Man-Made Hell: The History of the Great War and Beyond

Is this a good timeline?

  • Yes, it's great!

    Votes: 131 57.7%
  • Yes, it has a few flaws but is still good.

    Votes: 76 33.5%
  • No, it's very implausible.

    Votes: 14 6.2%
  • No, it's boring.

    Votes: 6 2.6%

  • Total voters
Laugh even more maniacally on American Democratic Southern Populism to the point that he is running out of air
Laughs so maniacally that the power of spoiler warnings are summoned to prevent the specific American dialect that is critical to the plot of Man-Made Hell from being deciphered

Laughs even more maniacally then previously thought possible, to the point where they forgot what they were even laughing about .... then they started dreaming about Fuhrerreich!
Quits laughing and comes to the realization that a Man-Made Hell DBWI interlude could be fun
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This was awesome. Where to even begin? Churchill fighting Von Lettow-Vorbeck "Lion of Arabia" in the Arab revolt, Mussplini in the CP, Second Battle of Waterloo...
SOrry, but no sorry, the possibility that Benny can get in power in Italy without her actively fought for 4 years a bloody war and the economy in shambles, without the humiliation of Wilson and Versailles it's just statistical, even because a lot of earlier fascist forces come from the Arditi and veterans that ITTL don't exist...the king in this scenario will simply crush Del Bono or more simply the socialist head of goverment will order the police or/and the army to do it even if for some reason VEIII decide to make Benny presidente del consiglio he will never ever the kind of power that had in OTL (and that was a lot less than Franco, Hitler and Stalin).
Basically the rise of the PFI ITTL will lack all OTL economic situation and social pressure due to Italy remaining neutral (plus gaining something without the need to fight) and even OTL at the beginning Mussolini needed a lot of the liberal enstablishment support to govern and win the election.
Maybe the communist revolution start something in Italy but even ITTL for the march of Rome you have needed 4 years from the end of the war and the 'biennio rosso'.
SOrry, but no sorry, the possibility that Benny can get in power in Italy without her actively fought for 4 years a bloody war and the economy in shambles, without the humiliation of Wilson and Versailles it's just statistical, even because a lot of earlier fascist forces come from the Arditi and veterans that ITTL don't exist...the king in this scenario will simply crush Del Bono or more simply the socialist head of goverment will order the police or/and the army to do it even if for some reason VEIII decide to make Benny presidente del consiglio he will never ever the kind of power that had in OTL (and that was a lot less than Franco, Hitler and Stalin).
Basically the rise of the PFI ITTL will lack all OTL economic situation and social pressure due to Italy remaining neutral (plus gaining something without the need to fight) and even OTL at the beginning Mussolini needed a lot of the liberal enstablishment support to govern and win the election.
Maybe the communist revolution start something in Italy but even ITTL for the march of Rome you have needed 4 years from the end of the war and the 'biennio rosso'.
Fascism just grows from becoming the party of interventionists ITTL, and benefits from gaining members from Italian socialist parties in Italy due to a sort of "Italian Red Scare." I can see where you're coming from, but in my opinion Mussolini would probably be able to build up support by using the events ITTL to his advantage.
Fascism just grows from becoming the party of interventionists ITTL, and benefits from gaining members from Italian socialist parties in Italy due to a sort of "Italian Red Scare." I can see where you're coming from, but in my opinion Mussolini would probably be able to build up support by using the events ITTL to his advantage.

Support? Sure, almost assured...he can become the dictator of Italy with an analog of the orginal March on Rome? Sorry, no way, or at least he will be too dependent of the King and the rest of the liberal entablishment even more than OTL to be nothing more than a strong head of goverment
Support? Sure, almost assured...he can become the dictator of Italy with an analog of the orginal March on Rome? Sorry, no way, or at least he will be too dependent of the King and the rest of the liberal entablishment even more than OTL to be nothing more than a strong head of goverment
Personally, I think it would have been possible for Mussolini to consolidate power through different circumstances, however, for the time being does have a handful of liberal allies. It's more socialist groups that he is going after.
The casualties of OTL WW1 forced the various factions to begin enlisting women into the workforce in order to keep the war going. How much more along is that process as of the end of phase 1 (and if its not too spoilery, how will that process end up changing the societies of the combatants by the end of the war)?
The casualties of OTL WW1 forced the various factions to begin enlisting women into the workforce in order to keep the war going. How much more along is that process as of the end of phase 1 (and if its not too spoilery, how will that process end up changing the societies of the combatants by the end of the war)?
Ooh, I never heard about that, so thanks for mentioning that! The egalitarian nature of communism means that women will be permitted to fight on behalf of the Comintern's members, and the Entente has reached a point where they need every soldier they can get, so I can definitely see both Great Britain and France introducing limited female drafts. With that being said, the British have yet to give women the right to vote, so it might not be a good idea to draft a large amount of your population that is not permitted to vote and has become a significant part of the workforce, especially when your enemy adheres to an egalitarian populist ideology.

As for the Central Powers, the socially conservative nature of fascism means that they won't be turning to introducing women to the military anytime soon, especially considering that Italy has just joined the Great War and Germany has had enough time to replenish its numbers.

Anyway, the fate of feminism ITTL will be something to be look out for. I haven't been shedding a lot of light on the social changes of the belligerents in the Great War, but there are definitely a lot of possibilities, so I'll try to make something cool.
Chapter Five: What Madness is This?
Chapter V: What Madness is This?

“The mob of Marxist barbarians to our east known as the Russian Soviet Republic has invaded the Principality of Belarus. We are at war with the Red Army.”

-Chancellor Alfred Hugenberg of the German Empire announcing the Soviet invasion of Belarus to the Reichstag, circa February 1923.

Red Army soldiers during training within the Byelorussian Autonomous Soviet Republic, circa February 1923.

When the German Empire declared war on the French Commune, Alfred Hugenberg had taken a gamble. Hoping to prevent the spread of communism to western Europe by invading France and renewing the German offensive on the Western Front of the Great War, Hugenberg’s invasion of France alone would cost Germany only a handful of men, with the militia that was the Vanguard of French Proletariat was no match against the well-trained and well-supplies forces of the German Empire, let alone the German Empire, her allies, and what remained of the decaying Entente.

But the French Commune was not alone in its struggle to liberate the proletariat of France. On the other side of the Central Powers, the Commune had one ally, a nation that had become feared by all of the world. This nation was, of course, the Russian Soviet Republic, the only completely sovereign communist state in the world. Under the leadership of Premier Vladimir Lenin, the Soviet Republic had consolidated its power by purging political dissidents, gradually industrializing what had once been the infamously backwater Russian Empire, and growing the Red Army into a force to be reckoned with. By the time Phase Two of the Great War began, the Red Army consisted of approximately nine million standing soldiers, with millions of more meeting the requirements to be conscripted into the Red Army if deemed necessary.

Simply put, the Russian Soviet Republic was not a threat to be taken lightly by the Central Powers, or any capitalist regime, for that matter. However, when Germany invaded the French Commune in the January of 1923, Alfred Hugenberg did not fear a Soviet declaration of war. The Bolsheviks had detested the Great War long before they had taken over Russia, and after winning the Russian Civil War, the Soviets had decided to keep out of the unpopular Great War in favor of rebuilding Russia into a communist state. And even if Lenin did want to invade Germany and its allies, the Central Powers had a substantially larger combined military and it was anticipated that a second victory on the Eastern Front could be secured.

But as the invasion of northern France began, the Russian Soviet Republic would almost immediately begin to condemn the renewal of the Western Front, this time in the name of the suppression of the working class. In the January of 1923, the Red Army, which had barely grown since the conclusion of the Russian Civil War in 1919, began to recruit members, while Leon Trotsky managed to implement stronger equipment modernization campaigns. The plan to end war communism, the highly centralized system in which the state owned all property during the Russian Civil War, would also stop being relaxed due to a growing fear within the Soviet high command that war was coming to Russia yet again.

Nonetheless, the German army was emerging from its trenches, renewing a seemingly dormant war. The LGPF was unprepared for a war against Germany, with Boris Souvarine under the impression that the Great War had ended and prioritizing the defeat of French Third Republic. Therefore, Paul von Hindenburg easily lead an offensive from Loos starting on January 7th, 1923, one which would succeed in breaking initial Communard trench defenses within the first day of combat, thus forcing the Vanguard of the French Proletariat across the Canal d’Aire at the Battle of Estevelles on January 18th, 1923.

But it was after the Battle of Estevelles that Souvarine, who was fighting the Entente in southern France when Phase Two began, allocated significant reinforcements to the Western Front. Under the command of Field Commander Pierre Monatte, Communard defenses in northern France would substantially grow, and the war effort around the Canal d’Aire grinded to a standstill. Heavy rounds of artillery fire would ensure that neither side could cross a mere canal, and the poison of chemical warfare turned the Canal d’Aire into an inhospitable stream of inhumanity. East of what had once been Belgium, the Germans saw better success in eastern France, where Erich Ludendorff led an offensive from Dabo against the Vanguard of the French Proletariat, although even this offensive slowed down as the days passed, with Ludendorff capturing Luneville on February 1st, 1923.

All the while, the Russian Soviet Republic watched as the only other socialist force that even came close to resembling a nation was slowly pushed back against the weight of the Central Powers. Vladimir Lenin was obviously openly supporting the French Commune, and for that matter the Workers’ Commonwealth, however, he was personally very cautious about going to war with Germany. The German military had taken on two fronts before, and it could potentially do it again, especially when it had allies in the east this time around. Nonetheless, Premier Lenin would carefully prepare for a potential war with the Central Powers, hoping to eventually spread the revolution west. On January 8th, a partial mobilization of the Red Army was ordered, and as Hindenburg and Ludendorff enclosed upon Lumiere, the Soviet Republic tightened its grip upon the means of production of Russia, ensuring that war communism was not ending anytime soon.

Within the Red Army, General Leon Trotsky, the most renowned officer within the ranks of the Russian military, who answered only to Nikolai Krylenko and Vladimir Lenin, would do everything in his power to promote war with the Central Powers. A devout internationalist and avid supporter of the French Commune (Trotsky and Boris Souvarine actually often wrote to each other due to sharing similar political beliefs), the Red Napoleon would often advocate for declaring war on the Central Powers, claiming that alongside the fall of the Entente to communism, the Red Army could overrun the German puppet states in eastern Europe, as well as Ukraine, within at most a few months. Lenin personally supported Leon Trotsky’s plan to invade eastern Europe, and in the middle of the January of 1923 would task General Trotsky with designing war plans for a hypothetical offensive into the eastern Central Powers, a top secret plan named Operation Ascania.

Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky shortly after the latter finished designing Operation Ascania, circa January 1922.

By the start of the February of 1923, the Red Army guarded the western border of Russia in a long line, preparing for an invasion into Ukraine, Belarus, the United Baltic Duchy, and Estonia. With the Red Army’s ranks containing over eleven thousand men and women (women had been permitted to join the Red Army by 1922) ready to fight in the name of the liberation of the proletariat and modern equipment, including tanks, while a growing Soviet air force was ready to aid ground forces from above. With an offensive strategy already designed, support for war being prominent throughout the Red Army, and opposition to any declaration of war from within the ranks of the Bolshevik Party decreasing, the time was perfect for the Russian Soviet Republic to join the Great War on behalf of their French comrades.

Therefore, on February 6th, 1923, the Soviet Republic sent an ultimatum to Berlin. This document, deemed the February Ultimatum, demanded one thing from the German Empire; the immediate end of all hostilities with the French Commune. If Germany did not comply or failed to respond in exactly forty-eight hours, the Russian Soviet Republic would declare war on the Central Powers on behalf of the French Commune. Alfred Hugenberg could not comply with the demands of the February Ultimatum, knowing that pulling out of France at this point would be humiliating for him and potentially cost the Fatherland Party control of Germany. Therefore, the German government officially stayed silent about the February Ultimatum, choosing to use the precious forty-eight hours offered to prepare for a renewal of hostilities on the Eastern Front. Meanwhile, Vladimir Lenin ordered the general mobilization of the Red Army, and Leon Trotsky was prepared to begin the invasion of Belarus at any moment.

Finally, after forty-eight hours had passed, the time had come for the Russian bear, soaked in the crimson of communism, to awaken yet again. With both Russia and Germany ready for war yet again, the time had come for the revolution of the proletariat to advance west, and on February 8th, 1923 the Russian Soviet Republic officially declared war on the Central Powers. Under the command of the Red Napoleon, the Red Army crossed into the Principality of Belarus, therefore resuming the Eastern Front of the Great War after nearly five years of peace.

Red Army soldiers during the initial invasion of Belarus, circa February 1923.

Operation Ascania had begun.

The Red Napoleon

“Many comrades have compared me to Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte of France. They have called me the Red Napoleon, they have declared me a commander as skilled as Napoleon, but one that will fight in the name of the liberation of the proletariat rather than its suppression by bourgeoise imperialists. This is a false comparison. Napoleon failed to conquer Russia. The Red Napoleon has already succeeded. Where Napoleon Bonaparte failed, our comrades will succeed.”

-General Leon Trotsky in a speech to the elite of the Bolshevik Party, circa March 1923.

General Leon Trotsky attending the sixth anniversary of the February Revolution in Moscow, circa March 1923.

When the February Ultimatum expired, Leon Trotsky began the war that he had planned out for the last month. Trotsky was to oversee the Red Army’s initiation of Operation Ascania, the top secret war plan developed in the previous January that had been approved by Vladimir Lenin himself and was Leon Trotsky’s brainchild. The first part of Operation Ascania was for General Trotsky to lead soldiers in an invasion of the Principality of Belarus, in which Belarusian defenses would be pierced by a heavy offensive by the well-equipped Red Army. All the while, another invasion force, approximately the same size as Trotsky’s, was to quickly overrun Ukraine. Once both Belarus and Ukraine were conquered, the invasion of Poland and Pomerania would begin, which would inevitably lead the Red Army straight to Berlin.

The offensive into the Principality of Belarus went well. Leon Trotsky had ensured that the Central Powers never discovered the true size of the invasion force of Belarus until it was too late by stationing regiments many miles apart. Once January 8th arrived, all Soviet forces would converge on Smalyavichy, and the considerably smaller Belarusian army was defeated by nightfall by the brutally aggressive tactics of Leon Trotsky. With Smalyavichy conquered, the Red Army was next door to Minsk, the capital of the Principality of Belarus. The faltering military of Belarus simply could not hold off the titanic invasion force of the Soviet Republic, and on the morning of February 9th, 1923 the Red Napoleon would order Soviet dirigibles to commence a bombing campaign on Belarusian regiments outside of Minsk, therefore meaning that the army of Belarus had already scattered and was in disarray by the time the Red Army invaded the city. The Belarusians barely put up a fight, and within only two hours flags of red were flying over Minsk.

With the capital of the Principality of Belarus in the hands of the Red Napoleon, the defeat of Prince Franz I’s infant realm was apparently inevitable. Within only a few more weeks, the military of Belarus was in tatters and mutinies were common. Presiding over the corpse of principality from Baranovichi, Franz I would abdicate from the Belarusian throne on February 20th, 1923, which became the straw that ultimately broke the Belarusian people’s back. Two days later, the Rada would deliver a message to Moscow announcing that the Principality of Belarus had unconditionally surrendered to the Russian Soviet Republic, and the Treaty of Minsk, which was signed on February 25th, 1923, would end Belarusian independence by annexing the Principality into the Byelorussian Autonomous Soviet Republic and unifying the White Ruthenia region under the banner of Marxist-Leninism.

As General Trotsky prepared for the upcoming offensive into Poland, the invasion of the Ukrainian Republic was also going well for the Russian Soviet Republic. The invasion of Ukraine was led by none other than Leon Trotsky’s second-in-command since the Russian Civil War, a brutal and unforgiving yet promising lieutenant general. An avid supporter of Leon Trotsky and the invasion of eastern Europe, this vicious officer had been involved in the offensive towards Petrograd, the invasion of Siberia, and the conduction of the Red Terror. This lieutenant general was none other than Ioseb Jughesvili, a Georgian Bolshevik who was better known by the alias Joseph Stalin.

Lieutenant General Joseph Stalin of the Russian Soviet Republic.

Once a notoriously reckless commander who had often gained the condemnation of Vladimir Lenin himself, Stalin had fallen under the command of Leon Trotsky during the invasion of Siberia during the Russian Civil War. Trotsky had personally requested that Stalin be put under his command, believing that the rising officer had great potential and would be a great asset for the war into Siberia, however, was aware of Stalin’s tendencies to disobey orders and make poor tactical decisions and hoped that he could keep the ambitious Stalin in line. This tactic worked, and Leon Trotsky’s strict yet charismatic and competent leadership would chip away at Joseph Stalin’s dangerous ego, and by the end of the Russian Civil War, Stalin had become fond of the military strategies of Leon Trotsky, even if he was opposed to Trotsky’s radical internationalist views. Therefore, by the time the Soviet Republic declared war on the Central Powers, Lieutenant General Joseph Stalin had become Trotsky’s right hand man and strong supporter of Operation Ascania, at least from a tactical perspective.

Joseph Stalin would start his invasion of Ukraine by leading soldiers from Glushkovo via piercing Ukrainian defenses in a way similar to Trotsky’s like-minded strategy to the north against Belarus. The invasion of Ukraine went very well for the Red Army, however, it was devastating for the Ukrainian Republic. With the majority of prominent Ukrainian military commanders fighting on the Western Front, Ukraine was left with mediocre military officers as its defense against Stalin, a commander who would soon become infamous for his brutal tactics. Stalin would resurrect many of his infamous, for lack of better terms, war crimes from the Russian Civil War, torching occupied villages that offered strong resistance to Soviet occupation and ordering aircraft to bomb population centers in order to decimate wartime production and kill soldiers within said population centers.

Regardless of how deadly and destructive Stalin’s tactics were, they did work. By the end of the February of 1923, the Red Army had reached the Supjy River, where the Soviets captured Zhurivka on February 20th, 1923. It was by this point that Simon Petilura, the leading Ukrainian general against the Red Army, was replaced by General Pavlo Skoropadsky, a general who had led Ukrainian forces alongside Erich Ludendorff in eastern France who held avidly monarchist and conservative political views, becoming a vocal supporter of Alfred Hugenberg. Skoropadsky was an experienced commander, arguably the most competent within the Ukrainian military, therefore winning him an immediately elite position within the leadership of the Ukrainian war effort on the Eastern Front upon returning from France.

Skoropadasky’s first victory on the Eastern Front would be at the Battle of Voitove on February 27th, 1923, where Joseph Stalin was stopped by intricate trench warfare defenses. By the end of the day, both the Ukrainians and Russians had dug trenches in the ground east of Voitove, where a war of attrition would carry on for awhile. But Pavlo Skoropadsky’s defense of Voitove would not last for long. Consistent aerial bombing campaigns would surpass Ukrainian trench defenses, eventually turning the area General Skoropadsky defended from the Red Army into a desolate pile of rubble. While Pavlo Skoropadsky had hoped that he could continue to fight in Voitove and eventually wear down the Red Army, many Ukrainian military and political officials argued that if Skoropadsky stayed in Voitove, then once the Red Army inevitably did break his defenses Kiev would be open to an invasion.

Therefore, under mounting pressure from the Central Council of Ukraine, General Skoropadsky would retreat from Voitove on March 2nd, 1923, and would arrive with the majority of his soldiers outside Kiev a few days later. Lieutenant General Stalin immediately took advantage of this large retreat, and every place Skoropadsky left was quickly occupied by Stalin. On March 7th, Stalin would initiate his attack on Kiev, with heavy aerial bombing routines forcing the Ukrainian government to flee the city. However, Pavlo Skoropadsky and his men would remain in the trenches they had dug around the city, firing constant rounds of ammunition at the Red Army. In due time, Skoropadsky’s defenses were eventually worn down. While soldiers hidden in trenches and underground bunkers would not budge in the face of bombardment, supply lines in the west took big hits, and within a few days Ukrainian men were dying from Soviet gunfire, malnutrition, and a lack of medical supplies, which allowed the Red Army to go on a sweeping offensive over Kiev, resulting in a Soviet victory at the First Battle of Kiev on March 12th, 1923.

In the aftermath of the First Battle of Kiev, Ukraine bended to the will of the Russian Soviet Republic. The Ukrainian government continued to fight on after being relocated to Lviv, however, capitulation to the Soviet Republic seemed to be likely. All the while, Stalin would ensure that all of Ukraine east of the Dnieper River would be under the control of the Red Army, and with the Ukrainian military falling apart, this was a very easy and quick task to accomplish. With approximately half of Ukraine, including the area surrounding Kiev, under Soviet military occupation, Vladimir Lenin decided that the time had come for the forces of communism to finally consolidate themselves within Ukraine. Thus, on March 22nd, 1923 the Treaty of Kremenchuk was signed, which cede substantial Ukrainian land in the east, which was primarily ethnically Russian, to the Soviet Republic, while the rest of Soviet-occupied Ukraine became a Russian puppet regime named the Ukrainian People’s Soviet Republic (UPSR), under the leadership of People’s Commissar Sergei Bakinsky and his Ukrainian Communist Party.

Flag of the Ukrainian People’s Soviet Republic.

As news reports of the Eastern Front of the Great War spread throughout the Central Powers, panic set in across Germany. The communist horde of Russia was descending upon Berlin, and the independent nations established at the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, nations that were intended to defend Germany from Russian aggression, were falling like dominoes. These defeats would eventually reveal a gaping wound in the German Empire’s government, this wound being the deteriorating relations between Kaiser Wilhelm II and Chancellor Alfred Hugenberg. Disputes over how to address the crisis that was the Eastern Front would only exaggerate this deterioration in relations between the two most powerful men in Germany, and soon enough, this rivalry would finally culminate.


“The chancellor did what!?”

-Paul von Lettow Vorbeck commenting on the Heilungscoup, circa March 1923.

Anti-war demonstration in Berlin, circa August 1923.

Ever since the German Fatherland Party assumed control of Germany, there was consistently a rivalry between the Kaiser and Chancellor Hugenberg. After the French Civil War began, Kaiser Wilhelm II became a supporter of ending the Great War, which immediately put him at odds with Alfred Hugenberg’s aggressive policy of ending communism in France before subjecting the French to a harsh peace treaty. Furthermore, Wilhelm II, while by no means a liberal, did find himself contesting fascism, which he considered far too harsh and dangerous. In other words, Wilhelm sought to establish German hegemony; Hugenberg sought to establish German imperium.

As Alfred Hugenberg assumed more and more control over the German Empire, he and the Kaiser found themselves butting heads with each other more and more often. Hugenberg would expand the influence of the chancellor to a degree that threatened monarchist domination in German governance, especially with Erich Ludendorff’s avid endorsement of the German Fatherland Party. Kaiser Wilhelm II was disturbed by Alfred Hugenberg’s constant utilization of authoritarian force to silence political opponents, with political opponents of the DVP facing constant repression from the police and fascist paramilitary forces.

The initial success of the German Empire against the French Commune had temporarily silenced the rivalry between Kaiser Wilhelm II and Chancellor Hugenberg, with the two reserving their distaste for each other to private critiques and choosing to avoid each other whenever possible. Besides, after the Reichstag called for an election on January 15th, 1923 (a ploy by Hugenberg to further expand the authority of the DVP by getting as many fascists elected as possible when his administration was at peak popularity) and the German Fatherland Party secured a narrow majority of seats, criticism of Alfred Hugenberg would only hurt the Kaiser’s reputation. However, the rapid victories of the Red Army in the February of 1923 would renew the disputes between Wilhelm and Hugenberg, which would lead to the gradual collapse of the stability between the German monarchy and the DVP.

As the Red Napoleon and his subordinates crushed German allies in eastern Europe in less than a month, Kaiser Wilhelm II and likeminded liberals, socialists, and even a few conservatives, blamed the declaration of war on the French Commune for initiating a war against the Third International. Alfred Hugenberg promised that the tides of the Eastern Front would soon turn in favor of the Central Powers once sufficient German reinforcements could arrive in the east, however, Wilhelm and his allies warned that the Eastern Front was becoming a lost cause, one that would cost Germany dearly.

Kaiser Wilhelm II’s discontent would ultimately culminate once the Principality of Belarus capitulated to the Russian Soviet Republic on February 25th, 1923. Wilhelm had obviously always been opposed to the war against the Soviet Republic, but had never taken much action outside of criticism, deciding to instead see if Hugenberg could deliver his promised victory. However, the surrender of Belarus made the Kaiser believe that the Eastern Front had already been lost for many, and came to the realization that action had to be taken immediately. Therefore, on February 27th, 1923, Kaiser Wilhelm II would stand in front of the Berlin Palace and a large crowd to deliver a speech in which he called for the resignation of Chancellor Alfred Hugenberg.

“I implore this nation, in order to ensure our sovereignty and respect of human dignity, to force Chancellor Alfred Hugenberg out of its government and end his reign of terror. Hugenberg and his fascist cronies have brought the German Empire and its allies, after waging over eight years of gruesome warfare in the name of a new and greater Europe, to the brink of a sudden and brutal defeat at the hands of the wrath of Marxist-Leninism. How much further must Leon Trotsky parade west until we realize that this war is only killing everything that Germany has fought for? The Red Army has already defeated Belarus, and Ukraine is on the brink of capitulation, so I ask you what is next? Must Lithuania fall? Must Poland fall? Must Berlin fall?”

-Excerpt from Kaiser Wilhelm II’s “Call for Resignation” speech, circa February 1923.

Kaiser Wilhelm II of the German Empire.

Technically, the German constitution did guarantee the Kaiser the ability to appoint a new chancellor whenever he wished, however, Wilhelm understood that Alfred Hugenberg was incredibly popular, and an immediate removal from office would be met with much resistance, and at worst, a potential coup. Therefore, Kaiser Wilhelm II adopted the policy of gradually wearing down the support of Chancellor Hugenberg and the DVP from within the Reichstag. If popular support for the German Fatherland Party was lost, then resistance against the demands of the Kaiser would inevitably end in defeat for Hugenberg and a potential coup would become suicide.

But Alfred Hugenberg would soon realize what Wilhelm’s plan was. If Hugenberg and the DVP was to stay in power and implement their plans for a fascist German Empire ruling over all of Europe, Kaiser Wilhelm II would have to be removed from power and he would have to be removed from power quickly before Germany turned on the chancellor. But removing a monarch from powerful, let alone a popular absolute monarch with supreme executive authority, would be incredibly difficult, even for someone as influential and powerful as Alfred Hugenberg. But fortunately for Hugenberg, and unfortunately for the world, the chancellor had a solution to his situation.

The solution was Prince August Wilhelm of Prussia.

The fourth eldest son of Kaiser Wilhelm II’s seven children, Prince August had recently stood out within his family due to his avid support of the German Fatherland Party, often appearing at DVP rallies and garnering a personal friendship with Alfred Hugenberg himself upon the assumption of power by the new chancellor. A staunch monarchist himself even if he did not support the monarch that then presided over him, Hugenberg knew very well how the people of Germany would react if the Kaiser were to be overthrown and his rule were to be replaced by a German Fascist Republic. At best, mass riots and rebellion would break out and surely cost Germany any chances of victory in the Great War, and at worse, the German Empire would dissolve into feuding monarchies, revolutionaries, and warlords. Simply put, the German monarchy had to survive the end of Wilhelm’s reign, and Prince August was the key to the monarchy’s survival.

When the Russian Soviet Republic sent the February Ultimatum to Germany, Prince August had visited Chancellor Hugenberg in a fit of rage, where he had blamed the war with the Soviet Republic on his father’s inability to actively pursue the containment of Lenin and suggested that he abdicate from all aristocratic titles as a way to protest Wilhelm. In the end, Alfred Hugenberg advised against this, arguing that a Hohenzollern who was supportive of the DVP could potentially be helpful for future perdicements, but it became apparent to Hugenberg that Prince August was on the side of the DVP and not his father.

Therefore, after Kaiser Wilhelm II’s “Call for Resignation” speech, Chancellor Alfred Hugenberg knew which Hohenzollern he could use as an asset. On February 28th, 1923, Hugenberg and August would privately meet without the knowledge of anyone excluding a handful of DVP elite to hatch a plot that would kick Kaiser Wilhelm off of the German throne and assert total fascist control over Germany. The German Fatherland Party and affiliated paramilitary groups were to lead a vicious propaganda campaign in which Wilhelm II would be depicted as a traitor to German culture and aristocratic traditions and a puppet of leftism. In order to ensure that such a campaign would not come off as anti-monarchist, Prince August would become the face of the movement to force his father to abdicate, while Hugenberg would seek out political and military allies to guarantee the success of any overthrowal.

In the days leading up to the removal of Kaiser Wilhelm II from power, things went well for August and his campaign to paint his father in a negative light. Every single defeat on the Eastern Front, every single socialist riot, and every trade union strike was depicted consequence of an elaborate liberal conspiracy to erode away the authority and strength of the German Empire, a conspiracy that the Kaiser had become a pawn of. Wilhelm II would rarely retaliate against the deterioration of his reputation, for how could he fight the DVP, the party that gripped German society and dictated what went into newspapers? Meanwhile, Chancellor August Hugenberg privately organized meetings with prominent politicians and military officials, who would agree to support the abdication of Kaiser Wilhelm II, including Erich Ludendorff himself.

The spark that ultimately set off the pile of gunpowder within the German government would be the First Battle of Kiev, which was used as a casus belli by the German Fatherland Party to call for the abdication of Kaiser Wilhelm II, who was ordered to cede the throne to Prince August. In an inflamed speech on March 14th, 1923, Prince August declared that Kaiser Wilhelm II and his “liberal masters” had failed to defend Germany and her allies, and demanded the abdication of his father within twenty-four hours. Obviously, Wilhelm refused to abdicate, and would declare that the German Fatherland Party was attempting to stage a coup. After twenty-four hours had passed, the Kaiser’s position had not changed, and Hugenberg altered his cronies to put his plan into effect.

The Heilungscoup (which literally translates to “Salvation Coup”) began when a regiment of German soldiers loyal to the DVP, a regiment led by Prince August called the Vaterland-Korps (VK), moved towards the Berlin Palace, armed with artillery in preparation for a siege. Police officers loyal to the Kaiser caught word of the Heilungscoup, but knew that resisting Goring’s army was suicide, and many officers would even join the Heilungscoup. Military regiments loyal to the Kaiser, however, were a different story. Armed with artillery of their own, soldiers led by Hans von Seeckt would build makeshift barricades on streets surrounding the Berlin Palace and a secondary defense line of barricades on the bridges that led to Museum Island, the small landmass that led to the palace. Within the next few minutes, the armies of August and Seeckt would engage with each other, and the bloodshed of the Heilungscoup began in the streets of Berlin.

Vaterland-Korps soldiers engaging with Loyalists during the Heilungscoup, circa March 1923.

As the heart of Berlin became a battleground for the fate of Germany, Chancellor Alfred Hugenberg, who had called for an emergency assembly of the Reichstag on March 15th, proposed to the representatives of the primarily DVP Reichstag that Prince August Wilhelm be recognized as the kaiser of Germany. This proposal was approved by a majority of MPs, who either aligned ideologically with Alfred Hugenberg and the DVP or knew that going against Hugenberg when his allies were marching towards the Berlin Palace would mean the end of their political careers and possibly their own lives. Those who did vote in opposition of recognizing August as the kaiser (primarily liberals) were remembered, and nearly all of them would succumb to the horrors of the reign of totalitarianism within the subsequent months.

Meanwhile, the Vaterland-Korps and the Loyalists of Kaiser Wilhelm II continued to fight around Museum Island, while the Kaiser nervously watched over the Heilungscoup from within the Berlin Palace. After an hour of combat, August Wilhelm dispatched a handful of regiments to blockade the arrival of Loyalist reinforcements north of Museum Island in order to ensure that August’s invasion from the south would not be deteriorated by the resupplying of the enemy. This plan proved to be a success, and two hours later Loyalist resistance was crumbling and the VK had quickly seized southern bridges leading onto Museum Island.

As the first fascist soldiers arrived on Museum Island, Kaiser Wilhelm II realized that if he were to let his dignity and freedom survive, he would have to immediately evacuate the conquered island and make his way out of Berlin. Therefore, with assistance from Loyalist soldiers, Wilhelm snuck to the less-guarded western side of Museum Island and entered a small boat, which would sail along the Spree to Potsdam, where Wilhelm would start his eventually successful journey to exile in the Netherlands.

After a few more minutes of combat, the Vaterland-Korps defeated the Loyalists and raided the Berlin Palace, only to come to the realization that Kaiser Wilhelm II had fled. This changed plans, for Prince August had hoped that he would be able to force his father to recognize his ascension to the throne. Instead, shortly after the end of the invasion of Museum Island, August Wilhelm would speak in front of a worried crowd at the Reichstag, where he accepted the German government’s recognition of him as the new kaiser, and with DVP authority over Germany nearly uncontested and Kaiser Wilhelm II nowhere to be seen and therefore unable to be recognized as the rightful ruler of the German Empire, the rushed coronation of Kaiser August Wilhelm I went along relatively smoothly on March 23rd, 1923.

The Heilungscoup had succeeded.

Kaiser August Wilhelm I of Germany.

The Heilungscoup sent shockwaves across the world, for fascism suddenly reigned supreme over the German Empire. In a meeting between representatives of the Central Powers in the days after the Heilungscoup, August Wilhelm was recognized as the ruler of Germany by all members of the pact. Benito Mussolini’s Italy was enthusiastic that one of the strongest nations in Europe had become completely fascist, while the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Tsardom of Bulgaria accepted the reign of the German Fatherland Party, knowing that the German Empire’s support was paramount for the accomplishment of their ambitions.

But Alfred Hugenberg and his cronies did not stop their reign of tyranny with the Heilungscoup. Instead, Hugenberg used the overthrowal of the old German government as a way to reform the German constitution to meet the ambitions of the German Fatherland Party. At a constitutional convention in the April of 1923, a document was written, one that reformed the German Empire in a way that made the entire nation revolve around the DVP. Members of the Reichstag would no longer be elected by the people of Germany, but would rather be selected directly by the chancellor’s successor office, called the fuhrer, and the Reichstag served as little more than an assembly of the upper ranks of the German Fatherland Party, the only legal party, whose membership was required for one to be a German citizen.

In order to ensure that Hugenberg would never face yet another rivalry with the German monarchy, the constitutional power of the Kaiser was substantially altered. The fuhrer would still be appointed by the German monarch, however the next fuhrer would have to be chosen from MPs of the Reichstag, and in order to prevent disputes over who the German head of government would be, the fuhrership was a lifetime role. Furthermore, all domestic and foreign policies were to be decided by the DVP, and not by the Kaiser, who lost such powers as the ability to declare war. The German monarchy would still hold the power to appoint government officials, however, said officials had to be approved by the fuhrer. The new constitution was ratified by the DVP-controlled Reichstag on April 11th, 1923, thus bringing an end to the German Empire. In its place, reigned a new ultra-totalitarian fascist dictatorship, named the Deutsches Heilsreich (more commonly known as the German Heilsreich or simply the Heilsreich), a terrifying autocracy that had killed all semblance of democracy within Germany.

Flag of the Deutches Heilsreich.

Evil had finally conquered Germany.

Fall From Grace

“My most loyal and heroic subjects, we do not live in the shadow of our former glory. Instead, we live in the light; the only place our glory still shines.”

-Kaiser Wilhelm II addressing the government of the exiled German Empire, circa April 1923.

Photograph of the exiled Kaiser Wilhelm II and Loyalist officers in the Netherlands, circa March 1923.

The Heilungscoup may have ended Kaiser Wilhelm II’s reign over Germany from Berlin, however, it was far from the end of his days as a monarch. Upon arriving in the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Wilhelm met with fellow exiled Loyalists in Amsterdam and organized a plan to travel to the German colony of Kamerum, whose governor, Karl Ebermaier, was still supportive of Wilhelm. From Amsterdam, Wilhelm II sailed to Duala and met with the leaders of Germany’s African colonies, all of whom had never involved themselves in the chaos of the DVP and therefore remained loyal to the Second Reich. On March 27th, 1923, all four German colonies in Africa recognized Wilhelm as the rightful German emperor, thus establishing a German Government-In-Exile, which eventually became last part of the “German Empire” once the Heilsreich was established in the subsequent April.

The German-Government-In-Exile, which has since been referred to as Loyalist Mittelafrika, recognized the Imperial German constitution of 1871 as the document that formed the basis of its official government, however, without a Germany to control, Mittelafrika was a de facto federation of colonies bound together by the Kaiser, who ruled from Dar es Salaam. Without the Reichstag, Chancellor Max Hoffman held very little power, with his influence reserved to appointing colonial governors if the Kaiser chose not to and being a rubber stamp for decisions reached by the colonies and the Kaiser.

Chancellor Max Hoffman of the German Government-In-Exile.

Due to the recognition of the Heilsreich as the legitimate German government by the Central Powers, the German Empire was kicked out of the alliance that it had more or less created and led. Loyalist Mittelafrika was still de jure at war with the Entente and the Third International, however, due to the neutrality of German colonies in Africa that had existed since the start of the Great War, the German Government-In-Exile did not fight the Entente, and did not dare break this neutrality, with Kaiser Wilhelm II knowing very well that war with the Entente at his empire’s darkest hour would spell certain doom for the shards of the German Empire. Instead, Mittelafrika signed a white peace treaty with the Third International on April 14th, 1923, followed by a similar treaty with the Entente on April 22nd. Some Loyalist officials had actually suggested that the German Empire officially join the Entente in order to combat the Heilsreich and take back Germany from the wrath of fascism, however, bad blood between the Entente and Loyalist high command still persisted, and many anticipated that the French Civil War and Second Glorious Revolution meant that the Entente was living on borrowed time. And so, the German Government-In-Exile exited the world stage, becoming forgotten by a world more concerned with the bloodiest war in human history.

For the time being, the German Empire would stand alone.

As for the Heilsreich, the aftermath of the establishment of the DVP’s total control over Germany was spent consolidating power and ensuring that the reign of fascism over Germany could never be contested from within. On April 23rd, 1923, the Reichstag and Kaiser August Wilhelm I agreed to commence a quick large-scale purge across Germany that would end in the imprisonment and death of hundreds of political opponents and potential adversaries to the German Fatherland Party. Under the leadership of Kurt von Schleicher, the Feldgendarmerie (FG), the military police force that had become the pawn of Hugenberg following the Heilungscoup, would conduct Operation Horsefly on the night of April 23rd, in which the FG swiftly captured and killed numerous dissidents. The FG did so in such a secretive way that guaranteed that the public would not discover the full extent of Operation Horsefly, which later became known as the Knight of the Long Knives.

Gruppenfuhrer-FG Kurt von Schleicher, the leader of the FG in the early years of the Deutches Heilsreich and the orchestrator of the Night of the Long Knives.

On April 24th, 1923, Germans woke up to limited news reports about mysterious deaths in the middle of the night. Of course, all media outlets were controlled by the DVP by this point, and so very few deaths were actually blamed on the FG. For example, the death of Prince Adalbert of Prussia, August Wilhelm’s only sibling who did not escape to Africa with his father, was blamed on an unidentified burglar, an individual who was never identified because he only existed in the false reports of the FG. However, the deaths and imprisonment of socialists and trade unionists were often attributed to the work of Kurt von Schleicher, in order to intimidate anyone remaining who dared to speak out against the DVP and win support from those who supported Hugenberg because he had promised to rid Germany of revolutionary traitors. The FG may have been keen on avoiding affiliating with the deaths of aristocrats and moderates who only passively opposed the tyranny of fascism, but they bragged about imprisoning radicals like Rosa Luxemburg, Karl Liebknecht, and Clara Zetkin, all of whom would die due to harsh prison conditions in the subsequent days.

It was also around this time that the Heilsreich began to enact racial policies supported by fascism since its inception a few years prior. Individuals who were not ethnically German were barred from positions of power within the DVP or any organizations operating on behalf of the government, such as the FG and the military, almost immediately after the formation of the Heilsreich. Ethnic groups specifically targeted in DVP propaganda, such as Jews, the French, and Gypsies, were even worse off, with many of their businesses being seized by ethnic Germans due to intimidation from the DVP. The French were especially targeted due to the war against both the French Third Republic and the French Commune, and by the summer of 1923 Franco-Germans, especially in Elsass-Lothringen, were being forcefully “encouraged” by the German government to leave their homes for ghettos scattered across Germany, often constructed far away from the frontlines of the Great War out of paranoia of sabotage.

For many of these ethnic groups, times were becoming increasingly tough due to discrimination from Hugenberg’s Germany. Many optimistically hoped that the degradation of their standard of living would stop once the Great War would end, or at the very least anticipated that things could not get any worse. Unfortunately, history would soon brutally shatter this shred of optimism.

But for the time being, the world would ignore the racism of the German police state. President Hiram Johnson of the neutral United States of America would condemn the Heilsreich’s treatment of minorities in a speech in the October of 1923 and both the French Commune and the French Third Republic would make Francophobic discrimination in Germany the subject of wartime propaganda, however, otherwise the outside world was more concerned about the centralization of internal German politics around Alfred Hugenberg and the spread of fascism to German allies and puppet regimes. For example, Germany’s puppet states were encouraged to endorse fascism, with the the monarchies of Lithuania, Estonia, and the United Baltic Duchy pledging their loyalty to the Heilsreich, mostly out of necessity to survive in the face of the onslaught of the Red Army.

In the Kingdom of Flanders, loyalty to the Heilsreich was ensured via a local purge akin to the Night of the Long Knives. Under the leadership of General Ludwig von Falkenhausen, the Flemish military would conduct what became known as the Flemish Reign of Terror in the April of 1923, in which the Flemish armed forces would quickly eliminate political dissidents, most importantly leftists within the Frontpartij. Socialists had already been slowly pushed out of the Frontpartij in the aftermath of the establishment of German control over Flanders, however, the Flemish Reign of Terror would complete what Moritz von Bissing had started, and took one step further by eliminating liberal influence within the Frontpartij as well, and by the end of the April of 1923 the Frontpartij had become a strictly right wing organization, and the majority of positions held by purged members were filled by fascists and ultranationalists. In fact, the far-right takeover of the Frontpartij was so successful, that on June 28th, 1923 the young fascist Staf de Clercq would become the organization’s leader.

To the east, even the Ukrainian Republic, a nation that was not even a German puppet state, fell into the claws of reactionism when General Pavlo Skoropadsky, who had grown to be an admirer of the Heilsreich and its relentless campaign to wage a brutal war against communism, turned on the government of Ukraine. After the establishment of the UPSR, the Ukrainian Rada had become increasingly supportive of capitulation, believing that war against the Soviet Republic was a lost cause. Skoropadsky was infuriated by what he saw as the cession of what remained of Ukraine over to communism. Therefore, when an armistice was proposed by the Rada not long after the Heilungscoup, Pavlo Skoropadsky believed that immediate action was required to purge Ukraine of traitors to ensure the survival of Ukrainian independence in the face of the Red Army.

Therefore, General Skoropadsky would correspond with like-minded military commanders to stage a coup on President Mykhailo Hrushevsky, all without the knowledge of the Rada. Within just a few days, Skoropadsky had won over many of Ukraine’s highest ranking military officers, and on March 25th, 1923 Pavlo Skoropadsky would leave the trenches of central Ukraine and arrive in Lviv with an army of hundreds soldiers. Within only a few hours, President Hrushevsky had fled Lviv alongside fellow members of the Ukrainian government, while Skoropadsky declared the end of the Ukrainian Republic following a mostly bloodless coup. In its place would reign the Ukrainian State, a reactionary military junta with Pavlo Skoropadsky as its head of state, called the hetman.

Flag of the Ukrainian State.

Officially, Skoropadsky’s Ukrainian State was not fascist, and technically it did not adhere to all of the features of the Heilsreich and Mussolini’s Italy, however, it was very much an authoritarian and reactionary state that fit right in with the increasingly vile Central Powers. Upon assuming power, the German and Italian governments were quick to recognize Skoropadsky as the legitimate ruler of Ukraine, and the remainder of the Central Powers followed suit. Under the leadership of Hetman Skoropadsky, the Ukrainian military would accelerate its military production as the entire nation was transformed into a machine to power warfare, while military conscription quotas also substantially rose. Pavlo Skoropadsky was committed to never surrendering to the Soviet Republic, and even if the Ukrainian State was to fall to communism, Skoropadsky pledged to never stop fighting for the Ukrainian nation as long as he was alive.

Simply put, the Ukrainian State would not be capitulating anytime soon.

A War of Ideology

“The Great War is a war of ideology, not of glory or ambition. It is a war the likes of the world has never before seen. And it is a war that America, which cares not for revolutionaries nor counterrevolutionaries, will ever involve itself in as long as sane democracy-loving people remain in charge of this nation.”

-US President Nicholas Murray Butler addressing the Crusader Party of America’s advocacy for declaring war on the Third International, circa 1930.

German soldiers in Lithuania, circa April 1923.

Immediately after the Heilungscoup, Alfred Hugenberg’s priorities shifted from has extinct feud with Kaiser Wilhelm II to defending eastern Europe from the Soviet Republic. The Western Front lost Paul von Hindenburg, who had defected to Loyalist Mittelafrika, however, the French Commune’s military was little more than a militia of disgruntled radicalized soldiers, and as long as the Germans had more soldiers and equipment, it was expected that trench warfare would make any Communard offensive impossible. The tactic of simply containing the French Commune whilst focusing the majority of resources on Russia was officially adopted by Hugenberg shortly after the Heilungscoup, with General Walther von Luttwitz commanding the Western Front while Erich Ludendorff led soldiers against the Red Army.

In collaboration with the Lithuanian government, Ludendorff would dig an extensive line of trenches against Leon Trotsky’s battalion, while resources and manpower were substantially allocated to Ukraine. At first, this tactic worked, and Leon Trotsky experienced his first setback at the First Battle of Vawkavysk on April 27th, 1923, where German trench defenses stopped the invading Red Army. However, the Red Napoleon could not be stopped for long. As a war of attrition began, General Trotsky ensured that this slaughter would not last for long, and Soviet air raids would wear down German defenses to the point that the Second Battle of Vawkavysk on May 4th, 1923 was an easy victory for the Red Army.

Erich Ludendorff had ensured that his army would be able to quickly stop the Red Army by digging several lines of trenches for many kilometers. The German high command anticipated that this strategy of trying to slow down the Soviets as much as possible would continue for a few more months until stable supply lines could be completed and new military equipment could arrive. Due to the success of the Soviet Air Force, Hugenberg and Ludendorff were keen on heavily investing in Germany’s own aerial forces, and the German aerial branch of the army, named the Luftsreitkrafte (LK), was split off from its parent organization in the May of 1923 and was put under the command of Herman Goering, a skilled pilot with experience from the Western Front and an avid supporter of the DVP. By the July of 1923, the LK had become a force to be reckoned with, contesting the Soviet Air Force for control of the sky whilst assisting the German army as it fought below.

As the German war industry accelerated in a way that had not been seen since the beginning of the Great War in order to combat the Soviet Republic, new technological innovations would begin to be developed. As airplane rotary engines began to reach the limits of their design, the LK turned to radial engines to improve German aerial defenses. By the fall of 1923, a large portion of the Heilsreich’s airplane force consisted of radial engine planes, which were substantially more energy efficient, therefore allowing for longer flight times as well as an eventually cheaper production cost. As a consequence, the Luftsreitkrafte began to overcome the Soviet Air Force in both fighting capabilities and numbers, and Gruppenfuhrer-LK Goering’s legion of airplanes become famous throughout the Central Powers and feared by nearly every other nation in Europe.

As the Soviet Air Force was obliterated by the LK, Leon Trotsky scrambled to retaliate against the growing capabilities of the Heilsreich. Soviet airplane production would increase, however, Trotsky was far more experienced in commanding ground forces and would have a stronger command over their activities, which meant that he implored Lenin to invest more in ground equipment that could counter the LK instead of starting an arms race with Germany that Russia was bound to lose. As the Luftsreitkrafte advanced, Soviet anti-aircraft guns would simultaneously improve, with heavy machine guns becoming commonplace within the Soviet ranks, and by the February of 1924 machines were beginning to be introduced to the Red Army that could predict the exact location of aircraft and send this data electrically to repeater dials on anti-aircraft guns.

A Soviet anti-aircraft machine gun at the Battle of Oshmyantsy, circa November 1923.

Leon Trotsky, who had become fascinated with tanks during his utilization of them during the invasion of Siberia, also invested heavily in the construction of new Soviet tank models, including substantially faster vehicles and designs with rotating turrets. Upon arriving on the battlefields of Lithuania, these new tanks of the Red Army were substantially superior to anything within the German arsenal, and could even drive into No Man’s Land and withstand a heavy barrage of gunfire. Under the leadership of General Trotsky, the Red Army’s tanks and artillery were on a path towards becoming the amongst the strongest and most advanced weapons of the Great War, rivaled only by the militaristic and technological strength of the German Heilsreich.

The end of 1923 proved one thing to both Russia and Germany; the two powers were more or less evenly matched. Russian forces could shatter German defenses and morale on the ground, but aerial bombardments destroyed Soviet supply lines while the German army could quickly replenish their numbers. German forces could bombard the Red Army from above and amass a large invasion force, but aircraft could only travel so far before being shot down by Soviet artillery and any German offensive in No Man’s Land could be crushed by Russian tanks. In other words, southern Lithuania became a war of attrition, much like what the Western Front had become infamous for since the beginning of the Great War in 1914.

But the Eastern Front was different from that forgotten war fought over some Austrian aristocrat. In the nine years since the beginning of the bloodiest war in human history, technology had advanced to a point that stalemates were bound to cost thousands, if not millions, of lives and would devastate the surrounding land for generations. The Eastern Front was a war of ideology, one where millions of men and women were little more than pawns in game for global domination between the two opposites of the political spectrum. It was this war of ideology that would come to dominate the attention of the planet for another twenty years, as revolutionaries and reactionaries clashed across Europe in the name of the societies that they had envisioned in their ideological manifestos. But for one side to emerge victorious, the stalemate of the east would need to be broken.

And so, along came Poland.

Under the leadership of Prime Minister Jozef Pilsudski, the Kingdom of Poland had arisen from the ashes of the war between the German Kaiserreich and the Russian Empire, becoming a loyal member of the Central Powers, with Polish soldiers fighting alongside Germans in France and alongside Austro-Hungarians in Greece. And once the Russian Soviet Republic declared war on the Central Powers, Polish sovereignty was threatened yet again by the Russians and thus Pilsudski was quick to commit to fighting the Red Army, and Poland had sent soldiers and resources to Belarus and Ukraine well before Germany. However, Jozef Pilsudski, an avid Polish nationalist, had always tried to limit German authority in Poland, even if it was a puppet state of the Reich. For example, once a Polish monarch, Archduke Charles Stephen of Austria, assumed the throne of the Kingdom of Poland on January 2nd, 1919, Prime Minister Pilsudski would attempt to expand the authority of the Council of State, with the Polish democratic government eventually winning over control of Poland’s economy in the November of 1921.

King Charles Stephen I of the Kingdom of Poland.

The Heilungscoup and the consequential establishment of the Deutches Heilsreich would in fact strain relations between Pilsudski and Berlin when the two were already coming at odds every now and then. For years, Jozef Pilsudski had been a socialist (he did not, however, affiliate with Marxism), and was an early critic of fascism and Benito Mussolini. While Pilsudski had remained silent when Alfred Hugenberg initially assumed the chancellorship of the German Empire, believing that Germany’s constitution and liberal groups would keep the DVP in check, he grew anxious when the Vaterland-Korps marched upon the Berlin Palace and turned Hugenberg into the fascist dictator of Germany. Things only got worse when, after the formation of the Heilsreich, the German government would begin to fund the Polish fascist party, called the National Party (SN), an organization led by Roman Dmowski, Jozef Pilsudski’s increasingly powerful rival.

To Pilsudski, it was apparent that the Heilsreich was trying to kick him out of power and install a more like-minded and obedient fascist government. But Poland was surrounded by the Central Powers on all sides, and German soldiers occupied Warsaw. Simply put, any secession from the German sphere of influence would end in the death of the Kingdom of Poland as Jozef Pilsudski knew it. But the increased German presence on the Eastern Front would take a toll on Polish sovereignty, especially with Erich Ludendorff in command of German forces. The supply lines of the Heilsreich would move directly through Poland and Polish industry fueled the German war effort. Pilsudski would always protest the assertion of German influence upon Poland, however, as long as the Kingdom of Poland was a German puppet state, pushing away the influence of Germany would be impossible.

Early in the January of 1924, the Heilsreich would apparently cross a line with Poland. In a private meeting with King Charles Stephen I, Kaiser August Wilhelm I (operating on behalf of the fuhrer) ordered that Poland’s entire armed forces fall under the complete control of Germany, therefore integrating the Polish military into that of the Heilsreich. Charles Stephen reluctantly agreed to the demands of August Wilhelm, knowing that any retaliation would be useless. Thus, on January 7th, 1924, King Charles Stephen I would announce to the Council of State that in exactly seventy-two hours the Polish armed forces would be completely ceded to the Deutches Heilsreich.

Of course, this was despised by the democratic government of Poland, which had been completely unaware of the negotiations between Charles Stephen and August to begin with. Technically, King Charles Stephen I, as the uncontested executive authority of the Polish armed forces, did have the constitutional right to hand over the military of Poland to the Heilsreich, but Jozef Pilsudski would not stand for this transformation of the Kingdom of Poland into a de facto German protectorate. Therefore, in an emergency session of the Council of State on January 8th, Prime Minister Pilsudski called for the abolition of the Polish monarchy and the establishment of the Republic of Poland. Resistance from right-wing groups, such as the SN, who hoped that Polish loyalty to Germany would eventually be rewarded, prevented the declaration of the Republic of Poland from being unanimous, however, a majority of MPs nonetheless voted in favor of the removal of King Charles Stephen I.

The Republic of Poland was born, with Jozef Pilsudski at its helm, was born.

Germany was infuriated by the declaration of a Polish democracy, which not only meant that the deal to cede Poland’s military to the Heilsreich was off, but also meant that, at least in the eyes of the DVP, the claws of liberal democracy had sunk deep into Poland. Therefore, in order to subjugate the Republic of Poland, the Deutches Heilsreich and its puppet states would declare war on Pilsudski’s Republic on January 9th, 1924. This would shatter the strength of German forces on the Eastern Front, who suddenly found themselves cut off from supply lines passing through Poland, thus forcing Erich Ludendorff to relocate to Konigsburg while Leon Trotsky overran southern Lithuania, quickly arriving at the eastern border of the Republic of Poland. Knowing that at least one strong ally would be a necessity for the survival of his frail republic, Jozef Pilsudski would soon meet with representatives of the Soviet Republic in Bialystok on January 14th, 1924, where a Polish-Soviet non-aggression pact was signed that would allow the Red Army to send military forces through Poland. As the German invasion of Poland began, with Roman Dmowski being deemed the prime minister of the exiled Kingdom of Poland, it seemed as though the tides of the Great War had turned against Germany yet again. But near the end of January of 1924, news would arrive from Moscow that would alter the fate of the Great War, and for that matter Europe itself, forever.

On January 21st, 1924, Vladimir Ilyich Lenin had died.

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Map of the World, circa January 1924.
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