Chapter 691: The Albanian Civil War
Chapter 691: The Albanian Civil War

What was known as the Albanian Civil War was a conflict inside the Italian Kingdom/ Roman Empire Protectorate/ Puppet State of Albania, where Communist and Nationalist groups had taken up arms against the Italian, as well as later the Germans and the Austrian-Hungarians. At first independent groups supplied by Great Britain and the Soviet Union, these guerrilla groups soon united and were quickly supplied by Austria in secret as well that sought to limit, or outright oust Italian Influence on the Balkan Peninsula. Because of the Conflict, Albania became one of the most devastated countries in Europe during the Second Great War. Around 80,000 houses would be destroyed and roughly 12% of the Albanian population would become homeless. Over 32,000 Albanians would be killed, 14,800 wounded and around 64,500 imprisoned or deported. When Germany regained territory and Austria-Hungary moved to annex Czechoslovakia, Italy saw itself becoming a second-rate member of the Axis Central Powers. As Mussolini had not been informed about these moves, the Italian dictator decided in early 1939 to proceed with his own annexation of Albania. Italy's King Victor Emmanuel III criticized the plan to take Albania as an unnecessary risk. Rome, however, delivered Tiranë an ultimatum on March 25, 1939, demanding that it accede to Italy's occupation of Albania. King Zog refused to accept money in exchange for countenancing a full Italian takeover and colonization of Albania, and on April 7, 1939, Mussolini's troops, led by General Alfredo Guzzoni, invaded Albania/ attacking all Albanian ports simultaneously. There were 65 units in Saranda, 40 at Vlorë, 38 in Durrës, 28 at Shëngjin and 8 more at Bishti i Pallës. The original Italian plans for the invasion called for up to 50,000 men supported by 137 naval units and 400 airplanes. Ultimately the invasion force grew to 100,000 men supported by 600 airplanes. By 1:30 pm on the first day, all Albanian ports were in Italian hands. Unwilling to become an Italian puppet, King Zog, his wife, Queen Geraldine Apponyi, and their infant son Skander fled to Greece and eventually to London. On April 12, the Albanian parliament voted to unite the country with Italy. On April 12, the Albanian parliament voted to depose Zog and unite the nation with Italy "in personal union" by offering the Albanian crown to Victor Emmanuel III and the Italians set up a fascist government under Shefqet Verlaci and soon absorbed Albania's military and diplomatic service into Italy's.

On April 15, 1939, Albania withdrew from the League of Nations, from which Italy had resigned in 1937. On June 3, 1939, the Albanian foreign ministry was merged into the Italian foreign ministry. The Albanian military was placed under Italian command and formally merged into the Italian Army in 1940. Additionally, the Italian Blackshirts formed four legions of Albanian Militia, initially recruited from Italian colonists living in Albania, but later also from ethnic Albanians. Upon invading, Galeazzo Ciano hoped to reinforce an impression of benevolence with a number of initial gestures aimed more at public relations than at addressing any of Albania's profound social and economic problems. One of Ciano's first moves was to distribute food and clothing in some of the poor areas and to release political prisoners. He personally distributed 190,000 gold francs to the needy in Tirana, Shkodra, Vlora, Gjirokastra, Saranda, Korça and Kukes. Because the money was given to the poor, bypassing the usual bureaucracy, it did some good. The Italians also contributed greatly to infrastructure, agriculture, and chrome and hydrocarbon exploration in which Albania was rich. The Italians hoped that extensive investment in Albania would bring both economic and political benefits. Despite a weak domestic economy, Mussolini guaranteed the Albanians the sum of 22 million pounds over five years for economic development, considerably more than the 8.2 million Rome had spent since the early 1920s. Initial reports of the Italian activity were quite favorable. Ruth Mitchell commented at the end of April 1939, "What a great improvement there is in the condition of the people already. The whole atmosphere had become brisker and more enterprising; now at least there is hope." Even the German minister Eberhard von Pannwitz, who was perpetually critical of the Italians, commented favorably on the Italian tempo. The new construction projects brought in large amounts of capital and employed many Albanians. The government began letting Italians take technical positions in Albania's civil service, and also began allowing Italian settlers to enter Albania. This largely affected the Albanians' attitude towards the Italian invaders and the locals greeted them with more respect and liking. In an effort to win Albanian support for Italian rule, Ciano and the Fascist regime encouraged Albanian irredentism in the directions of Kosovo and Chameria. Despite Jacomoni's assurances of Albanian support in view of the promised "liberation" of Chameria, Albanian enthusiasm for the war was distinctly lacking. The few Albanian units raised to fight during the developments of the Greco-Italian War (1940–1941) alongside the Italian Army mostly either deserted or fled in droves. Albanian agents recruited before the war, are reported to have operated behind Greek lines and engaged in acts of sabotage but these were few in number. Support for the Greeks, although of limited nature, came primarily from the local Greek populations who warmly welcomed the arrival of the Greek forces in the southern districts.

Faced with an agrarian and mostly Mohammedan society monitored by King Zog's security police, Albania's Communist movement attracted few adherents in the interwar period. In fact, the country had no fully-fledged Communist Party before the First Great War. After Fan Noli fled in 1924 to Italy and later the United States, several of his leftist protégés migrated to Moscow, where they affiliated themselves with the Balkan Confederation of Communist Parties and through it the Communist International (Comintern), the Soviet-sponsored association of international communist parties. In 1930, the Comintern dispatched Ali Kelmendi to Albania to organize communist cells. However, Albania had no working class on which the communists could rely for support, and Marxism appealed to only a minute number of quarrelsome, Western-educated, mostly Tosk intellectuals and to landless peasants, miners, and other persons discontented with Albania's obsolete social and economic structures. Paris became the Albanian communists' hub until German and Fascist French deportations depleted their ranks after the fall of France in 1940. Enver Hoxha and a veteran of the Spanish Civil War, Mehmet Shehu, eventually rose to become the most powerful figures in Albania for decades after the war. The dominant figure in modern Albanian history, Enver Hoxha rose from obscurity to lead his people for a longer time than any other ruler. Shehu, also a Tosk, studied at Tirana's American Vocational School. He went on to a military college in Naples but was expelled for left-wing political activity. In Spain Shehu fought in the Garibaldi International Brigade and became a commander of one of the brigade's battalions. After the Spanish conflict was over, he was captured and interned in France. He returned to Albania in 1942 and soon became a prominent figure. During the conflict. he won a reputation for his commanding abilities with the partisans. Mehmet Shehu was a short, weiry, dark swallow-faced man of about thirty who seldom smiled except at other people's misfortunes. He spoke good English, was very capable and had far more military knowledge than most other Albanians. He had a reputation for bravery, courage, ruthlessness, and cruelty, he had boasted that he personally cut the throats of seventy Italian carabineri who had been taken prisoner. I got along with him at first, for as soldiers we had something in common; but he did little to conceal his dislike for all things British, and my relations with him deteriorated. After the invasion of Albania by Italy in April 1939, 100,000 Italian soldiers and 11,000 Italian colonists settled in the country. Initially the Albanian Fascist Party received support from the population, mainly because of the unification of Kosovo and other Albanian populated territories with Albania proper after the conquest of Yugoslavia and Greece by the Axis Central Powers in 1941. Benito Mussolini boasted in May 1941 to a group of Albanian fascists that he had achieved the Greater Albania long wanted by the Tirana nationalists. The Albanian Fascist Party of Tefik Mborja had strong support in the country population after the Albania annexation of Kosovo. Several groups led by Baba Faja Martaneshi, former gendarmerie officer Gani bej Kryeziu, a communist Mustafa Gjinishi, and a rightist politician Muharrem Bajraktari. An attempt to unite those groups in one organization was undertaken by Major Abaz Kupi, by now a democratic politician, who created an underground organization called the Unity Front. This front, which increased in numbers within several months, was crushed in April 1941 after the defeat of Yugoslavia and Greece. Some of its members passed over to the collaborationist camp, some were arrested, and some others fled to the mountains. The warfare ceased for a while.

In November 1941, the small Albanian Communist groups established an Albanian Communist Party in Tirana of 130 members under the leadership of Hoxha and an eleven-man Central Committee. The party at first had little mass appeal, and even its youth organization netted few recruits. The resistance in Albania became active after the defeats of the Italian forces in the war with Greece, which started on 28 October 1940. Originally the slogan of building the "Greater Albania", into which the Italians promised to incorporate a substantial part of Greek Epirus (Cameria), allowed collaborationist authorities to mobilize several thousand volunteers for the army (besides regular troops). The collapse of the Italian offensive in Greece caused a crisis among the regular troops, who refused to take part in further fights, as well as in volunteer units, which dispersed; some soldiers made for the mountains. Eventually, the number of combat groups and partisan detachments, reinforced by deserters from the army, had grown to dozens, with over 3,000 men. In November in Lezha, a town near the port of Shengjin on Adriatic coast, mutinous soldiers who refused further service in Italian units fought a battle with an Italian punitive expedition, killing 19 and badly wounding 30 Italians, before retreating to the mountains. In the same month a partisan detachment laid an ambush for an Italian transport column en route to Gjirokastra. Several Italians were killed. On 17 May 1941 in Tirana a young man called Vasil Laçi attempted to assassinate king Victor Emmanuel III by shooting at him. However he failed and was shortly after executed. In mid-1942, however, the Party called on young people to fight for the liberation of their country from Italy. The propaganda increased the number of new recruits by many young people eager for freedom. In September 1942, the party organized a popular front organization, the National Liberation Movement (NLM), from a number of resistance groups, including several that were strongly anti-Communist. During the war, the NLM's Communist-dominated partisans, in the form of the National Liberation Army, ignored warnings from the Italian occupiers that there would be reprisals for guerrilla attacks. Partisan leaders, on the contrary, counted on using the desire for revenge such reprisals would elicit to win recruits.

On 17–22 February 1943 in the village of Labinot, the first nationwide conference of ACP took place. The estimation of the political and military situation in the country pointed to the need to create a homogeneous national liberation army. A decision concerning warfare tactics also was taken; it recommended that commanders of units conduct actions with bigger forces. On 17 May, twelve partisan detachments under the homogeneous command carried out an attack on the Italian garrison in Leskoviku, which protected an important road junction. Partisans encircled the town in a tight ring and undertook the offensive. Over 1,000 Italians held the town. The battle lasted three days. The commander of the garrison had demanded air support, but before the support arrived, partisans seized the town. The Italians lost several hundred soldiers and considerable quantities of weapons and equipment. At the end of June the Italians started a punitive expedition against partisans in the region of Mallakastra and Tepelena. Two thousand partisans took up defensive positions on mountain passes. In the first clash the Italians were forced back, but they renewed the action on 14 July with tanks, artillery and aircraft. After four days of fighting, the partisans had suffered heavy losses and retreated to higher parts of the mountains. In general from May to July the Italians lost thousands and many were wounded. After March 1943, the NLM formed its first and second regular battalions, which subsequently became brigades, to operate along with existing smaller and irregular units. Resistance to the occupation grew rapidly as signs of Italian weakness became apparent. At the end of 1942, guerrilla forces numbered no more than 8,000 to 10,000. By the summer of 1943, when the Italian effort collapsed, almost all of the mountainous interior was controlled by resistance units. The NLM formally established the National Liberation Army (NLA) in July 1943 with Spiro Moisiu as its military chief and Enver Hoxha as its political officer. It had 20,000 regular soldiers and guerrillas in the field by that time. However, the NLA's military activities in 1943 were directed as much against the party's domestic political opponents, including prewar liberal, nationalist, and monarchist parties, as against the occupation forces.

A nationalist resistance to the Italian occupiers emerged in October 1942. Ali Këlcyra and Mit’hat Frashëri formed the Western-oriented and anti-communist Balli Kombëtar (National Front). This movement recruited supporters from both the large landowners and peasantry. They supported the creation of Greater Albania by Italians and called for the creation of a republic and the introduction of economic and social reforms, opposing King Zog's return. Their leaders acted conservatively, however, fearing that the occupiers would carry out reprisals against them or confiscate the landowners' estates. The nationalistic Gheg chieftains and the Tosk landowners often came to terms with the Italians, and later the Germans, to prevent the loss of their wealth and power. The Balli Kombëtar, which had fought against the Italians, were threatened by the superior forces of the LNC and the Yugoslav Partisans, who were backed by the Allies. The Balli Kombëtar were also supported by the Austrian-Hungarians as a anti-Communist force and soon they ended all support for the anti-Italian Communists alltogether. Among prominent Balli Kombëtar commanders were Safet Butka and Hysni Lepenica. Butka had been interned in Italy for two years until he was released in August 1942 and allowed to return to Albania. He then took to the mountains and became an outstanding leader of the Balli Kombëtar movement in the Korçë area.[4] The nucleus of his guerrilla group was composed of 70 seasoned and highly experienced fighters which in case of emergency could become a thousand men strong.[4] The Butka group had been giving valuable assistance to the fighters at Vlorë and had recovered from the military depots in the village of Dardhe, Suli, Graçan, Progri, Pleshishti, and Verbinj all the agricultural production (corn, tobacco, wool, etc.) which the Italians had requisitioned and restored to its owners. His forces attacked Italians on Floq in January 1943, Vithkuq in March 1943.

The fighting that took place with general commander Hysni Lepenica during August 1942 in Dukat, Mavrovo, Vadicë, Drashovicë and Llakatund with the help of Allied aviation resulted in victory. After Italian capitulation, Communists and Ballists sought the surrender of all remaining Italian forces in peace. However Hysni Lepenica instructed by the Central Committee of the National Front, went to Gërhot where the Italian division "Ferrara" was located to take their weapons as agreed with the division general, but after Tilman's intervention the division general attacked Lepenica's group. At the battle of Gjorm that resulted in a decisive victory for the Albanians and the death of Italian Colonel Clementi, Lepenica committed suicide when he heard that clashes between the Communists and Ballists had started. Fearing reprisals from larger forces, the Balli Kombëtar made a deal with the Germans and formed a "neutral government" in Tirana which it continued its war with the LNC and the Yugoslav Partisans. The Balli Kombëtar were also active in Kosovo and Macedonia. Their forces were mainly centered in Kosovska Mitrovica, Drenica, and Tetovo. However it was noted that the Balli Kombëtar in these regions were more aggressive than the Ballists of Albania. The Austrian-Hungarians even tried to use Serb and Chetnik forces to oppose Communist and Albanian guerrillas by turning them against one another.

British agents working in Albania during the war fed the Albanian resistance fighters with false information that the Allies were planning a major invasion of the Balkans and urged the disparate Albanian groups to unite their efforts. In August 1943, the Allies convinced communist and Balli Kombëtar leaders to sign the Mukje Agreement that would coordinate their guerrilla operations. The two groups eventually ended all collaboration, however, over a disagreement on the postwar status of Kosovo. The communists supported returning the region to Yugoslavia after the war with the hope that Tito would cede Kosovo back to Albania peacefully, while the nationalist Balli Kombëtar advocated keeping the province. The Mukje Agreement was a treaty signed on August 2, 1943 in the Albanian village of Mukje between the nationalist Balli Kombëtar and the communist National Liberation Movement. The two forces would work together in fighting off Italy's control over Albania. However, A dispute arose concerning the status of Kosovo. Whereas the Balli Kombetar proposed to fight for the integration of Kosovo into Albania, the Communist representatives objected fiercely. The Balli Kombetar labelled the partisans as traitors of Albania and often called them "Tito's dogs" while the partisans accused the Balli Kombetar of collaborating with the Axis Central Powers, thus igniting a war between the two that would last for one year. In anticipation of such invasion, the Axis Central Powers drew up a series of military plans for action against guerrilla forces in the Balkans. German and Austian-Hungarian forces were stationed to assist Italians in Albanian airports and ports, ostensibly to protect Italian Albania from the possibility of an Allied invasion. By mid-August there were some six thousand German troops and eight thousend Austrian-Hungarian ones in Albania. The Austrians planned to construct an independent neutral Albania controlled by a government friendly to Austria-Hungary. After the Mukje Agreement was broken by the Albanian Partisans, war broke out between the Albanian Partisans, who were backed by parts of the Yugoslav Partisans, who in turn were backed by the Allies. Meanwhile the Balli Kombëtar formed a new pro-Axis Central Powers government of Albania that would govern the country mostly themselves. While some hesitated, Kosovo Albanian leaders, however, realizing that a Axis Central Powers defeat would mean a return to Yugoslav rule, were more willing to cooperate. On 14 September 1943, an Albanian government was then set up under Cafo Beg Ulqini, Ibrahim Biçaku of Elbasan, Bedri Pejani and Xhafer Deva of Kosovo. The national assembly, composed of 243 members, began to function on 16 October 1943, electing a four-member High Regency Council (Këshilli i Lartë i Regjencës) to govern the country. The new government, which promised to remain neutral in the war, succeeded in restoring a good deal of stability. The administration and justice systems functioned once again, and Albanian schools were reopened throughout northern and central Albania. Steps were also taken to implement a land reform. After the neutral government was formed, Ballist forces in collaboration with Axis Central Powers fought the Communists extensively. Balli Kombëtar also captured Struga in Macedonia after defeating the partisan garrison. In Kosovo and western Macedonia, when it was a part of the independent state of Albania, the Axis Central Power and Ballist forces had occasional skirmishes with Yugoslav partisans. Fiqri Dine, Xhem Hasa and Hysni Dema as well as three Axis Central Powers leaders directed military campaigns against the Albanian and Yugoslav partisans.

The communist and neutral partisans had regrouped and allied to gain control of parts of southern Albania in 1944. However, Austria-Hungary had ended all aid to other groups beside the Balli Kombëtar forces, Soviet supplies were no longer incoming because of the Red Armies own problematic situation and even the British and other Allies no longer could reach the Albanian guerrilla fighters. The numbers of death and wounded Albanian fighters and civilians were massive for a country, officially not touched by the war for very long and no reliable statistic of Albania's overall losses ever existed. Beside German, Austrian, Hungarian, and Albanian forces, other ethnic soldiers were recruited and send to fight in Albania, including Czech, Slovakian, Slovenian, Romanians, Bulgarians, yes even a few Spanish, Armenians and Turkmen. Over the time of the Second Great War the Italian/ Roman influence in Albania decreased, giving way for increasing German and Austrian-Hungarian influence as the new main Axis Central Powers forces in the region instead. Despite this economic ties with Italy/ Rome remained strong and the Mohammedan society, while having close ties to the Bosniaks in Austria-Hungary opposed Austrian rule and had even closer ties to the Second Ottoman Empire.
Chapter 692: Seishin-ron the Western Expansion
Chapter 692: Seishin-ron the Western Expansion

The growing Japanese and Co-Prosperity Sphere involvement in the Chinese Civil War as a major Front of the Second Great War had combined with the Idea of the Japanese Empire as a in all directions expanding Sun, lead to the thought of Seishin-ron, or the Western Expansion Doctrine/ Plan and Western Road into China and later Mainland Asia. The more the Japanese Empire and the Co-Prosperity Sphere interacted in the Chinese Civil War, the more they realized they needed the support and loyalty of local warlords and collaborators. To do so the Japanese focused on local ethnic, religious groups, cliques and factions, they could rally behind their Coprospist, anti-western, anti-colonial banners. These groups could be used and guided by the Japanese to split up the former massive Chinese Empire, similar to the British Empire and partly even the Soviet Union or the United States of America. This ideology was supported by the Sakurakai (Sakura Tree Society and Cherry Blossom Society), named after the sakura trees a enduring metaphor for ephemeral nature of life. It was lead by a group of young Imperial Japanese Army officers with the goal of reorganizing the Imperial Japanese State along totalitarian, militarist lines. They motivated Japanese and Co-Prosperity Sphere soldiers and people to promote nationalism and militarism in the population. They used propaganda to inspire "Japanese spirit", as in the "Song of Young Japan", exulting in "warriors" who were "ready like the myriad cherry blossoms to scatter". One famous example was Akiko Yosano's poetry from 1932 that urged Japanese and later Co-Prosperity Sphere soldiers to endure suffering and compared the dead soldiers to cherry blossoms. Arguments about ending Banzai Charges and retreating from badly defensive positions were dismissed by them, arguing that if these soldiers failed the homelands were exposed to serious danger if they did so. Instead these soldiers should be encouraged to "bloom as flowers of death". This part of the Coprospist Ideology lead to some mass charges and regrettable losses in the early months and years of the Pacific War/ Asian War during the Second Great War.

Some forces who refused to surrender even send the last words "Sakura, Sakura", cherry blossoms as their farewell to Tokio. Later Japanese pilots would paint them on the sides of their planes before embarking on a suicide mission, or even take branches of the trees with them on their missions. A cherry blossom painted on the side of the bomber symbolized the intensity and ephemerality of life; in this way, the aesthetic association was altered such that falling cherry petals came to represent the sacrifice of youth in suicide missions to honor the emperor. The later strategy, tactic and units used for Kamikaze attacks were therefore called Yamazakura, wild cherry blossoms. The government even encouraged the people to believe that the souls of downed warriors were reincarnated in the blossoms. This ideological-spiritual connection was also represented in the Seishin-ron Doctrine that was also seen as a Shinto-Buddhist revival of China by Japan, similar to how China and Korea once had influenced and blossomed Japan from the mainland before. Now that Japan was the leading cultural and industrial Asian nation, the only one that had modernized, industrialized and managed to survive foreign rule and imperialism. Therefore Japan was destined to guide and lead the rest of Asia's nations into independence (from European and American rule, not their own) and be a fatherly figure for them. In the same way Japan had once been brought to it's greatest blossom thanks to Chinese and Korean influence, Asia should now blossom under the Japanese Leadership. The Japanese even celebrated their victory over western Imperialism and Colonialism when the last of the concession cities were given back to their Chinese puppets/ vassals, the unequal treaties were defeated and the century of humiliation for Asia finally ended. Those opposing this “independence” under the Co-Porsperity Sphere and the growing Japanese economic and political influence into the former Chiense Empire and Chinese Republic, were branded as race traitors (Manchujian, Yanjian, Hanhian, Taijian and others) and prohibited from any major government or influential position, often being outcast by the new state and societies forming in the Co-Prosperity Sphere entirely. Hokushin-ron, Seishin-ron and Nanshin-ron would after the Second Great War inspire the Japanese economic and military expansion and dominance over the East Pacific Coasts, known as Tōkai-ron the Eastern Expansion Doctrine, Eastern Plan or Eastern Road, named after the Eastern Ocean (the Pacific Ocean or later Japanese Ocean).
Chapter 693: The Sea Zeppelin
Chapter 693: The Sea Zeppelin

With skills and luck the Graf Zeppelin had escaped southwards after the Husarnstück of Scapa Flow/ the assault on Scapa Flow to Cádiz in allied Spain. From there the German Carrier under Generaladmiral Hermann Boehm participated in raids against British/ Allied convoys from and to the African Theatre or South American regions. After the loss of Gibraltar, the British Fleet had lost the ability to cover convoys near Gibraltar with their fleet and air forces. The German used this for the so called hunting season, when land based German and Spanish naval bombers, submarines and even regular naval ships raided and sunk dozens of Allied convoy ships and naval escorts in the area. By doing so they were supported by the Axis Central Powers airships, airship carriers and the naval carrier Graf Zeppelin supported the operation. That was at least until the Allies (mainly the Americans and British with help of Free French and Commonwealth forces) during Operation Torch managed to secure the Canary Islands and land on the Moroccan Coast. Now with new air and naval bases in the region the Allies were back with 350 warships and over 500 transport ships that had partaken in their invasion offensive. While some in the Navy called for using the Graf Zeppelin against this massive Allied Armada, German Emperor Wilhelm and other Admirals were horrified by the idea that they could lose their prestigious first German carrier to Allied naval bombers or superior ship numbers. Because of that and the carriers previous loss of 4 of it's 12 fighters and 11 of it's 30 dive bombers, the German Naval Command ordered the Graf Zeppelin to be retreated back into the more secure Mediterranean Sea/ Mare Nostrum, were it headed for occupied Malta, participating in a Italian Naval Parade along the capital Valletta to show of Axis Central Powers strength.

From there the Graf Zeppelin headed east to resupply some of the Axis Central Powers bases in Crete, Rhodes and Cypres, before partaking in it's newest operation; bombing the eastern Mediterranean coasts still under Allied control. The main targets of bombings from the Graf Zeppelin in the area were Alexandria, Haifa, Tel-Aviv, Gaza, Port Said, the Suez Channel and even Cairo, as well as railroad or Egyptian oil fields in the region. However each of this operations was risky, not only because of the limited numbers of fighters and bombers still carried. Therefore the Axis Central Powers, mainly the Germans supplied them with additional fighters and bombers from Tobruk, Cyprus and Tripoli during the Operation. When Allied land-based fighters and bombers interfered in these raids, Generaladmiral Hermann Boehm was forced to retread back northwards, where Axis Central Powers island based fighters could better cover the airspace around his prestigious first German carrier. Generaladmiral Boehm even feared the loss of his carrier and with it his career, therefore requesting strong support by German, Ottoman and Italian forces in the region. Originally it had even be planned to use the Graf Zeppelin in the Black Sea against the Soviet Union, but the German-Austrian-Hungarian-Ukrainian-Ottoman offensive in the Caucasian campaign had made this plans obsolete very quickly. Still the idea of not using the Graf Zeppelin in the Second Great War was outrageous to the German Naval Command, the German Emperor and the German Public as well. Therefore future operations in the Eastern Mediterranean were planned by the Imperial German Navy, so that the High Seas Fleet could gain more prestigious victory during the Second Great War.
Chapter 694: Yankoku Shensi Offensive
Chapter 694: Yankoku Shensi Offensive

The so called Yankoku Shensi Offensive began with roughly 240,000 soldiers of the 1st Imperial Yankokuo Army, also known as the Western Border Army, who had prepared the operation for months. They were commanded by Zhang Zizhong (simplified Chinese: 张自忠; traditional Chinese: 張自忠; pinyin: Zhāng Zìzhōng; Wade–Giles: Chang Tzu-chung; born August 11, 1891) one of the highest-ranked officers and army group commanders inside the Co-Prosperity Sphere and one of the most valiant and respectable Chinese generals by the Imperial Japanese Army and his United Chinese Front Opponents during the Chinese Civil War and the overall Second Great War. Sino-Japanese War. Roads would be named after him all over Yankoku after his death in this Offensive. His northern Front would be lead by Fu Zuoyi (simplified Chinese: 傅作义; traditional Chinese: 傅作義; pinyin: Fù Zuòyì; Wade–Giles: Fu Tso-i) (born June 2, 1895), a Chinese military leader, who began his military career in the service of Yan Xishan, and he was widely praised for his operations in Suiyuan and the north and west of Yankoku. He would give up parts of the north of Yankokuo around Ch'ing-shui-ho to the Mengjiang Khanate forces after a new border agreement that defined the Great Wall as the border between the Mengjiang Khanate and the Yankoku Empire. That was also the reason why supporting Mengjiang Forces would not push further southwards in pursuit against the Communist once they had reached the Great Wall in the first stage of the Offensive. Therefore they stopped before Yü-lin, but captured Ching-pien. In the south Sun Lianzhong (Chinese: 孫連仲; Wade–Giles: Sun Lien-chung; born 1893), who had fought for Yan Xishan in the Northwest Army against Chiang Kai-shek in the Central Plains War. He had also experience in fighting the Communists as he had been a commander during the 2nd, 3rd and 5th Campaigns against the Jiangxi Soviet. As a skilled infantry leader and expert in anti-guerillia war, he utilized armored trains, tanks tankettes against the Communists in the south. He was supported by a National Han Chiense Offensive from T'ungkuan and Shang-nan against Ch'ang-an (Sian) held by the Communists south of the Huang Ho (Yellow River).

With well prepared mountain defenses, trenches and artillery, the Communists tried to resists the Co-Prosperity Sphere advance, with only 43,000 forces at first, commanded by Ye Ting, Liu Zhidan and Xu Haidong. The Yankokuan forces supported by heavy Japanese motorized elite forces skilled in fighting Communist Rebels. In the north the Co-Prosperity Sphere quickly secured the bridgehead at Wu-pao and headed to Sui-te, but were stopped at the Wu-ting Ho river shortly before the city. In the south their offensive failed to take Han-Ch'eng but pushed northwards and captured I-ch'uan. From there the two forces pushed against the Communists trapped in between their spearheads, taking Ch'ing-chieng, Yen-ch'uan, I-ch'uan and Yen-ch'ang . Soon the Communists and their Kuomintang Nationalist allies brought in 320,000 reinforcements and around 200,000 additional reserves, while the Yankokuo reinforcements increased by 120,000 additional reserve forces. Better equipped and trained, the Co-Prosperity Sphere forced lacked detailed knowledge about the terrain and had a risk of running into well prepared ambushes. The Chinese United Front's Counteroffensive managed to recapture I-ch'uan and were able to cut off the Yankoku and Japanese forces by retaking and destroying the railway between Yen-ch'uan and Yen-ch'ang, even if they were unable to capture the city itself once again. Further south the National Han Chinese offensive captured the cities and towns of Shang-hsien, Lan-t'ien, Hua-yin, Hua-hsien and Wei-nan on their way towards Ch'ang-an (Sian). The main city and transportation center of Ch'ang-an (Sian) fell after five weeks of intensive fighting before the United Chinese Forces could be defeated. Overall Yankoku and the Japanese would lose roughly 42,000 forces, while the Communist and Nationalist of the Chinese United Front lost around 123,000 forces, both fallen and captured POW. Despite this numbers, the Shensi Offensive failed to accomplish it's main objective, to destroy the main Communist Power Base in the Region and thereby secure the North of China for the Co-Prosperity Sphere. Still they tied down massive Chinese forces, supplies and reinforcements that could therefore not be used in Central China or Southern China during the Chinese Civil War.
Japanese Ocean, I wonder how many agree with that new name?
Clearly the Japanese will name it that in all official C-PS treaties and books (like they will name the Chinese Sea the South Japanese Sea and so on...). It also is a show of hegemony and dominance (most islands will be mainly Japanese settled later on) over said Ocean and so some call it that because of this, even if they disagree with Japan and their claims. However outside of their alliance and sphere of economical and military interest not all might agree to that, heck not even all wihtin it, even if such protests and disagreements are most likely not be said out too loud inside the C-PS. ;D
Wait a minute, “Italian capitulation”?!? What do you mean!?!? Is Italy going to capitulate EVEN in this timeline!?!?
That was meant in reguards of the Italian forces attacked in a few cities a few sentences above, sorry if it was misleading...:oops: Italy will (kind of) win as part of the ACP TTL.
Will Japan win or will they lose because of numbers in India?
They will win in the End (partly because some of this numbers are not very loyal to the British and the Japanese effords to establish a somewhat independend Coprospist Indian government are more truthfully TTL (not meaning they will take or liberate all of India, but it keps Indian forces and Indian labor from fully comitting against Japan to some extent). There will be a few chapters about that (when, who and hwo coming up later). ;D
Will Japan win in China?
Kind of, China is big to swallow and even the Mongols couldn't do so. The Japanese will dominate it with their advisers and military/ economics, but various CHinese ethnics will remain the majority in the western CPS for quit some time as TTL there will be no true Generalplan Ost and Holocaust type of plans from either side, even if Germans and Japanese try to incorporate local people into their own groop and make them German/ Japanese in religion, culture, art, names, language .. well everything except the genes basically with their education....
What japan economic situation?
Quiet better then OTL, with a little more industry and infrastructure in Japan, Korea and Manchuria as well. But Allied transport sinking of Japanese vessels will still become a problem and force them to go either over land or use submarine transports later on.
Chapter 695: Teutonic Order Division Number Two: Marienritter/ Knights of Mary
Chapter 695: Teutonic Order Division Number Two: Marienritter/ Knights of Mary

Coming from parts of the Remnants of the SS (1st SS Panzer Division "Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler", short LSSAH and SS-Verfügungstruppe, SS-VT) as well as parts of the SA (Sturmabteilung), the Teutonic Order Division Number Two Marienritter (or Knights of Mary) was formed with the help the Teutonic Order Division Number One; Deutschritter (or German Knights) and quit fitting headquarters in once again German Marienburg (Malbork Castle) in the Province of West Prussia (known as Weichsel in the German Order regional administration), a province they were then responsible for. They were put under command of Weichselmeister under Hochmeister (High Master) Erich Koch. Similar to the Teutonic Knights in the United Baltic Duchy under Duke Adolf Friedrich (who was also Duke of Mecklenburg and a member of the Teutonic Order) were they tried to Germanize the Cantons of Kurland (Courland), Riga, Lettgallen (Latgale), Südlivland (South Livonia), Nordlivland (North Livonia), Ösel (Saaremaa), and Estland (Estonia), as well as form the Baltic Landwehr or Baltische Landeswehr ("Baltic Territorial Army"), this Second Teutonic Order Division helped build up the nearby Royal Polish Army ruled by King George I. (Jerzy I.) the former Crown Prince of Saxony. While High Master Koch dreamed about Germanizing the former Polish Corridor once again and expand German-Order and German-Settler territory to the Weichsel (Wisla) river and Bug (Buh) river in the south, King George I. (Jerzy I.) known soon to the polish people as Jerzy the Just, Jerzy the Good and even Jerzy the Pole from Saxon would outright oppose any such attempts to allow or even encourage such plans. Therefore High Master Koch focused on Germanizing and mass-scale industrialization of the largely agricultural province of West Prussia/ Weichsel for now, while helping build up the Polish Royal Army. This uneasy relationship between the Teutonic Order was opposing at times, even if both partly depended on one another. The Order even helped Poles resettle and colonize inside the Polish Kingdom, with the promise of newly build homes and good work and pay, sometimes however also with sheer brutality and threats, while German settlers and colonists would move in to take their old houses in the corridor, or even completely new houses in new German settlements, towns and cities. Made up by German citizens and ethnic Germans at first the unit was a tank division, of excellent equipment and training, helping greatly to build the Royal Polish Fist Armored military units after the German model. During the Winter War between the Finnish Kingdom's Royal Army and the Red Army of the Soviet Union, the Marienritter were redyed to oppose any assumed Soviet push into East Poland, with or without Polish consent, but luckily for German-Polish relations, this invasion never came. Once the Eastern Crusade against the Soviet Union started, the Second Division of the Teutonic Order would be used against bandits, partisans and guerrilla insurgence forces in the Polish Kingdom, the White Ruthenian Kingdom and the Ukrainian Kingdom in Brest, Bielystok, Grodno, Vilna, Minsk, Kowel, Lwow, Rowne, Gomel, Tarnopol, Vignista, Balta, Uman, even up to Magilev, Rogachev and Kiew (Kiev).

The Marienritter they would partake in security and anti-partisan and anti-saboteur actions, as well as reinforcement duty while the frontline was nearby the of the Eastern Crusade in this area. Beside that they greatly helped build up the Royal Polish Army and Police, as well as later parts of the Royal White Ruthenian Army and Police and the Royal Ukrainian Army and Police forces. This even included come local militias and regular forces, as well as a few Jewish ones. They would help train local Polish, Lithuanian and Jewish militia and regular forces in the rear area to take over much of this duties from them later on. Later losses to partisans and along the frontlines lead to the acceptance of a few Polish, White Ruthenian and Ukrainian forces alongside a few Jews as non-German volunteers, mostly from West Prussia. This meant that while the remained a minority within the Marienritter/ Knights of Mary Division of the Teutonic Order, they would increase to around 1/3 to the End of the Second Great War. Especially considered the plans of High Master Erich Koch, this was more then ironically. Still their plan of annexing parts of the Polish Kingdom's border regions, that were partly planned to be annexed by Germany even back during the First Great War if they had won. This however meant that the true loyalty and allegiance of these non-German forces within the Teutonic Order were questionable and questioned by the Order leadership as well as the Polish Kingdom. Therefore most of this non-German forces were mainly used behind the frontlines to fight partisans and secure supply lines, but even that only alongside regular German forces of the Teutonic Orders, instead of by themselves all alone. During the Eastern Crusade against the Soviet Union's regime and their Red Army, a few White Russians, Ukrainians and Jews joined alongside the divisions German and Polish forces, many coming from withing the local army, police and militia forces trained by them. This hatred of the Bolsheviks gave them support, but their own plans rather alienated some of them as well as their governments, despite their anti-Russian, anti-Soviet and anti-Communist stance and actions and their help to build up their armies, police and militia forces.
Chapter 696: Coprospism ideology and intellectuals: Chosen State Shinism
Chapter 696: Coprospism ideology and intellectuals: Chosen State Shinism

Similar to Japanese State Shintoism, the Coprospist Government in the Empire of Chosen tried it's best to do the same with the local Shinism, form it into their very own ethnic state religion, with their Chosen Emperor as it's religious head. This shamanism and folk religion of the Chosen peninsula was known as Shinism (Korean: Shingyo or Shinkyo, "religion of the spirits/gods") or Shindo (Korean: "way of the spirits/gods"). It was a polytheistic, animistic ethnic religion, quit similar to Japanese Shintoism, but native to the Chosen Peninsula, dating back to prehistory. Under other names it was known as Shindo/ Shinism/ Shingyo or Shinkyo. It consisted in the worship of gods (Korean: shin) and ancestors (Korean: josang) as well as nature spirits. When referring specifically to the shamanic practice (Korean: Hanja; musog or musok), the term Muism (Hangul:무교, Hanja: 巫敎; Mugyo or Mukyo, "religion of the mu (shamans)") is used. The general word for "shaman" in Korean is mu. In contemporary terminology, they are called mudang (무당, 巫堂) if female or baksu if male, although other terms are used locally. The Korean word mu is synonymous of the Chinese word wu 巫, which defines both male and female shamans. The role of the mudang is to act as intermediary between the spirits or gods and humanity in order to solve hitches in the development of life, through the practice of gut rituals. Central to Korean shamanism is the belief in many different gods, supernatural beings and ancestor worship, much like Shintoim. The mu are described as chosen persons. Muism and therefore Shinism is related to Chinese Wuism, Japanese Shinto and to the Siberian, Mengjiang/ Mongolian, and Manchurian shamanic traditions. According to some scholars, the Korean ancestral king and later mountain god Dangun is related to the north Asian sky god Tengri (Tian/ Heaven). Hereditary shamans, in Chosen, are called tangol (당골) or tangur-ari, a word considered related to the Siberian word Tengri (gods or spirits). Mudang are similar to Japanese miko and Ryukyuan yuta. Chosen shamanism has influenced some new religions in Chosen, such as Cheondoism and Jeungsanism, who make use of practices rooted in shamanism. Both religions, while disliked by some Chosen Coprospists and Chosen Government Leaders, while the Japanese encouraged some of this new movements, who were popular among the peasantry, as long as they worked closely alongside them and the Co-Prosperity Sphere.

Meanwhile Buddhism had arrived in Chosen/ Korea in the 4th century and started to gain influence. Between the 6th and 7th century this Buddhism mixed with elements of Chosen's old religions and shamanism, Shinism. Once it was supported by the Chosen King and nobility it gained the trust of the people during the 12th century. In the 19th century Buddhism dominated all of culture and life in the Korean Peninsula. It also played a key role in introducing Buddhism to Japan and playing a important link between Chinese and Japanese overall culture and society. While doing so it was influenced by Confucian and Thaoist teachings alongside those of local Shamanist traditions and tendencies. Buddhist and Shindo Youth Organizations even had started organizing missionary activities under the Chosens/ Koreans living at the border region within the nearby Coprospist Empire pf Manchukuo that was also part of the Co-Prosperity Sphere. These Buddhist and Shindo Organizations also helped with social services and as they were formed with the help of the Japanese, like everything in the new Chosen Society during 1910 to 1934. With the help of Han Young-un (August 29, 1879 to June 29, 1944, birth name Han Yu-cheon) a Chosen Buddhist reformer and poet alongside many other Chosen independence fighters and nationalist, the Japanese tried to incorporate into the Coprospist Chosen Empire others. Alongside their Coprospist ideals and ideology of Asian values, combined with European modernism, industry and technology to stay powerful, rich and independent. These Buddhist and Shindo Chosen groups led by the Japanese would orient the Chosen Empire and new independent state along the lines of state building they had tried and tested in the Empire of Manchukuo shortly before. Over the next decades, this would lead to Chosen becoming much closer to Japan in terms of society, ethnics (with intermixed Chosen-Japanese marriages), architecture, culture, religion, art and even the new Chosen alphabet, that was formed directly after the Japanese ones. This would allow for the Chosen Empire alongside the Empires of Japan and Manchuria to become the Core Center Region of the whole Co-Prosperity Sphere, besides economical and industrial reasons, closely followed directly only by Yankoku and Taikoku.
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Office Document for this crashed with nearly 192 sides of notes, plans and stuff, has taken a few hours to manage reopening it in something else, copying what I can and reuse it for the future (so no worries there) nearly gave me a heart attack :openedeyewink::biggrin::coldsweat: