More like a looooooooot of artistic freedom. This honestly breaks suspension of disbelief for me.

(Actually I did expect the war to end in one summer. I expected the Germans to be facing the likes of Voroshilov and Kulik, as in OTL.)
Well its a good trick with the narrative that some of the players are in the Fog of war, and I also expected a thorough beating of the Soviets. Having said that, I could see it work.
The purges IOTL had a German role to play and was hard on those officers who had liaised with the German officers pre-1933. That Will not stigmatize the same people ITTL which clearly included Tuckachevski IOTL.
Now ITTL its the NKVD that plays the role of the Soviet officers corps.
 
Well its a good trick with the narrative that some of the players are in the Fog of war, and I also expected a thorough beating of the Soviets. Having said that, I could see it work.
The purges IOTL had a German role to play and was hard on those officers who had liaised with the German officers pre-1933. That Will not stigmatize the same people ITTL which clearly included Tuckachevski IOTL.
Now ITTL its the NKVD that plays the role of the Soviet officers corps.


That would be my thought too. We don't know what has been going on in the Soviet Union, so it's entirely possible that he did something that made Stalin actually like him. Perhaps he was one of the best generals in the Winter war ITTL, or performed very well in the Polish incident.
 
With a POD as early as this story provides, the same stars will be in similar position (natural talent or ability to thrive), but I'm not surprised that a different cast has survived. For all we know, Zhukov could be floundering in a gulag or dead.
 
Part 23, Chapter 246
Chapter Two Hundred Forty-Six


13th October 1941

Berlin

“It’s obvious that right now the majority of the General Staff cares more about covering their backsides than winning the war” General von Wolvogle said “If the events of the last month haven’t proven that then nothing will.”

Wolvogle had come to the newly opened Reichstag building that had replaced the old one to meet with Augustus Lang. The truth was that he found the new building’s opulence off putting but he did appreciate the care that must have gone into making the office used by the Chancellor as intimidating as possible. The Chancellor himself was watching him across the desk with a look of pure skepticism.

“You claim to have special insight into the Soviet General” Lang said.

“There’s nothing special about it” Wolvogle said “It’s just that no one else bothered to read the Goddamned file.”

“And what was your conclusion?”

“That Mikhail Tukhachevsky is a human cockroach always able to scamper out of the way whenever it looks like the foot is about to drop” Wolvogle said “That Stalin has hated him for decades but he’s still in charge of the Russian Army tells you everything you need to know. I might add that he’s sitting pretty at the moment unless Stalin does us a favor by getting jealous and having the bastard shot.”

Lang was perfectly aware that being hated by Stalin was hardly unique within the Soviet Union, surviving for any length of time however was. This Russian General was either too useful to get rid of, knew the system well enough to play it like a maestro, was extremely lucky or some mixture of those things. Tukhachevsky’s actions in Finland had been what had finally driven Finns to the negotiating table. Which explained why the Russian despot had given him leave to implement an effective strategy.

“I can’t imagine we’d be so lucky” Lang said, “Still what you are proposing…”

“Someone needs to go in and clean out the rot” Wolvogle replied “You’ve said publicly that you think I’m insane and the Emperor is well known to hate my guts. Who better to make all the unpopular decisions?”

“You are correct about that” Lang said, “But that’s hardly a reason to give someone like you carte blanche, this will have to go through regular channels.”

“Just don’t take too much time” Wolvogle said “I’d rather not have to salvage the situation with the Russian Army just outside this city.”

“It will never come to that” Lang said.

“Keep telling yourself that, Sir” Wolvogle said “But if no one’s prepared to do what it takes to win that could well be what happens.”

Lang sat there scowling at Wolvogle. Everything that Lang did had to be seen through the prism of politics, General von Wolvogle was the hero of Ussy-sur-Marne and was still extremely popular with the public. At the same time, he had a reputation for gambling with his men’s lives and behaving like a madman in the midst of battle. This put Lang in a difficult position.


Sarney, Poland

Horst was hating every second of this as they staggered back into Poland. Right now, the whole Ukrainian adventure seemed like a huge miscalculation. While they had escaped with minimal loss of life, who knew how this would be playing back home? It would look like they’d gotten their butts kicked. The more immediate reaction was from the Polish soldiers who were around. They were not happy, this probably meant that the plans for Poland would go ahead and all of their families would be affected.

He’d known that this could happen. Hell, even some of the enlisted men had seen it coming. Though now he had a lot of questions to answer, like what had happened to the Oberst.

“I have no idea, Sir” Horst said, “Between the shelling and attacks he disappeared.”

Generalmajor Rommel was giving him the stink eye for that. Horst had been in this sort of situation before over a missing Platoon or Company commander but never over an Oberst. As the Executive Officer Horst had stepped in and taken over, the system had worked in that regard. It was not as if anyone could accuse Horst of letting his ambition get away from him. It would be noted that he’d been acting commander of the Regiment and that would probably be the end of it.


Near Bialystok, Poland

Lenz had gotten a medal and a promotion on the same day. His efforts to defend that battleship on the Black Sea had drawn official notice. He’d been corrected when he’d called it a battleship, it was actually a battlecruiser called the Gneisenau. To him it was just big grey ship with lots of guns, a distinction without difference. It had gotten him mentioned personally in Communiqués to the Reichstag earning him a Merit Cross in Gold. It had been his promotion to Oberlieutenant that had caused him the most trouble. That made him second to the Hauptmann. He had no desire to be the one enforcing the rules which was the lot of the XO. Joachim was enjoying this, he’d gotten Lenz’s old slot. Of course, he would. Lenz thought. Joachim got all the perks and none of the responsibilities.

The move to Poland had come right after that. Autumn in Poland was quite a change from the warmth of the Black Sea. The cold that Lenz had gotten as a result was enough to get him grounded for the entire week allowing Joachim to run up the score on him. Something that annoyed him far more than the cold.
 
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If it comes to light that the OKW is just going through the motions instead of going at it with a will, there will soon be some restructuring of the Command Staff to fill places left empty by 9mm sleeping pills after a glass of schnapps (both as a favour for old Kamaraden). I don't see old school Prussian officers meekly accepting incompetence in their midst.
 
If it comes to light that the OKW is just going through the motions instead of going at it with a will, there will soon be some restructuring of the Command Staff to fill places left empty by 9mm sleeping pills after a glass of schnapps (both as a favour for old Kamaraden). I don't see old school Prussian officers meekly accepting incompetence in their midst.

The campaign, such as it is, hasn't resulted in large casualty figures nor catastrophic battlefield defeats so it's not really incompetence per se. It's rather an adversion to the risks inherent in trying to kick the Soviets' teeth in.

The Soviet Army sems like a large blunt instrument, too large for the Wehrmacht to counter in the long run. I think that General Wolvogle is thinking about infiltration tactics on a large scale with Panzers in the lead, what we'd recognize as Blitzkreig. This is kinda like deep operations that Tukhachevsky came up with in the 30s (it seems as if Stalin didn't shoot him in '38 like he did IOTL.)
 
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I wonder if wolvogles proteges fell out of favor with their mentor. Rommel is head of a panzer, but guderian may also have lost favor?
IOTL the Italians made their doctrine of rapid decision in Ethiopia, but it went out of favor when the real war began.
 
The campaign, such as it is, hasn't resulted in large casualty figures nor ccatastrophic battlefield defeats so it's not really incompetence per se. It's rather an adversion to the risks inherent in trying to kick the Soviets' teeth in.

The Soviet Army sems like a large blunt instrument, too large for the Wehrmacht to counter in the long run. I think that General Wolvogle is thinking about infiltration tactics on a large scale with Panzers in the lead, what we'd recognize as Blitzkreig. This is kinda like deep operations that Tukhachevsky came up with in the 30s (it seems as if Stalin didn't shoot him in '38 like he did IOTL.)


That might depend. What seems to be described is mass human wave attacks, of the sort that only Russia could manage at this time. Even the Soviets can't keep up huge losses forever, especially once the Germans figure a counter strategy
 
That might depend. What seems to be described is mass human wave attacks, of the sort that only Russia could manage at this time. Even the Soviets can't keep up huge losses forever, especially once the Germans figure a counter strategy
:

Lots of machine guns.
 
Both the Germans and Soviets are not fighting the war according to each other plans.

Both are retreating when being attacked and preventing their armies from being encircled and destroyed.

One side or the other is going to come up with a new strategy, tactics, and or weapons that will break everything open
 
That might depend. What seems to be described is mass human wave attacks, of the sort that only Russia could manage at this time. Even the Soviets can't keep up huge losses forever, especially once the Germans figure a counter strategy

Airburst artillery and CAS delivering napalm and cluster bombs; long-range artillery and attack aircraft to attrit them on the approach march; bombers to sever their supply lines. Yeah, and lots of machine guns - maybe Gatling-style guns in 7.92 Mauser.

Edit: Nah, that's just making the human waves more expensive. What's needed is something that's a paradigm shift like encirclement battles led by the Panzers.
 
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CAS delivering napalm and cluster bombs
The napalm was invented by the USA in '42. I think that white phosphorus was used as incendiary before that. As for the cluster bombs, they were invented IOTL around that period, the quasi-famous German butterfly bombs may be among the first of their kind.
 
Airburst artillery and CAS delivering napalm and cluster bombs; long-range artillery and attack aircraft to attrit them on the approach march; bombers to sever their supply lines. Yeah, and lots of machine guns - maybe Gatling-style guns in 7.92 Mauser.

Edit: Nah, that's just making the human waves more expensive. What's needed is something that's a paradigm shift like encirclement battles led by the Panzers.

Certainly, I just think that the Germans were caught by surprise, not at all expecting that human wave tactics. Once they get the right counter going, I expect that it will get extremely bloody very quickly. CAS probably being a counter. I don't think white phosphorous is a great option (makes lots of smoke, but that's not all good) common incendiary will probably do the joib nicely
 
Part 23, Chapter 247
Chapter Two Hundred Forty-Seven


1st November 1941

Near Kowel, Poland

“I’d like to get my hands on one of those bastards” Jost muttered as they heard the shrill sound of rockets getting launched.

Hans found that he just didn’t have the energy to respond to that. They had been getting pushed steadily back for the last couple weeks. They would hold on to a particular spot only to get ordered out because some other place had been overrun. It was growing tiresome. Mercifully the rockets overshot and landed somewhere behind them. Hans found that he didn’t need to say anything, by now everyone knew what was going to happen. Rockets or artillery followed by infantry and if they were really unlucky… Hans heard the clanking of a Russian tank’s tracks.

He peeked over the lip of his hole and saw about what he was expecting, what looked like a pyramid of steel rolling right at him. Nothing he hadn’t seen before. As he watched the tank was hit one of the Panzerfausts, the result was actually a bit disappointing. A small explosion, a shower of sparks and the tank ground to a halt. That was when a second tank came around from behind the first, there was always another tank.

The perfect metaphor for the last few weeks, right there. Hans thought to himself as he took aim with his rifle. Even if the second tank got knocked out there would still be infantry to deal with.



Havana, Cuba

In spy thrillers, things take place in back alleys and dark seedy establishments. This couldn’t be further from that. Schultz was seated on a sundrenched balcony overlooking the ocean. A glass of something sickly sweet and rum based in front of him.

“I’m sure that you understand the concept of don’t get mad, get even” Lansky said.

Schultz understood that perfectly, disgruntled employees had been his bread and butter for years. The man he was meeting with was the Consiglieri of an American Mafia Boss who’d recently been thrown in prison. As far he was concerned Charles Luciano had ended up exactly where he belonged. The question here was just what Lansky wanted.

“We’ve both come a long way” Schultz said, “If all you want is payback for your Boss there are better ways of going about it.”

Lansky just shook his head “It’s not about simple payback” He said, “We want certain people to really suffer. We could have them disgraced or even thrown in prison themselves easily enough but that doesn’t even begin to balance the scales. It would serve our interests if they found themselves staring at the ashes of their lives, their place in history forever tainted.”

“And you expect me and those I represent to be the ones who carry out your version of retribution?” Schultz asked, “You are aware of what your actions would constitute?”

“Spare me that drivel” Lansky said “You think I’d come here unless I had considered all the angles? You got people in New York, Chicago, even California. I even think you’re about to fink I’ll turn all your crews in. That’d make me look like quite the patriot.”

Schultz sat there staring at Lansky, he had information, the coin of the realm in Schultz’s world. He’d also made clear that he could burn a good portion of Schultz’s operation, setting it back by years.

“What do you get out of this, personally?” Schultz asked.

“Aside from the satisfaction, not a whole lot” Lansky said “That’s where you come in. The people you work for could set me and my family up nice if it came down to it.”

“I doubt that they’d want a man like you around” Schultz said.

“I’m not talking about your country, per say” Lansky said, “I’d say South America but the governments down there have a way of changing hands and people get caught in the political bullshit. The old country on the other hand could serve us both well.”

Schultz knew where Lansky was originally from. The thought that he might want to return there wasn’t something that Schulz had considered. Lansky could live like a king there, easily enough. But there was one problem with that.

“You do understand that there’s a war going on?” Schultz asked.

“Wars don’t last forever” Lansky said “Eventually, either one side or the other loses. Or more likely, they decide that there’s more profit in screwing their own people and you can’t do that if they’re dead.”

“Governments don’t function like your organization” Schultz said.

Lansky didn’t laugh at that but it was clear that he didn’t believe that for a second.

“Whatever you say” Lansky said as he directed his attention to something in the pocket of the linen suit he was wearing. He removed photograph from an envelope. “This is just a taste” He said as he made a point of not handing it to Schultz.

Schultz saw what it was, extremely valuable, but only if it were real.

“That’s worthless unless it can be authenticated” Schultz said “Even then it might be a prank, a costume party or something else entirely and that’s if it's real. Some of my people are wizards in the darkroom and can produce pictures that you’d swear are real when they are not.”

“Oh no, this is very real” Lansky said “And there are plenty more where this came from. We’ve been blackmailing this particular crumb for years and he’s failed to keep up his end of the bargain, so…”

So, indeed, Schultz thought. But was this current offer another one of those bargains?
 
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Ah, yes: Meyer Lansky. How important is he in this timeline? In OTL, he and Lucky Lucianno reformed the mob, with implications to this day. (Important, to the point that, in my time travel timeline that's on hiatus, those two are the only ones slated for a premature demise.) Hoover meeting a bad end doesn't seem like a bad thing to me. I do wonder why Lansky would turn the pics over to the Germans instead of just doing whatever other plans he'd had. Money and a return to Italy, I'd guess. Of course, if it becomes apparent that the mob is dealing with a foreign government, Hoover's replacement will clean them up...

Lansky doesn't realize quite how deep the waters he's swimming in are. Schultz can easily liquidate him and his gang anywhere they might go, and his teams would make a mob hit man either run in terror or turn green with envy.

Regarding the post about ways to break the attrition war, I would consider Gatling Guns unlikely, as well as unnecessary. Aircraft aren't fast enough yet to necessitate them, and conventional machine guns can mow down infantry well enough. A weapon that doesn't need power is always better in the field.

Also, did Germany even have any of the old style Gatling Guns?
 
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