Chapter 21: Axis Central Powers
  • Chapter 21: Axis Central Powers:
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    With the world watching the decision of the Polish Government in form of President Władysław Raczkiewicz, Foreign Minister Józef Beck, the Commander-in-Chief of the Polish Army, Edward Rydz-Śmigły and the cabinet, they were surprised that the polish decided in favor of accepting the demands of the German Empire and Austria-Hungary that would give the Germans all parts of Posen, Danzig as well as parts of West Prussia and East Prussia and Upper Silesia they claimed and Austria-Hungary all parts of Galicia they claimed. The treaty prevented a war in the east of Europe and while Emperor Wilhelm II and Chancellor Adolf Hitler of Germany as well as Emperor Otto and Austria-Hungary refused any pact or plan against Poland with the Communist Soviet Union they saw as the main enemy. The so called Berlin Agreement the Eastern Europe states from Finland to Romania at the same time got their independence guaranteed by the (Central/Axis Powers) of the German Empire and Austria-Hungary against any threats by the Soviet Union. Since the Polish Government and all other states protected by this Central European alliance agreed so on their own there was not much either Great Britain or France could do about it, but both Nations warned the renewed Central Powers to not interfere in any way in Western Europe or attack them in a attempt to regain German Colonies. The Berlin Agreement did not meant that the states in Eastern Germany or the Balkan Peninsula were safe now, quiet the opposite. Not soon after the Berlin Agreement Lithuania demanded the Wilno/ Vilnius region from Poland and asked Germany and Austria-Hungary as their new protectors to be the mediator over the despite. Sadly for the polish government most of the territory both claimed was given to Lithuania as both major Central Powers liked Poland to be small and depending on them almost like a puppet or vassal state. With the Soviet Union claiming the east of Poland there was not much they could do against the decision as they needed the protection of the Axis Central Powers to stay safe from the Red's that otherwise could possible overrun and annex all of Poland. Romania meanwhile had a similar problem after the Berlin Agreement since it officially ended the short lived Polish-Romanian Alliance and forced them to join the protection of the Central Powers (as well as their Anticomintern pact a year later in 1940 leading to Anti-Communist raids, press censorship and the banning of communist and socialist parties in these nations) against the Soviet Union too, slowly forcing Poland and Romania to fully support nationalist/fascist governments and to join the Axis Central Powers (also known as Central Power Axis or Axis of Central Powers) as full members. Josef Stalin meanwhile got worried by this Anticomintern Alliance aiming against his Soviet Union in the West and the Japanese/ Co-Prosperity Threat in the east would surround and attack him. Therefore the Soviet Union increased it's support for the French Section of the Workers' International (who together with the centrist won the 1936 elections as the Popular Front) and the French Communist Party, leading to their united block that nearly won the 1940 elections and was eager to join the Comintern (drifting Great Britain and the French Republic further apart as a alliance) if the Second World War in Europe hadn't prevented this.
     
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    Chapter 22: From Nazi Germany to the Third Reich
  • Chapter 22: From Nazi Germany to the Third Reich:
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    With the end of Nazi Germany and his position as the Führer (Leader) Adolf Hitler had to readjust his ambitions and solely be put back into the role of the Chancellor. The aristocrats backed by the Prussian military tradition reclaimed many of their former positions inside the Second Empire. The rebuild German Empire would also be known as the Third Empire by some or even again as the Second Empire since Wilhelm 2 continued his rule. From 1938 to 1940 the former Nazi Germany was reformed into the new state and it's power secured. Wilhelm II and Chancellor Hitler (by now a close friend of Wilhelm II, because they had many political and ideological things in common) both needed each other to hold onto the power they now had at first and a unholy alliance formed between the aristocrats, the militarists and the fashists. Together the Nazi Party and the conservative German National People's Party (German: Deutschnationale Volkspartei, DNVP) as well as the Pan-German League merged to rule as the strongest party of the new Imperial Diet. Even former National Soialist Organisations like the Hitlerjugend (Hitler Youth) were rebuild as the Imperial German Youth.

    Combining their ideas, ambitions and dreams for the German Empire in a way Emperor Wilhelm II and Chancellor Hitler ensured Great Britain that their nation would stay loyal to the Anglo-German Naval Agreement from 1935 and only look for good relations with Britain. This of coarse was partly meant to split the British French Alliance and block that opposed their politics on the European Continent and in the former German Colonies that were lost after 1918. With the new Axis Central Powers and their agreement to respect the treaties with the British and French as Hitler assured the next step was made. With the argument of their respected guarantees and acceptance of the new eastern European Borders from Finland to Poland (not including Romania because of Austria-Hungarian claims there) the German Empire argued that a restructuring of their army was needed and a expansion of it. A newly formed Central Command in Königsberg was created to coordinate the armies of all these nations together in chase of a Soviet Union attack in the east.

    The former Reichswehr (English: Realm Defence) formed the military organization of Germany from 1919 to 1935, when it was united with the new Wehrmacht (Defense Forces). The Reichswehr was at first limited to a standing army of 100,000 men, and a navy of 15,000. The establishment of a general staff was prohibited. Heavy weapons such as artillery above the caliber of 105 mm (for naval guns, above 205 mm), armored vehicles, submarines and capital ships were forbidden, as were aircraft of any kind. Chancellor Hitler simply argued that to defend these guaranteed states the German Military (renamed the Imperial German Army -IGA-, the Imperial German Navy -IGN-and the Imperial German Air Force -IGAF- after Wilhelm II return) should not be restricted anymore like before. The British had already accepted the that the German Army would field 300,000 men instead of just 100,000 in 1934. Now Hitler argued that the overall situation in Europe had changed drastically. Secretly rearming since 1934 with the conscription back since 1935 Germany managed to add 300,000 new soldiers each year. This allowed the Army of Hitler and later Wilhelm II to grow their forces secretly from 100,000 to 400,000 in 1935, 700,000 in 1936, 1,000,000 in 1937, 1,300,000 in 1938 and 1,600,000 in 1939. Claiming that his officially 300,000 allowed soldiers posed no threat for the 900,000 soldiers strong French Army.

    Further more Wilhelm II and Hitler claimed that such a limited size could not fulfill the new role of the German Empire as protectors of it's eastern neighbors against the Soviet Union. Hitler then used parts of the former MacDonald plan proposed by the British in 1933 for his arguments. Instead of reducing the French Army in any form Chancellor Hitler offered a treaty much similar to the Anglo-German Naval Agreement from 1935 towards the French. The so called French-German Army Agreement offered the Third French Republic to allow a army of 400,000 men as many as were left in the armed forces after 1919. The Italian Empire under Mussolini now also bordering the German Empire even said to agree towards a Imperial German Army of 480,000 men (a number still smaller then that of the Imperial German Army in 1871 with 500,000 troops) because of the new situation in Europe. With some British and European politicians even willing to accept a German Army of 600,000 to 800,000 soldiers to protect the eastern European states against the Soviet Union, while still smaller then the French Army that had believed to be already in impenetrable position behind the Maginot-Line the plan of Chancellor Hitler and Emperor Wilhelm II worked.

    With many British politicians and even Neville Chamberlain accepting a higher number for the new task of securing the eastern European borders against the Soviet Union, the Third French Republic suddenly saw itself in a very isolated diplomatic position. Instead of securing Versailles Threat most European Powers were now fine with Germany breaking more and more terms of it as it looked like trough french eyes. Even more worrying the powers of Europe accepted Germany guarantee of the eastern European states and borders thereby in a way accepting the results of the Treat of Brest-Litowsk in the east of Germany.

    What both the British and the French didn't know was that Wilhelm II and Hitler were willing to accept the new army numbers. For a elite, specialized part of their army at least. Most of their new recruits would soon fall under the Imperial Landwehr that combined ideas of the old German-prussian militarist army with the ideas of Ernst Röhm for his Sturmabteilung (SA) to replace the Reichswehr or merge it with his forces to form a true people's army like the Soviet Red Army. This at the time alarmed both political and military leaders and to forestall the possibility of a coup, Hitler sided with conservative leaders and the military. Röhm and the leadership of the SA were murdered, along with many other political adversaries of the Nazis. Now a few years later Chancellor Hitler proposed a variation of that exact plan to Wilhelm II.

    The SA itself (once 400,000, later 2,000,000—20 times larger than the Reichswehr at that point) together with other conservative/fashist paramilitary groups like the Stahlhelm, Bund der Frontsoldaten ("Steel Helmet, League of Front Soldiers", also known in short form as Der Stahlhelm) with 100,000 troops as well as other similar Freikorps (Free Corps) of volunteer units that were trained like soldiers (and better equipped than regular police or the reserves) but no official part of the Imperial German Army would together form the new Landwehr. Officially the Landwehr would support local Militia and other groups like the Prussian Police or the reformed Imperial Secret State Police (German: Imperiale Geheime Staatspolizei Amt – ImpGeStapA/Gestapa) but was secretly the extended branch of the army in reserve and guard duty with their full supplies and armaments close by. The 400,000 soldiers most European powers agreed too for the German Empire, were now in reality only consisted of the most elite forces of the German Empire as part of the Axis Central Powers, namely the mobile infantry, the tank force, the artillery force and the mountaineers. Despite their talking about peace both Hitler and Wilhelm II knew that and it's soon depending vassal states in eastern europe would still need the Ukraine to prevent a new starving like during the Great War and to also weaken the Soviet Union after they had taken more lands during a new war in the east that they planned by now.
     
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    Chapter 23: The Chinese Civil War - Great Wall Campaign and Itagaki Encirclement Campaign
  • Chapter 23: The Chinese Civil War - Great Wall Campaign and Itagaki Encirclement Campaign:
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    In China the forces of the Co-Prosperity Sphere faced a different situation, while troops and volunteers (more likely whole Divisions and armies send to help) from Japan, Chosen, Manchukuo, Mengjiang, Yankoku and Taikoku supported Wang Jingwei's Shanghai Nationalist Government and the Kuomintang under Chiang Kai-shek had problems getting supplies from the European and Western powers since Yunnan and Tibet joined the Co-Prosperity Sphere openly the situation was not as dire for the Chinese Communists. Mao used the tactic of guerrilla warfare to start pocket resistances inside Northeast, East and Southeast China, inspired by the Soviet Revolution in the Russian Empire. While Manchukuo managed to deal with these communist rebels in a campaign until late 1940 and the Mengjiang Khanate under Khan Demchugdongrub had the so called Great Wall Campaign where they destroyed or drove back all Communist barbarians south of the Yellow River or the Great Chinese Wall.

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    But while the Western Powers and to an extend even the Soviet Union did not supply the renewed Chinese United Front of Chiang and Mao as much as before, their rebellious tactic was quiet efficient. The Japanese puppet state and member state of the Co-Prosperity Sphere Yankoku had so much problems with the Communist rebels that they threatened it's mere existence. To stop the problem the Japanese appointed General Seishirō Itagaki as the Commander in Chief of the United Co-Prosperity Sphere Chinese Expeditions Army (UCPS-CEA), tasking him with the mission to root out the communists and rebels in Wang's China. Under Seishirō Itagaki the UCPS-CEA started the so called Encirclement strategy inspired by Chiang's successfully campaigns against the communists before and used the rovers and railroads in China to further advance Wang Jingwei's Shanghai Nationalist Government into mainland China. This strategy of cutting off the communist supply lines if there were any and then totally encircling and annihilating all communist rebels in the area they hided in together with so called sympathizers (often civilians who were themselves forced to support the armed rebels by the communists) proved a great victory for Wang and was soon adapted by other members of the Co-Prosperity Sphere with similar problems. Under General Seishirō Itagaki the Gaoshan Brigades (a Japanese loyal minority on Taiwan that had joined the Imperial Japanese Army) soon became feared in China for their combat abilities and ruthless fighting every rebel and enemy army even if heavily outnumbered themselves till the end. Some japanese politics and militarists even discussed splitting the chinese member states of the Co-Prosperity Sphere further down into mall minoriy states to make them even more depending on Japan, but the majority opposed this idea, because then they would get to week to protect their independance against the Chinese Rebells and Soviet Union feared the government and the military in Tokio.
     
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    Chapter 24: The gang up on Yugoslawia
  • Chapter 24: The gang up on Yugoslawia:
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    “There is enough of Yugoslavia for all of you.” - Adolf Hitler

    The ambitions and plans of Otto of Austria and Mussolini in Yugoslavia and the Balkan Peninsula resulted in both nations splitting further apart. Because Emperor Wilhelm II was much closer to Austria-Hungary, then Italy. Chancellor Hitler meanwhile had his great fascist idol in Mussolini and hoped to get the Italians to join the Axis Central Powers. It was his dream to extend the Dual Alliance with Austria-Hungary to the Tripartite Alliance that included Italy. While Austria-Hungary could secure the Balkan Peninsula, Italy could help this plan and also provide a second front against the French Republic, both on the European main land the colonies. While Hitler planned a Alliance with Great Britain, Wilhelm II hoped the Italians could help on the southern flank not only with France but the British Empire attacking their colonial empires and the southern flank across the Mediterranean. Should the situation escalate again and the British-French Alliance fight Wilhelm and Otto's Empires they could be forced to split up their troops if Italy would join the Central Powers this time.

    The main problem was that Duce Mussolini's and Emperor Otto's Ambitions over the Balkan and the Yugoslavian territory escalated even after the Treat of Trieste because both states claimed Dalmatia, Slovenia or even Bosnia and Herzegovina for themselves. While Mussolini hoped to claim the western part of Yuoslavia and it's coast and islands Otto hope to gain the rest of all lost Austrian-Hungarian territory. While Otto wanted to annex Bosnia and Herzegovina as a dual governed Austria-Hungarian province or protectorate like the Czech and Slovakia state, he also hoped to form a similar territory out of the remaining Yugoslavian state as the new Austria-Hungarian state of Serbia and Montenegro out of Northern Serbia. To get ahead of Mussolini in the Balkan Peninsula Otto and Austria-Hungary formed a alliance (Austria-Hungarian Bulgarian Alliance) with the Kingdom of Bulgaria under Tsar Boris III and Prime Minister Georgi Kyoseivanov. While remaining neutral for now it would lead to Bulgaria joining the Axis Central Powers later and it opened the path for Otto and Boris to join forces and increase the pressure against both Yugoslavia and Italians ambitions.
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    Emperor Otto was soon after invited to Yugoslavia in hopes of deescalating the situation. The Yugoslavian government even overheard commends from Austria-Hungarian Generals and politicians that Sarajevo was not a safe city for the Hapsburg Monarchic Family. Otto spoke German, Hungarian, Croatian, English, Spanish, French and Latin fluently. In later life, he would write many books in German, Hungarian, French and Spanish. His mother made him learn many languages because she believed he one day might rule over many lands. But his speech was non of peace as Otto claimed that the Slovenes were more independent as parts of Austria, the Croatians as parts of Hungary and the Bosnian people as part of Austria-Hungary using the national independence movements against Yugoslavia just as Serbia had once used them against Austria-Hungary before the Great War. Not soon after that Mussolini answered with the Italian invasion of Albania (April 7–12, 1939), a brief military campaign by the Kingdom of Italy against the Albanian Kingdom. The conflict was a result of the imperialist policies of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini. Albania was rapidly overrun, its ruler, King Zog I, forced into exile, and the country made part of the Italian Empire as a separate kingdom in personal union with the Italian crown. Using this move Mussolini claimed the Yugoslavian Cosovo with it's ethnic Albanians for a Greater Albania under Italian rule and to spur the last non Serbian minority in Yugoslavia against the central state. To prevent the whole situation from escalating, Hitler, Wilhelm II, Otto, Mussolini and Zog met in Venice to get to a form of agreement. Because Austria-Hungary had no own navy anymore and Italy also other claims in Europe and Africa a solution was found. Mussolini would get most islands as well as parts of Montenegro and southern Serbia, while Bulgaria got western Trace and the rest would go to Austria-Hungary. In exchange for this Bulgaria would also get it's independence and claims of Greece agreed to by Italy and Austria-Hungary, while Italy would not have to worry about the Balkan Peninsula anymore. A small stripe of land for a road would be leased to Italy by Austria-Hungary to link it's main state to Albania and both Austria-Hungary and Bulgaria would support the Italian claims in Tunisia, Corsica, Egypt, Sudan and it's planned annexing of most of Greece. Hitler and Wilhelm II meanwhile used the so called Yugoslavian Crisis for their claims on lost territory against Belgium and Denmark. Chancellor Hitler also felt secure that his idea of a Tripartite Alliance was now in the realm of reality.
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    (Yugoslavia and Italy and Austria-Hungary claims/plans)
     
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    Chapter 25: The Reichskolonialbund
  • Chapter 25: The Reichskolonialbund:
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    The Reichskolonialbund (RKB) (English: Reich Colonial League) was a collective body that absorbed all German colonial organizations during the time of the Third Reich. It was led by Franz Ritter von Epp. The purpose of the Reichskolonialbund was to reclaim the overseas colonies that Germany had lost as a result of the Treaty of Versailles at the end of the Great War. The first efforts in rallying support for a re-establishment of a German Colonial Empire in Germany can be traced back to 1923. As a result, a number of pro-colonial organizations, supported by both conservative-minded Germans and nationalists, were established in different parts of Germany. Founded in 1925, the foremost outfit was the Koloniale Reichsarbeitsgemeinschaft (KORAG). This organization, along with other groups, led to the foundation of the preliminary Reichskolonialbund in 1933. The establishment was made in two steps, the second one being its incorporation (Gliederung) into the Nazi party structure and later the new German Empire; as a result many references give three different years for the Reichskolonialbund foundation, 1933, 1936 and 1938.

    The Reichskolonialbund was officially established on 13 June 1936 by the former governor of German East Africa, Heinrich Schnee. Whether the organizations that joined it did so freely, or were forced to do so in the name of Gleichschaltung, is a subject of conjecture. Led by Ritter von Epp, the organization's alleged purpose was to "keep the population informed about the loss of the German Imperial colonies, to maintain contact with the former colonial territories and to create conditions in opinion favorable to a new German African Empire. The foundation of RKB was marred with difficulties, for only two months after its establishment, Rudolf Hess decreed its disbandment. However, after lengthy discussions l, the decree was revoked in November of the same year.

    As the new German Empire under Emperor Wilhelm II and Chancellor Hitler hoped, the Reichskolonialbund was intended to take over the role of the disbanded German Colonial Society, (Deutsche Kolonialgesellschaft) (DKG). Since Germany had no colonies, the Reichskolonialbund was mainly engaged in mostly virulent political agitation. While Wilhelm II truly hoped to regain his lost colonies, for Chancellor Hitler the Rechskolonialbund was a diplomatic weapon against France and Great Britain. This agitation was conducted largely in Germany by means of newspapers, magazines, conferences and "Colonial Exhibitions". That was meant to keep open the so-called Colonial Question (Kolonialfrage) and to gather funds for the organization. The most important weekly publications of the Reichskolonialbund from 1937 onwards were Kaiserkolonie und Heimat and the Deutsche Reichs-Kolonialzeitung, the former mouthpiece of the German Colonial Company. The RKB also printed colorful posters for the advancement of its cause.
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    The Reichskolonialbund had its own youth organization, the Colonial Youth, which was incorporated as a wing of the Hitler Youth and later the German Imperial Youth. Its members wore the regular Marine or former Colonial (Schutztruppe, English: Protection Force) uniform with Reichskolonialbund badges and insignia's. The youth regularly staged rallies and collected money for the colonial cause during the events organised by the Reichskolonialbund. Adult members of the Reichskolonialbund also wore uniform during parades and rallies. The design was inspired by the Solonial Schutztruppe uniforms of the German Imperial Era. The Reichskolonialbund held two parliamentary sessions, the first in Bremen in May 1938 and the second in Hamburg in May 1939.
     
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    Chapter 26: The Schleswig-Holstein Question
  • Chapter 26: The Schleswig-Holstein Question:
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    After Germany had lost the Great War, in which Denmark had been neutral, the victors offered Denmark a chance to redraw the border between Denmark and Germany. The sitting government of Carl Theodor Zahle chose to hold the Schleswig Plebiscite to let the inhabitants of Schleswig decide which nation they, and the land they lived on, should belong to. King Christian X of Denmark, supported by various groups, was opposed to the division. Using a clause in the Danish constitution that the king appointed and dismissed the Danish cabinet, and using the justification that he felt the Danish population was at odds with Zahle's politics, the king dismissed Zahle and asked Otto Liebe to form the Cabinet of Liebe to manage the country until a parliamentary election could be held and a new cabinet formed. Since Zahle's had support from a small majority in the Folketing his Social Liberal Party and the allied Social Democrats felt that the king had effectively staged a state coup against the Danish democracy. A general strike was organized by Fagbevaegelsen to put pressure on the king and his allies. As Otto Liebe was unable to organize an election, M.P. Friis replaced him after a week, and succeeded in holding the election, and as a result the Social Liberal Party lost half their electoral support and their rivals the Liberal Party were able to form the minority cabinet led by Niels Neergaard: the Cabinet of Neergaard II. The whole affair was called the Easter Crisis of 1920.

    The Schleswig plebiscites were two plebiscites, organized according to section XII, articles 109 to 114 of the Treaty of Versailles of June 28, 1919, in order to determine the future border between Denmark and Germany through the former duchy of Schleswig. The process was monitored by a commission with representatives from France, the United Kingdom, Norway and Sweden. The plebiscites were held on 10 February and 14 March 1920, and the result was that the larger northern portion (Zone I) voted to join Denmark, while the smaller southern portion (Zone II) voted to remain part of Germany. The Allied powers arranged a referendum in Northern and Central Schleswig. In Northern Schleswig on February 10, 1920 75% voted for re-unification with Denmark and 25% voted for Germany. In Central Schleswig on March 14, 1920 the results were reversed; 80% voted for Germany and just 20% for Denmark, primarily in Flensburg. While in Northern Schleswig some smaller regions (for example Tonder) had a clear majority of voters for Germany in Central Schleswig all regions voted for Germany (see Schleswig Plesbiscites). No vote ever took place in the southern third of Schleswig, because the result for Germany was predictable. On June 15, 1920, North Schleswig officially returned to Danish rule. Germany continued to hold the whole of Holstein and South Schleswig, remaining within the Prussian province of Schleswig-Holstein. The Danish-German border was the only one of the borders imposed on Germany following World War I which was never challenged by Hitler.
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    The Schleswig Question was not the most important in Chancellor Hitler's ambitions and plans, but it was still a important questions for the German public view and population. For Emperor Wilhelm the question was more important as it was connected to the strategic situation of the nearby Kaiser-Wilhelm-Kanal (also known as the Nord-Ostsee-Kanal, literally "North-[to]-Baltic Sea canal") and the Imperial German Navy (once again known as the High See Fleet, German: Hochseeflotte). To Wilhelm II the Navy was still the most important and most prestige of the now three military branches of the German Empire and rebuilding it at least to some of it's former glory. Because the Anglo-German Naval Agreement from 1935 limited the German Ship tonnage and thereby overall numbers heavily Wilhelm II dreamed of bigger and more powerful ships, able to stand their ground against superior enemy ship numbers and proving once and for all Germany's superiority on sea. The German Emperor even addressed the Navy to partly not finish these ships or to simply lie about their tonnage so that he could have the moment of surprise on his side.

    Adolf Hitler on the other hand used the European tension over the so called Yugoslavian Crisis and the diplomatic pressure of the Reichscolonialbund and the claims to regain the German Colonial Mandates as true German colonies to pressure the danish. Hitler called the Schleswig Question a important part of German naval, coastal and trade security, reminding the German people and nation of how the Allies starved Germany out during the Great War. Public opinion in Germany called for at least another new Schleswig plebiscite and Chancellor Hitler himself attacked King Christian X of Denmark and the Danish people as cowards and traitorous bad neighbors for stealing Schleswig in the Threaty of Versailles after the Great War even if they did not actively take part in the fight but stayed neutral during the conflict. The “Stealing of Schleswig” as the German propaganda called it was highly expanded in the German propaganda during this time and King Christian X himself traveled to Berlin (Potsdam to be exact) where Wilhelm II treated him as a honorable diplomatic guest during their meeting in the New Palace (German: Neues Palais) was the palace situated on the western side of the Sanssouci park. In the past years and months, after Wilhelm himself became the German Emperor again, the German Empire's trade with Denmark increased rapidly making it more important, even if by far the trade between Denmark and Great Britain remained the bulwark of their foreign trade.

    The upcoming diplomatic talks would be one of a kind in the history of meetings. While Wilhelm II and Christian X got along very well and tried to get to some form of agreement that would suit both sides, Chancellor Hitler openly threatened the Danish King as the talks were not going as planned for him fast enough. Hitler literally said if the danish King is unwilling to decide right now to give the German territory of northern Schleswig back, he would be forced to make a phone call, ordering the attack and occupation of all of Denmark and within a day Christian's whole country would be nothing more then a German state. Wilhelm II himself was shocked at this rude forms and the until now almost buddy like, calm Christian so perplex and outraged that he himself now shouted back at Hitler, claiming that the British Government would not allow such a act that threatened their security in the North Sea and immediately guarantee Denmarks independence and fight alongside them. If he wanted this war Christian claimed, Hitler just had to continue this act, before the Danish King left the room angry. Wilhelm II himself was still stunned and saw how Hitler himself stormed away in rage and anger. Emperor Wilhelm followed Christian and explained to him that for the Private Hitler who fought during the Great War and gave it his all was very emotional about this issue because of his past. Wilhelm II declared that there was nothing wrong with gaining territory trough a honorable fight and peace like Brest-Litowsk like Germany tried during the Great War, but stealing territory without a good bloody fight was unjust said the German Emperor.
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    After a long discussion with Chancellor Hitler too, both Christian X and the Chancellor returned and Wilhelm was able to start the discussion over Schleswig again. In the end Hitler's treats and Wilhelm's proposals managed to change the mind of Christian and regain the lost German territory, but it came for a price. The German Empire had to declare that they finally accepted the returning of their territory and would from now on respect the integrity of the remaining Danish territory in Europe and it's colonies. The Treat returning the German territory of Schleswig was called the Danish-German Treaty of Friendship and Protection and gained Denmark some things in return. First of all the relations between both countries normalized and became more normal from now on. German propaganda even viewed and called the Danish fellow German brothers since this agreement. Further more the Treaty not only prevented aggressive fighting between both nations but declared that Germany would respect and protect the Danish state from now on against any aggression. Because the Soviet Baltic Fleet would have to pass Denmark on their way towards the high sea this was also meant as another direct move against Stalin's own ambitions with the Soviet Union. Denmark would later even join the Anti-Comintern Pact. And continue it's good relations with the German Empire. The Treaty also allowed Denmark a increasing trade relationship with Germany on very good terms and additionally gave them german imperial state changes as a form of payment for the lost territory too.
     
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    Chapter 27: Reintegration of Eupen-Malmedy
  • Chapter 27: Reintegration of Eupen-Malmedy:
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    While the Danish-German Treaty of Friendship and Protection looked like another victory for Germany under Wilhelm II and Chancellor Hitler it changed quiet a few things on the other side of the English Chanal. In Great Britain the Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain was replaced by Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill. Prime Minister Churchill quickly addressed the British Parliament and stated that the era of appeasement would stop right now and that the continued expansion of the Axis Central Powers had to stop. While Churchill had nothing against the German Empire and Austria-Hungary to stop the Soviet Union as a Bulwark, he had no intention to simply replace one enemy state that wanted to conquer Europe and the world with another. Because of that the new Prime Minister made it his goal to stop the rise of any authoritarian state across the world.

    During Great War, Belgium was invaded by the German Empire and, between 1914 and 1918, much of Belgium's territory was under German military occupation. With the defeat of Germany in 1918, Belgian politicians attempted to expand Belgian territory at German expense. However, the settlement at the Treaty of Versailles proved disappointing for Belgium. Belgium failed to gain any territory from the Netherlands or Luxembourg, but was awarded the small German colonial territory of Ruanda-Urundi in Africa and Eupen-Malmedy in Europe, together with the previously neutral territory of Moresnet. At the time, Eupen-Malmedy had approximately 64,000 residents. Although the Belgian government attempted to depict Eupen-Malmedy as an ethnically Belgian territory, many Belgians were suspicious of the move.

    In 1919, a Transitional Government was established for Eupen-Malmedy by the Belgian government. It was headed by a Belgian general, Herman Baltia. Under the terms of the Treaty, Belgian control over the territory was contingent on the result of a local plebiscite, held between January and June 1920. The plebiscite itself was held without a secret ballot, and organized as a consultation in which all citizens who opposed the annexation had to formally register their protest; just 271 of nearly 34,000 eligible voters did so. The League of Nations accepted the result and the Transitional Government prepared for the unification of Eupen-Malmedy with Belgium in June 1925. In June 1925, the Eupen-Malmedy was finally incorporated into the Belgian state as part of the Province of Liège. The inhabitants of the region voted in its first Belgian general election in 1925 and returned a vote in favor of the centre-right Catholic Party. A local centre-right party, the Christliche Volkspartei (Christian People's Party), emerged by 1929.

    The early Belgian administration of Eupen-Malmedy was paralleled by secret negotiations between Belgian and Weimar German government of Gustav Stresemann over a possible return of the region in exchange for money. The negotiations collapsed in 1926, following the German signature of the Locarno Treaties (1925) guaranteeing Germany's western borders and international pressure. Various ethnic German organizations emerged in the Eupen-Malmedy region in the late 1920s, campaigning to promote German culture and the return of the territory to Germany. After the rise to power of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party in Germany in 1933, agitation in Eupen-Malmedy increased and many inhabitants began to wear swatisca badges. Local socialists began to distance themselves from calls to return to Germany. In 1935, an openly pro-Nazi party emerged locally, known as the Heimattreue Front, which achieved a majority in all three of the Eupen-Malmedy districts in the elections of 1936 and 1939. With the return of Wilhelm II as the German Emperor and the transformation of Nazi Germany into the Third Reich the Heimattreue Front was absorbed into the new state and it's imperial organizations. Chancellor Hitler called for a new Eupen-Malmedy Plebiscite knowing by now that a new vote would clearly turn out in Germany's favor.

    As their intentionally call for a new vote was unheard and King Leopold III of Belgium faced other problems as well. The 1930s also saw the growth of several authoritarian and fascist political parties in both Wallonia and Flanders. In the 1936 elections, one of these, the French-speaking Rexist party, gained 11.6 percent of the national vote. By 1939 however, extremist parties lost many of the seats that they had previously gained in new elections and political stability seemed to be returning. Chancellor Hitler and Wilhelm II however hoped that these political parties could be aided to destroy the unnatural construct that was the Belgian buffer state in their eyes. Aiding these different nationalists parties alongside the Heimattreue Front, Germany hoped that a Belgian government would be with these parties inside would be to focused on internal fighting and splitting up the Belgian state along their ethnic territories within it. But as the situation calmed, Belgium stood behind their government against the German aggression and once again Britain and France declared to protect the independence of Belgium at any cost against the Axis Central Powers.
    e19ed8b2ecde00979a8c69c658e0dda3--ww-posters-nazi-propaganda.jpg

    Emperor Wilhelm II and Chancellor Hitler knew that the German Empire was not yet ready for a full-out war. Because of that Hitler, knowing how well prepared the Belgian army was and how well defended their border, state was with heavy fortifications an assault on Belgium was not a wise decision either. This meant that Chancellor Hitler had to try another strategy if they wanted to return Eupen-Malmedy to the German Empire. Because of that Chancellor Hitler approved a different path to get these lost regions back. He and Wilhelm II called for the League of Nations and said that the German Empire was fully behind the right of self-determination as preached by American President Woodrow Wilson during the Great War, as long as other nations of the League of Nations would accept for themselves what they were preaching for others. If a new vote over the future of Eupen-Malmedy would be held Hitler promised to accept the independence of the Netherlands and Belgium right away.

    The League of Nations called for a peaceful solution, wanting to prove unlike during the Japanese invasion of Manchuria or the Italian invasion of Abyssinia that they could secure the world and protect the peace if needed. Unknown to them they played right into Hitler's hands and the plebiscite over Eupen-Malmedy ended with a enormous victory for the by now renamed Kaisers Heimattreue Front, leading to the return of the Eupen-Malmedy region to the German Empire. It would be the last time Germany, Wilhelm II and Hitler had archived to gain territory in Europe without a fight or any form of violence and brutality. They both knew that their claims on the former German Colonies would go not as easy and that the Third French Republic would not again let go of the former Imperial Territory of Alsace-Lorraine (German: Reichsland Elsaß-Lothringen or Elsass-Lothringen, French: Terre d'Empire d'Alsace-Lorraine or Alsace-Moselle) without a war fought over whose country would dominate and rule Europe in the future.
     
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    Chapter 28: The new German Society
  • Chapter 28: The new German Society:
    main-qimg-abf1e17f2b73d5e5a0fdb6a2a6546d81-c


    While many assets and organizations of Nazi Germany were reused and imperialistic used under Emperor Wilhelm II like the Reich Labour Service (Reichsarbeitsdienst; RAD) and even the Radio where the Emperor now held his daily address to the public, other were not quiet as lucky. With the rebuild Friedrich Krupp AG the Wilhelm Werke (were the people's car “Volkswagen” in German were build also known as the Emperor's car “Kaiserwagen” in German) and the Department of Aviation Technic (Institut für Luftfahrttechnik) the German Empire tried it's best to build ab the most elite and most modern army, navy and air force possible, while mostly hiding it's massive rearmament. With rest elements of the Weimar Republic, Militarists, Aristocrats, Nazis, Fascists and other elements trying to reshape the Third Empire to their own wishes Emperor Wilhelm II and Chancellor Hitler had no easy task ahead of them to bring all these ideas under the same hat. Heavy discussions over the future way of the imperial German society were fought. Some called for more democracy, others for more monarchy or authoritarian state. The next wanted a liberal economy others only state controlled conglomerates, or to even ban foreign (mostly french organization and companies) and liquidate these that were unprofitable and unfit to create a new stronger Germany in a planned economy. Some hoped to finally gain true democracy in Prussia or to even restore the legislative Reichsrat, or the Reichstag also known as the Imperil Diet (Parliament).
    main_900.jpg

    Some wished to fortify the North Sea Cost and rebuid the Navy others wished to expand the army to secure the grain and steel needed for German autarkic economy in Europe. Then there was the question of coal and fuel and where to get an secure the new Empire's needs for it. Romania and the Caucasus were near, but also oil from Mesopotamia and Venezuela could be used, even if it was questionable how long the supply from there could be secured if war broke out against Britain and France again. A close alliance with Austria-Hungary was wished by many militarists and aristocrats, while most fascists and Nazis preferred a alliance with Italy. Preparations on the next possible blockade with stockpiles of food, grain, coal and oil had to be made, enough for at least a few years. In the High Sea Fleet some favored submarines, others battleships and some even wanted to build carriers. Some in the Navy wished to form a alliance wit Great Britain and later break the Anglo-French colonial hegemony by calling for the return of German colonies lost after the Great War and even retake the former Imperial Territory of Alsace-Lorraine as well as part of Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands as new annexed German lands, while others favored a expansion in the east.
     
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    Vote on the new German Society
  • Vote on the new German Society:
    (all open one week)

    The future politics of the German Imperial State
    http://www.strawpoll.me/14654309

    The German Empire Economy:
    http://www.strawpoll.me/14654315

    German Army or Navy:
    http://www.strawpoll.me/14654320

    German coal, oil and fuel and where to get it:
    http://www.strawpoll.me/14654324

    Our future German allies:
    http://www.strawpoll.me/14654330

    The new German Navy:
    http://www.strawpoll.me/14654341

    German Technology and Superweapon focus:
    http://www.strawpoll.me/14654357

    New special Forces:
    http://www.strawpoll.me/14654378


     
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    Chapter 29: The Winter War
  • Chapter 29: The Winter War:
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    The Winter War (Finnish: talvisota, Swedish: vinterkriget, Russian: Зи́мняя война́/ Zimnyaya voyna) was a military conflict between the Soviet Union (USSR) and Finnland starting in 1939. The war began with the Soviet invasion of Finland on 30 November 1939, as a result of the German Empire and Austria-Hungary's plan to form a Anti-Comintern alliance against the Soviet Union in the region. The League of Nations deemed the attack illegal and expelled the Soviet Union from the League. Stalin knew that the guarantee of the Finnish independence was not worth much since none of the Axis Central Powers could reach Finland for a easy support after the russian assault as long as he blockaded the Finnish coast. Stalin attacked because of this in hopes of a easy victory and to show the Anti-Comintern that their pact and agreement was not worth the paper it was written on. The Soviet Union ostensibly sought to claim parts of Finnish territory, demanding—amongst other concessions—that Finland cede substantial border territories in exchange for land elsewhere, claiming security reasons, primarily the protection of Leningrad, 32 km (20 mi) from the Finnish border. Finland feeling secure because of the Axis Central Powers guarantee refused and the USSR invaded the country. Many sources conclude that the Soviet Union had intended to conquer all of Finland, and use the establishment of a puppet Finnish Communist government, while other sources argue against the idea of a full Soviet conquest. The Soviet Union had similar plans for the smaller Baltic states that should allow Soviet bases and be later annexed by the Soviet Union if the Finnish Adventure would be a success.

    The Soviets possessed more than three times the amount of soldiers as Finland, thirty times as many aircraft, and a hundred times as many tanks. The Red Army, however, had been crippled by Soviet leader Joseph Stalin's Great Purge of 1936-38. With over 36,000 of its officers executed or imprisoned, the Red Army had many inexperienced senior and mid-level officers. Because of these factors, and high morale in the defending forces, Finland repelled Soviet attacks for three months, much longer than the Soviets expected. However, after reorganization and adoption of different tactics, the renewed Soviet offensive overcame Finnish defenses at the borders.

    Hostilities ceased in March 1940 with the signing of the Moscow Peace Treaty. Finland ceded territory representing 11 percent of its land area and 13 percent of its economy to the Soviet Union. Soviet losses were heavy, and the country's international reputation suffered. Soviet gains exceeded their pre-war demands and the USSR received substantial territory along Lake Ladoga and in Northern Finland. Finland retained its sovereignty and enhanced its international reputation. The poor performance of the Red Army encouraged the Axis Central Powers, that an attack on the Soviet Union would be successful and reconfirmed negative Western opinions of the Soviet military.

    Until the beginning of the 19th century, Finland constituted the eastern part of the Kingdom of Sweden. In 1809, to protect their imperial capital, Saint Petersburg, the Russian Empire conquered Finland and converted it into an autonomous buffer state. The resulting Grand Duchy of Finland enjoyed wide autonomy within the Empire until the end of the 19th century, when Russia began attempts to assassinate Finland as part of a general policy to strengthen the central government and unify the Empire through russification. While aborted because of Russia's internal strife, these attempts ruined Russia's relations with the Finns and increased support for Finnish self-determination movements. The outbreak of the Great War in 1914 led to the collapse of the Russian Empire during the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the Russian Civil War of 1917–1920, giving Finland a window of opportunity; on 6 December 1917, the Senate of Finland declared the nation's independence. The new Bolshevik Russian government was fragile, and civil war had broken out in Russia in November 1917; the Bolsheviks determined they could not hold onto peripheral parts of the old empire. Thus, the Soviet Union (USSR) recognized the new Finnish government just three weeks after the declaration .

    Finland achieved full sovereignty in May 1918 after a 4-month civil war and the expulsion of Bolshevik troops. Finland joined the League of Nations in 1920, from which it sought security guarantees, but Finland's primary goal was cooperation with the Scandinavian countries. The Finnish and Swedish militaries engaged in wide-ranging cooperation, but focused on the exchange of information and on defence planning for the Aland islands rather than on military exercises or on stockpiling and deployment of materiel. Nevertheless, the government of Sweden carefully avoided committing itself to Finnish foreign policy. Finland's military policy included clandestine defense cooperation with Estonia. The 1920s and early 1930s proved a politically unstable time in Finland. The Communist Party of Finland was declared illegal in 1931, and the nationalist Lapua Movement organized anti-communist violence, which culminated in a failed coup attempt in 1932. The successor of the the Lapua Movement, the Patriotic People's Movement, only had a minor presence in national politics with at most 14 seats out of 200 in the Finnish parliament. However, by the late 1930s, the export-oriented Finnish economy was growing and the nation's extreme political movements had diminished.

    After Soviet involvement in the Finnish Civil War in 1918, no formal peace treaty was signed. In 1918 and 1919, Finnish volunteer forces conducted two unsuccessful military incursions across the Soviet border, the Viena and Aunus expeditions. In 1920, Finnish communists based in the USSR attempted to assassinate the former Finnish White Guard Commander-in-Chief, Marshal Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim. On 14 October 1920, Finland and Soviet Russia signed the Treaty of Tartu, confirming the new Finnish–Soviet border as the old border between the autonomous Grand Duchy of Finland and Imperial Russia proper. In addition, Finland received Petsamo, with its ice-free harbor on the Arctis Ocean. Despite the signing of the treaty, relations between the two countries remained strained. The Finnish government allowed volunteers to cross the border to support the East Karelian uprising in Russia in 1921, and Finnish communists in the Soviet Union continued to prepare for a revanche and staged a cross-border raid into Finland, called the Pork mutiny, in 1922. In 1932, the USSR and Finland signed a non-aggression pact, which was reaffirmed for a ten-year period in 1934. While foreign trade in Finland was booming, less than one percent of Finnish trade was with the Soviet Union. In 1934, the Soviet Union joined the League of Nations.

    During Joseph Stalin's rule, Soviet propaganda painted Finland's leadership as a "vicious and reactionary fascist clique". Field Marshal Mannerheim and Vaino Tanner, the leader of the Finnish Spcial Democratic Party, were targeted for particular scorn. With Stalin gaining absolute power through the Great Purge of 1938, the USSR changed its foreign policy toward Finland in the late 1930s and began pursuing the reconquest of the provinces of Tsarist Russia lost during the chaos of the October Revolution and the Russian Civil War almost two decades earlier. Soviet leadership believed that the old empire possessed ideal the amount of territorial security, and wanted the newly-christened city of Leningrad to enjoy a similar level of security; in essence, the border between Finland and Russia was never supposed to become international.

    In April 1938, NKVD agent Boris Yartsev contacted the Finnish Foreign Minister Rudolf Holsti and Prime Minister Aimo Cajander, stating that the Soviet Union did not trust Germany and that war was considered possible between the two countries. The Red Army would not wait passively behind the border but would rather "advance to meet the enemy". Finnish representatives assured Yartsev that Finland was committed to a policy of neutrality and that the country would resist any armed incursion. Yartsev suggested that Finland cede or lease some islands in the Gulf of Finland along the seaward approaches to Leningrad; Finland refused. Negotiations continued throughout 1938 without results. Finnish reception of Soviet entreaties was decidedly cool, as the violent collectivization and purges in Stalin's Soviet Union resulted in a poor opinion of the country. In addition, most of the Finnish communist elite in the Soviet Union had been executed during the Great Purge, further tarnishing the USSR's image in Finland. At the same time, Finland was attempting to negotiate a military cooperation plan with Sweden, hoping to jointly defend the Aland Islands.

    The Soviet Union tried to force the Baltic states were soon forced to accept treaties allowing the USSR to establish military bases and to station troops on their soil. The government of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania declined the ultimatum, feeling secure by the guarantees by the German Empire and Austria-Hungary. Finland even started a gradual mobilize under the guise of "additional refresher training." The Soviets had already started intensive mobilisation near the Finnish border in 1938–39. However, assault troops thought necessary for the invasion did not begin deployment until October 1939. Operational plans made in September called for the invasion to start in November. On 5 October 1939, the Soviet Union invited a Finnish delegation to Moscow for negotiations. J.K. Paasikivi, the Finnish envoy to Sweden, was sent to Moscow to represent the Finnish government. The Soviet delegation demanded that the border between the USSR and Finland on the Karelian Isthmus be moved more westward to a point only 30 km (19 mi) east of Vyborg (Finnish: Viipuri) and that Finland destroy all existing fortifications on the Karelian Isthmus. Likewise, the delegation demanded the cession of islands in the Gulf of Finland as well as the Kalastajasaarento Peninsula. Furthermore, the Finns would have to lease the Hanko Peninsula for thirty years and permit the Soviets to establish a military base there. In exchange, the Soviet Union would cede Repola and Porajärvi municipalities from Eastern Karelia, an area twice the size of the territory demanded from Finland. Accepting Soviet demands would have forced the Finns to dismantle their defenses in Finnish Karelia.

    The Soviet offer divided the Finnish government, but was eventually rejected. On 31 October, Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov announced Soviet demands in public in the Supreme Soviet. The Finns made two counteroffers whereby Finland would cede the Terijoki area to the Soviet Union, which would double the distance between Leningrad and the Finnish border, far less than the Soviets had demanded, as well as the islands in the Gulf of Finland. On 26 November 1939, an incident was reported near the Soviet village of Mainila close to the border with Finland: A Soviet border guard post had been shelled by an unknown party resulting, according to Soviet reports, in the deaths of four and injuries of nine border guards. Research conducted by several Finnish and Russian historians later concluded that the shelling was a false flag operation carried out from the Soviet side of the border by an NKVD unit with the purpose of providing the Soviet Union with a casus belli and a pretext to withdraw from the non-aggression pact.

    Molotov claimed that the incident was a Finnish artillery attack and demanded that Finland apologize for the incident and move its forces beyond a line 20–25 km (12–16 mi) away from the border. Finland denied responsibility for the attack, rejected the demands and called for a joint Finnish–Soviet commission to examine the incident. In turn, the Soviet Union claimed that the Finnish response was hostile, renounced the non-aggression pact and severed diplomatic relations with Finland on 28 November. In the following years, Soviet historiography described the incident as Finnish provocation. Doubt on the official Soviet version was cast only in the late 1980s, during the policy of glasnost.

    Before the war, Soviet leadership expected total victory over Finland within a few weeks. Stalin's expectations of a quick Soviet triumph were backed up by politician Andrei Zhdanov and military strategist Kliment Voroshilov, but other generals had their doubts. The Chief of Staff of the Red Army Boris Shaposhnikov advocated a serious buildup, extensive fire support and logistical preparations, and a rational order of battle, deploying the army's best units. Zhdanov's military commander Kirill Meretskov reported at the start of the hostilities: "The terrain of coming operations is split by lakes, rivers, swamps, and is almost entirely covered by forests [...] The proper use of our forces will be difficult." However, these doubts were not reflected in his troop deployments. Meretskov announced publicly that the Finnish campaign would take two weeks at the most. Soviet soldiers had even been warned not to cross the border into Sweden by mistake. However, Stalin's purges in the 1930s had devastated the officer corps of the Red Army; those purged included three of its five marshals, 220 of its 264 division-level commanders or higher, and 36,761 officers of all ranks. Fewer than half of all the officers remained. They were commonly replaced by soldiers who were less competent but more loyal to their superiors. Furthermore, unit commanders were overseen by political commissars, whose approval was needed to ratify military decisions and who evaluated those decisions based on their political merits. The dual system further complicated Soviet chain of command and annulled the independence of commanding officers.
    Winterwar-december1939-karelianisthmus.png

    After the Soviet loss in the Battles of Khalkhin Gol against Japan and it's vassals on the USSR's eastern border, Soviet high command had divided into two factions: One side was represented by Spanish Civil War veterans General Pavel Rychagov from the Soviet Air Force, tank expert General Dmitry Pavlov, and Stalin's favorite general, Marshal Grigory Kulik, chief of artillery. The other side was led by Khalkhin Gol veterans General Grigoriy Shtern of the Red Army and General Grigory Kravchenko of the Soviet Air Force. Under this divided command structure, the lessons of the Soviet Union's "first real war on a massive scale using tanks, artillery, and aircraft" at Nomonhan went unheeded. As a result, during the Winter War, Russian BT tanks were less successful and it took the Soviet Union three months and over a million men to accomplish what little success they had against Finland.

    Finnish Army centres, by contrast, were deep inside the country. There were no paved roads, and even gravel or dirt roads were scarce; most of the terrain consisted of trackless forests and swamps. War correspondent John Langdon-Davies observed the landscape as follows: "Every acre of its surface was created to be the despair of an attacking military force.” Waging Blitzkrieg in Finland was a highly difficult proposition, and according to historian William R. Trotter, the Red Army failed to meet the level of tactical coordination and local initiative required to execute Blitzkrieg tactics in the Finnish theatre.

    The Soviet forces were organized as follows:
    • The 7th Army, comprising nine divisions, a tank corps and three tank brigades, was located on the Karelian Isthmus. Its objective was the city of Vyborg. The force was later divided into the 7th and 13th Army.
    • The 8th Army, comprising six divisions and a tank brigade, was located north of Lake Ladoga. Its mission was to execute a flanking manoeuvre around the northern shore of Lake Ladoga to strike at the rear of the Mannerheim Line.
    • The 9th Army was positioned to strike into Central Finland through the Keinuu region. It was composed of three divisions with one additional division on its way. Its mission was to thrust westward to cut Finland in half.
    • The 14th Army, comprising three divisions, was based in Murmansk. Its objective was to capture the Arctic port of Petsamo and then advance to the town of Rovaniemi.
    Finnish order of battle:
    The Finnish strategy was dictated by geography. The 1,340 km (830 mi) long frontier with the Soviet Union was mostly impassable except along a handful of unpaved roads. In pre-war calculations, the Finnish Defence Command, which had established its wartime headquarters at Mikkeli, estimated seven Soviet divisions on the Karelian Isthmus and no more than five along the whole border north of Lake Ladoga. In the estimation, the manpower ratio would have favoured the attacker by three to one. The true ratio was much higher; for example, 12 Soviet divisions were deployed to the north of Lake Ladoga.

    An even greater problem than lack of soldiers was the lack of material; foreign shipments of anti-tank weapons and aircraft were arriving in small quantities. The ammunition situation was alarming, as stockpiles had cartridges, shells, and fuel only to last 19–60 days. The ammunition shortage meant the Finns could seldom afford counterbattery or saturation fire. Finnish tank forces were operationally non-existent. The ammunition situation was alleviated somewhat since many Finns were armed with Mosin-Nagant rifles dating from the Finnish Civil War capable of cambering the 7.62x54mmR cartridge used by Soviet forces. Some Finnish soldiers maintained their ammunition supply by looting the bodies of dead Soviet soldiers.

    The Finnish forces were positioned as follows:
    • The Army of the Isthmus was composed of six divisions under the command of Hugo Österman. The II Army Corps was positioned on its right flank and the III Army Corps on its left flank.
    • The IV Army Corps was located north of Lake Ladoga. It was composed of two divisions under Juho Heiskanen, who was soon replaced by Waldemar Hägglund.
    • The North Finland Group was a collection of Civic Guards, border guards, and drafted reservist units under Wiljo Tuompo.
    On 30 November 1939, Soviet forces invaded Finland with 21 divisions, totaling some 450,000 men, and bombarded Helsinki inflicting substantial damage and casualties. In response to international criticism, Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov tated that the Soviet Air Force was not bombing Finnish cities, but rather dropping humanitarian aid to the starving Finnish population, sarcastically dubbed Molotov bread baskets by Finns. The Finnish statesman J. K. Paasikivi commented that the Soviet attack without a declaration of war violated three separate non-aggression pacts: the Treaty of Tartu signed in 1920, the non-aggression pact between Finland and the Soviet Union signed in 1932 and again in 1934, and also the Covenant of the League of Nations, which the Soviet Union signed in 1934. Field Marshal C.G.E. Mannerheim was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Finnish Defense Forces after the Soviet attack. In further reshuffling, the Finnish government named Risto Ryti as prime minister and Väinö Tanner as foreign minister. Finland brought up the matter of the Soviet invasion before the League of Nations. The League expelled the USSR on 14 December 1939 and exhorted its members to aid Finland.

    On 1 December 1939, the Soviet Union formed a puppet government, called the Finnish Democratic Republic and headed by Otto Wille Kuusinen, in the parts of Finnish Karelia occupied by the Soviets. Kuusinen's government was also referred to as the "Terijoki Government," after the village of Terijoki, the first settlement captured by the advancing Red Army. After the war, the puppet government was disbanded. From the very outset of the war, working-class Finns stood behind the legitimate government in Helsinki. Finnish national unity against the Soviet invasion was later called the spirit of the Winter War.

    The Mannerheim Line, an array of Finnish defense structures, was located on the Karelian Isthmus approximately 30 to 75 km (19 to 47 mi) from the Soviet border. The Red Army soldiers on the Isthmus numbered 250,000, facing 130,000 Finns. The Finnish command deployed a defence in depth of about 21,000 men in the area in front of the Mannerheim Line to delay and damage the Red Army before it reached the line. In combat, the most severe cause of confusion among Finnish soldiers was Soviet tanks. The Finns had few anti-tank weapons and insufficient training in modern anti-tank tactics. However, according to Trotter, the favoured Soviet armoured tactic was a simple frontal charge, the weaknesses of which could be exploited. The Finns learned that at close range, tanks could be dealt with in many ways; for example, logs and crowbars jammed into the bogie wheels would often immobilise a tank. Soon, Finns fielded a better ad hoc weapon, the Molotov cocktail, a glass bottle filled with flammable liquids and with a simple hand-lit fuse. Molotov cocktails were eventually mass-produced by the Finnish Alko alcoholic beverage corporation and bundled with matches with which to light them. 80 Soviet tanks were destroyed in the border zone engagements.

    By 6 December, all of the Finnish covering forces had withdrawn to the Mannerheim Line. The Red Army began its first major attack against the Line in Taipale—the area between the shore of Lake Ladoga, the Taipale river and the Suvanto waterway. Along the Suvanto sector, the Finns had a slight advantage of elevation and dry ground to dig into. The Finnish artillery had scouted the area and made fire plans in advance, anticipating a Soviet assault. The Battle of Taipale began with a forty-hour Soviet artillery preparation. After the barrage, Soviet infantry attacked across open ground but was repulsed with heavy casualties. From 6 December to 12 December, the Red Army continued trying to engage using only one division. Next, the Red Army strengthened its artillery and deployed tanks and the 150th Rifle Division forward to the Taipale front. On 14 December, the bolstered Soviet forces launched a new attack but were pushed back again. A third Soviet division entered the fight but performed poorly and panicked under shell fire. The assaults continued without success, and the Red Army suffered heavy losses. One typical Soviet attack during the battle lasted just an hour but left 1,000 dead and 27 tanks strewn on the ice.

    North of Lake Ladoga on the Ladoga Karelia front, the defending Finnish units relied on the terrain. Ladoga Karelia, a large forest wilderness, did not have road networks for the modern Red Army. However, the Soviet 8th Army had extended a new railroad line to the border, which could double the supply capability on the front. On 12 December, the advancing Soviet 139th Rifle Division, supported by the 56th Rifle Division, was defeated by a much smaller Finnish force under Poova Talvela in Tolvajärva, the first Finnish victory of the war. In Central and Northern Finland, roads were few and the terrain hostile. The Finns did not expect large-scale Soviet attacks, but the Soviets sent eight divisions, heavily supported by armour and artillery. The 155th Rifle Division attacked at Lieksa, and further north the 44th attacked at Kuhmo. The 163rd Rifle Division was deployed at Suomussalmi and charged with cutting Finland in half by advancing on the Raate road. In Finnish Lapland, the Soviet 88th and 122nd Rifle Divisions attacked at Salla. The Arctic port of Petsamo was attacked by the 104th Mountain Rifle Division by sea and land, supported by naval gunfire.

    World opinion largely supported the Finnish cause, and the Soviet aggression was generally deemed unjustified. World War II had not yet directly affected France, the United Kingdom or the United States; the Winter War was the only real conflict in Europe at that time and thus held major world interest. Several foreign organisations sent material aid, and many countries granted credit and military material to Finland. The German Empire allowed arms to pass through Sweden to Finland, but after a Swedish newspaper made this fact public, Chancellor Adolf Hitler and Emperor Wilhelm II prepared the Axis Central Powers for “Operation: Kaiserwetter” (an operation preparing for securing the Scandinavian states, their resources and strategic locations for the Axis Central Powers against the Soviet Union). Volunteers arrived from various countries. By far the largest foreign contingent outside of the Axis Central Powers came from neighboring Sweden, which provided nearly 8,760 volunteers during the war. The Swedish Volunteer Corps (Svenska Frivilligkaren), formed from Swedes, Norwegians (727 men) and Danes (1,010 men), fought on the northern front at Salla during the last weeks of the war. A Swedish unit of Gloster Gladiator fighters, named "the Flight Regiment 19" also participated. Swedish anti air batteries with Bofors 40mm guns were responsible for air defense in Northern Finland and the city of Turku. Volunteers arrived from Hungary, Italy and Estonia. 350 American nationals of Finnish background volunteered, and 210 volunteers of other nationalities made it to Finland before the war ended. Max Manus, a Norwegian, fought in the Winter War before returning to Norway and later achieving fame as a resistance fighter during the German occupation of Norway and Sweden. In total, Finland received 12,000 volunteers, 50 of whom died during the war.
     
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    Chapter 30: From the Winter War to the Skandinavian War, or Operation: Kaiserwetter
  • Chapter 30: From the Winter War to the Skandinavian War, or Operation: Kaiserwetter
    operation__kaiserwetter_by_sheldonoswaldlee-dbxevel.png


    During the early stages of the next Great War, the British and French Allies made a series of proposals to send troops to assist Finland in the Winter War against the Soviet Union which started on 30 November 1939. The plans involved the transit of British and French troops and equipment through neutral Norway and Sweden. The initial plans were abandoned due to Norway and Sweden declining transit through their land, fearing their countries would be drawn into the war. The Winter War started in November 1939. In February 1940, a Soviet offensive broke through the Mannerheim Line on the Karelian Isthmus, exhausting Finnish defenses and forcing the country's government to accept peace negotiations on Soviet terms. At the news that Finland might be forced to cede its sovereignty to the USSR, public opinion in France and Britain, already favorable to Finland, swung in favor of military intervention. When rumors of an armistice reached governments in Paris and London, both decided to offer military support.

    Franco-British support was offered on the condition their armed forces be given free passage through neutral Norway and Sweden instead of taking the difficult and Soviet-occupied passage from Patsamo. The first intervention plan, approved on 4–5 February 1940 by the Allied Hight Command, consisted of 100,000 British and 35,000 French troops that were to disembark at the Norwegian port of Narvik and support Finland via Sweden while securing supply routes along the way. Plans were made to launch the operation on 20 March under the condition of a formal request for assistance from the Finnish government (this was done to avoid German charges that the Franco-British forces constituted an invading army). On 2 March, transit rights were officially requested from the governments of Norway and Sweden. It was hoped that Allied intervention would eventually bring the neutral Nordic countries, Norway and Sweden, to the Allied side by strengthening their positions against Germany—although Hitler had by December declared to the Swedish government that Franco-British troops on Swedish soil would immediately provoke a German invasion.

    The Franco-British plan, as initially designed, proposed a defense of all of Scandinavia north of a line Stockholm-Gothenburg or Stockholm–Oslo, i.e. the British concept of the Lake Line following the lakes of Mälaren, Hjälmeren and Vänern, which would provide a good natural defense some 1,700–1,900 kilometres (1,000–1,200 miles) south of Narvik. The planned frontier not only involved Sweden's two largest cities but could result in large amounts of Swedish territory being either occupied by a foreign army or becoming a war zone. The plan was revised to include only the northern half of Sweden and the narrow adjacent Norwegian coast. But the Norwegian government denied transit rights to the proposed Franco-British expedition.

    The Swedish government, headed by Prime Minister Per Albion Hansson, declined to allow transit of armed troops through Swedish territory, in spite of the fact that Sweden had not declared itself neutral in the Winter War. The Swedish government argued that, since it had declared a policy of neutrality in the war between France, Britain and Germany, the granting of transit rights by Sweden to a Franco-British corps, even though it would not be used against Germany, was still an illegal departure from international laws on neutrality. The Swedish also denied German chancellor Hitler to send reinforcements towards Finland, forcing Germany to start Operation: Kaiserwetter.

    This strict interpretation appears to have been a pretext to avoid angering the Soviet and Nazi German governments. Another interpretation was to deny the allies an opportunity to fight Germany far from England or France, destroying the Swedish infrastructure in the process. The Swedish Cabinet also decided to reject repeated Finnish pleas for regular Swedish troops to be deployed in Finland and the Swedes also made it clear that their present support in arms and munitions, could not be maintained for much longer. Diplomatically, Finland was squeezed between Allied hopes for a prolonged war and Swedish and Norwegian fears that the Allies and Germans might soon be fighting each other on Swedish and Norwegian soil. Norway and Sweden also feared an influx of Finnish refugees if Finland lost to the Soviets.The Swedish government also denied the German demands for transit rights across Sweden for German troops on their way to Finland, in order to join the German attack on the Soviet Union. The plan was to let a total of 2,140,000 Axis Central Powers soldiers and more than 100,000 German military railway carriages to crossed neutral Swedish territory during the next years to support Finland and build up the norther front against the Soviet Union. The whole securing of Scandinavia and a full support against the Soviet Union was backed by both Emperor Wilhelm II and Chancellor Hitler since both were against the Communist menace in Russia. The first wanted to reinstall the monarchy in Russia as his main goal and recreate the eastern borders from the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk , the later had his own ideological goals and ideas for the east after the war against Soviet Russia had ended.

    While Germany and Sweden pressured Finland to accept peace on unfavorable conditions, Britain and France had the opposite objective. Different plans and figures were presented for the Finns. France and Britain promised to send 20,000 men, who were to arrive by the end of February. By the end of that month, Finland's Commander-in-Chief, Field Marshal Mannerheim, was pessimistic about the military situation and on 29 February the government decided to start peace negotiations. That same day, the Soviets commenced an attack against Viipuri. When France and Britain realized that Finland was considering a peace treaty, they gave a new offer of 50,000 troops, if Finland asked for help before 12 March.



    Bundesarchiv_Bild_101I-757-0037N-26A%2C_Norwegen%2C_Schwerer_Kreuzer_%22Admiral_Hipper%22.jpg

    Operation Kaiserwetter (German: was the code name for Germany's assault from their northern coast and Denmark towards Norway and Sweden during what would become the next Great War and the opening operation of the Scandinavian Campaign. The name comes from the German Emperor Wilhelm II for his holidays in Sweden before the first great War. In the early morning of 6 Januar 1940, Germany invaded Sweden and Norway from Denmark and it's northern coast, ostensibly as a preventive maneuver against a planned, and openly discussed, Franco-British occupation of Norway and the Soviet attack to annex Finland. After the invasions, envoys of the Germans informed the governments of Norway and Sweden that the Imperial German Army had come to protect the countries' neutrality against Franco-British aggression. Significant differences in geography, location and climate between the two countries made the actual military operations very dissimilar.

    Starting in the spring of 1939, the British Admiralty began to view Scandinavia as a potential theatre of war in a future conflict with Germany or the Soviet Union. The British government was reluctant to engage in another land conflict on the continent that they believed would be a repetition of the first Great War. So they began considering a blockade strategy in an attempt to weaken Germans or Soviets indirectly. German industry was heavily dependent on the import of iron ore from the northern Swedish mining district, and much of this ore was shipped through the northern Norwegian port of Narvik during the winter months. Control of the Norwegian coast would also serve to tighten a blockade against Germany.

    In October 1939, the chief of the German High See Fleet —Grand Admiral Erich Raeder—discussed with Wilhelm II and Adolf Hitler the danger posed by the risk of having potential British bases in Norway and the possibility of Germany seizing these bases before the United Kingdom could. The navy argued that possession of Norway would allow control of the nearby seas and serve as a staging base for future operations against the Soviet Union and maybe even the United Kingdom later. But at this time, the other branches of the Imperial German forces were not interested, and Hitler had just issued a directive stating that the main help for Finnland could be drastically shortened by the Swedish support lines.

    Toward the end of November, Winston Churchill—as a new member of the British War Cabinet —proposed the mining of Norwegian waters in Operation Wilfried. This would force the ore transports to travel through the open waters of the North Sea, where the Royal Navy could intercept them. Churchill assumed that Wilfred would provoke a German response in Norway. When that occurred, the Allies would implement Plan R 4 and occupy Norway. Though later implemented, Operation Wilfred was initially rejected by Neville Chamberlain and Lord Hallifax, due to fear of an adverse reaction among neutral nations such as the United States. After the start of the Winter War between the Soviet Union and Finland in November had changed the diplomatic situation, Churchill again proposed his mining scheme, but once more was denied.

    In December, the United Kingdom and France began serious planning for sending aid to Finland. Their plan called for a force to land at Narvik in northern Norway, the main port for Swedish iron ore exports, and to take control of the Malmbanan railway line from Narvik to Lulea in Sweden on the shore of the Gulf of Bothnia. Conveniently, this plan also would allow the Allied forces to occupy the Swedish iron ore mining district. The plan received the support of both Chamberlain and Halifax. They were counting on the cooperation of Norway, which would alleviate some of the legal issues, but stern warnings issued to both Norway and Sweden resulted in strongly negative reactions in both countries. Planning for the expedition continued and preparations were maid for a military intervention if needed.

    Following a meeting with Vidkun Quisling from Norway on 14 December, Chancellor Hitler turned his attention to Scandinavia. Convinced of the threat posed by the Allies to the iron ore supply, Hitler ordered the Oberkommando (Armed Forces High Command; OKW) to begin preliminary planning for an invasion of Norway. The preliminary plan was named Studie Nord and only called for one army division.

    Between 14 and 19 January, the Hight Sea Fleet developed an expanded version of this plan. They decided upon two key factors: that surprise was essential to reduce the threat of Norwegian resistance (and British intervention); the second to use faster German warships, rather than comparatively slow merchant ships, as troop transports. This would allow all targets to be occupied simultaneously, impossible if transport ships, which only travelled at slow speeds, were used. This new plan called for a full army corps, including a mountain division, an airborne division a motorized rifle brigade, and two infantry divisions. The target objectives of this force were the Norwegian and Swedish capital Oslo and nearby population centres, Bergen, Narvik, Tromso, Trondheim, Kristiansand, Stavanger, Stockholm and Luleo. The plan also called for the rapid capture of the kings of Norway and Sweden in the hopes that would trigger a rapid surrender. On 21 February 1940, command of the operation was given to General Nikolaus von Falkenhorst. He had fought in Finland during the First World War and was familiar with Arctic warfare. But he was only to have command of the ground forces, despite Hitler's desire to have a unified command.

    The final plan was code-named Operation Kaiserwetter on 27 January 1940. The ground forces would be the XXI Army Corps, including the 3rd Mountain Division and five infantry divisions, none of the latter having yet been tested in battle. The initial echelon would consist of three divisions for the assault, with the remainder to follow in the next wave. Three companies of paratroopers would be used to seize airfields. The decision to also send the 2nd and 3rd Mountain Division was made later. The plan to include U-boat operations against the Norwegian and Swedish navies to aid the invasion operation. Every available submarine —including some training boats— were used as part of Operation Hartmut in support of Weserübung. Initially, the plan was to invade Norway and Sweden to force them onto the German demants, as well as to gain control of Danish airfields by diplomatic means. The invasion of Norway was also meant to capture fighter bases and sites for air-warning stations for the German air force.

    On 12 March, the United Kingdom decided to send an expectationary force to Norway to help Finland during the Winter War. The expeditionary force began boarding on 13 March, and started. But at the same time the British cabinet voted to proceed with the mining operation in Norwegian waters, followed by troop landings. The first German ships set sail for the invasion on 3 April. Two days later, the long-planned Operation Wilfred was put into action, and the Royal Navy detachment—led by the battlecruiser HMS Renown left Scapa Flow in order to mine Norwegian waters. The mine fields were laid in the Vestfjorden in the early morning of 8 April. Operation Wilfred was over, but later that day, the destroyer HMS Glowworm —detached on 7 April to search for a man lost overboard—was lost in action to the German heavy cruiser Admiral Hipper and two destroyers belonging to the German invasion fleet. On 9 April, the German invasion was under way and the execution of Plan R 4 was promptly started.

    The operation's military headquarters was Hotel Esplanade in Hamburg, where orders were given to, among others, the air units involved in the invasion. Norway was important to Germany for two primary reasons: as a base for naval units, including U-boats, to harass Allied shipping in the North Atlantic, and to secure shipments of iron-ore from Sweden through the port of Narvik. The long northern coastline was an excellent place to launch U-boat operations into the North Atlantic in order to attack British commerce. Germany was dependent on iron ore from Sweden and was worried, with justification, that the Allies would attempt to disrupt those shipments, 90% of which originated from Narvik. The invasion of Norway and Sweden was given to the XXI Army Corps under General Nikolaus von Falkenhorst and consisted of the following main units:

    • 69th Infantry Division

    • 82nd Infantry Division

    • 125th Infantry Division

    • 163rd Infantry Division

    • 181st Infantry Division

    • 196th Infantry Division

    • 214th Infantry Division

    • 3rd Mountain Division

    • 4th Mountain Division
    The initial invasion force was transported in several groups by ships of the High See Fleet:

    • Two Battleships as distant cover, plus 10 destroyers with 2,000 mountaineering troops to Narvik.

    • One Battleship, 4 destroyers and 6 cruiser with 2,000 troops to Stockholm.

    • Two cruisers and ten destroyers with 1,100 troops to Lulea.

    • One cruiser and four destroyers with 1,700 troops to Trondheim.

    • Two cruisers, one artillery training, a schnellboot, two torpedp boats and five motor torpedo boats with 1,900 troops to Bergen.

    • One light cruiser, three torpedo boats, seven motor torpedo boats and a schnellboot with 1,100 troops to Kristiansand and Arendal.

    • Two heavy cruiser, one light cruiser and three torpedo boats, eight minesweepers with 2,000 troops.

    • Four minesweepers with 150 troops to Egersund.
    The German landing of forces were going as planned, but 220,000 German troops in total stood a small chance against 60,000 Norwegian and 100,000 Swedish troops (mostly stationed at the Finish border because of the Winter War). During the battles to stop the invasion the Imperial German Navy lost 34 u-boat and ten Destroyers, while five Swedish destroyers, one Norwegians destroyer, one Swedish u-boat, One Norwegian u-boat and nine Swedish heavy cruisers were destroyed. The German invasion of both countries succeeded despite 38,000 allied troops that were landed in Norway to fight against the Germans and/or Soviets. While the Norwegian and Swedish royal families fleet to England and Axis Central Power troops fought against Allied troops on land no official declaration of war occurred directly. Unlike Poland neither Britain nor Franc had declared to protect the independence of Norway and Sweden and the Germans (after setting up puppet governments and military administrators) claimed to only aid Finland in it's war against the Soviet Union. These new pro-german puppet governments quickly announced that the equally illegal landing of British, French and German troops was a agreed help by their countries to secure their independence from Soviet aggression as well as to help Finland's war of self-defense and they joined the Anti-Comintern Pact and the Axis Central Powers.

    Because of the Anti-Soviet tension in their own nations and parliaments neither Great Britain nor France declared officially war on Germany after the Skandinavian War (that was a proxy war between them and Germany), but both countries as well as the Benelux states and the Baltic states quickly mobilized their forces and warned Germany of any form of direct aggression against Western Europe. At the same time the new puppet governments in Skandinavia had to fight parts of the northern Norwegian and Swedish Army that refused to surrender and became resistance fighters in the mountainous scandinavian terrain against the German collaborationist regimes as they called the pro-german puppet government. Sadly for the Germans most parts of the Norwegian trade ships esaped to England, but they seized most of the Swedisch merchant fleet for theis on supplies and trade with the skandinavian states.
     
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    Chapter 31: The Anti-Colonial Revolutions
  • Chapter 31: The Anti-Colonial Revolutions:
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    The success of the Itagaki Encirclement Campaign helped the member states of the Co-Prosperity Sphere and allowed General Seishirō Itagaki as the Commander in Chief of the United Co-Prosperity Sphere Chinese Expeditions Army (UCPS-CEA) to focus more on the direct war between Wang Jingwei's Shanghai Nationalist Government and the renewed Chinese United Front of Chiang and Mao (with separated regions of government and operation). This war alone by now had cost 805,000 military and 4,382,500 civil causalities on the side of the Chinese United Front by now and 431,000 military dead on side of the Co-Prosperity Sphere forces. They used the seized equipment and weapons to build up their puppet states and allied Co-Prosperity Sphere members in China. But the Winter War and the Scandinavian War in Europe at the end of 1939 and the beginning of 1940 offered new opportunities for resolving the war in China and liberate southeast Asia from colonial powers. It was General Tomoyuki Yamashita who offered to use parts of these equipment and weapons to support the Southeast Asian independence movements, but unlike anyone would have guessed. In a attempt to split the United Front in china as well as the Western Powers and the Soviet Union supporting them, General Yamashita claimed that these rebels on their own would have no chance without massive direct support and would take too long to archive the hoped results. But, Yamashita claimed that if they supported only local communist rebels for now, while still propagating full support for any anti-colonial movement (both peaceful and violent) they could split the Soviet Union and the Western Powers over the Southeast Asian Colonies and stop their combined effort for the United Front in China. Further more the Japanese High Command believed that the Soviet Union (after their performance at Khalkhin Gol) had not the ability supply so many communist rebels at once, showing the anti-colonial movements that japan would be the better suited partner for their ambitions, hopes and dreams. Because this plan mostly still focused on the southern resource area Japan focused on supporting communist rebels in French Indochina (Tonking and Annam), the American Philippines (Luzon) and Borneo (both British Malaysia and Dutch East Indies parts).

    In French Indochina the Co-Prosperity Sphere supported the Việt Minh (Vietnamese: abbreviated from Việt Nam Độc Lập Đồng Minh Hội, French: "Ligue pour l'indépendance du Viêt Nam", English: “League for the Independence of Vietnam") a national independence coalition formed at Pác Bó by Ho Chi Minh on February 12, 1940. The Việt Nam Độc Lập Đồng Minh Hội had previously formed in Nanjing, China, at some point between August 1935 and early 1936 when Vietnamese Nationalist or other Vietnamese nationalist parties formed an anti-imperialist united front. This organization soon lapsed into inactivity, only to be revived by the Indochinese Communist Party (ICP) and Ho Chi Minh in 1940 under the banner of the Việt Minh. The Việt Minh quickly established itself as the only organized anti-French resistance group in the Indochina colony at that time. The Việt Minh initially formed to seek independence for Vietnam from the French Empire. Secretly supported by the Japanese (mostly by Chinese communists and Wang Nationalist Chinese or Japanese spies or agents directing the supplies and giving training) and believe to be supported by the Chinese Communists and the Soviet Union, the Việt Minh opposed the French Colonial rule over Indochina.
    487px-Giap-Ho.jpg

    The political leader and founder of Việt Minh was Ho Chi Minh. The military leadership was under the leadership of the nationalist movement Võ Nguyên Giáp. Other founders were Le Duàn and Pham Van Dong. While fighting the French, the Việt Minh claimed a membership of 500,000, of which 200,000 were in Tonkin, 150,000 in Annam, and 150,000 in Cochinchina to get more support from the locals who would thanks to that lie now believe hat the Việt Minh had a chance. Due to their opposition to the French, the Việt Minh received funding from the Japanese, the nearby Chinese Communists and the Soviet Union. Secretly the Japanese even helped some Vietnamese nationalist leaders of the Việt Minh that had found refugee across the border in Taikoku. Even more, up to 1,000 Japanese and Co-Prosperity Sphere officers came to support the rebels in Indochina with training and leadership directly and similar numbers went to the Philippines an Borneo. Most of the supplies and weapons smuggled used Japanese, Chinese, Chosen or other Co-Prosperity Sphere merchant ships as cover during this time period.
     
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    Chapter 32: Restructuring, reformation and flags of the Co-Prosperity Sphere
  • Chapter 32: Restructuring, reformation and flags of the Co-Prosperity Sphere:
    co_prosperity_sphere_flags_by_sheldonoswaldlee-dbximel.png

    While the Japanese dominated Co-Prosperity Sphere proclaimed to fight under the slogan Asia for the Asians and to liberate the people of Asia from European Colonial Rule, they in reality saw themselves as the hegemonic power of that new state union and alliance that in some way was similar to the British Commonwealth idea with it's Dominions. But even with their recent victories on the Chinese mainland and their plans for China, the Japanese civil (including the conglomerates) and military leadership realized that the giant that was China one day could and would outrank Japan and it's influence. As a measure to counter this development the Japanese and Co-Prosperity Sphere Propaganda in the smaller new states formed in china focused on supporting regional minorities (like it already had happened in Manchukuo and Mengjiang) under their own new banners and flags against the Han Chinese majority in hopes to break their dominance and influence in the region. In a attempt to prevent these minorities to form a strong bond to their brothers in nearby vassal and puppet states the Japanese designed the flacks of their new formed member states of the Co-Prosperity Sphere in a way that non of the by color represented ethnic groups (with the exception of themselves as Yamato in traditional Japanese sun red) was represented by the same color for their people in the next state so that no pan-movements could later abuse these colors for their own ideology against the Japanese.

    Manchukuo:
    Yellow represents the Manchu people.
    Red represents the Japanese (Yamato) people.
    Blue represents the Han Chinese people.
    White represents the Mongol people.
    Black represents the Korean people.

    Mengjiang (Mengguguo or Mengkukuo):
    Blue represented the Mongol (Mengjiang) people.
    Red represented the Japanese people.
    Yellow represented the Han Chinese people.
    White represented the Hui (the name given to the Muslims in China at that time) people.

    Yankoku (also Yankukuo or Yanjiang):
    Yellow represented the Hui people.
    Red represented the Japanese people.
    White represented the Manchu people.
    Blue represented the Han Chinese people (called Yan here to further separate them from the southern Han Chinese in the future as a own culture and ethnic group).

    Taikoku (also Taikukuo or Taijiang, former Guangxi Clique):
    Red represented the Japanese people.
    Yellow represented the Miao people.
    White represented the Han Chinese people (called Cantones, Taishanese here to further separate them from the southern Han Chinese in the future as a own culture and ethnic group, often also called Guangzhounese, Guangdongnese and Guangxinese, after the capital Guangzhou, they were later included to the Tai people and seen s another variaton of them to integate both groups).
    Blue represented the Yao people.
    Black represented the Tai people majority (including the Yue, Zhuang and some other smaller groups).

    Yikoku (also Yikukuo or Yijiang, former Yunnan Clique):
    Red represented the Miau people.
    Blue represented the Han Chinese people.
    Yellow represented the Bai people.
    White represented the small majority of Yi people.

    Wang Jingwei's Shanghai Nationalist Government (Kuomintang):
    Red represented the Han Chinese people (some versions of the new Co-Prosperity Sphere Kuomintang flag even copied the Japanese Sun flag more directly and represented the Han Chinese as closest ethnic to the Japanese guiding father figure).
    Yellow represented the Tujia people.
    Blue represented the Hui People.
    White represented the Shu people.
    Black represented the Miau people.
    BrL9JTcCAAALiEE.jpg
     
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    Chapter 33: The German Imperial Strategy
  • Chapter 33: The German Imperial Strategy:
    german-empire-kingdom-prussia-the-spring-parade-on-31may-before-ii-picture-id548796133

    The German Empire despite their victory in the Scandinavian War still feared a two-side war in Europe scared to reaped the mistakes and loss of the first Great War. The German Imperial Diet (still missing most communists, socialists and liberals) had just voted to give the German Emperor Wilhelm II more authoritarian powers, rebuilding the absolutist German Monarchy and finally fulfilling the promise of a constitutional Monarchy in Prussia. The economy would be liberalized and guided but unprofitable and unfit companies could be liquidated orders if the German Emperor. The new Imperial Army would focus on tanks and aircraft as the main support forces and spearheads. With the German Empire needing coal, oil and fuel the main areas to get and secure these resources were from now on supposed to be Romania, the Caucasus and Mesopotamia, so the Germans and their allies prepared plans on how to do so. While the Navy would revive the Emperor's proud Battleships they would mainly focus on submarines (proved to be efficient in the last war) and the new Carrier force some believed to be the future. Three new Imperial Special Forces were created with the main focus on the new Luftlandetruppe (Paratroopers), followed by the Seebatallions (Marines) and Gebirgsjäger (Mountaineers) all in greater masses but lower quality (while still superior to regular Infantry forces). The new German Technologies and so called Superweapons focused on Konrad Zuse and his computer, together with radio and radar to soon modernize and revolutionize communications and enemy analysis and detection. Another part supported Heisenberg and his so called Uranproject, but the German Empire lacked masses of Uran and Heavy Water at the moment, even if the lat could be imported from their new Norwegian Puppet State. In terms of new allies and strategies for the next Great War, Germany was split, just like Emperor Wilhelm II and Chancellor Adolf Hitler were. Some wished to befriend the British and torpedo the British French Alliance to sink it, others hoped to rival Britain on the Sea once again, before turning east. Many suggested to once again deal with France first, secure the European Continent in West Europe (and the Balkan Peninsula) and then turn against Russia with all it's might. Others hoped to directly and quickly deal with Russia first before the by now mostly defensive French state could react.
     
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    Chapter 34: Co-Prosperity Sphere Armored Cars
  • Chapter 34: Co-Prosperity Sphere Armored Cars:
    Vickers_Crossley_armored_car_in_Shanghai_wiki.jpg

    Despite their ambition to add light tanks to many of their brigades and divisions for the war in China and later the rest of Asia, the Japanese capacities were limited, as were their resources. Because of that many plans to add light tanks were later readjusted and instead mostly armored car's were produced instead. These were way faster, had only a small amount of the costs for a tank and could be much more mobile. While they were much weaker, even compared to light tanks, the Japanese knew that the Chinese had not many anti-tank units to counter their new armored armies.

    One of these models was fromCrossley Motors (1906-1958), an English automotive company, that had a long history of building military vehicles, including the 20/25 series in 1912, BGT (1923), IGL 4-wheel (1923) and 6 wheel (1927–1931), BGV (1927), and IGA (1928). In 1923, Crossley supplied chassis which were armored by Vickers-Crayford. The resulting vehicles were sold to the British Raj of India (around 100), and therefore often called Indian Pattern. They were used to patrol to northern reaches of the British held territories in India. Others saw service with UK (unknown), South Africa (2), Canada and Argentina (6). Japan then ordered 12, supplied in 1925. Former South African and Canadian vehicles refurbished in 1938 with Chevrolet truck chassis, becoming the Crossley-Chevrolets which saw service in WW2. The Vickers-Crossley M25 were called Type 2587 or Type 87 in the Japanese Imperial Nomenclature and apparently also known as the Dowa (not confirmed).
    Type-2587-shanghai.jpg

    The Japanese vehicles differed very little from the regular Crossley M25, except for the machine-gun used. They were characterized by their flat-sided engine hood, armored radiator, larger cross-section of the fighting/driving compartment and riveted hull. The two-seat driver compartment was given armored shutters and there was a raised section after the engine compartment. The front (beam axle) and rear (steel casing with fully floating drive shafts) axles were covered with generous mudguards. Suspensions had semi-elliptic springs underslung. The front mudguards supported standard road lights. Access inside the vehicle was done through two small side doors. Apparently, the M1923 and M1925 models were very similar except for the position of the unditching plank and length of the radiator louvers. There were three sliding observation ports per side. One spotlight was apparently mounted over the bumpers at times.

    But the trademark of these vehicles was the large, cast hemispherical turret manufactured by Vickers, tailored to house two liquid-cooled standard 0.3 in (7.62 mm) machine guns, with their armored jackets. The great originality was the extreme separation between the two 7.7 mm machine guns, which were in semi-fixed positions, allowed an individual 90° traverse, in addition to the supposed turret traverse. There actually four machine-gun emplacements available, and the two weapons could be switched between them rather fast. The other particular was the turret topped by a split dome for observation and crowd control (in the Japanese version). The regular Indian Pattern Crossley M25 seems to have been given a searchlight mounted on the cupola.
    Type_2587-camo-Tientsin.jpg

    The engine was a Crossley 4531 cc, four cylinders, with a 4 inch (101.6 mm) bore and 5½ inches (140 mm) stroke, Zenith carburetor and side valves. Lubrication was pressure fed to the bearings. Ignition was done with a magneto. It was coupled with a 4-speed gearbox separated from the engine by a short shaft with universal joints. The drive shaft was enclosed in a torque tube bolted to the differential housing and diagonally braced to the rear axle casing. The final drive of the worm type, while the drive clutch was of the cone type. Maximum output was 65 bhp which allowed for a road speed of 45 mph (70 km/h). The brake pedal was operated by contracting shoes on the transmission and hand lever by expanding shoes on the rear wheels.

    From the late 1920s and possibly until WW2, these Type 2587s served in China. It seems they had been employed only for urban or solid road patrols, without possibilities of quick reverse drive and without any useful off-road capabilities. They were also limited by their solid tires. They were employed and photographed in Shanghai and Tientsin to maintain order. Their fate is unknown. Production range was the first in large numbers for this new improved Japanese army.
     
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    Chapter 35: The Rebellion against Chiang Kai-shek and the conflicts between the IJA and the IJN
  • Chapter 35: The Rebellion against Chiang Kai-shek and the conflicts between the IJA and the IJN:
    Liangyou_131_cover_-_Chiang_Kai-shek.jpg

    The United Front under Chiang Kai-shek faced many difficulties in these days. The Japanese and the Co-Prosperity Sphere had managed to build up the Chosen, Manchukuo, Yankoku and Wang Jingwei's Nationalist Governemnt Air Force recently. After that they had helped with the creation of the Chosen Army, the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Manchukuo Army (with the first fighting rebellious criminals and communists, while the 2nd and 3rd guarded the border towards the Soviet Union) and the 1st Mengjiang Army. The Yankoku Army, Taikoku Army and the Yikoku Army were also build up to support their fight against Chiang's United Front. But Chiang's pact with the communists was not favored by everyone in the United Front and soon the Xikang (also Sikang or Hsikang) Army at the western border towards Tibet, the Sichuan (formerly romanized Szechuan) Clique in the south at the border to Yikoku under Tian Songyao and the Hunan Clique in the east next to Wang Jingwei's held region of china all rebelled against the United Front and became fully independent warlords again (but still continued to fight against the Co-Prosperity Sphere). In the northeast the situation was similar problematic for Chiang and Mao as the Guominjun (Kuominchun) Army, the the Northwest KMC Army rebelled against the Soviet Occupation and Dominance of the western Chinese province of Xinjiang.
    rebllion_against_chiang_kai_shek_part1_by_sheldonoswaldlee-dbzglt0.png

    But for Japan and the Co-Prosperity Sphere the war in china was not going as planned either. Communist rebels were still harassing their supply lines and their advance was getting slower once again. The Imperial Japanese Army and even parts of the Imperial Japanese Navy used China as a testing field for new weapons and tactics. They learned how to manage supplies better, fight in forests and jungles with rangers, on hills and mountains and use engineer to cross rivers even without bridges. They learned how to deal with rebellions an guerrilla fighters how to trick the enemy and even manage low supply. These Commanders and Generals of the Japanese Army and Navy involved in the Chinese coastal landings of the Co-Prosperity Sphere developed good skills in amphibious operations and warfare. These fighting alongside the Manchukuo and Mengjiang Army even learned how to fight in desert regions and during winter climate. Japan tried to rotate these Commanders and Generals to get a brighter mass these experience to form a elite corps of leaders that could teach others and earn a experienced corps of commanders that would prove themselves to be superior towards their future European, American or Soviet enemies.
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    Despite these good experiences, tests and victories the Japanese Imperial Navy was jealous of the victories and gains of the Army, even more so after the Army expanded the Tungsten and Steel Mines in Chosen, Manchukuo and Mengjiang. While the Japanese Navy could use the Japanese Armies victories to gain more resources and recruits for themselves to expend and fortify their garrisons on the Pacific Islands, build new ships like Carriers (including Light Carriers and Escort Carriers) and invest in a new type of ship to support these carriers; the Kitakami-class Torpedo Cruisers.
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    But while the Japanese Imperial Army used their new Bicycle Brigades to fasten up their advance in China and make their infantry more mobile without using many resources otherwise needed for aircraft, tanks or ships, the Japanese Imperial Navy tried to counter this lead by the Army to stay equally important. Because of that the Japanese Imperial Navy not only developed and build new ship types needed but also developed the Palau Bauxite Deposits and the South Karafuto Oil Fields, to show that the Navy also could supply needed resources to the Japanese Empire and the Co-Prosperity Sphere. Further more the Japanese Imperial Navy claimed that they alone could secure the Japanese Home Islands against foreign navies and powers, but also claimed they could secure the rich southeast Asian resource area south of the Phillippines. With tensions between the USA and Japan rising over the war in China, the Japanese Navy claimed that they at least could face off and win against the Americans, but that the Army unlike them would pretty much be stuck in China and unable to secure the resources needed for the Japanese Homelands.
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    Chapter 36: Winston Churchill's and Americas Politic's
  • Chapter 36: Winston Churchill's and Americas Politic's:
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    The rising tensions between the Allies/New Entente (France and Great Britain) and the Central Axis Powers thanks to Operation: Kaiserwetter (the Scandinavian Intervention) as well as the ongoing Winter War between Finland and the Soviet Union proved to be difficult for the British Premier Winston Churchill. Shortly after the Scandinavian Intervention, Churchill had ordered the Royal Navy to occupy Iceland, the Faroe Islands and Greenland (all in Union with Denmark), to eliminate the possibility of Axis Central Power Air and Naval bases in these Danish territories after the German Pact with Denmark. The time for appeasement was finally over, but outright direct fight against the Germans in Europe was impossible. England lacked the soldiers as long as it had to keep a watchful eye on it's colonies were independence movements, the Soviets and Japan were a serious threat and the French had prepared on a defensive war with not much options for a own offensive left in their hands by now. Because of that the British Premier called for a guarantee of the boarders and independence of the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg, soon joined by his french counterpart that any German attempt to redraw this borders or try to negotiate with a threat of violence would be answered justified to this aggression by Britain and France. It was a clear red line to not go a step further in Western Europe. At the same time both countries did not wish to openly engage Hitler or Stalin as both countries seamed to go to war over the German declaration to protect Finland's, the Baltic's and Poland's independence. Many politicians in England and Frances hoped to watch as amused bystanders how the two treats to peace and stability in Europe would weaken each other in a escalating war. This would leave the Allies/ New Entente the option to side with one of this powers against the other should one of them seam to win and attempt to establish it's hegemony over Europe. At the same time Singapur, Hong Kong and Darwin were fortified and the garrisons, airplanes and ship's there extender as a clear sign of strength against Japan. The former Burma Road closed by now thanks to Yikoku now being a part of the Co-Prosperity Sphere, was tried to be rebuild over the Himalaya and Tibet to continue supply for Chiang's United Chinese Front in hopes to stop Japans dominance and ambitions in China together with America. The French meanwhile brought troops from Africa to France and Indochina to help them out in their potential war against Germany/Italy and to fight the communist Việt Minh that seamed to be a spillover of the Chinese Communist that had fled from China to Indochina and allied with regional Communists.
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    At the same time not only the German Empire, the Soviet Union and the Japanese Empire (and rest of the the Co-Prosperity Sphere) endangered the peace in Europe and the world, but also the reunited Austria-Hungary and the Italian Empire. Austria-Hungary (with their ally Bulgaria) and Italy took a quiet aggressive stand against Yugoslavia and Romania, threatening their sovereignty and independence. This lead to a guarantee of Romanian and Yugoslavian independence by Britain and France to guard the remaining independence of these Balkan nations. Without Romanian oil (and with Britain stopping the supply of oil from elsewhere) the German, Austrian-Hungarian and maybe even the Italian ambitions, even if they had some oil in their colony Libya would soon be shattered. Churchill knew that as long as Romania could be secured or the oil fields there bombed and destroyed by the Royal Air Force this new Axis Central Power aggression would soon see themselves without any supply for their fighters, bombers and tanks. Because of this reality the British under Churchill despite their losses in Skandinavia had prepared a new Expedition Army ready to be send on the continent to either support France on Romania and Yugoslavia depending on where they would be needed against the Central Axis Powers. At the same time the tensions between the USA and Japan were rising, leading to a trade Embargo effecting all parties involved in the Chinese Civil War. But because the American government needed to directly take action for this embargo to take place most trade was left alone and more regulated on a moral base. This lead to a boycott for mostly Japan and sometimes other members of the Co-Prosperity Sphere since many Americans supported a policy of a open door in China and still supported Chiang, even if he sided with the Communists. Clearly this was not how Japan and the Co-Prosperity Sphere saw the embargo, they saw it as a direct violation of their plans to secure peace in China. Many pan-Asians inside the Co-Prosperity Sphere questioned why the USA claimed the Carribiean (and all of North- and South America) as their very own backyard, but denied Japan and the Co-Prosperity Sphere the same right in China and East Asia.
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    Chapter 37: Schlieffen 2.0
  • Chapter 37: Schlieffen 2.0
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    With the Operation: Kaiserwetter in Scandinavia and Winston Churchill's stubborn regret to allow any further claims and votes over European and Colonial territory, Wilhelm II, Otto, Hitler and Mussolini realized that the only way their ambitions could bare fruits was a direct war. Because of that the German High Command had agreed to deal with France before finally turning east against Russia. The Operation itself was called Schlieffen 2.0 a variation of the Schlieffen Plan from the Great War. With the support of the Panzerwaffe (Tanks) an their new Air Force the Germans hoped that this time they would succeed thanks to a faster assault. To outflank the Allied Entente, the Axis Central Powers decided to go trough the Low Countries, the neutral states of Luxembourg, Netherlands and Belgium.

    The Battle of the Netherlands (Dutch: Slag om Nederland) was a military campaign part of Case Schlieffen 2.0, the German invasion of the Low Countries (Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands) and France during the Second Great War. The battle lasted from 10 May 1940 until the surrender of the main Dutch forces 14 May. Dutch troops in the province of Zeeland continued to resist the Imperial German Army until 17 May when Germany completed its occupation of the whole nation. The Battle of the Netherlands saw some of the earliest mass paratroop drops, to occupy tactical points and assist the advance of ground troops. The German Imperial Air Force used paratroopers in the capture of several airfields in the vicinity of Rotterdam and The Hague, helping to quickly overrun the nation and immobilize Dutch forces. After the devastating bombing of Rotterdam by the German Air Force, the Germans threatened to bomb other Dutch cities if the Dutch forces refused to surrender. The Dutch General Staff knew it could not stop the bombers and ordered the Dutch army to cease hostilities. The Dutch Queen retreated to Britain to form a government-in-exile, much to Wilhelm II anger who wished to form a monarchist Axis Central Power's block in Europe.

    The Battle of Belgium or Belgian Campaign, often referred to within Belgium as the 18 Days' Campaign (French: Campagne des 18 jours, Dutch: Achttiendaagse Veldtocht), formed part of the greater Battle of France, an offensive campaign by the German Empire during the Second Great War. It took place over 18 days in May 1940 and ended with the German occupation of Belgium following the surrender of the Belgian Army. On 10 May 1940, Germany invaded Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Belgium under the operational plan Schlieffen 2.0. The Allied armies attempted to halt the German Imperial Army in Belgium like during the First Great War, believing it to be the main German thrust. After the French had fully committed the best of the Allied armies to Belgium between 10 and 12 May, the Germans enacted the second phase of their operation, a breakthrough, or sickle cut, through the Ardennes and advanced toward the English Channal. The German Imperial Army) reached the Channel after five days, encircling the Allied armies. The Germans gradually reduced the pocket of Allied forces, forcing them back to the sea. The Belgian Army surrendered on 28 May 1940, ending the battle. The Battle of Belgium included the first tank battle of the war, the Battle of Hannut. It was the largest tank battle in history at the time but was later surpassed by the battles of the North African Campaign and the Eastern Front. The battle also included the Battle of Fort Eben-Emael, the first strategic airborne operation using paratroopers ever attempted. The German official history stated that in the 18 days of bitter fighting, the Belgian Army were tough opponents, and spoke of the "extraordinary bravery" of its soldiers. The Belgian collapse forced the Allied withdrawal from continental Europe. The British Royal Navy tried the evacuation of Belgian ports during Operation Dynamo, allowing the British Expeditionary Force (BEF), along with many Belgian and French soldiers, to escape capture and continue military operations. France reached its own armistice with Germany in June 1940.
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    The Battle of France, also known as the Fall of France, was the German invasion of France and the Low Countries during the Second Great War. In six weeks from 10 May 1940, German forces defeated Allied forces by mobile operations and conquered France, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, bringing land operations on the Western Front to an for now. Italy entered the war on 10 June 1940 and attempted an invasion of France to claim territory in southern France, Tunisia and Algeria. The German plan for the invasion consisted of two main operations. In Fall Karl (Case Karl), German armored units pushed through the Ardennes and then along the Somme valley, cutting off and surrounding the Allied units that had advanced into Belgium, to meet the expected German invasion. When British, Belgian and French forces were pushed back to the sea by the mobile and well-organised German operation, the British tried to evacuated the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) and several French divisions from Dunkirk in Operation Dynamo. The fast German advance was a success, despite heavy German losses and up to 300,000 allied troops awaiting their evacuation were captures as prisoners of war in Dunkirk.

    After the withdrawal of the BEF, the German forces began Fall Fridrich (Case Fredrick) on 5 June. The sixty remaining French divisions made a determined resistance but were unable to overcome the German air superiority and armored mobility. German tanks outflanked the Maginot Line and pushed deep into France. German forces occupied Paris unopposed on 14 June after a chaotic period of flight of the French government that led to a collapse of the French army. German commanders met with French officials on 18 June with the goal of forcing the new French government to accept an armistice that amounted to surrender. On 22 June, the Second Armistice at Compiègne was signed by France and Germany, which resulted in a division of France. The new, now neutral Paris government led by Marshal Philippe Pétain superseded the Third Republic and formed a government of french Fascists, Monarchists and Nationalist. Germany occupied the north and west of France. Italy took control of a small occupation zone in the south-east, together with Corsica and claimed Tunisia. Franco's Nationalist Spain claimed French Morocco to combine their African colonial territory. While Hitler outright annexed Alsace-Lorrain (Elsaß-Lothringen) and Luxembourg into Germany he calmed down Mussolini's and Franco's ambitions. While Hitler himself could not care less about the French Colonies, because he outright planned to annex most of them alongside the Belgian Congo for the German Mittelafrika colonial plans, he assumed that the new French Government would be more willing to directly join the Axis Colonial Powers if it could remain mostly territorial intact in Europe and Northern Africa. At the same time France's fall (the greatest fear during the First Great War) and the disaster of Dunkirk lead nearly to the end of Winston Churchill as the British Premier Minster. Luckily the Belgian and Dutch Colonies continued to fight alongside the Allied Forces/New Entente. Great Britain would never give up:
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    Chapter 38: The Co-Prosperity Sphere liberates Indochina
  • Chapter 38: The Co-Prosperity Sphere liberates Indochina:
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    In 1940, France was swiftly defeated by the German Empire, and colonial administration of French Indochina (modern-day Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia) passed to the pro-German French monarchist-fascist government. Later that year, the Vichy government ceded control of Hanoi and Saigon to Japan and control of Saigon and in 1941, Japan extended its control over the whole of French Indochina. The United States, concerned by this expansion, put embargoes on exports of steel and oil to Japan. The desire to escape these embargoes and become resource self-sufficient ultimately led to Japan's decision to go to war against the colonial powers. Indochinese Communists later as a part of the Allied fighting against the Japanese and the Co-Prosperity Sphere , formed a nationalist resistance movement, the Dong Minh Hoi (DMH); this included Communists, but was not controlled by them. When this did not provide the desired intelligence data, they released Ho Chi Minh from jail, and he returned to lead an underground centered on the Communist Viet Minh. This mission was assisted by Western intelligence agencies, including the American Office of Strategic Services (OSS). Free French intelligence later also tried to affect developments in the fascist French-Japanese collaboration. Throughout East and Southeast Asia, tensions had been building between 1937 and 1941, as Japan and the Co-Prosperity Sphere expanded into China. Franklin D. Roosevelt regarded this as an infringement on U.S. interests in China. The U.S. had already accepted an apology and indemnity for the Japanese bombing of the USS Panay, a gunboat on the Yangtze River in China. In the year 1938 the French Popular Front fell, and the Indochinese Democratic Front went underground. When a new French government, still under the Third Republic, formed in August 1938, among its principal concerns were security of metropolitan France as well as its empire. Among its first acts was to name General Georges Catroux governor general of Indochina. He was the first military governor general since French civilian rule had begun in 1879, following the conquest starting in 1858, reflecting the single greatest concern of the new government: defense of the homeland and the defense of the empire. Catroux's immediate concern was with Japan and the Co-Prosperity Sphere , who were actively fighting in nearby China. In 1939 both the French and Indochinese Communist parties (because of heavy Soviet Union sponsoring and involvement) were outlawed, leading to fewer supplies for Chiang's United Front by the French while at the same time communist rebels started their guerrilla war in Indochina. They were secretly supported by the Japanese across the Nishimura Trail (named after Lieutenant General Takuma Nishimura the later leader of the Indochina Expeditionary Army).

    After the defeat of France, with an armistice on June 22, 1940, roughly two-thirds of the country was put under direct German military control. The remaining part of France, and the French colonies, were under a nominally independent government, headed by the First World War hero, Marshal Philippe Pétain. Japan, not directly allied with the German Empire or the Axis Central Powers, asked for German help in stopping supplies going through Indochina to China.Catroux, who had first asked for British support, had no source of military assistance from outside France, stopped the trade to China to avoid further provoking the Japanese. A Japanese verification group, headed by Takuma Nishimura entered Indochina on June 25. These Indochina Expeditionary Army claimed to root out communist rebels that operated across the border from Indochina to attack the Co-Prosperity Sphere. On the same day that Nishimura arrived, Fascist France dismissed Catroux, for independent foreign contact. He was replaced by Vice AdmiralJean Decoux, who commanded the French naval forces in the Far East, and was based in Saigon. Decoux and Catroux were in general agreement about policy, and considered managing Nishimura the first priority. Decoux had additional worries. The senior British admiral in the area, on the way from Hong Kong to Singapore, visited Decoux and told him that he might be ordered to sink Decoux's flagship, with the implicit suggestion that Decoux could save his ships by taking them to Singapore, which appalled Decoux. While the British had not yet attacked French ships that would not go to the side of the Allies, that would happen at Mers-el-Kébir in North Africa within two weeks; Decoux did not arrive in Hanoi until July 20, while Catroux stalled Nishimura on basing negotiations, also asking for U.S. Help.

    Reacting to the initial Japanese presence in Indochina, on July 5, the U.S. Congress passed the Export Control Act, banning the shipment of aircraft parts and key minerals and chemicals to Japan, which was followed three weeks later by restrictions on the shipment of petroleum products and scrap metal as well. Decoux, on August 30, managed to get an agreement between the French Ambassador in Tokyo and the Japanese Foreign Minister, promising to respect Indochinese integrity in return for cooperation against China. Nishimura, on September 20, gave Decoux an ultimatum: agree to the basing, or the 5th Division, known to be at the border, would enter. Japan entered Indochina on September 22, 1940. An agreement was signed, and promptly violated, in which Japan promised to station no more than 6,000 troops in Indochina, and never have more than 25,000 transiting the colony. Rights were given for three airfields, with all other Japanese forces forbidden to enter Indochina without Vichy consent. Immediately after the signing, a group of Japanese officers, in a form of insubordination not uncommon in the Japanese military, attacked the border post of Dong Dang, laid siege to Lam Son, which, four days later, surrendered. There had been 40 killed, but 1,096 troops had deserted. With the signing of the Tripartite Pact on September 27, 1940, creating the Axis Central Powers of Germany, Austria-Hungary, Fascist France and Italy, Decoux had new grounds for worry: the Germans could pressure the homeland to support their far-east ally, Japan. Japan apologized for the Lam Song incident on October 5. Decoux relieved the senior commanders he believed should have anticipated the attack, but also gave orders to hunt down the Lam Song deserters, as well as Viet Minh who had expanded their operations in Indochina while the French seemed preoccupied with Japan. The fight against the Viet Minh was the official motivation for Co-Prosperity Sphere troops in Indochina. Through the next months, the French colonial government had largely stayed in place, as the Fashist French government was on reasonably friendly terms with Japan. Still they denied any further influence and control for the Japanese and even declined their offer to buy Indochina. But with the Indochina nationalist rebellions in 1940 this all changed.
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    The Japanese invasion of French Indochina (仏印進駐 Futsu-in shinchū) itself was a short undeclared military confrontation between the Empire of Japan and Fascist France in northern Indochina. Fighting lasted from 22 to 26 September 1940. Although an agreement had been reached between the French and Japanese governments prior to the outbreak of fighting, authorities were unable to control events on the ground for several days before the troops stood down. Per the prior agreement, Japan was allowed to occupy Tonkin in northern Indochina and effectively blockade the are for Communist Rebels and supplies for the Chinese United Front. In early 1940, troops of the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) moved to seize southern Guangxi and Langzhou County, where the eastern branch of the Kunming–Hai Phong Railway reached the border at the Friendship Pass in Pingxiang. They also tried to move west to cut the rail line to Kunming. The railway from Indochina was the Chinese government's last secure overland link to the outside world. In May 1940, Germany invaded France. On 22 June, France signed an armistice with Germany (in effect from 25 June). On 10 July, the French parliament voted full powers to Marshal Philippe Pétain, effectively abrogating the Third Republic for a new aristocratic, fascist France. Although much of metropolitan France came under German occupation while governed by Pétain's government, the French colonies remained under the direct control of Pétain's government at German occupied Paris. Resistance to Pétain and the armistice began even before it was signed, with Charles de Gaulle's appeal of 18 June. As a result, a de facto government-in-exile in opposition to Pétain, called Free France, was formed in London.

    On 19 June, Japan took advantage of the defeat of France and the impending armistice to present the Governor-General of Indochina, Georges Catroux, with a request, in fact an ultimatum, demanding the closure of all supply routes to China and the admission of a 40-man Japanese inspection team under General Takuma Nishimura. The Free French and the Americans became aware of the true nature of the Japanese "request" through intelligence intercepts, since the Japanese had informed their German allies. Catroux initially responded by warning the Japanese that their unspecified "other measures" would be a breach of sovereignty. He was reluctant to acquiesce to the Japanese, but with his intelligence reporting that Japanese army and navy units were moving into threatening positions, the French government was not prepared for a protracted defense of the colony. Therefore, Catroux complied with the Japanese ultimatum on 20 June. Before the end of June the last train carrying munitions crossed the border bound for Kunming.

    Following this humiliation, Catroux was immediately replaced as governor-general by Admiral Jean Decoux. Although Catroux could have tried to remain in his post and rally the colony to de Gaulle's movement, he chose to step aside. He did not return to France, however, but to London. On 22 June, while Catroux still remained in his post, the Japanese issued a second demand: naval basing rights at Huangzhouwan and the total closure of the Chinese border by 7 July. Takuma Nishimura, who was to lead the "inspection team", the true purpose of which was unknown, even to many Japanese, arrived in Hanoir on 29 June. On 3 July, he issued a third demand: air bases and the right to transit combat troops through Indochina. These new demands were referred to Fashist France. The incoming governor, Decoux, who arrived in Indochina in July, urged the government to reject the demands. Although he believed that Indochina could not defend itself against a Japanese invasion, Decoux believed it was strong enough to dissuade Japan from invading. In Vichy, General Jules-Antoine Bührer, chief of the Colonial General Staff, counselled resistance. The United States had already been contracted to provide aircraft, and there were 4,000 Tirailleurs sénégalais in Djibouti that could be shipped to Indochina in case of need. In Indochina, Decoux had under his command 32,000 regulars, plus 17,000 auxiliaries, although they were all ill-equipped.

    On 30 August 1940, the Japanese foreign minister, Yosuke Matsuoka, approved a draft proposal submitted by his French colleague, Paul Baudoin, whereby Japanese forces could be stationed in and transit through Indochina only for the duration of the Sino Civil War that involved the Japanese and the Co-Prosperity Sphere states. Both governments then "instructed their military representatives in Indochina to work out the details although they would have been better advised to stick to Tokyo–Fascist French channels a bit longer". Negotiations between the supreme commander of Indochinese troops, Maurice Martin, and General Nishihara began at Hanoi on 3 September. During negotiations, the government in occupied france asked the German government to intervene to moderate its ally's demands. The Germans did not do anything. Decoux and Martin, acting on their own, looked for help from the American and British consuls in Hanoi, and even consulted with the Chinese government on joint defense against a Japanese attack on Indochina if possible. On 6 September, an infantry battalion of the Japanese Twenty-Second Army based in Nanning violated the Indochinese border near the French fort at Dong Dang. The Twenty-Second Army was a part of the South China Army (2nd National Chinese Army), whose officers, remembering the Mukden incident of 1931, were trying to force their superiors to adopt a more aggressive policy. Following the Dong Dang incident, Decoux cut off negotiations. On 18 September, Nishihara sent him an ultimatum, warning that Japanese troops would enter Indochina regardless of any French agreement at 2200 hours (local time) on 22 September. This prompted Decoux to demand a reduction in the number of Japanese troops that would be stationed in Indochina. The Japanese Army General Staff, with the support of the South China Army, was demanding 25,000 troops in Indochina. Nishihara, with the support of the Imperial General Headquarters, got that number reduced to 6,000 on 21 September.

    Seven and a half hours before the expiration of the Japanese ultimatum on 22 September, Martin and Nishihara signed an agreement authorising the stationing of 6,000 Japanese troops in Tonkin north of the Red River, the use of four airfields in Tonkin, the right to transit up to 25,000 troops through Tonkin to Yunnan and the right to transit one division of the Twenty-Second Army through Tonkin via Haiphong for use elsewhere in China together with the allowance to fight the Viet Minh. Already on 5 September, the South China Army had organized the amphibious Indochina Expedition Army under Major-General Takuma Nishimura, it was supported by a flotilla of ships and aircraft, both carrier- and land-based. When the accord was signed, a convoy was waiting off Hainan Island to bring the expeditionary force to Tonkin. The accord had been communicated all relevant commands by 2100 hours, an hour before the ultimatum was set to expire. It was understood between Martin and Nishimura that the first troops would arrive by ship. The Twenty-Second Army, however, did not intend to wait to take advantage of the accord. Lieutenant-General Akihito Nakamura, commander of the 5th (Infantry) Division, sent columns across the border near Đồng Đăng at precisely 2200 hours. At Đồng Đăng there was an intense exchange of fire that quickly spread to other border posts overnight. The French position at the railhead at Lang Son was surrounded by Japanese armour and forced to surrender on 25 September. Before surrendering, the French commanders had ordered the breechblocks of the 155mm cannons thrown into a river to prevent the Japanese from re-using them. During the Sino-French War of 1884–5, the French had been forced into an embarrassing retreat from Lang Son in which equipment had likewise been thrown into the same river to prevent capture. When the breechblocks of 1940 were eventually retrieved, several chests of money lost in 1885 were found also. Among the units taken captive at Lạng Sơn was the 2nd Battalion of the 5th Foreign Infantry Regiment, marking perhaps the first time a Foreign Legion unit had surrendered without a fight. The 2nd Battalion contained 179 German and Austrian volunteers, whom the Japanese in vain tried to induce to change sides. On 23 September, Fashist France protested the breach of the agreements by the IJA to the Japanese government.

    On the morning of 24 September, Japanese aircraft from aircraft carriers in the Gulf of Tonkin attacked French positions on the coast. A Vichy envoy came to negotiate; in the meantime, shore defenses remained under orders to open fire on any attempted landing. On 26 September, Japanese forces came ashore at Dong Tac south of Haiphong, and moved on the port. A second landing put tanks ashore, and Japanese planes bombed Haiphong, causing some casualties. By early afternoon the Japanese force of some 4,500 troops and a dozen tanks were outside Haiphong. By the evening of 26 September, fighting had died down. Japan took possession of Gia Lam Airbase outside Hanoi, the rail marshaling yard on the Yunnan border at Lao Cai and Phu Lang Thoung on the railway from Hanoi to Lạng Sơn, and stationed 900 troops in the port of Haiphong and 600 more in Hanoi.

    The occupation of southern Indochina did not happen immediately. However, the Vichy government had agreed that some 40,000 troops could be stationed there. However, Japanese planners did not immediately move troops there, worried that such a move would be inflammatory to relations between Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Furthermore, within the Japanese high command there was a division about what to do about the still remaining Soviet threat to the north of their Manchurian and Mengjiang territories. Because the Europeans were focused on the conflict in Europe and it was unlikely that Fascist France or Great Britain would send help, some 140,000 Japanese troops invaded southern Indochina on 28 July 1941. French troops and the civil administration were allowed to remain, albeit under Japanese supervision for a few months until the Indochina nationalist rebellions in 1940.
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    The Japanese coup d'état in French Indochina, known as Meigo Sakusen (Operation Bright Moon),was a Japanese operation that took place during the 1940 Indochina Nationalist Rebellions. With Japan and the Co-Prosperity Sphere already escalating the conflict in China and Indochina the Americans had started a full embargo of much needed resources and a conflict seamed unavoidable. The Japanese tried to use the German Empire's advance trough the Dutch Homeland to force the Dutch East Indies to allow them to buy their resources there cheaply but were refused. Angered and blinded by their own propaganda the Japanese believed that the Dutch Colony only dared to do so because of a secret alliance with Britain and America to strangle the Co-Prosperity Sphere with a trade blockade. This lead to the ultimate decision to attack the colonial powers and to take full direct control of all of Indochina. The Japanese quickly struck in a military campaign attacking garrisons all over the colony. The French were caught off guard and all of the garrisons were overrun with some then having to escape to nearby Siam where they were harshly interned. The Japanese replaced French officials, and effectively dismantled their control of Indochina. The Japanese were then able to install and create a new Empire of Vietnam, Kingdom of Cambodia and Kingdom of Laos wich under their direction would become a part of the Co-Prosperity Sphere.

    At this time the French Indochina army still outnumbered the Japanese and comprised about 65,000 men, of whom 48,500 were locally recruited Trailleurs indochinous under French officers. The remainder were French regulars of the Colonial Army plus three battalions of the Foreign Legion. A separate force of indigenous gardes indochinois (gendarmerie) numbered 27,000. Since the fall of Franse, in June 1940 no replacements or supplies had been received from outside Indochina. During the time of the Japanese coup only 30,000 French troops could be described as fully combat ready, the remainder serving in garrison or support units. At the beginning of the coup the understrength Japanese Indochina Expedition Army was composed of 30,000 troops a force that was substantially increased by 25,000 reinforcements brought in from China (both Japanese and other members of the Co-Prosperity Sphere) in the following months. Japanese forces then were redeployed around the main French garrison towns throughout Indochina, linked by radio to the Southern area headquarters. French officers and civilian officials were however forewarned of an attack through troop movements, and some garrisons were put on alert. The Japanese envoy in Saigon Ambassador Shunichi Matsumoto declared to Decoux that since the Indochina National Revolt no one could deny that the citizens of Indochina wished to be liberated as independent states that would became a part of the Co-Prosperity Sphere. Decoux however resisted stating that this would be a catalyst for an Allied counter reaction, most likely a invasion but suggested that Japanese control would be accepted if they actually invaded. This was not enough and the Tsuchihashi accused Decoux of playing for time. A few days later, after more stalling by Decoux, Tsuchihashi delivered an ultimatum for French troops to disarm. Decoux sent a messenger to Matsumoto urging further negotiations but the message arrived at the wrong building. Tsuchihashi, assuming that Decoux had rejected the ultimatum, immediately ordered commencement of the coup.

    That evening Japanese forces moved against the French in every center. In some instances French troops and the Garde Indochinoise were able to resist attempts to disarm them, with the result that fighting took place in Saigon, Hanoi, Haiphong, Nha Tran and the Northern frontier, but most native colonial troops openly joined the Japanese and the Co-Prosperity Sphere. Japan issued instructions to the government of Thailand to seal off its border with Indochina and to arrest all French and Indochinese residents within its territory. Instead, Thailand began negotiating with the Japanese over their course of action, and by the end of March they hadn't fully complied with the demands. Domei Radio (the official Japanese propaganda channel) announced that pro-Japanese independence organizations in Hué formed a federation to promote a free Indochina and cooperation with the Japanese.

    The 11th R.I.C (régiment d'infanterie coloniale) based at the Martin de Pallieres barracks in Saigon were surrounded and disarmed after their commanding officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Moreau, was arrested. In Hué there was only sporadic fighting; the Garde Indochinoise, who provided security for the résident supérieur, fought for 19 hours against the Japanese before their barracks was overrun and destroyed. Three hundred men, one third of them French, managed to elude the Japanese and escape to the A Sáu Valley. However, over the next three days, they succumbed to hunger, disease and betrayals - many surrendered while others fought their way into Laos where only a handful survived. Meanwhile, Mordaunt led opposition by the garrison of Hanoi for several hours but was forced to capitulate. In Annam and Cochinchina only token resistance was offered and most garrisons, small as they were, surrendered. Further north the French had the sympathy of many indigenous peoples. Several hundred Laotians volunteered to be armed as guerrillas against the Japanese; French officers organized them into detachments but turned away those they did not have weapons for. In Haiphong the Japanese assaulted the Bouet barracks: headquarters of Colonel Henry Lapierre's 1st Tonkin Brigade. Using heavy mortar and machine gun fire, one position was taken after another before the barracks fell and Lapierre ordered a ceasefire. Lapierre refused to sign surrender messages for the remaining garrisons in the area. Codebooks had also been burnt which meant the Japanese then had to deal with the other garrisons by force. In Laos, Viantiane, Thakhek and Luang Prabang were taken by the Japanese without much resistance. In Cambodia the Japanese with 8,000 men seized Phnom Penh and all major towns in the same manner. All French personnel in the cities on both regions were either interned (and forced to work for the newly independent states later, or in some cases executed. The Japanese strikes at the French in the Northern Frontier in general saw the heaviest fighting. One of the first places they needed to take and where they amassed the 22nd division was at Lang Son, a strategic fort near the Chinese border. The coup had, in the words of diplomat Jean Sainteny, "wrecked a colonial enterprise that had been in existence for 80 years."

    French losses were heavy – in total 15,000 French soldiers were held prisoner by the Japanese. Nearly 4,200 were killed with many executed after surrendering - about half of these were European or French metropolitan troops. Practically all French civil and military leaders as well plantatio owners were made prisoners, including Decoux. They were confined either in specific districts of big cities or in camps. Those who were suspected of armed resistance were jailed in the Kempeitai prison in bamboo cages and were tortured and cruelly interrogated. The locally recruited tirailleurs and gardes indochinois who had made up the majority of the French military and police forces, effectively ceased to exist. About a thousand were killed in the fighting or executed after surrender. Most quikly joined pro-Japanese militias and were later reused by the newly formed independent states of the Co-Prosperity Sphere. Deprived of their French cadres, many dispersed to their villages of origin. What was left of the French forces that had escaped the Japanese attempted to join the resistance groups where they had more latitude for action in Laos. The Co-Prosperity Sphere state there had less control over this part of the territory. Elsewhere the resistance failed to materialize as many Indochinese citizens refused to help the French. They also lacked precise orders and communications from the provisional government as well as the practical means to mount any large-scale operations.

    In northern Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh's Viet Minh started their own guerilla campaign with the help of the American OSS who trained, supplied them with arms and funds. They established their bases in the countryside without meeting much resistance from the Japanese and their newly formed militias who were mostly present in the cities. A month later OSS with the Viet Minh - some of whom were remnants of Sabattiers division - went over the border to conduct operations. Their actions were limited to a few attacks against Japanese military posts. Most of these were unsuccessful however as the Viet Minh lacked the military force to launch any kind of attack against the Japanese.

    Empire of Vietnam (Đế quốc Việt Nam):
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    The Empire of Vietnam (Vietnamese: Đế quốc Việt Nam; Japanese: ベトナム帝国) was a puppet state of Imperial Japan and a member of the Co-Prosperity Sphere after the Japanese coup in Indochina. During the Second Great War, after the fall of France and establishment of Fashist France, the French had lost practical control in French Indochina to the Japanese, but Japan stayed in the background while giving the Vichy French administrators nominal control for a few mounths. This changed when Japan officially took over after the Indochina Revolt. To gain the support of the Vietnamese people, Imperial Japan declared it would return sovereignty to Vietnam. Emperor Bào Dai declared the Treaty of Hué made with France in 1884 void. Tran Trong Kim, a renowned historian and scholar, was chosen to lead the government as prime minister.

    Kim and his ministers spent a substantial amount of time on constitutional matters at their first meeting in Hué in 1940. One of their first resolutions was to alter the national name to Việt Nam. This was seen as a significant and urgent task. It implied territorial unity; "Việt Nam" had been Emperor Gia Long's choice for the name of the country since he unified the modern territory of Việt Nam in 1802. Furthermore, this was the first time that Vietnamese nationalists in the northern, central and southern regions of the country officially recognized this name. In March, activists in the North always mentioned Đại Việt (Great Việt), the name used before the 15th century by the Le Dynasty and its predecessors, while those in the South used Vietnam, and the central leaders used An Nam (Peaceful South) or Đại Nam (Great South, which was used by the Nguyen Lords). Kim also renamed the three regions of the country — the northern (former Tonkin or Bắc Kỳ) became Bắc Bộ, the central region (former Annam or Trung Kỳ) became Trung Bộ, and the southern areas (former Couchinchina or Nam Kỳ) became Nam Bộ. When France had finished its conquest of Vietnam in 1885, only southern Vietnam was made a direct colony under the name of Cochinchina. The northern and central regions were designated as protectorates as Tonkin and Annam. When the Empire of Vietnam was proclaimed, the Japanese retained direct military control of Vietnam as a measure to prevent Colonial Powers to return to the new member state of the Co-Prosperity Sphere.

    Thuan Hóa, the pre-colonial name for Huế, was restored. Kim's officials worked to find a French substitute for the word "Annamite", which was used to denote Vietnamese people and their characteristics as described in French literature and official use. "Annamite" was considered derogatory, and it was replaced with "Vietnamien" (Vietnamese). Apart from Thuan Hóa, these terms have been internationally accepted since Kim ordered the changes. Given that the French colonial authorities emphatically distinguished the three regions of "Tonkin", "Annam", and "Cochinchina" as separate entities, implying a lack of national culture or political integration, Kim's first acts were seen as symbolic and the end of generations of frustration among Vietnamese intelligentsia and revolutionaries. Kim quickly selected a new national flag — a yellow, rectangular banner with three horizontal red stripes modeled after the Li Kwai in the Book of Changes — and a new national anthem, the old hymn Dang Dan Cung (The King Mounts His Throne). This decision ended three months of speculation concerning a new flag for Vietnam.

    Kim's government strongly emphasised educational reform, focusing on the development of technical training, particularly the use of romanised script (quoc ngu – later japanised) as the primary language of instruction. After less than two months in power, Kim organized the first primary examinations in Vietnamese, the language he intended to use in the advanced tests. Education minister Hoang Xuan Han strove to Vietnamese public secondary education. His reforms took more than four months to achieve their results. A few months later, when the Japanese decided to grant Vietnam full independence and territorial unification, Kim's government was about to begin a new round of reform, by naming a committee to create a new national education system. The Justice minister Trinh Dinh Thao launched an attempt at judicial reform. He created the Committee for the Reform and Unification of Laws in Huế, which he headed. His ministry reevaluated the sentences of political prisoners, releasing a number of anti-French activists and restoring the civil rights of others. This led to the release of a number of Communist cadres who returned to their former cells, and actively participated in actions against Kim's government.

    One of the most notable changes implemented by Kim's government was the encouragement of mass political participation. In memorial ceremonies, Kim honoured all national heroes, ranging from the legendary national founders, the Húng kingsto slain anti-French revolutionaries such as Nguyen Thai Hoc, the leader of the Vietnamese Nationalist Party (Viet Nam Quoc Dan Dang) who was executed with twelve comrades in 1930 in the aftermath of the Yen Bái mutiny. A committee was organized to select a list of national heroes for induction into the Temple of Martyrs (Nghia Liet Tu). City streets were renamed. In Huế, Jules Ferry was replaced on the signboards of a main thoroughfare by Le Loi, the founder of the Le Dynasty who expelled the Chinese in 1427. General Tran Hung Dao, who twice repelled Mongol invasions in the 13th century, replaced Paul Bert. After that the new mayor of Hanoi, Tran Van Lai, ordered the demolition of French built statues in the city parks in his campaign to Wipe Out Humiliating Remnants. Similar campaigns were enacted in all of Vietnam in following months. Meanwhile, the freedom of the press was instituted, resulting in the publication of the pieces of anti-French movements and critical essays on French collaborators. Heavy criticism was even extended to Nguyen Huu Do, the great grandfather of Bảo Đại who was notable in assisting the French conquest of Dai Nam in the 1880s. Still the new government oppressed communist press and continued to fight the Viet Minh. Kim put particular emphasis on the mobilization of youth. Youth Minister Phan Anh, attempted to centralist and heavily regulate all youth organizations (just like the Japanese and the rest of the Co-Prosperity Sphere) , which had proliferated immediately after the Japanese coup. An imperial order decreed an inclusive, hierarchical structure for youth organizations. At the apex was the National Youth Council, a consultative body, which advised the minister. Similar councils were to be organized down to the district level. Meanwhile, young people were asked to join the local squads or groups, from provincial to communal levels. They were given physical training and were charged with maintaining security in their communes. Each provincial town had a training center, where month-long paramilitary courses were on offer.
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    The government also established a national center for the Advanced Front Youth (Thanh nien tien tuyen) in Huế. It was inaugurated with the intention of being the centrepiece for future officer training. Later that month, regional social youth centers were established in Hanoi, Huế, and Saigon. In Hanoi, the General Association of Students and Youth (Tong Hoi Sinh vien va Thanh Nien) was animated by the fervor of independence. The City University in Hanoi became a focal point of political agitation. The Kempeitai retaliated, arresting hundreds of pro-communist Vietnamese youths in late June. The most notable achievement of Kim's Empire of Vietnam was the successful negotiation with Japan for the territorial unification of the nation. The French had subdivided Vietnam into three separate regions: Cochinchina (in 1862), and Annam and Tonkin (both in 1884). Cochinchina was placed under direct rule while the latter two were officially designated as protectorates. Immediately after terminating French rule, the Japanese authorities were not enthusiastic about the territorial unification of Vietnam. However, after the formation of Kim's cabinet, Japan quickly agreed to transfer what was then Tonkin and Annam to Kim's authority, although it retained control of the cities of Hanoi, Haiphong and Da Nang. Meanwhile, southern Vietnam remained under direct Japanese control, just as Cochinchina had been under French rule.

    Beginning in the same months, Foreign Minister Tran Van Choung negotiated with the Japanese in Hanoi for the transfer of the three cities to Vietnamese rule, the Japanese agreed, but stated that important cities like Hué, Hanoi, Saigon and Haiphong were seen as strategic points in their war effort and should be guarded by Co-Prosperity Sphere forces to secure them against a return of the colonial powers for now . It was after the Vietnamese agreed to this terms that the Japanese allowed the process of national unification to take place. Bảo Đại issued a decree proclaiming the impending reunification of Vietnam. General Yuitsu Tsuchihashi signed a series of decrees transferring some of the duties of the government (including customs, information, youth, and sports) to the governments of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, effective the next months. Bảo Đại then issued imperial orders establishing four committees to work on a new regime: the National Consultative Committee (Hoi dong Tu van Quoc Gia); a committee of fifteen to work on the creation of a constitution; a committee of fifteen to examine administrative reform, legislation, and finance; and a committee for educational reform. For the first time, leaders from southern regions were invited to join these committees too.

    Other developments in southern Vietnam in early days of next months were seen as preparatory Japanese steps towards granting territorial reunification to Vietnam. Then, when southern Vietnam was abuzz with the spirit of independence and mass political participation due to the creation of the Vanguard Youth organizations in Saigon and other regional centres, Governor Minoda announced the organization of the Hoi Nghi Nam (Council of "Nam Bo", i.e. Cochinchina) to facilitate his governance. This council was charged with advising the Japanese based on questions submitted to it by the Japanese and for overseeing provincial affairs. Minoda underlined that its primary aim was to make the Vietnamese population believe that they had to collaborate with the Japanese, because "if the Japanese lose the war, the independence of Indochina would not become complete." At the inauguration of the Council of Nam Bo the same months Minoda implicitly referred to the unification of Vietnam. Tran Van An was appointed as the president of the Council, and Kha Vang Can, a leader of the Vanguard Youth, was appointed to be his deputy. Kim then arrived in Hanoi to negotiate directly with Governor-General Tsuchihashi. Tsuchihashi agreed to transfer control of Hanoi, Haiphong, Da Nang and the rest of the Vietnamese territory to Kim's government, taking effect on next months. After protracted negotiation, Tsuchihashi agreed that Nam Bo would be united with the Empire of Vietnam and that Kim would attend the unification ceremonies in Hué. After the creation of the puppet Empire of Vietnam, the Japanese began raising an Imperial Vietnamese Army, to help police the region and lift their own garrison forces and duties to protect the region. The Vietnamese Imperial Army was officially established by the Japanese Indochina Expedition Army to maintain order in the new country. The Vietnamese Imperial Army was under the control of Japanese lieutenant general Yuitsu Tsuchihashi, who served as adviser to the Empire of Vietnam. The Japanese were even lending a few Cruisers and Destroyers (with Japanese officers and captains to the Vietnamese Navy) just like they did for Manchukuo, Chosen, Yankoku and Taikoku so they themselves could build newer models and would still remain officially in the limitations of the London Naval Treatment.

    Kingdom of Cambodia (Preăh Réachéanachâk Kâmpŭchéa):
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    The Japanese liberation of Cambodia marked the independence of the Kingdom of Cambodia when the French protectorate over Cambodia and other parts of Indochina officially ended after the Japanese coup. Cambodia declared itself an independent nation, and the Japanese military presence continued helped to form the new government and a independent Royal Cambodian Army as a member state of the Co-Prosperity Sphere. After the nominal French Indochina colonial government was overthrown, Cambodia became a pro-Tokyo puppet state. After the Franco-Thai War of 1940 the French Indochinese colonial authorities were in a position of weakness. The Fascist French government signed an agreement with Japan to allow the Japanese military transit through French Indochina and to station troops in Northern Vietnam up to a limit of 25,000 men. Meanwhile, the Siam/Thai government, under the pro-Japanese leadership of Field Marshal Plaek Phibunsongkhram and strengthened by virtue of its treaty of friendship with Japan, took advantage of the weakened position of France, and invaded Cambodia's western provinces to which it had historic claims. Following this invasion, Tokio hosted the signature of a treaty in that formally compelled the French to relinquish the provinces of Battambang, Siem Reap, Koh Kong as well as a narrow extension of land between the 15th parallel and the Dangrek Mountains in the Stung Treng Province. As a result, Cambodia had lost almost half a million citizens and one-third of its former surface area to Siam/Thailand. After the Imperial Japanese Army entered the French protectorate of Cambodia and established a garrison that numbered 8,000 troops. Despite their military presence, the Japanese authorities allowed Fashist French colonial officials to remain at their administrative posts for now. After a major anti-French demonstration in Phnom Penh after a prominent monk, Hem Chieu, was arrested for allegedly preaching seditious sermons to the colonial militia. The French authorities arrested the demonstration's leader, Pach Chhoeun, and exiled him to the prison island of Con Son. Pach Chhoen was a respected Cambodian intellectual, associated with the Buddhist Institute and founder of Nagaravatta, the first overtly political newspaper in the Khmer language in 1936, along with Sim Var. Another of the men behind Nagaravatta, Son Ngoc Thanh (a Paris-educated magistrate) was also blamed for the demonstration, which the French authorities suspected had been carried out with Japanese encouragement. The Japanese used these demonstrations and independence movement after their coup and eliminated French control over Indochina. The French colonial administrators were relieved of their positions (but sometimes forced to work for the new government), and French military forces were ordered to disarm. The aim was to revive the flagging support of local populations for Tokyo's war effort by encouraging indigenous rulers to proclaim independence.
    Norodom_Sihanouk_1941.jpg

    Young king Norodom Sihanouk proclaimed an independent Kingdom of Kampuchea, following a formal request by the Japanese. Shortly thereafter the Japanese government nominally ratified the independence of Cambodia and established a consulate in Phnom Penh (like they had done in Hué before). The next months king Sihanouk changed the official name of the country in French from Cambodge to Kampuchea. The new government did away with the romanisation of the Khmer language that the French colonial administration was beginning to enforce and officially reinstated the Khmer script. This measure taken by the new governmental authority would be popular and long-lasting. Pro-japanese Son Ngoc Thanh returned to Cambodia during the next months. He was initially appointed foreign minister and would become Prime Minister two months later. The Cambodian puppet state of Japan then became a member state of the Co-Prosperity Sphere. The Japanese helped to build the Royal Kampuchea Army and a small Royal Kampuchea Navy.

    Kingdom of Laos (Phra Ratxa A-na-chak Lao):
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    The Lao Issara (“Free Laos”) movement was an anti-French, non-communist nationalist movement formed by Prince Phetsarath. This movement became the government of Laos after the Japanese coup in Indochina. Shortly after the Japanese pressured the Lao King Sisivang Vong to declare the independence of Laos as a member state of the Co-Prosperity Sphere. Prince Phetsarath himself made an attempt to convince the King to officially unify the country and declare the treaty of the French Protectorate invalid because the French had been unable to protect the Lao from the Japanese forces now rushing into the country. However, King Sisavang Vong said that he intended to have Laos resume its former status as a French colony and was supported by former French Colonial soldiers guerrillas. A month later supporters of Laotian independence announced the dismissal of the king and formed the new government of Laos, the Lao Issara, to fill up the power vacuum of the country. For the next months, the Lao Issara government (United Laos) attempted to exercise its authority by establishing a defense force (Royal Laotian Army) under the command of Phetsarath’s younger half-brother Souphanouvong, with the assistance from the Japanese and Co-Prosperity Sphere forces. With the help of Japanese foreign aid the Lao Issara expended from a small urban-based movement to a national wide movement, and was therefore able to gain mass support from a tribal-oriented population. Its ideas of an independent Laos started to appeal to the masses soon. The Lao Issara also did not manage the finances of the country appropriately independently. The army itself incurred a high cost for its maintenance, and Souphanouvong refused to account for it. Within a very short period of time, the Issara government ran out of money to pay for its own running, let alone anything else. In an attempt to reign in fiscal expenditure and stop inflation, the Minister of Finance Katay Don Sasorith was issued new money from Japan. This made the United Laos Movement and the new state heavily depending on Japanese money. In exchange the government in Vientaine had to accept that Siam/ Thailand the newest member of the Co-Prosperity Sphere would gain some Laotian territory in the provinces of Luang-Prabang, Vientiane and Bassac. In exchange to pay for their support from Japan, the United Laos Movement as the Royal Lao Government allowed the Imperial Japanese Army to grow huge Opium fields so they could be pays for their investment in Laos.

    The Japanese occupation of Indochina and the Liberation of these new states as members of the Co-Prosperity Sphere was the last straw for the French and the Americans. The Americans started a full embargo and while Japan and the Co-Prosperity Sphere had gained the Indochinese resources of rice, corn, rubber, coal, pepper, sugar cane, tobacco, hardwood, tin, zinc and phosphates together with the propaganda value to have liberated 24 million Asians from colonial oppression, the situation was problematic and tenser then ever before. Diplomatic relations were tried to be reestablished and Japan hoped the Americans would lift their embargo, or the Dutch Colonies would give them full access to their resources. When the Americans declared they would do so if Japan would leave China and Indochina so that they and the Japanese could accept and respect the internal sovereignty of these countries, the Japanese refused to do so. They had died to archive these gains in China and they knew that their retread from Indochina would mean the return of French Colonial Rule. Unwilling to accept these in American eyes reasonable and mild terms the Japanese only had one way to go if they did not wish to lose their faith; forwards towards war.
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    New Map of Southeast Asia:
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