky sat up, very interested. "What? Great! How did you do this?"

    "A bomb." stated Dzerzhinsky, very plainly. If Dzerzhinsky felt anything at all about the countless murders he was involved in, many of which he had carried out personally, it never showed. He was inscrutable. To be frank, it was extremely unnerving.

    Trotsky contemplated this. Then, he stood up very quickly and began moving pins around on his maps. With his back to Dzerzhinsky, he continued speaking: "Felix, this is amazing news. Poland is an aberration on Europe, and with the great general of Poland dead, we must capture this moment!"

    "I quite agree, comrade."

    "What happened to the assassin?"

    "There was a truck filled with soldiers near where he killed Piłsudski. The assassin was completely shot to pieces within minutes."

    Leon Trotsky stood back from his maps, examining the rearranged pins. "Ah, excellent. A dead man can't snitch. Well anyway, I must make some calls, and you probably have important business to attend to..."

    "I am a busy man." said Dzerzhinsky, and on that note, he left. Trotsky sat down at his desk and picked up his phone. He dialled in a number.

    "Hello? Yes. Leon Trotsky here." Trotsky rolled his eyes as the voice on the other end garbled a series of questions. "Yes. Yes. No. I don't know. Ask Radek. Shut up, I have orders. Okay, are you listening? Tell Nadyozhny and Vācietis that Piłsudski is dead[3]. I repeat: Piłsudski is dead. I want them to emphasise a push southwards out of Wilno, tell them to hold the line in Estonia, we can worry about them later but we must divert troops to a southward push. I want reinforcements to the Baltic theatre, as many divisions as you can, pull them up from Ukraine. The sooner we can stage an assault out of Wilno, the better. I want them to get eyes beyond the Nemen River. Fuck it, I want intel as far as the Narew. Did you get all that? Good. Now go and do your work!"

    He slammed the receiver down. Then, he suddenly remembered something. He got up and ran to the door, throwing it open.


    "Dzerzhinsky! Dzerzhinsky!" he yelled down the hallway. No response. "Goddamn... He's gone and fucked off." Trotsky looked around and saw a young clerk strolling past, looking far too contented with himself. Trotsky grabbed him. "I want you to go to Dzerzhinsky and tell him to initiate contact with our cells in Warsaw! We need intel from the Polish capital! Go!"

    The young clerk tried to stammer a response but Trotsky pushed him. "Go! Run!" he shouted. The clerk ran.

    * * *
    While Trotsky and Dzerzhinsky schemed and moved pins on maps around, Roman Dmowski met with representatives of France, Britain, and the United States in Paris. Roman informed them that the elections had been delayed in light of the recent events and that he intended to seize power. The Entente Powers were hesitant about this, understandably so. It had been an objective of theirs that democratic government should manifest in Europe. But Roman told them that under the circumstances, that was not possible. At least, at the present moment. He assured them that he would form a coalition government and include as many parties as possible. However, he neglected to tell them that he had no intention of including the Polish left-wing. After this meeting, Roman boarded the next train to Warsaw.

    Prince Sapieha made contact with his allies within the Polish officer corps. Importantly, many of Prince Sapieha's friends were officers within the Warsaw district, giving him immediate control over the capital. He was also able to enlist the support of Lieutenant General Józef Haller, who had been a co-conspirator in Prince Sapieha's abortive coup attempt on the 5th of January. With General Haller on their side, Roman Dmowski and Count Zamoyski could count on at least some of the army to support them. And those that didn't directly support them would be extremely hesitant to turn on their comrades.

    Meanwhile, in the Baltic, our friends in the
    Freikorps had just arrived. After several days of awful travel in unheated train carriages, Rüdiger van der Goltz was finally at his destination. Indeed, he would arrive in Libau before the Bolsheviks and he had some time to spare, but unbeknown to him, the Red Army advance had just been diverted southwards from Estonia. He had less time than he thought. As for Andreas Becker and his new friend, Hans von Sachsenheim, were also on their way to Libau. They would soon be organised into the Iron Brigade, directly under the command of the legendary General von der Goltz. If you have read this far, my dear reader, then you will be aware some dangerous forces have been set into motion, and you may suppose that things will start wildly deviating from our version of history. You would be correct.

    * * * * * * *
    End of Chapter I
    [1]: Prince Eustachy Sapieha was a powerful landholder and scion of the Sapieha family, one of the most prominent families of nobles in Poland. He wasn't a prince in the sense that he was to inherit a kingdom, but the Polish "prince" is roughly equivalent to a duke. In our timeline, Prince Sapieha would reconcile with Piłsudski (despite having previously tried to overthrow him) and join his government. Eventually, Prince Sapieha would become ambassador to the United Kingdom. However, with no Piłsudski, Prince Sapieha is suddenly in a very powerful position, as he still maintains all his contacts from his coup attempt.
    [2]: Earlier on, I mentioned that Piłsudski controlled the army. He did, and he was extremely popular with the rank-and-file, the lower officer corps, and with sections of the army that he had previously commanded. However, large swaths of the upper officer corps, and some sections of the army that had fought under other generals (such as Józef Haller), were less excited for a Piłsudski-dominated Poland.
    [3] Lieutenant General Dmitry Nadyozhny and Commander Jukums Vācietis were in charge of the Red Army's northern front in the Baltic.



     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2019
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  10. Threadmarks: Interlude: Vācietis & Nadyozhny's War Plans

    God-Eater of the Marshes chill ass dude

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    Interlude: Vācietis & Nadyozhny's War Plans

    Below is a map that represents the movements of troops in the last week of January, 1919. The red line represents the Soviet front line. The red arrows represent diversions of Soviet troops that are currently underway. The yellow arrows represent the planned assaults in the first phase of the Soviet attack on Poland. The green arrow represents the movements of the Freikorps legions from Königsberg to Libau. Please note that this map uses post-Versailles OTL borders, and that in January of 1919, most of the eastwards borders of Poland and the Baltic states are undetermined. For example, the dotted line that bisects Poland is the Curzon Line, one of the proposed eastwards borders for Poland that is currently being deliberated upon at the Versailles Conference.

    [​IMG]
    * * *
    Lieutenant General Nadyozhny and Commander Vācietis, the leaders of the Red Army's northern front in the Baltic, had received their orders from Leon Trotsky. They were to divert troops to Wilno as fast as possible. From there, they would begin preparations for a larger offensive into the Polish heartland. This change in course presented several problems. To begin with, we must note that the Soviet advances into the territory that had been previously occupied by the German Army had been disorganised and hasty. Their efforts to seize territory as the Ober Ost collapsed had been — for lack of better words — a hot mess. They had to contend with White counter-revolutionaries, bandits, nationalist uprisings, and the retreating German Army (who were the only ones that the Red Army was reluctant to engage). There was barely a "front line" in the conventional sense, and the armed groups they encountered along the way could be hostile or friendly, maybe with a multiplicity of loyalties, or none at all. Another significant problem faced by Nadyozhny and Vācietis were rumours of German paramilitaries being assembled in Latvia and Lithuania. Diverting troops from their war on the upstart republics of the Baltic to open a new offensive into Poland would stretch the available Soviet manpower significantly, and this could not be afforded if the Latvians and Lithuanians were shoring themselves up with mercenaries. Nevertheless, Nadyozhny and Vācietis had their orders, and the Soviets would have to act fast if they were to take Poland by surprise[1].
    * * *
    [1]: In our timeline, the Polish-Soviet War begins with an preemptive attack by the Polish, who assault Pinsk, and then Wilno, before advancing into Byelorussia. This Polish-Soviet War, which is beginning with a Soviet assault based out of Wilno, will unravel as a sort of reverse to OTL.
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2019
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  11. Tongera Well-Known Member

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    This is a interesting timeline in Eastern Europe and I'm enjoying it.

    What sources are you using?
     
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  12. God-Eater of the Marshes chill ass dude

    Joined:
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    Thank you very much, I remember that you read my other timeline a couple years ago too, so it's good to have you on board again!

    Currently, I'm using bits and pieces from the following:
    • The Poland of Piłsudski by Robert Machray
    • The Outbreak of the Polish-Soviet War: A Polish Perspective by Jerzy Borzecki
    • France and the Polish-Soviet War by Piotr S. Wandycz
    • My Mission in Finland and in the Baltic by Rüdiger von der Goltz
    • War Land on the Eastern Front: Culture, National Identity and German Occupation in World War I by Vejas Gabriel Liulevicius
    • The Impossible Border: Germany and the East, 1914-1922 by Annemarie Sammartino
    • Vanguard of Nazism: the Free Corps Movement in Postwar Germany 1918-1923 by Robert G. L. Waite
    • Male Fantasies by Klaus Theweleit
    • Ignacy Paderewski's Poland by Anita Prazmowska
    • The Treaty of Versailles: A Concise History by Michael Neiburg
    I'm always on the lookout for more sources, especially on the stuff I'm not too well-versed in. Feel free to buzz me with any questions or things that need clarifying.
     
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  13. Tongera Well-Known Member

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    I remembered your username from a timeline, which for the life of me I can't remember. What was it?

    That's fine mate, this timeline deserves it. One thing I like is that you give a short summary of what actually happened and how it changes in this timeline. Gives a good explanation for those of us who have basic or no knowledge on this area.

    A book I can recommend if you like: Stalin Paradoxes of Power by Stephen Kotkin if you decide to focus on Russia during the Civil War and/or the Bolshevik Party during the early years. Could help if you decide to do a update in that regards.
     
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  14. God-Eater of the Marshes chill ass dude

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    I used to write the Rise, Aegyptus! timelines, about a Coptic Egyptian state in the late antiquity time period. That was over 5 years ago though, back in 2013.
    I'm glad! I find that it can make it very difficult to enjoy a timeline if I have no reference point as to why the POD matters or what is significantly different, so the inclusion of OTL info is quite deliberate.
    I will definitely look this up. As the Soviets get more involved in this TL, I will need good sources. Thank you for the recommendation! Cheers!
     
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  15. BigBlueBox Well-Known Member

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    Were the Soviets actually planning to attack Poland? I was under the impression they wanted to finish the civil war first.
     
  16. God-Eater of the Marshes chill ass dude

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    In short, yes.

    But for the longer answer: Lenin & co. saw the reclamation of former former Tsarist territories and the Civil War against the Whites as two married objectives. This was because of several factors. First of all, a lot of White armies operated in former Tsarist territories (much to the chagrin of said territories) Pavel Bermondt-Avalov's West Russian Volunteer Army (which in OTL absorbed many ex-Freikorps members) operated pretty much exclusively in Latvia and Lithuania, despite these territories having been removed from Russia in the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. Therefore, to win the civil war, these White armies that were operating "outside of Russia" (legally speaking) had to be eliminated. Furthermore, the Soviet armies had already occupied many cities that the Polish government considered to be integral to Poland. They occupied Wilno in early January of 1919, and captured Pinsk around the same time. Some historians have claimed the start date of the Polish-Soviet War as early as December 1918. There was no official declaration of war because Lenin's government didn't consider these territories to have belonged to Poland (which he considered to be an illegitimate state to begin with) in the first place, and for their part, the Polish government considered themselves to already be at war with the Soviet Union due to the occupation of said territories. Both sides knew that an escalation of war was inevitable, the Soviet government had openly stated that the recapture of Poland was a goal of their's. In OTL, the initial offensive of the Polish-Soviet War was preemptive because the Polish army considered it advantageous to attack the Soviets before the Soviets could mount further offensives. Also, we have to consider that in the rhetoric of Trotsky's Permanent Revolution, the war against the Whites and the global bourgeois (which entailed "spreading the revolution" to Poland, Germany, and beyond) were the same thing. Invading Poland, far from an anomaly, is in fact a logical outcome of the way in which Lenin & co. fought their civil war.

    I hope this reasoning was convincing (and informative, too!).
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2019
  17. Stenz Don't judge the past by the standards of today... Monthly Donor

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    There is also the geographical factor to take into account. Poland (or the land that makes up Poland) is the gateway to European Russia. Control of it (directly, or through a proxy, vassal or strong ally) will provide security to the industrial heartland that a strong Russia depends upon.

    There is no coincidence the territory of the Soviet Union mirrors that of the Tsarist Empire.
     
  18. God-Eater of the Marshes chill ass dude

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    Exactly! Also, control over Poland was seen as the "key" to accessing Germany and rekindling the fires of the failed Spartacist Revolt. Lenin, Trotsky & co. envisioned that once Poland fell, Germany would too, and then the whole of Europe would quickly fall. Conversely, an independent Poland was perceived as not only a historical aberration, but as a fundamental weakness to the integrity of the Soviet Union.
     
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  19. Time Enough Biweekly Rebel

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    Location:
    Nottingham (kind of, depends on the Season)
    Great timeline with an interesting idea behind it, I like the inclusion of art as well. I'm wondering how the Enetre powers are reacting to this mess. I get the feeling Britian is rather annoyed.

    Also I get the feeling that by the end of this Soviet Russia will have mixed emotions about the Polish Adventure.
     
  20. BigBlueBox Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2017
    Location:
    Southern California
    Trotsky claimed that he wanted the Soviets to stop at the Curzon line instead of advancing to Warsaw. It was already obvious by then that there would be no rekindling of the Spartacist revolt. There was a better source I've seen, but this is all I can find right now.
    https://www.jstor.org/stable/151929
     
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