The Footprint of Mussolini (Completed TL)

Hello all,

This is the finished thread for The Footprint of Mussolini. If you are interested, I would ask you to look at the discussion thread for list of canon omake's that help fill in the world's detail. The original thread (including maps) can be found here, navigable by threadmark:

The Footprint of Mussolini

Extract from 'The New Roman Empire' by David Lassinger

14th July 1932

It was a day that would determine the lives of millions. Because of what happened that day, millions would live who would otherwise have died, and millions would die who would otherwise have lived. It would determine Italy’s trajectory for the whole rest of the century, and with it the whole of the Middle East, Africa and the Eastern Bloc.

Mussolini had concluded another one of his fiery speeches to the faithful in Milan. He had never considered himself too concerned with the Jewish question and didn’t think much of it. He was vaguely aware of a certain Austrian attempting to become the President of Germany who was had quite pronounced opinions to say the least. However, at the time, he took little emotional interest. For the moment, he was more interested in his relations with the newly formed Vatican state and his moves in the Balkans and Africa.

Once the speech concluded, he was escorted around the back of the stage. On all sides were the Blackshirts, specifically the more aesthetic ones to give a positive impression of the Fascist movement at large – not that anyone was in the mood to fight back against a Totalitarian Dictatorship unless their backs were totally to the wall. For the moment, at least, the Fascists were quite popular with the population. That was, of course, with the exception of Roberto Giovana. He was a 22-year-old Communist who had managed to procure a firearm. By sheer luck, he was able to weave through the security and get close enough to his target.

By the time he got close enough, he made a dash and leaped in front of Mussolini. The dictator would recall ‘I was as certain of the inevitability of my death as I certain I am here right now.’ Giovana fired the pistol … but the bullet never reached the dictator.

A Blackshirt had flung himself in front of his leader, his Duce. The bullet struck him in the chest – as would the second. Giovana would never fire a third, as he was wrestled to the ground and dragged off. He was killed in transit to prison. Officially, he was resisting arrest, although documentation has shown since that he was beaten to death while already incapacitated.

Mussolini was awestruck by the proceedings, ignoring the commotion around Giovana and kneeling beside the Blackshirt. “You’ve saved me. What is your name?” Mussolini asked.

“I-Isaac Carpi,” said the Blackshirt as his skin paled and his voice quivered.

“Someone get a doctor!” called out a voice at the back.

“Someone get a Priest!” called a more sardonic voice closer to the front.

At that, Isaac seemed to laugh and regain strength for a moment. “Sorry, but no Priest – I’m a Jew. Duce? Are you safe?”

“I’m safe,” said Mussolini, standing especially erect and mighty to make up for the shock to his system just moments ago.

“Then we are safe,” said Carpi, as he dropped his head a final time.

For the rest of his days, Mussolini would always note that ‘we’. Though he was a Jew, he put his life on the line for the Leader of Italy, and of course, Mussolini was Italy - at least in his own mind. That Jew had died so Italy could live. It left an indelible impression on the Dictator’s mind that would never leave.

Carpi would be praised as a model Italian citizen and Fascist for the rest of the Fascist era, even getting a biography made of him in 1958. But that wasn’t the main influence Carpi left behind. Not since Gavrilo Princip, perhaps, has one simple man changed the fate of so many millions.

Extract from Mussolini’s speech to the Knesset in Jerusalem, 1949

“I knew at that moment that the Jews of Italy had the same love of their country as the Italians had of their own. I decided at that moment that I would never forget what that Jew had done for me – and to let it follow me for the rest of my life. Destiny had determined that I would never side with Hitler. The Jews and Italians would never bow to Nazism, just as they would never bow to Communism!”

Extract from ‘Total: Fascist Terror in Italy’ by Sven Dietrich

The notion of Mussolini as the proud, eternal resistor to Nazism that both Italian and occasionally Israeli media like to promote is at total odds with reality, even if we were to ignore the nature of his invasions of Abyssinia and Albania before the War. Mussolini was not the ‘benevolent dictator’ some characterise him to be – he was a ruthless, self-described Totalitarian who did nothing to stop the break-up of the Stessa Accord, allowed Hitler’s annexation of Austria and allowed himself to be so angered by the West’s refusal to let him eat Abyssinia whole that he decided to go neutral during the War.

His policy of total neutrality with respect to the Dual Pact [1] in the first years of the War should never be forgotten. If he had joined the Allies right at the start, we wouldn’t be talking about all the Jews he saved, because there would be no dead Jews because there wouldn’t have been a Second World War. What did he do instead? He used the conflagration in Europe to begin his own wars of conquest, beginning with the plump prey of Yugoslavia.

Extract from 'The Making of Fascist Bloc' by Jodie Rutkins

When France fell, the old ‘Little Entente’ alliance had by now totally fallen apart. Yugoslavia was completely at the mercy of the surrounding powers, all of whom had irredentist claims against the peaceful Kingdom.

Italy had long desired the regions of Yugoslavia they felt they had been cheated out of since Versailles, specifically Dalmatia, Fiume and others. Added to their recent conquest of Albania, the Italians looked upon the meat of Yugoslavia with an almost insane lust. Indeed, the Kingdom had plenty of divisions that could easily be exploited – and were. But first, Mussolini looked for allies to share the burden.

Satisfied that his choice to stay out of the War was working out, and convinced Britain wouldn’t complain, let alone resist his plans in the Balkans, he began enlisting allies. To the east, he courted Hungary, still sore after the brutal Treaty of Trianon, which had ripped off territory with no respect to the wishes of the inhabitants. Hungary woke up with half their population. The territory of Vojvodina was high on the list of territories the beleaguered state wanted ack under control. Just south was Bulgaria, likewise burned after siding with the Central Powers in World War One. Looking for easy victory, Tsar Boris the Third likewise decided to listen to the Italian offers of land for cheap.

Next, Mussolini had to create a Causus Belli. In late July, as the Battle of Britain raged, Mussolini began financing anti-Serb riots in major Croatian cities, demanding Croatian independence. These were led by the Ustache political organisation, a notoriously violent ultranationalist organisation under Ante Pavelić. Naturally, Yugoslavia had little choice but to put down the insurrections in Zagreb, which resulted in full-scale riots across the region. Croatian nationalist sympathies were inflamed as Mussolini easily exploited the ethnic divisions within Yugoslavia to his advantage.

After demanding Yugoslavian forces comply with ‘the national desires of the Croatian people’ on September 10th, the Yugoslavs turned down the offer. Three days later, Belgrade was bombed. Just like Spain, the bombing was indiscriminate, brutal and effective. The same day, forces under Rodolfo Graziani, the committed Fascist, began pouring into Slovenia, as the Regina Marina began shelling the Yugoslav fleet up and down the Adriatic. Italo Balbo would likewise command his own army in Albania, moving into Kosovo.

However, after the initial shock, the Yugoslavians managed to find their feet somewhat, managing to hold Graziani just outside of Ljubljana and recapturing Dubrovnik after having it fall to Ustache insurgency. Hopes of salvation were finished, however, when Hungary and Bulgaria began their invasion on October 1st. Within days of Bulgaria’s entrance into the War, which would become known as the Third Balkan War, their forces met Balbo’s in Priština. The next day, Macedonia’s representatives within that part of the Federation announced their independent surrender. From there, all hope was lost. The lines broke in Slovenia, and on October 23rd, Italian tanks were met with cheers through the center of Zagreb, with Pavelić declaring the formation of an independent Croatia.

The Yugoslavian government offered a peace deal, giving independence to all the outer countries but leaving Serbia (as well as Kosovo) as part of a core Yugoslavia. The terms were rejected in Rome, Budapest and Sofia, demanding unconditional surrender. To this, Yugoslavia could only vainly resist.

The Battle of Belgrade would be fought from November 4th to November 20th, with the Hungarians and Italians attacking from both sides. Croatian Ustache volunteers did half of the work for the Italians, who were, as one Hungarian witness described, “like unleashing those who would torment the Devil in Hell.” War crimes committed by the Ustache were so common that Italian commanders stopped trying to reign them in, deducing that it was like, as Balbo put it, “trying to catch a plane by running.” By the time the fighting was over, Belgrade was in ruins, and by now the situation was impossible. The government signed its surrender on November 23rd, leaving the Royal Family exiled and the spoils divided.

Hungary received Vojvodina while Bulgaria received Macedonia and Bulgarian speaking regions in the Serbian territories. Italy swallowed Slovenia, Istria and large parts of Dalmatia, also incorporating Montenegro and Kosovo into her Albanian conquest. This left a Croatian state which incorporated Bosnia under he ruthless rule of Pavelić, who began a ruthless crusade of expulsions of the Serb residents, reaching half a million. This created a broken, crippled Serbia swamped by refugees and left for dead.

It was cruel, it was brutal and it was the beginning of the Fascist Bloc.

[1] - The name the Axis get ITTL as Mussolini never makes his famous declaration.

The Third Player

Interview of Italo Balbo for the BBC’s ‘World At War’ (1973)

Interviewer: Why did Italy not side with Germany during Operation Barbarossa?

Balbo: Because we were never on good terms with the Germans, even though we hated Communism. Not to mention our disagreement over the Jews. We had Jewish Blackshirts, Jewish soldiers and many others. We had no interest in going to war in a land so far away, especially since it meant a war with Britain.

Interviewer: Did the Germans ask you to join?

Balbo: Of course, and every time we refused. They also asked Croatia and Bulgaria, who turned it down as well. Hungary accepted, since they shared a border with the Communists and were more concerned about it than we were. The Hungarians joined the Romanians, Finns and the Slovaks into the conflict on the German side. It speaks to the wisdom of Mussolini to ask what became of them. We had more pressing matters to deal with.

Interviewer: How was a tiny country like Greece a greater threat than your ideological nemesis of the Soviet Union?

Balbo: (*Pause*) No matter what we did, we spared it from the fate of Communism.

Extract from 'The Making of Fascist Bloc' by Jodie Rutkins

In 1942, Germany continued her march at Stalingrad while Japan stretched itself in the Pacific – the Dual Pact felt ascendant. Britain and America began the difficult discussion of where to put the pressure on Hitler, after the near effortless seizing of Corsica at the end of the Spring, bringing about the collapse of the Vichy government and full German occupation of France. By contrast, Mussolini had developed a new plan, taking all the time he desired.

After his embarrassment in the Corfu affair, Mussolini was adamant of avenging himself against Greece and getting the whole of the Mediterranean on his side. To that end, he called up old allies. Croatia was out of the way of the fighting and Hungary was not only in the same boat but an active participant in Operation Barbarossa, so not exactly available. Bulgaria could be relied on; Tsar Boris had become a national hero for re-establishing national pride in what had once been called the ‘Prussia of the Balkans’. But Mussolini had one more trick up his sleeve. He called up Turkey, tempting them with the prospect of major gains in land and prestige. The democratic government of Turkey refused. The Turkish military and Turkish nationalists within the government were outraged that weakling politicians were holding back Turkey from re-entering the global titans. In August of 1942, Turkey’s government was replaced by an ‘interim’ military government, which would last a long time indeed. They would soon get the boost they wanted, starting the Fourth (and to date final) Balkan War.

After faking an incident at a border crossing (based off the Nazi technique in Poland) Mussolini sent the troops in through Albania on September 12th 1942. Britain was furious but was obviously in no position to respond, as Mussolini had correctly calculated - America had no interest in such a conflict. After getting multiple reality checks during their invasion of Yugoslavia, Italy had reformed their army, much as Stalin had done since his Finnish excursion in 1940. “It terrifies me to imagine what would have befallen us if it wasn’t for Yugoslavia,” cautioned Balbo as he attempted his assault through the mountainous region. Despite all the lessons, the Greeks remained superior fighters man-for-man. Balbo's troops slogged through the Epirus until Bulgaria launched an invasion through her Macedonian conquest and Turkey sent her navy into the Aegean Sea, shelling anything that moved. Beset on all sides, the Greeks retreated further and further back. By November, the air raids on Athens were near daily and Larissa had fallen. Not wanting Athens to be pulverised like Belgrade, Metaxas’s subordinates turned on him. He was arrested and exiled while the officers tendered an unconditional surrender. Metaxas and the King would seek asylum in Britain.

Once again, the Fascist powers (with Turkey the newest addition) took turns devouring their recent conquest. Epirus and the Ionian Islands came to Italy’s possession, erasing Mussolini’s embarrassment over Corfu. Turkey annexed Thrace, the Aegean Islands and Crete. Though Bulgaria lost its former sea access route to the Mediterranean in Thrace, it more than gained in taking the remainder of Macedonia in Greece, leaving Greece much reduced in size. Once again, a shattered country was left to rot.

But by then, Mussolini had already done what would begin to make him a hero to millions.

Extract from 'The Shoah' by Abraham Dershowitz

Jews around the world know the sort of person Mussolini was. Of course he was a bad person, of course he was a dictator, but it’s equally as obvious that hundreds of thousands of Jews today owe their life to him.

In February 1942, just after the Wannsee Conference – though it was likely unknown to Mussolini at the time – Count Ciano, the Italian Foreign Minister, would deliver Berlin an offer from the Italian State. In return for crucial raw minerals that Italy could procure as a neutral and send northward, Mussolini asked if he could get 250,000 Jews on the condition they be settled in Libya. He was trying to improve the infrastructure of the colony and wanted more settlers than what he had. Not just any Jews either, but the most educated and economically viable. In particular, Mussolini was interested in the German and Austrian Jews, feeling they had no other national loyalty owing to the nature of their current ruler.

The offer was discussed amongst the German leadership – Goering was quite in favour and Bormann was quite opposed. Ultimately, Ciano’s assurance that the Jews would be sent to Libya and thus off of the European Continent was enough to convince Hitler of the plan. As he told his staff, “As long as they are stranded in a lifeless desert under a Latin heel, we don’t have to worry about their conniving influence.”

The German leadership agreed, limiting their selections of Jews to non-Polish or Soviet Jews (who made up the vast majority of European Jewry). This was explained as ‘logistics’ to the Italians (although in reality it was because Hitler had considered them lower than any form of life imaginable, on top of having the temerity to live in his Lebensraum). This would mean those chosen would disproportionally represent the professions (be it doctors and engineers) or those who were rich enough to buy their own and their family’s way out (the businessmen and aristocrats). They were disproportionally Sephardic, secular and right wing. Avowed Communists or any other persons considered too politically opposed to Fascism would be left behind to die. The immediate families were almost always brought along - otherwise they would rarely depart. These demographics would have a profound effect on the future Israeli state, and indeed Libya itself.

By the end of 1942, the process was over. Roughly a quarter of a million Jews were camped in Libya in makeshift tents. About one hundred and fifty thousand came from Germany and Austria, with France coming up with roughly another fifty thousand. They were hungry, they were tired, but they were grateful. Even then, they had a vague idea about what was going on under Nazi rule.

Extract from 'Memoirs of a Young Girl' (1988), by Anne Frank

The moment we crossed the Italian border on the train, when we were finally free of the Nazis, the whole carriage with one movement tore off their yellow stars as if they were leeches sucking them dry. Songs from every language filled the air: Yiddish, Hebrew, Ladino, German, Dutch, French and so on. Margaret tried to sing in Italian to impress the guard on the train but he took no notice. We thought he treated us so kindly. In reality, he was quite indifferent to us, but it was such a change from our daily lives in Amsterdam. The fear Gentiles had if you approached them, as if they would be suspected of being sympathizers by the Gestapo. The hatred the Germans had if you dared catch a glimpse of them. That total indifference of that Italian looked to us as pure and wholesome as the love a mother would give her child by comparison.

Father’s business credentials may have impressed the Italians enough to get us out, but business was the last thing he thought about. He talked to us about the future, and how we would come back one day from Libya. I wish I could say I was as wholesome and loving, but I was just thinking how hot Tripoli would be. It sounds silly, almost disrespectful to say such a thing, knowing how lucky I was. But that younger me, that younger Anne, I feel like I still understand her, even when she could be spoiled and childish. So many years have gone by, but the little Anne Frank lives on within me.

Extract from 'Mussolini: The Twentieth Century Man' by Joseph Manderlay

The formal creation of the Roman Alliance (or the Fascist Bloc as it became more popularly known) was motivated by many factors.

1. The desire for neutrality – which speaks to Hitler’s insanity given what happened not too soon after. The war was still a tossup by the start of 1943, or at least there was a good chance for a negotiated peace. Italy had already absorbed plenty of territory and was too scared to make a go for the French and British territories it desired, feeling that the risk was far too high. At the same time, a war with Germany would be devastating and was not desired either. The fellow nations of the bloc had received many invitations to join the war from both sides and wanted a collective insurance. If they were all tied up inside a collective security unit, it would become much more effective deterrent to pestering by foreign powers.

2. Italy wanted to establish itself as a new power in Europe. To do that, it wanted to have its own zone of influence. The Mediterranean proved an easy choice, especially as the Adriatic had become an Italian lake. If it could be seen as influencing the trajectory of multiple nations, it would make Italy more widely considered a serious power. Likewise, many nations within the Roman Alliance wanted to be part of a bloc without the diplomatic nightmares of keeping up appearances if they were to be openly friendly with democratic countries.

3. On a purely economic basis, Italy wanted a trade bloc to expand their export market. The remaining nations, some war-torn and battered, would gladly accept the sort of economic aid the Italians could bring.

American newsreel report on the formation of the Roman Alliance, March 29th 1943

“Today in Rome, a new international political organisation was formed, uniting the Mediterranean powers under one roof. With a name like ‘The Roman Alliance’, only one man could come up with a name as boastful as that and have the resources to have a stab at it. Benito Mussolini, leader of Italy, flanked by the leaders of Spain, Portugal, Croatia, Bulgaria and Turkey met together and declared their common neutrality in the European conflict, a neutrality to be guaranteed with the strength of the others. Not looking at all dissimilar to the ancient Roman glory of the past, the powers agreed to expand trade, pledged military alliances and technological exchange. Mussolini states that the Roman Alliance will lead the planet into the twenty-first century. They were bold words, but that is only to be expected of the Italian.”

Extract from 'The Second World War' by Christopher Armlong

Stalin’s demands for a second front were intense, but there was no easy way about it. Corsica had fallen quickly, but it had no lasting effect. Norway was floated as an option but this was stranded in the middle of nowhere and wasn’t considered a decent way to exert any influence on German war efforts. Talks to put troops in Russia were flatly rejected, especially after the victory at Stalingrad. Efforts to recruit the Fascist bloc were likewise unsuccessful.

Roosevelt and Churchill were at loggerheads about it. Churchill demanded time before going through France, while Roosevelt insisted the only option was to ‘get it over with’ and charge straight into the line of fire in France. Ultimately, Rommel’s victories against the Soviets shortly after Stalingrad - which halted the Russian advance - had convinced Churchill of the urgent need for action, regardless of the result.

“For what I am about to do,” he told his wife, “I will go down in history. This and this alone. If I succeed, I will be second only to Saint George himself. If I fail, I will be second only to Hitler himself.”

The die was cast. That summer in 1943, the Western Allies were landing at Normandy.

“… And I’m not sure about the Universe.”

Extract from 'The Second World War' by Christopher Armlong

Everything was against the Allies going into Operation Overlord, and Churchill knew it. The Luftwaffe remained a serious threat, the Battle of the Atlantic had barely been won, the American divisions were green as grass (as were significant numbers of British divisions), getting a decent landing time was hard enough and there were some forty German divisions posted across France. The odds were formidable – but it was too late to turn back.

On June 18th 1943, a cacophony of explosions broke the dawn over the coasts of France. American, Canadian and British troops landed and were immediately flung into the fight of their lives. At every beach, the Germans were ready, and at every beach it was as if the attackers were not. There were barely enough transports to go around and the full scale of the Atlantic Wall had not been expected by Allied commanders. Upon hearing news of the carnage on the shore, British General Bernard Montgomery would reportedly say, “Well, looks as if the War is going to end early, just not the way we intended.” Casualties were enormous on both sides, with the ground and air full of so much combat that one British soldier would recall, “It was like everyone on the planet had fallen on the beach and was trying to kill the other.”

However, much to Hitler’s fury, the beachheads had refused to be destroyed. Though the Germans flung their weight behind it, the little beachheads refused to give. This was the environment where General Patton became such a legendary figure, as he was roundly seen as having salvaged the operation from the brink of defeat through his aggressive assaults against the German advances. His pertinacity led to the Americans holding the line. It was only at the end of the month when all the beachheads had been connected and still Western leaders knew they were going nowhere soon. Their lofty expectations of capturing Caen in the first few days now seemed totally laughable. [1]

The Allies crept along the French coast, paying heavily for every bloody mile. At the rate they were going, they wouldn’t even be in Paris by the end of next year, let alone Berlin. The mood was grim in Allied capitals, despite the press’s declarations of the strength and bravery of the armed forces. They knew that unless something changed, they were going to be in a meatgrinder for a long time.

Fortunately for them, Hitler had exceeded their wildest expectations.

Extract from 'The Shoah' by Abraham Dershowitz

Miklós Horthy was no friend of the Jews. The Hungarian Dictator had passed multiple Anti-Semitic laws in the model of the Nazis, including forbidding Jews from the professions and intermarriage. Despite this, he was reluctant to hand over his some 800,000 strong Jewish population to the Nazis. He knew what would become of them if he gave them to the SS. Hitler had blamed Jewish subversion for the defeatist attitude permeating Hungary since the failure at Stalingrad and demanded Horthy take action to punish his population. Horthy seemed to be shaken in his resolve by the Allied landings at Normandy and the Soviet victory at Kursk. He reportedly told his staff, “Hitler’s not worth jumping into Hell for.” He wanted to get the pressure off him from Hitler, but also wanted to endear himself to the Allies to give Hungary lighter terms for the expected armistice. Then he saw something that inspired him.

In Denmark that October, an order had been given to deport the Jewish people to camps in Central Europe, where they would be slaughtered. Instead, by some miracle, the word got out ahead of time and almost the entirety of the Danish Jewish population was able to flee to Sweden and survive the War. The incident received scant mention in Germany days after the event and seemed to pass relatively unnoticed.

Horthy began thinking he could do something similar. He could endear himself to the West by sparing his Jewish citizens while selling it as an ‘expulsion’ to Germany. There was only one place to go though – Italy. Mussolini had fallen even lower in Hitler’s estimations recently as ‘a greater friend of the Jews than Roosevelt himself’. This was due to Mussolini’s purchase of so many Jews the previous year and the well-known story of Mussolini’s salvation at the hands of a Jew, which Hitler now suspected was proof Mussolini was part of the Jewish conspiracy. “Perhaps there is a third wing of the Jewish chimera – Capitalism, Communism and Fascism,” Hitler mused to Von Ribbentrop.

Horthy’s plan was simple: dump the 800,000 Hungarian Jews on Italy’s doorstep, Mussolini would probably accept and Hitler would stop pestering him on his treatment of Jews while doing little to anger the West. It seemed simple enough.

On November 12th, Horthy met with the senior officials of his government to discuss the idea. One staffer would recall, “It was the first meeting I could remember where we left feeling like we’d actually done something. All the others felt like we were only containing damage. We actually felt great after the meeting, as if things were going in the right direction. The only thing we discussed that could stop the plan was Mussolini turning it down because, obviously, 800,000 was a lot of people. We said we’d call up the Zionists and Red Cross and they’d take care of it. We were convinced the Zionists could pay for all of European Jewry if it wanted, so that wasn’t a concern. Not once in the whole meeting did anyone seriously wonder if Hitler would have a problem with it. We assumed that since Hitler hated Jews so much, he’d be glad to see them gone, especially since he’d already agreed to send Jews to Libya before, and especially because he’d already let the Danish Jews off without a problem. The idea that he would get angry over the plan was so insane, Horthy actually said ‘I just hope this pleases Mister Hitler’, and the whole room burst into laughter. The idea that it wouldn’t was so insane no one could conceive of it. But of course, there were a lot of things people couldn’t conceive about that man.”

Extract from 'Day' (1990) by Elie Wiesel

When we were all called out to the streets of Budapest on the morning of November 20th, many were terrified. We thought that this was it. That they had finally decided to send us where we all feared to go: north. To certain death and destruction. Many people, including my own mother, cried as we went to the street and lined up. Still, I noticed there were no Germans and the police didn’t seem to be particularly aggressive as they would have been if they were ready for a fight. The whole Ghetto seemed to stop breathing when the policeman stood up on a makeshift platform and delivered his address.

“Jewish citizens, today you will be transported to the train station and then up to the Italian border.”

I felt the intense distance between ‘station’ and ‘Italian’. The sweeping movement from hopelessness to relief had nearly knocked me off my feet. I was saved. We were saved. Mussolini had come to save us again! He had already been a savior to us, and now he was going to save even more! I knew many Jews had attempted to make a break for the Fascist bloc and got out of Nazi reach but to think we were all going there?

“At the end of the week at midnight of November 28th, your Hungarian citizenship will officially be terminated. You will receive no protection from the Hungarian state from thereon and will be considered illegal alliens – you must have completed your immigration by that date. The trains will transport you to the Italian border. What you do from there is your own concern. That is all.”

I don’t think Jews have ever been as happy to be told they were being expelled from the land they had grown up in all their lives. But in the face of an evil as bottomless as Nazism, a fate as horrendous as Auschwitz, anything was life by comparison. My family and I packed our belongings as quickly as possible and headed to the train. By the end of the next day, we were right on the border with Italy, as were tens of thousands more, who were on every truck and train they could find.

Unconquerable: The Story of the Jews of Hungary, by Mel Goldberg

On November 21st, Horthy received a telephone call from Berlin. As one staffer recalled, “when he heard who it was from, Horthy smiled and put the receiver to his ear. Hitler proceeded to scream so loudly his mere voice nearly decapitated Horthy.” Horthy was baffled and began to angrily reply that he had done nothing wrong and everything right – the Jews were gone, or going. What more was left? Why did Hitler want this group he thought were parasites inside the country, supposedly sabotaging the war effort? Especially given that the Exodus of the Danish Jews had gone without comment?

The game, Horthy failed to realise, had changed. Putting aside that there was a difference between the 6000 Jews of Denmark and the 800,000 Jews of Hungary, Hitler was convinced that the Fascist Bloc had been set up as a deliberately antagonistic force, as it had kept Croatia and Bulgaria out of the war and supporting his efforts in Russia. He was convinced that the Fascist Bloc was sending Jews to Libya and have them organize their own separate state. This was due to the surprising success Jewish refugees in Libya had in setting up their own state of affairs – irrigation, roads and medical facilities had suddenly built up Tripoli and Benghazi quicker than anyone was expecting. Hitler was convinced he’d been had – that far from being ‘under a Latin heel’ as he put it, that Italy had been taken over by Jews and that they had set up a base camp in Libya. From there, the Jews could organize and fight him. For that reason, he had redoubled his conviction that the Holocaust should continue and immensely regretted that he had ever let a single Jew go in 1942. Sweden was a non-player and isolated in the Baltic, but Libya? With free access to the Allied Powers and having virtually taken over the society? He was never going to allow the Jews to have that luxury, let alone allow Libya to nearly quadruple its size of Jews.

Hitler angrily ordered Horthy to rescind the order. Horthy, by now infuriated by Hitler’s obstinacy, refused outright, assuming Wehrmacht commanders would never allow the invasion of an ally over their not being Anti-Semitic enough. In the end, he was only half-right - the SS would gladly do it.

On November 25th, the SS invaded Hungary under the ludicrous pretext of a Communist conspiracy within the government. Hungarian soldiers were so baffled most didn’t put up a fight. The next day, Budapest was occupied. Horthy was arrested quietly executed under Hitler’s instructions, as well as half of this cabinet – German media reported Communists had killed him. The Arrow Cross Party, the Hungarian equivalent of the Nazis, was instituted as the ruling body of Hungary under Ferenc Szálasi, a ruthless Hitler worshipper. He assured Hitler that his Hungarian state would fully cooperate with any and every wish against ‘Judaism in all its wicked forms’.

As a result of his inability to be clearly defined in terms of his support of Hitler, Horthy is a controversial figure in Hungary to this day, with some regarding him as a hero for saving his Jewish community, while also being condemned for his prior persecutions. Others believe his final act to be one of repentance for past misdeeds. He supposedly told one of his German captors before he died that he wished “the Jews ruled Hungary forever rather than let your buffoon of a leader rule it for one second.”

Adolf Eichmann had been entrusted with rounding up the remaining Jews of Hungary. He didn’t even find a thousand Jews left across the whole country.

Mussolini: The Twentieth Century Man by Joseph Manderlay

Mussolini was woken in the morning of November 21st to news that hundreds of thousands of Jews had descended on the narrow Hungarian border. He was baffled as to what was going on, but as the situation became clear to him he was torn. Though he was sympathetic to Jews for obvious reasons, the estimated 800,000 Jews was not a number he could easily absorb. Nor were these the handpicked special cases as before – these were old and young, smart and stupid, Left and Right. And they were all clogged on the Italian border in the Slovenian region, a place still recovering from their annexation into Italy. This was going to be a tough decision.

Graziani, especially as word got out of Hitler’s fury over Horthy’s decision, advised Mussolini to reject the stragglers, as it would risk war with Germany, while not doing anything would risk no harm to the Italian state. Balbo supported letting the Jews in if they would be sent to the colonies, suggesting that they could find enough Zionist organisations to foot the bill. Ciano was sympathetic to Balbo but was well aware that no one could easily pay for these 800,000 Jews, whatever the case. Ciano would, however, laugh off Graziani’s warnings of conflict. “Perhaps he’ll declare war on the Pope for good measure!” he laughed.

As the Counsel continued discussing, a new piece of intelligence entered the room. It appeared that thousands of Jews along the border fence had begun chanting one phrase in broken Italian: “Duce! Duce! Save us!”

Interview of Italo Balbo for the BBC’s ‘World At War’ (1973)

Balbo: “When we heard that, we all slowly turned and looked at him. Mussolini seemed to look into space and his eyes went wide. He later told me that when he heard the staffer, he had actually heard voice of Isaac Carpi, who had saved him. He stood up and told us to contact every Zionist organisation they could to demand they pay their part, and to get the ships necessary to transport the Jews to Libya, or East Africa if need be.”

Interviewer: “What did you think when you heard that decision?”

Balbo: “I felt proud that he was our Duce.”

Interviewer: “Did you expect the German response?”

Balbo: (*Smiling*) The Germans didn’t expect it, how should we have?

Extract from 'Unconquerable: The Story of the Jews of Hungary', by Mel Goldberg

“They aren’t here,” reported Adolf Eichmann to Berlin on November 28th, “but we know where they are.” His troops had turned the Ghetto upside down but it was a ghost town; the Jews had not only escaped, but they had been granted access to Italy through Slovenia. They were currently in makeshift camps in the Slovenian heartlands, and the first Navy ships were heading to Trieste to carry the Jews off to the Italian colonies and hopefully develop the land for their Italian rulers. This was unacceptable to Hitler.

On November 29th, Hitler sent an angry telegram to Rome. It stated that the Italian government, in defiance of non-aggression treaties, had helped the Reich’s enemies and provided supplies and comfort. Mussolini was so baffled by the letter he at first thought their had been a mistranslation – they were broken civilians thankful to be alive. When the Italian government replied that no such aid to enemies of the Nazi regime had been done, the Germans quickly responded. If the Italian government did not begin the process of returning it’s Jewish refugees to the German authorities of Hungary ‘under the auspices of SS-Obersturmbannführer Eichmann”, the German government will consider the Italian government to have declared a state of war.”

Even though such a thing had happened in Hungary, Mussolini did not believe Hitler would do something so insane. Hungary was a small, easily conquerable country with half of its troops still in Russia. Hitler knew that if he attacked Italy, he would be declaring war on Spain, Bulgaria and Croatia, and those were just the nations he and his allies bordered. How was he going to hold France (as he was doing quite successfully, all things considered) if he was suddenly going to open a gigantic front on the Pyranees? What about the Ploesti oil that would be easily attained by Bulgarian assault? And for what? So he could kill Jews? No one believed Hitler could be that stupid. What they had forgotten was, as the famous Jew Albert Einstein had said, “Only two things are infinite: the Universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the Universe.” Perhaps ‘stupidity’ isn’t the right word – perhaps it’s ‘evil’.

On December 2nd 1943, with the German army already occupied on two fronts and slowly losing both, Hitler decided to open a third when he attacked Italy. The Luftwaffe even avoided targeting Italian military depots; they simply aimed to bomb the refugee camps around Slovenia with the Hungarian Jews still in them. No one could believe what had happened. Not the leadership in Rome, Madrid, Ankara, Sofia, Moscow, London, Washington or even Berlin for the most part. Not the citizens of Italy, Germany, Russia, Britain or America. Only one group of people knew Hitler would do this – the Jews themselves. But while others were scared or angry, they weren’t.

This time, they weren’t running: they were fighting.

[1] – Imagine Anzio writ large

“All we’ve ever done is survive!”

Extract from 'The Making of Fascist Bloc' by Jodie Rutkins

No language has words to express the shock that greeted the Fascist Bloc at the news that there were SS divisions pouring over the border into Italy and that they were now in a state of war with not only Germany, but Romania too. On a darker note, it certainly put the many Italian volunteers in Russia off their balance. Some five thousand Italians were serving on the Russian front when the news came through. They were arrested before they ever got news of the invasion and interned in concentration camps. Barely half would survive the war, in perhaps one of the more vivid illustrations of the sudden nature of the latest stage of the war.

In Bulgaria, Tsar Boris was in surprisingly good spirits by contrast. He would tell his cabinet, “God won’t deny a single want of the Bulgarian nation, it seems.” He was referring to Dobruja, the Romanian territory located along the Black Sea. If he could secure that, he would landlock Romania, and fulfill some of the longest standing desires of Bulgarian nationalism. But he first ordered the Ploesti oil fields to be targeted, which would cripple the Pact’s war effort.

In Spain, Franco was quite astonished to arise on the morning of December 2nd to find he was in the middle of another war, especially against a former ally. He soon steadied himself and gave a radio address that evening from Madrid declaring that, “Those who would attack the nation of our Church deserve no forgiveness. This Christmas, Lourdes shall breathe in Christian air again.” The speech did a lot to assuage terror in Spain at the prospect of another war. Salazar in Portugal, would go down a similar road, only re-emphasizing the Anglo-Portugese friendship on top of it. Interestingly, a few despondent Communists still resisting Franco would join the Spanish military, just to be part of ‘at least one Anti-Fascist Crusade that was going to win,” one recalled.

In Croatia, Pavelić was still busy rooting out anything Orthodox or remotely Serbian and was left thunderstruck when the Nazis had dragged him into the War against them, all for a race he had little love for. However, given how close he was to the action, he readied the troops, especially as the first bombs fell on Zagreb on December 3rd. It appeared that he and Croatia were entering another war much sooner than he anticipated.

Turkey was so distant from the carnage that the news was registered mostly with confusion rather than fear. Most were convinced that the War would be long over before Turkey could send even a division, and ultimately they weren’t far off the truth.

In Italy, the mood was unique, given that the attack had befallen them and them alone. Mussolini had been stupefied by the news of war and further stupefied when he realised that his army in Slovenia had gone virtually unmolested. Even Lubiana escaped terror bombing. Still, the invading German troops, who were mostly from the SS were easily able to puncture the Italian border against Hungary. Minor assaults were launched across the length of Austria, but these were simply diversionary techniques given how impassable the Alps were.

Operation Visigoth (named after the German Barbarians who successfully challenged Rome) was the codename for the invasion of Italy. The main assault was launched over the Hungarian border towards Lubiana. The plan from there was to reach Trieste and cut the Fascist Bloc in two. Troops would then be sent into the northern Italian heartlands, where the vast majority of Italian industry was located. Once Italy’s industry was taken, it was assumed Italy would sue for peace, after which the remaining members of the Roman Alliance would likely sue for peace as well – after they had agreed to turn in any Jews they were sheltering. General Walter Model would lead the operation, despite his being a more defensive-suited commander. This was due to Model’s sympathy with Nazi policy, which had never been more fully on display. Behind him was Adolf Eichmann, tasked with ‘treating’ the Jews after the Italians had been beaten back. Hitler told Eichmann in no uncertain terms that Auschwitz was now off the table. The Jews were to be killed whenever he found them, wherever he found them, shot on sight.

Eichmann made little complaint.

Extract from 'Four’s Company: The Great Power relations in World War Two', by Steven Benford

Mussolini knew he was not popular in the West, especially after his opportunistic wars of expansion in Yugoslavia and Greece. Upon news of their latest ally, Roosevelt cut a decidedly mixed reaction. He was at once relieved that there was a new opportunity, but also embarrassed that he had to share the same side as that, “Mediteranean Peacock.” Stalin by contrast was quite concerned, correctly predicting the changes this would push on post-war Europe. He looked at the map: he was a long way from Romania, but Bulgaria was right there. He realised that the Fascist Bloc could set up their puppets right on the border. It filled him with alarm. Soviet propaganda refused to give support to Italy, merely using it to launch into mockery of ‘German insanity’. Churchill, despite his anger over Mussolini’s conquests, was much more relieved, still burned by Roosevelt after being pushed into the Normandy campaign, which he regarded as a mistake. He felt Roosevelt was too soft on Stalin, and was relieved that he would ‘have someone in the foxhole against Stalin at the next conference’, as he told Anthony Eden.

However, Mussolini’s awkward transition to a champion of Democracy was to be severely eased by events in Slovenia. The Nazis had won the hearts of the Slovenian people, angry at Italy for their attempt to remove their culture. The Italians had changed the name of every city, suppressed teaching of the Slovenian language and forced everyone to adhere to Italian customs over the native ones. The population was lucky not to be considered Sub-human by the Nazis, and so the Slovenians were promised their own state in the event of German victory. This gave a false confidence to German commanders that Italy would crumble in days, which was brutally halted during the battle of Lubiana on December 10th.

The Germans had incorrectly assumed that the Italian army was as primitive and poor as it was against Yugoslavia, and that decent Nordic equipment and men would overrun them like mincemeat, especially with a hostile population. Instead, a brutal battle was held, lasting ten days. The Luftwaffe found itself in a totally unexpected fight for its life by waves of P.108 and G.55 planes made from the Piaggio and Fiat manufacturing plants, needing sheer numbers it had a hard time sparing. It was expected to fall in a day and lasted a week due to dogged Blackshirt and Italian resistance. Few Jews fought in the battle, and were instead pressed against the Adriatic in Trieste, which was overwhelmed on all sides by refugees. The lack of Jews and the extreme nature of the fighting brought German anger to a boiling point.

With the help of Slovenian collaborators, members of the Fascist Party, Blackshirts, prominent Italians and a handful of Jews were rounded up into the city centre and executed under Eichmann’s orders. The Slovenian collaborators took the message to mean ‘Italians out!’ An orgy of violence would destroy Lubiana for the rest of the year, with the Italian population ethnically cleansed from the city as the first stage of a ‘pure, Slovenian homeland’.

The event would devastate sympathy for Slovenian nationalism in the long-term, but even in the short term it did much to endear the Italians to the Western public. However, the generational defining event for both Italy and the Jewish people was still to come.

Extract from 'Unconquerable: The Story of the Jews of Hungary', by Mel Goldberg

With the fall of Lubiana, and news of the subsequent slaughter, the Chief Rabbi of Rome Israel Zolli and representatives of the Hungarian Jews arrived in Rome to meet Mussolini on December 22nd. These representatives included Antal Szerb, one of the most respected writers in Hungary, Miklós Vig, a stage legend and Gold medal Olympian János Garay [1]. Mussolini expected pleading to send more troops into the region to help save the Jewish escapees, who were now crowded around Trieste, tired and hungry. He even began the meeting by telling him that extra troops were currently unavailable. He was shocked by the reply: they didn’t want troops, but they wanted guns. The Jewish escapees demanded guns so they could hold Trieste and repulse the Nazis out of Italy. They furthermore requested that the ships currently in the Adriatic, from the battleships down to the fishermen evacuate the Jewish women and children only. Jewish men would stay and fight. They would rather the Littorio ships save their children rather than give support to the fighters. In other words, ‘our own Dunkirk’. This line in particular impressed Mussolini, as he was sure Britain was finished in the war three years ago and was amazed at the ‘Dunkirk Spirit’ that existed during the Battle of Britain.

Israel Zolli then told Mussolini that that very day, December 22nd, was the beginning of Hanukah, the Jewish holiday commemorating the Jewish fighters who held out against a mighty empire they would ultimately outlive. Mussolini, a man who believed in the power of destiny despite his atheism, saw it as a sign, and agreed to send out the evacuation call while dropping in supplies to the beleaugured city of Trieste, which was overwhelmed with Jewish refugees, and Italian ones too for that matter.

Extract from 'Day' (1990) by Elie Wiesel

My mother and sister were now drifting away from us. It seemed that all the boats were at that point. All along the shore, the boats were full of children, barely younger than me. Some were gigantic crusiers, some were tiny little fishing boats. The harbor couldn’t have been more full but there was no end to the number of us who stood on the shores. I was barely fifteen but I knew there were twelve year olds who were staying behind as well. My father stood beside me and held me. We could already hear the guns starting to fire in the distance. We knew we were going into that soon, and there was no guarantee either of us were going to make it out alive. If I was being perfectly honest, the same was true of my mother and sister. All along the water’s edge were boys just like me, still kids, knowing this may be the last time that they saw their mother’s before they died.

One child just to my right couldn’t take it anymore. He must have been thirteen or fourteen, and having had his Bar Mitzvah he had to stay and fight, or there wouldn’t be any of us left. He knelt, weeping as his mother slowly moved into the distance on one of the little fishing boats, she herself broken with grief. Then the boy stood up, and with a voice so loud it seemed to silence the whole city, he screamed, “Next year in Jerusalem!”

Soon I called out the same thing to my mother and sister. Then my father. Then the man beside me, then the plucky woman who wanted to fight with her brothers, then the old man by the lamppost, then the whole line, the whole street, the whole harbor, the whole city.

At that point, we knew we’d survive - as a people. But that wasn’t enough for us anymore. All we’ve ever done is survive! It was so routine, it was almost boring. Of course we would pull through, we always had and we always would. But there was one thing more we were going to do now: fight back. The Nazis said we’d cower and shake at their sight. But it wasn’t what the Nazis said about us that matter. The only thing that mattered was what we said about us. If we said we were going to fight them to the death, then by all the strength within us, we would. David was still a boy when he slayed Goliath, and so I would slay those who would have killed my family, my country, my whole world. As the day broke over the horizon, I could feel the presence of God within, telling me that I would enter the Valley of the Shadow of Death, but not to be afraid … for he was with me.

[1] All of whom perished in the Holocaust

Hayom Kadosh

BBC News report, 1980

“Israeli Prime Minister, Anne Frank, made her first state visit to Italy today. She landed in Venice before arriving in Trieste, the scene of the historic World War Two battle between the forces of Nazi Germany and a force consisting mostly of Jewish refugees escaping the Holocaust. She laid a wreath, alongside King Umberto II of Italy, in memory of those who died during the battle. Frank, who escaped the Holocaust along with her family as a result of Mussolini’s immigration program in 1942, stated that ‘Trieste would live forever, as the city where the state of Israel was truly founded”.

Address by Joseph Goebbels on German Radio, December 22nd

“The enemy by now does not even conceal himself! Who was he this whole time? The Hebrew! The usurer, the rootless Capitalist who broke the economy of Germany and the world in 1929! The bloodthirsty Bolshevik who does all that he can to overthrow the Civilisation of Europe! The enemy is there in Trieste, in all its root wickedness! At last, cornered by the soldiers of the Aryan race, they run and cower like rats in the filth of the ruins! No longer can they hide behind their foolish British, or Mongroloid American or negroid Italian or unthinking Slavic footsoldiers to do their bidding! Now they’ll see what fighting and hardship is! The same fighting they forsook in 1918 when they betrayed the German nation! The last time they will have seen a fight like this will be the time of Titus, and the result shall be the same!”

‘This Day is Sacred’ by the London Times, December 25th 1943

While once, the news of Christmas was enough to bring the sound of guns to a halt all across France in the midst of the Great War, no one would dare think such foolish thoughts about the chances of that happening here in Trieste.

Despite having received no almost no training, with almost no support the Jews of Hungary, in one week, have turned Trieste into a fortress. By some estimates, there are some 500,000 Jews still left inside the city, with the children and many women by now mostly evacuated. Every street has its own patrol setting up plans and traps. They have no uniforms but it’s easy to tell who is Jewish – they’re dressed like they’ve been dragged through the mud but have faces so intensely devoted to their work that they could lose an arm and not notice it until someone pointed it out. I saw boys who were barely half my height set up machine gun turrets in the ruins of this once great city of Trieste. This Renaissance town has been pulverised by indiscriminate bombing – it would be as unthinkable as bombing Dresden. [1]

The Jewish fighters have also had a galvanizing effect on local Italians. The Italian residents, initially dismayed at the massive numbers of foreign refugees in their city, were impressed by the commitment and attention to detail the Jewish fighters displayed. Italian citizens have by now formed their own groups, with one telling me they were, “sick of the Jews embarrassing us by defending our city better than we were”. Others have been terrified that their city would fall into the hands of the ‘Slovenian barbarians’ after news of the anti-Italian pogroms occurring in the city of Lubiana. Regardless, everyone is united in common cause. Those who do not have guns have knives, and those who do not have knives have everything else imaginable. Ships come into the harbor loaded with guns and leave loaded with children. By now, the Jews have mostly forsaken the evacuation route and insist that the locals take the ships and get out. However, they have so inspired the local residents that few want to leave.

The fighters do not move in groups or as individuals – they move like a single collective organism. Everyone seems to know where everyone else is at any one time. There is no fear, even when one of their number falls, because the Jews have determined it is far better to die like this, the road to Valhalla, than die a dreary death strung up against a wall and riddled with machine gun fire that surely awaits anyone foolish enough to surrender. I have yet to hear reports of a single accepted surrender on either side. In terms of the ferocity and hatred on display, it outmatches any battle I have ever seen. The Luftwaffe only occasionally attacks now, and the Italian planes have surprised even the locals in their performance. But don’t let that mislead you – this is overwhelmingly a Jewish operation, as the Italian army is mainly ensuring a breakout towards the centre of Italy is rendered impossible. That the fearsome Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler division cannot take this city is likely beyond the comprehension of Nazi ideology. After having so long regarded the Jews as rats, they’ve discovered that they are lions. Every Jew fights not as if their life depends on it, but that their family’s life depends on it.

I saw one boy, probably about fourteen, leaning against a wall as he reloaded his rifle. I heard him muttering something, as it turned out in Hebrew, the ancient language of the Israelites. When I asked him what he said, he cheerily replied to me, ‘Hayom Kadosh … Hayom kadosh l'Adonai eloheichem.’ ‘It means ‘this day is sacred. This day is sacred says the Lord God’. It’s in the Torah, in Hebrew. It’s talking about the Sabbath. Today is Christmas to you Christians, but to us, it’s Saturday, the Sabbath. ‘Al titabloo v'al tivku’. It means, ‘do not mourn and do not weep’. [2] We can’t really rest,” he laughed, “but we can refuse to weep!”

And at that moment, I saw one of the most unique expressions I had ever witnessed. It was childish innocence with the wisdom and experience of adults. It was something resolute, monumental and human. It was proof that there were some things that all the bombs in Germany could never crush.

'German Retreat from France almost Complete', Washington Post December 26th 1943

Today, Spanish leader General Franco made good on his promise to attend Christmas mass in the Catholic pilgrimage destination of Lourdes. He attended with leading members of the French Resistance and numerous Catholic clergy from the region. This follows the near total collapse of German presence in the occupied nation since the sudden, shock news of Germany’s invasion of Italy. Franco would go on to state that Bordeaux would be liberated by the start of the new year, which would have been unthinkable months ago, given the bitter stalemate that reigned over the battlefields of France. However, given what has happened it may very well be achievable.

Now, even the American and British forces, still mostly boxed inside northern France have reported unprecedented advances due to German forces being divided yet further to prop up the Italian front. Hopes are arising that perhaps even Paris will fall soon. Prime Minister Churchill has re-iterated his belief that the War in Europe would be over by the end of 1944 and that belief certainly seems more plausible than it was before. It appears that the Germans are consolidating their defence by putting as many troops between the Allies and Berlin as possible. Fearing encirclement, they have abandoned their positions close to the Pyrenees. Isolated reports suggest the same thing may be happening in the French Alps, though this remains unconfirmed.

Winston Churchill’s Address to the House of Commons, December 28th 1943

“In all the history of warfare, no people have shown more bravery, more courage and more intensity of human spirit and strength than have the Jewish people right now in Trieste. As the Satanic forces of Nazism attempt to extinguish the light of human civilization, those who are holding the line are the most persecuted, mistreated people in the history of the world. Those Jews do not fight like heroes. Heroes fight like those Jews. And even should they perish under the evil of Hitler, like their heroic ancestors at Masada, they will live on forever in the souls of all who yearn for liberty in this world. We extend our well-wishes to the Jewish and Italian people, to the Italian government and to all those in the fight against the forces of darkness, for the light has never been closer.”

Extract from 'Unconquerable: The Story of the Jews of Hungary', by Mel Goldberg

Despite heroic resistance, the Jews were slowly pushed back inside Trieste, but not after making the Germans pay for every bloody step. As Model would report to Hitler, “We have to fight for every brick”. Eichmann was increasingly frustrated that almost no Jews, apart from those who were incapacitated or unconscious were being captured. The Jews were dying on their feet, not at the German’s feet, as had been the plan. The Germans expected the Jews to be fighting for every spot on the evacuation boats by the time they arrived. By now, almost no ships were arriving, and hundreds of thousands of Jewish men (and a fair few women and male children) would rather take a hundred bullets than abandon their community. Jewish neighbors who had spent decades living in tranquility now had their own specific streets to defend. Wily Great War veterans led boys who until just years ago had debated whether Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck was funnier. Jewish aristocrats and Jewish Communists laughed and shared cigarettes together between breaks in the fighting. Habitual shoplifters and the police who frequently arrested them now fought on the side of all that was good and right together. Women who had been scared of a bug just a few years before would grab sniper rifles and fire from behind the rubble, because the love of their children was stronger than any fear they had. Taxi drivers drove ambulances up and down the shattered streets. Prostitutes and Rabbis tended to the wounded together. [3] Never in the history of warfare had there been a situation like it. A whole society, from its rich to its poor, from all political and religious segments, was united as brothers. The simple truth was inescapable: we were Jews, and if we didn’t work together, all the Jews will die.

One nurse would recall, “I saw a man awake from his morphine. He demanded to know what had happened to him. He’d been hit by a mortar, and had lost his leg. He saw his missing leg, looked at his arms and said, “Thank God. I still have my arms, so I can still fight – what’s the quickest way to the front?” Israelis to this day talk about ‘The Trieste Spirit’ when there are rocket attacks from Mesopotamia, though the threat was far more total back in 1943/1944.

By January 4th, the Jews had been pushed into a narrow corridor barely ten miles from the sea. If air raids were possible, the Jews would have been in serious trouble. They were exhausted before the fight even started, and were fighting an elite SS division on top of it. These were horrendous circumstances by any stretch of the imagination and the Germans were getting angrier and angrier. Hitler finally snapped and ordered an all out assault on Trieste, casualties be damned – the Jews had to be massacred, no ifs or buts.

But on the day of final assault, January 6th, something didn’t go according to plan.

Interview of Italo Balbo for the BBC’s ‘World At War’ (1973)

Interviewer: “How do you explain the success of your attack on the German forces that January?”

Balbo: “The German flanks were ludicrously exposed. You could send a brigade and it would probably smash right through. A whole Italian army? They didn’t stand a chance. The flank was so exposed because they kept throwing away men trying to take Trieste. It was ludicrous. Combined with letting the Croatians do what they wanted, it was doubly ludicrous.

Interviewer: “What do you think would have happened if it wasn’t for the defence of Trieste?”

Balbo: “The war would have gone on until 1945.”

Extract from 'The Second World War' by Christopher Armlong

As if they hadn’t learned their lesson from Stalingrad, both the Italian armies in the West under Balbo and the Croatian armies in the east quickly and decisively overwhelmed the German forces (more accurately Slovenian recruits) on the flanks. The reason was the single-minded focus on killing the Jewish population inside Trieste – an act of insanity that would come to define Nazism as an ideology. The Italian airforce proceeded to pulverize the German rear, in conjunction with British and American planes who Mussolini had gladly accepted onto his soil, wanting to get on their good side. The Nazi advance inside Trieste was stopped almost as soon as it began. With a lightning quick action, the SS Adolf Hitler division was trapped inside Trieste, some 30,000 troops.

Despite this they continued to charge the Jewish holdouts with suicidal conviction. It was as if they thought time was running out, and that they absolutely had to kill the Jews or something terrible would happen. Thankfully, their attacks were repulsed and it made the infiltration of the Italians and Croatians into the city even easier. By January 15th, Trieste was declared secure. By the help of the Jewish population, the city had withstood Nazism. Only 10,000 Germans would surrender, overwhelmingly to the Croatians.

Some fifty thousand of the Hungarian Jews had died since Horthy’s expulsion order. Some from bombings, shelling, bullets – but none would ever die in a gas chamber. They died as free, proud people, defending their families and nation. More importantly, some three quarters of a million had survived.

Trieste was not too important a battle in the course of World War Two – the outcome had long since been decided. Its significance would mostly be felt after the War.

[1] On one happy note, the war will be over before the bombing of Dresden.

[2] -

My inspiration for this segment.

[3] All of which would be shown in the Hollywood Classic ‘Exodus’ (1954) starring Kirk Douglas, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Edward G. Robinson, Peter Lorre, Otto Premiger, Ernest Borgnine, Lauren Bacall and Frank Sinatra. It would be the product of the newfound comradery between Italian and Jewish communities.


Extract from 'Memoirs of a Young Girl' (1988), by Anne Frank

I’d volunteered to help the newcomers, but there was just too many of them. There were as many Jews coming in as were already in Libya – it wasn’t easy to try and provide for us, let alone the next set of arrivals. These ones were different though, almost all women and young children. When our group of Jews arrived in Libya, many of us kissed the ground, happy to be alive and out of Hitler’s grasp. The Hungarians that came did anything but. They were so worried about their fathers, sons and brothers who had stayed behind to fight at Trieste that they couldn’t be happy for any reason. I remember one twelve-year-old girl who was crying because she had always fought with her older brother and realised that she might never see him again to say she loved him. Many children were totally unescorted, without anyone else from their family coming along to Libya. It was no time for singing ‘Hatikvah’ or makeshift Bar Mitzvahs, as had been the way of us initial Libyan arrivals. Now, we were just as concerned with the fate of the Jews of Trieste as the very families themselves.


The news of the victory at Trieste was the greatest victory in the history of Judaism, outmatching anything found in the Torah. In terms of numbers, odds and the purity of goodness and evil, nothing in the Biblical campaign to reach the Promised Land even comes close. Gentiles looked at us differently from then on; we looked at ourselves differently from then on. We had been used to seeing ourselves as victims, whose destiny was out of their hands. It was as if we were cursed.

After Trieste though, a new spirit rose through the Jewish people all across the world. From Brooklyn to Golders Green to Tel Aviv, Jews around the world knew that we were stronger than we ever thought. We had beaten back one of the strongest divisions in the whole of Germany, after the Germans started a war against one of the strongest countries on earth just to kill. All of a sudden, the ancient dream of forming our own state on the lands of our ancestors didn’t seem so impossible after all. Actually, it looked pretty tame.

It was a special time, with every tent and house full of song and celebration. The Italians even joined in, seeing as they had helped us after all. I remember the songs going long into the night, total strangers kissing and embracing, the alcohol drank by the crate. My parents were in such a good mood that they even let me have some. I started drinking and soon started laughing. But soon later, I walked outside and started crying. No, I wasn’t sad or afraid, I was just a little embarrassed because I was so happy. Because for the first time in my life, I was so happy to have been born a Jew.


Ben-Gurion was standing right in the centre of the camp on a podium. There was no safety-glass or anything of the sort back then because no one was going to hurt let alone challenge a man we respected so much. We’d all learned more about Zionism in the years since the war started, but here was the man who represented the Jews of Palestine. He spoke in Hebrew, but not all of us were good enough at it, including me.

We all had little camp segments with their own translators piping over the sound system – it was a miracle we’d set something like that up in a place as godforsaken as we were near the desert. The Yiddish had the biggest, but there were plenty for the German speakers, French speakers and so on. I stuck to my relatively tiny Dutch section, slightly embarrassed to be speaking what seemed so unimportant a language compared to everyone else.

He said that Trieste would be remembered ‘until the sands of time gave out’, and that he had been given permission by the Italian government to form a new fighting force under the command of the British army (which still ran Palestine at the time). It would, however, be ran by Jews for the interest of Jews. When he let out a call for how many of us would respond to ‘the call of Zion’, nearly a quarter of a million people let out their voices so loud I wondered if Hitler heard it in Berlin. I joined in the call too, even though the offer only stood open to men at the time, as per instruction by the British. I remember being quite annoyed when I found out, as if I couldn’t help my family or people unless I grabbed a rifle and started smashing Germany with my own two hands. At the same time, I remember being so deeply infatuated by Ben-Gurion that right then and there I knew he was my leader – it was no wonder which party I wound up joining in Israel.

So I stayed in Libya for the rest of the war, which now had a lot more women in it than men since everyone was desperate to fight alongside ‘the warriors of Trieste’. Yet there were plenty of Trieste warriors right beside me – women who risked it all and learned to tell the tale. It was a good time. What were once endless rows of makeshift and damp tents in the middle of a desert had become rows of one Kibbutz after another. The Italians were astonished at how we’d been able to irrigate and cultivate so much land they assumed was absolutely worthless. We thought it was the least we could do, given what they had done for us. While the Jews didn’t stay in Libya for long, not that there aren’t plenty of us there now, we made it possible for so many Italians to go there by building the infrastructure needed for them to support so many people. That isn’t to mention, of course, the engineers who Mussolini saved in 1942 who discovered how much oil there was located in Libya the very next year. Having been Prime Minister, I can assure you that it’s somewhat comforting to know your country is sitting on some oil.

When I returned to Libya in 1980, I remember seeing some of the old sites and buildings. But it was the old faces I most cherished. Guards who had been kind to us, locals who had settled us in, even some of the holdout Jews who decided that Libya would be their home for good. In some ways, no matter the hardships we faced in the desert, they were some of the best days of my life. And besides, Moses had to wander the desert for forty years and he still never got there, right? We barely needed four!

Unconquerable: The Story of the Jews of Hungary, by Mel Goldberg

The Jews of Hungary were in no shape to keep marching after they survived one of the most talked about battles in human history. The death rate was atrocious – the wounded rate was even higher, but their spirits were unquenchable. One Italian officer reported, “The spirit of the Jews is indescribable. Men laugh and say they’ve only realised they haven’t slept in three days. Others walk on broken legs while others casually give their food to locals after not having eaten for a week. There is no force between Heaven or Hell that can scare these people.” The only thing that could convince them to not advance further was the request to evacuate the younger children (those under 16 who had stayed) and remaining women. Thus, the Jews didn’t immediately advance from their positions, though they were assured they would see combat again.

News of such military prowess had not just impressed the Italian observers, but the whole world. American, British and Roman Alliance reporters interviewed every fighter they could to paint the incredible picture (the Soviets did not send anyone, but the news got around easily enough and excited the Jewish population). As George Orwell observed, “the Battle of Trieste will be a rallying cry for the oppressed for centuries to come. That the most hated, abused people on the Earth could one day decide that they could stand up and not only fight, but win shall send a shiver of excitement down the spines of the world’s underclass.”

More immediately, Jewish soldiers in the Allies suddenly started demanding to be moved to this new Jewish brigade. Reasons ranged from ‘they need all the help they can get’, ‘they need a rest’ to ‘God really rubbed a lot of luck onto those guys’. The largest contingent, naturally, was in the Jewish mandate in Palestine (the community known as the Yishuv), which had been demanding to fight the Nazis one on one, not just the Arab allies Germany casually supported. They were doubly infuriated that Jews could not flee to the Mandate during the Holocaust. By now, the necessity of reaching out to the Jewish Agency, led by David Ben-Gurion, as well as Mussolini was unavoidable. After back-channel chat, on January 17th, Churchill announced that he and Ben-Gurion would meet with Mussolini and Salazar in Lisbon at the end of the month to flesh out what would become of the nascent Hungarian Jewish forces. Ben-Gurion would quickly arrive in Tripoli to a hero’s reception to illustrate his bargaining-hand to the Italian and British leaders – his word meant something to the Libyan Jews, and he wasn’t going to give them a bad deal.

Of course, there would be another arrival at the Lisbon Conference.

Extract from 'Four’s Company: The Great Power relations in World War Two', by Steven Benford

On January 31st, Churchill arrived in Lisbon. Roosevelt hadn’t been told until Churchill had publicly announced it. This helps illustrate how the pair’s working relationship had fallen since D-Day, which Churchill would always regard as a mistake and suspected Stalin’s influence over Roosevelt. Some historians suspect Churchill saw flashbacks of Gallipoli in the slaughter British troops faced on the Normandy beaches.

At Churchill’s side was Anthony Eden and, coming in from the far East, Orde Wingate. He had been ordered to Lisbon specifically for the mission he was about to be entrusted with. Wingate had served in the Palestinian Mandate. As a committed Christian, he felt a religious mission to support the Jewish people and aided the Haganah, the Jewish paramilitary group, in their asymmetric warfare. Wingate was ‘an eccentric’ if you liked him and ‘stark raving mad’ if you didn’t. While the British had grown increasingly weary of his antics (which included drinking water from a flower vase in a Cairo hotel and getting dysentery) he had won the hearts of the Zionists back in Palestine with his cooperation and conviction. His ‘Chindit’ program had debatable results when used in the Burma Front, but he was mainly used to help bridge the divide between the British and Jewish leaders. Many Jews wanted to serve under the Italians, seeing them as their saviors. Wingate was considered to be the only British general well liked enough by Jews to have them on their side. With this plan, Churchill landed in Lisbon, meeting Salazar and Mussolini the next day on February 1st.

Mussolini had prepared for an avalanche of criticism over Greece and Serbia, for which he had prepared a long list of reasons to justify himself. Instead, both he and Ciano were shocked by what was coming out of the mouths of the British representatives: Stalin had to be stopped and FDR wasn’t going to do it. The War would be over soon, and they needed to ensure Communism was contained. For that reason, the Roman Alliance had to take over Romania and Hungary before the Soviets did. While Churchill re-iterated that the British government would not recognise any of the Roman Alliance’s territorial gains from Yugoslavia and Greece, he seemed ambivalent about Italy stationing troops in Romania and Hungary ‘assuming free elections have been held’. The next conference of Allied leaders would be at held in April in Kiev, which had recently been liberated. Churchill asked Mussolini for support in standing up to Stalin ‘because I don’t always get it’. From here on, Churchill and Mussolini began a complicated balancing act, making sure neither got ensnared in the other’s net whilst hoping they could work together to outwit the common Soviet foe. Neither trusted the other, but they both knew one thing for sure: the other hated Stalin as much as they did.

On the matter of the Jewish forces, Mussolini was somewhat relieved to have the pressure taken off him in finding supplies. Between Ben-Gurion and Wingate, the two had proposed a new understanding: The Haganah would become ‘The Anglo-Jewish Army’, a surprisingly accurate title given the numbers of Hungarian Jews that existed. It would be led by Wingate but the mid-ranking roles would be staffed primarily with Haganah regulars like Zvi Brenner and Moshe Dayan. It would have to reform, losing its women, boy and elderly fighters to the safe shores of Libya. However, the influx of Jewish recruits from Libya (unless they were considered too economically important), Italian Jews who had lived there all their lives and indeed Palestinian Jews who were raring to have a piece of the Nazis more than made up the numbers. After a month of rest, the Jewish army would be on the march again, back to Budapest.

After other minor agreements, such as the use of the newest Regia Marina ships to help the British in the Pacific against Japan, everyone left the meeting in a good mood. “I’d forgotten what a decent meeting felt like,” laughed Churchill as he boarded the plane. He would report to the nation about plans for the Anglo-Jewish army to wild acclaim.

Mussolini would quietly return to Rome. As soon as he arrived in his office, the phone began to ring.

Extract from 'Total: Fascist Terror in Italy' by Sven Dietrich

Mussolini had received a message from Graziani. Whilst Balbo and the Haganah had been performing PR in Trieste, the bulk of the Italian forces were actually pushing the invaders back into Ljubljana. The city was mostly, but not entirely surrounded, and mostly occupied by Slovenian Pro-Nazi forces, rather than German soldiers. German soldiers were already pulling back to the Alps to stake out a suitable defence, leaving the Slovenian collaborators to fight for themselves.

Ljubljana’s population had numbered some one hundred thousand, though the prior battle had already reduced the population count. With total air superiority, a numerically superior force and one that was well supplied with Western aid, there is no doubt the Italian army alone could have easily taken control of the city. But that wasn’t the intention of the Fascists – they wanted to make an example of anyone who defied Italian rule or occupation.

Graziani informed Mussolini that all preparation was complete. Mussolini then told his general, “Good, I want you to settle the question of who runs Slovenia … permanently.”

On February 6th, Italian bombers departed from their airfields and began to congregate in mass over Ljubljana’s historic city centre was the main target of the bombing, pulverizing centuries old art and architecture. After hours of plane bombing, the artillery began to obliterate the residential areas. The targets, by the on-the-record account of soldiers at the time, had absolutely nothing to do with German or even Slovenian military targets.

Mussolini had decided that after having done what they did in Ljubljana just weeks ago, launching a pogrom against the Italian population, the whole city deserved collective punishment. Soldiers were instructed to ‘avenge the rape of our people’ by ‘tearing this viper’s nest to the ground and start from zero’. He wanted not to destroy Ljubljana, but to remove it from the map entirely, replacing it with ‘Lubiana’ a pure, Italian town.

By February 8th,the Blackshirts were sent in. Mussolini had stated that he only wanted Blackshirts to perform the operation, convinced they were the only ones with enough resolve finish the job. The Blackshirts encountered little resistance, as the city had been pulverised with the Germans retreating and Slovenians fleeing. Satchel charges were set to the few remaining buildings still standing in the city centre. Rape was especially common by the Blackshirts, as was summary executions of almost anyone who was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

On February 9th, Graziani wrote to Mussolini that, ‘Ljubljana is dead, long live Lubiana’. They had done what Hitler had only dreamed of doing in St. Petersburg or Moscow: they had succeeded in destroying the great city of a people and starting it from the ground up. While Warsaw was lucky enough to be rebuilt painstakingly according to detail, Ljubljana received no such relief. It was given an entirely different geographic layout with Italian citizens and exclusively Italian street-signs. If you came to Ljubljana in the 1950s, you would never have imagined it was anything other than a quiet Italian town. However, it was built upon the grave of the Slovenian people. The only things that were rebuilt as before were the Catholic churches, after the Pope complained.

With the loss of their capital, spirit and a significant proportion of their population, the Slovenian people were shattered. Post-war restrictions on Slovenian culture, which made the ones prior to entry into World War 2 seem lenient, were brutal. Teachers would be imprisoned for speaking a word of Slovenian to their students, even if the students didn’t understand what they were saying in Italian and needed clarification. Conditions were so unforgiving in their occupied homeland that many wound up running away to the Italian colonies for a more hands-off existence. By 1958, what was once Slovenia was by now majority Italian, with the colonial diaspora too fragmented to keep their culture alive to any significant degree. At the same time, you would never see a sign in Slovenian in any store, lest the Blackshirts come and smash the place up for being ‘Nazi sympathizers’.

Under every definition of the word, the Fascists committed genocide against the Slovenian people. And it was ignored by every nation on Earth.

Interview of Italo Balbo for the BBC’s ‘World At War’ (1973)

Interviewer: “It’s estimated that some twenty thousand civilians died in the destruction of Lubiana. That corresponds to roughly one fifth of the city. It’s also estimated that by the end of the bombing, some 90% of buildings had been destroyed. Most of the rest would be destroyed after the fighting. What do you have to say to that?”

Balbo: “Well, firstly I had nothing to do with it. That was all Graziani.”

Interviewer: “And Mussolini.”

Balbo: “Graziani was the one who decided where the bombing would take place. The Duce had no ability to determine where the bombs fell. Graziani, again, made some mistakes but you have to understand what he did in context of the War. The city had been occupied by the Nazis – if there was a way of reducing the amount of our troops who would perish -”

Interviewer: “With all due respect Mister Balbo, that doesn’t explain why the Blackshirts proceeded to set satchel charges on any standing structure left in the city. It also doesn’t explain why the air force didn’t pursue the retreating Germans but continued bombing the city centre.”

Balbo: (*More angrily*) “The citizens knew the risk when they decided to stay in an active warzone. There were plenty of warnings.”

Interviewer: “Mister Balbo, there were no such warnings. For example, the American nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Kokura produced many pamphlets demanding the citizens flee. No such preparation was made with the residents of Lubiana.”

Balbo: “The warning was how we had dealt with insurgencies across the colonies. We had taught the Ethiopians a lesson when they tried to assassinate Graziani and failed. Now, the Slovenians had massacred every Italian they could find in the city. Did they really expect us to hand out flowers and talk about forgiveness? We responded in the only way we knew how.”

Interviewer: “Some have called it ‘genocide’.”

Balbo: “I don’t care what someone calls it. From that day forth, Slovenian terrorism was defeated. There is no major Slovenian terrorist network, be it in Slovenia, the Libyan diaspora, or even the colonial diaspora. All around the world, we see these conflicts with terrorists trying to take on great powers: in France with Corsica and their Algerian holdouts, in Britain with Northern Ireland and Kurdistan with their Arab towns and regions. There is no terrorist movement in Italy proper, including Libya – and we’re proud of it.”

Interviewer: “There is, wouldn’t you say, in East Africa?”

Balbo: “I was careful with my words. Italy proper.”
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Extract from 'The Second World War' by Christopher Armlong

With the aid of token Turkish reinforcement, Bulgaria seized the Ploesti oil fields more or less in one piece on January 20th. Hitler had ordered them razed but most survived the conflict. Though Bulgaria wouldn’t know it at the time, this would prove invaluable by the 1960s and 1970s as part of the Fascist Bloc’s conflict against the Soviet Union. The fall of Ploesti was ultimately the trigger for the January Coup just two days later in the besieged Bucharest. King Michael I of Romania, incensed by Antonescu’s dragging his country into an unholy alliance with Nazi Germany, staged a coup and arrested the Romanian Dictator, declaring on radio that Romania would align itself with the Allies. This was quite surprising given that Michael was considered a mere figurehead, but his actions were nonetheless carried out. The War had been effortless for Bulgaria, but the already suffering Romanian people were astonished and outraged to be drawn into a war with their fresh, concentrated neighbor to the south. Some Romanian troops were known to have marched to a warzone, and without stopping simply kept walking to the Bulgarian lines to surrender without skipping a beat. The Germans attempted to control the situation but were quickly outflanked, retreating into Transylvania. Northern Romania, including Bessarabia was still occupied by the Germans, but by the middle of February, combined Bulgarian and Romanian assaults had cleared out the region, leaving the entire country occupied by Roman Alliance forces. Days later, angry Soviet troops would line up against the border of Romania, on what had once been Soviet territory.

It was no surprise that Michael had specifically called in the Alliance troops to preserve Romania from Communism, which would mean the death of the Monarchy. For that reason, Michael is seen as having saved Romania not just from Nazism, but Communism as well. The popularity of the Romanian Monarchy remains notably high, even today, as Michael would reign as King of Romania until his death in 2017 [1]. For almost all Romanians, he was the only King they ever had. His death was commemorated around the world for his preservation of Romanian independence amidst the struggles of the Cold War, which certainly wasn’t an easy task, all things considered.

Of course, tough measures had to be accepted. The entirety of Dobruja was surrendered to Bulgaria, although Michael was guaranteed a return of Hungarian land given to Horthy to bribe him into Operation Barbarossa, as well as assurances that Bessarabia would remain in his hands. When news of this hit Moscow, Stalin was not happy.

Four’s Company: The Great Power relations in World War Two, by Steven Benford

While the tumult of the Kiev Conference was legendary for its geopolitical results (from America to the final division of Europe) the seeds were sown at the news Bessarabia was occupied by Bulgarian troops (with Mussolini’s support). While the world cheered the liberation of Paris that February, there was no mood for celebration in any of the Allied capitals. Stalin, recalled one staffer, “looked like someone had slapped his mother right in front of him” at news that the Bulgarians had taken over the area. Roosevelt likewise was incensed, angrily (though privately) demanding that Mussolini reign in Tsar Boris and tell him not only to pull his troops out of Bessarabia, but forsake any idea of annexing all of Dobruja, which would mean the Soviets would directly border Roman Alliance Bulgaria. FDR angrily demanded Churchill back him up. Churchill, pointedly, did not. Churchill would address the House of Commons and state that any such territorial and influence sphere discussions would only be held at the next Allied Conference. Of course, Churchill was thrilled at the news Romania was in neither Russian nor German hands, stating, “My only regret is that they didn’t get the Ukraine”.

When Stalin refused to allow Mussolini permission to land in the Soviet Union for the Kiev Conference, Churchill threatened to pull out of the Conference as well. Not wanting the public embarrassment of such open disagreement among Allied leaders, FDR convinced Stalin to relent and go ahead with the Conference. In the meantime, Stalin began to lash out where he could. Upon reaching Finland in March, Stalin refused any offers of armistice and demanded unconditional surrender. After an invading force (far stronger and more experienced than the rabble in 1940) had taken Helsinki on March 19th, Finland unconditionally surrendered. While initially, according to unearthed documents, Stalin was somewhat indifferent to the Finns, by March, he had already decided the new policy he would undertake. At the same time, he pushed on desperately ahead in Europe, eager to cement Soviet control where he could.

The liberation of Romania set up the apocalyptic clash at Kiev. The liberation of Hungary only added fuel to the fire.

Extract from Orde Wingate’s ‘Armaggedon’ Speech in Trieste, February 24th 1944

“The Germans called you ‘inferior’! The Germans called you ‘weak’! Were you ‘inferior’ when you erected mighty Kingdoms while Germany was nothing but a rabble of barbarians? Were you weak when you survived, for five thousand years, pogrom after pogrom, injustice after injustice, slaughter after slaughter? Were you weak, when Dreyfuss stood strong in the face of injustice and endured the worst imprisonment? Were you weak when you came halfway across the world, to a harsh desert, just to fulfill an ancient dream? Were you weak when you stood here in Trieste and flung back the most elite force of the so-called ‘Master-race’?

“You are not inferior! You are not weak! You are the Chosen People! God chose you for a reason! Because he knows you’re tougher than every Tyrant who ever tries to destroy you! Pharaoh tried to destroy you! Egypt was destroyed! Titus destroyed to hurt you! The Roman Empire was destroyed! And now Hitler tries to destroy you! But he shall be the last! The Jewish people have told the whole world that they will never be abused again! They will never allow another pogrom again! They will never allow another Ghetto again! You will stand tall, here, at the Battle of Armageddon and do battle for the Lord! After this accursed wandering through the wilderness is over, the Promised Land once more awaits!”

Extract from 'Unconquerable: The Story of the Jews of Hungary,' by Mel Goldberg

Wingate was not particularly experienced in war in the flat plains of Europe, but what he did have was the unrivalled enthusiasm of his troops. Wingate was almost worshipped by members of the Jewish community for his resolute devotion to the Zionist movement. After his infamous ‘Armaggedon Speech’, Anthony Eden tried to convince Churchill to dump Wingate to preserve British credibility. Churchill replied, “I would rather have Hungary than credibility.” Churchill ordered Wingate in no uncertain terms that he was to ‘save Hungary from Bolshevism’ and occupy it before Stalin could get a grasp on it. Wingate, whose Christianity led him to despise the Communists, was more than willing to meet the task.

By the end of February, supported by both the Italian and British air force as well as Croatian troops on the southern flank, the Anglo-Jewish army began its march inside Hungary, marching straight to Budapest. Given its size, it was extremely difficult to supply, but Wingate fired his troops with so much inspiration that it kept them going. Wingate’s own love of what he would conservatively call ‘testing one’s physical limits’ (which involved walking naked through the jungles of Burma) would leave the troops feeling that they too could overcome any hardships on the way.

The Germans, by contrast, were roundly despised by the Hungarian population and exhausted. The chaos that resulted from Horthy’s expulsion order and the subsequent persecutions to rat out the few remaining Jews, not to mention the murder of half of the Hungarian government, had left a bitter taste in the mouths of Hungarians. Many saw the Jews as legitimate Hungarian citizens, and saw the potential conflict between Hungarian Jewish and German forces to be one where they would root for their fellow countrymen, even if they were Jewish.

The German troops, some SS and some Wehrmacht, were doubly hated but were on edge, particularly given that Italy was already invading the main portion of Germany. By March 10th, Graz fell to Mussolini, the first major German city (albeit in Austria) to fall to the Allied forces. Many Germans wondered what they were doing defending Hungary when their homeland was under siege. Furthermore, though no one dared admit it, they were scared of the Jews. They were scared because the Jews had defeated them at Trieste, despite Goebbels’s attempts to call it a ‘strategic withdrawl’. They were certain that they were going to be trapped between Jewish and Russian soldiers in Hungary – certain death. Many wanted simply to retreat and surrender to the Italians, or better yet the Anglo-Americans. At the risk of getting totally cut off, German troops had already forsaken Transylvania to Bulgarian and Romanian forces, leaving the bulk of Hungary at the mercy of the Anglo-Jewish forces.

On February 29th, the invasion of Hungary fully began, overwhelming the SS defenders on the border not just with quantity, but qualitative superiority. Many of the leaders of the Jewish forces had served in Palestine and knew how to fight, while most SS leaders expected to be fighting what consisted of a mishmash of pretentious partisans. On the same day, the Croatians advanced too, taking Pecs in two days. Wehrmact troops broke rank in the thousands and ran to the Croatian lines to surrender before the Jews could get their hands on them. Jews marched along the same railroad lines that had guided them to the border to save themselves, only now they were coming back to save their country itself. On March 10th, they were greeted by the news that Romanian and Bulgarian troops had invaded the Great Hungarian Plain, and were sealing off the border to the Soviets as best they could.

By March 20th, the advance parties of Jewish soldiers faced the first line of defence in Budapest. Szálasi had promised Hitler that his country would, “be Jewry’s graveyard”, but it wasn’t to be. Faced with overwhelming numbers of Jews and the might of the RAF and Regia Aeronautica, not to mention Croatian, Bulgarian and Romanian assistance stretching the lines thin, Budapest had no chance. This was confirmed doubly so when the Hungarian Resistance launched an uprising in the city on March 26th. On April 13th, days before the Kiev Conference, General Wingate messaged Churchill to state that ‘Hungary has survived Nazism and will never know Communism’. The meaning was obvious: Budapest had fallen and Hungary was safe.

The performance of the Jewish army impressed the Allied commanders, notably General Patton, who characteristically described the force as, “the toughest sons of bitches God ever blessed.” He would give the highest praise to Wingate, describing him as “almost as crazy as me”. While some feared Jewish forces would run rampant and commit wholesale acts of slaughter in vengeance, the force was surprisingly disciplined. Indeed, Jewish forces captured Szálasi while he attempted to escape with retreating Germans; he wasn’t shot, but safely escorted into custody. The Hungarian Dictator would be tried for war crimes the following year and hanged. With Hungary’s leadership now completely lost, Mussolini and Churchill had their own ideas of what to do when they landed in Kiev.

It just so happened that the day the Conference began, Germany itself would be plunged into chaos. Or more accurately, more chaos than it was already in.

Extract from “We Weren’t All Like Him”: The German Resistance', by Peter Kahn

Losing a war was one thing. Losing a war on two fronts was another. Losing a three front war, completely surrounding yourself with hostile powers, losing almost all imports, all your oil supply, getting bombed day and night, the front disintegrating in every direction, respected members of society getting persecuted and the imminent dread of the utter destruction of your nation for no other reason than rabid conspiracy theory mongering over Jews was a third still.

The invasion of Italy mortified the Wehrmacht. The most optimistic dreamed that they could bleed the Allies out in France, get a separate peace and then get a solid conclusion to the Russia situation. To then pointlessly go to war with the most powerful neutral bloc on Earth, who would expand the battlefield to immeasurable size when the Wehrmacht was stretched thin as it already was infuriated High Command. Some historians wonder that if it wasn’t for Operation Visigoth primarily being an SS operation, that Operation Valkyrie wouldn’t have been declared on the spot.

What is known for sure was that the invasion of Italy was so monumentally stupid that even those who had long since surrendered their will to the Führerprinzip had changed their minds. The most notable was Erwin Rommel. Having been stationed in Russia, he had fought as much over the inclusion of the Einsatzruppen behind the lines as he did with the Soviets in front back in 1941. Rommel was so disgusted that he demanded re-assignment, no matter where. Despite the press initially trumpeting his victories across Russia, he was unceremoniously kicked to monitor the Atlantic Wall in December that year. Historians believe that his leadership managed to revitalize and fortify the Atlantic Wall into one that made the Allies bleed in Normandy. When the Soviets broke out after Stalingrad, he was called back to save Germany from catastrophe, which he did, routing the Soviets in early 1943 and getting the War back on track. He had initially been approached by members of the German Resistance but had pushed them away, explaining that he still had to be loyal to his leader. This seemed to be a constant feeling … until December that year. The invasion of Italy was so shocking to Rommel in its stupidity that he infamously told his wife, “Hitler will declare war on Santa Claus next!” Finally, he had to give himself an out: Hitler was ‘already dead’ inside his brain, and that he was released from his oath.

Rommel’s inclusion was enough to convince multiple hold-outs, including: Wilhelm Canaris, Günther Von Kluge, Gerd Von Rundstedt and Erich Von Manstein. The combination of the Italian invasion, attacks on the German nobility with connections to the Savoia family and the fear of Soviet invasion of Berlin would finally galvanize the plotters to action. That Rommel, who was still the most exalted general in Germany despite the Nazi attempt to downplay his significance (which is ironic considering what the West did after the war), could have finally decided enough was enough was a game-changing decision. They wanted to get in, surrender to the West and leave with Germany in one piece.

The plan was as follows: on April 15th, there would be a meeting in the Bunker to discuss strategies. The Soviets had already advanced so far after the chaotic retreats that had characterised the Germans from Italy’s arrival into the war that the Wolf’s Lair was considered too risky. Rommel would lead from the front and ‘miss the meeting’. Indeed, all those in on the conspiracy would ‘miss it’. Meanwhile, Claus Von Stauffenberg, the head of the reserve army, would leave a bomb behind and detonate it. This should have killed everyone there. Then Stauffenberg would call in the reserves to arrest the leading Nazi officials and Rommel would become the interim leader of the government. With that, Rommel would sue for peace and save Germany from total annihilation.

It was a plan. And the only thing plans have in common is that they never go perfectly. April 15th 1944 may go down in history as one of the most important days in human history.

[1] Yes, he really lived that long

The Day That Shook the World

Interview of Anthony Eden for the BBC’s ‘World At War’ (1973)

Interviewer: “What was the Kiev Conference like?”

Eden: (*Laughs*) “It was a fiercer battle than when the Soviets fought against the Nazis when they liberated it a few months before. Of course, we knew that coming in. Our intention was the absolute minimization of the Soviet occupations following the War, and indeed Fascist.”

Interviewer: “Did you really attempt to restrain Fascist occupation?”

Eden: “I feel we did quite well, all things considered.”

Extract from 'Four’s Company: The Great Power Relations in World War Two', by Steven Benford

On the morning of April 15th 1944, Mussolini, Churchill, FDR and Stalin stood in front of the photographers, in that order. By this point, Mussolini and Stalin had still not said a word to each other, despite the Italian having already been in Kiev for two days. In fairness, nowadays, Churchill was speaking more to Mussolini than to FDR. FDR, by contrast, had been speaking more and more to Stalin, who was growing more and more angry with the course of the war. Roosevelt was infuriated that he was trying to keep Stalin happy (who, after all, had contributed the most by far to the war effort) while Churchill had been raising Hell by encroaching on the Soviet sphere of influence in conjunction with the ‘Mediteranean Peacock’. FDR rarely even referred to Mussolini by name at this point, calling him ‘the Peacock’ whenever he could. It is hard to believe that this wasn’t the nadir of Euro-American relations, even during the War, but this was bad nonetheless.

The conference started as fiery and brutal as feared. Stalin refused to start the meeting without Mussolini saying he would pull out of Bessarabia. Mussolini responded that Italy had no troops in the region and that if he wanted to, he could invite Tsar Boris or King Michael. Stalin angrily replied that Boris was Mussolini’s puppet. The Italian said that there were no puppets in the Fascist Bloc, as the entire point of the Bloc was to retain the national integrity of the member states. An argument ensued over the Fascist Bloc’s subjugation of Slovenia, Serbia and Greece, compared to the subjugation of the Baltic States. Churchill stayed quiet while FDR desperately tried to keep order. This was how the first three hours of the Conference proceeded.

After a short lunch, the four met again. Churchill began by commending the two dictators for ‘clearing the air’ and stated that they now knew the main points of contention, namely Hungary and Romania. As it was clear the Fascist Bloc and the Soviets did not want to share a border, a solution had to be found, especially in respect to Dobruja, which quickly became the unsquarable peg of the Conference. In addition, Finland had become an issue to deal with. This wasn’t to mention the Post-War division of Germany, the fates of German War Criminals, the Pacific War, and a host of other issues great and small.

“When it became clear that the situation we faced may have been overwhelming,” remembered Churchill, “the news came in that made the situation far beyond what the term ‘overwhelming’ could encompass.” That was when the news came in that something serious had happened in Berlin.

Extract from “We Weren’t All Like Him”: The German Resistance, by Peter Kahn

On April 15th, Stauffenberg had made his move. He had loaded his briefcase with timed explosives and had primed them before his descent into the Bunker. The Bunker had recently been transformed into Hitler’s living quarters day and night owing to the collapse on every front following the idiotic invasion of Italy. The Wolf’s Lair had been abandoned to the Soviets, who were already moving into Poland, with Warsaw not too far away. Stauffenberg planned to visit the meeting that afternoon with the German High Command – the plotters were absent from the meeting, meaning Rommel, Rundstedt, Manstein etc. However, many notables of the Nazi regime were not present for various reasons, including Goebbels, Himmler and so on.

The meeting began at 13:00 as planned according to those who left the Bunker following the explosion. The topics discussed were about how to maintain the front. Hitler was insisting more troops be moved to fight the Jews, which his generals pleaded to reconsider. The last confirmed words Adolf Hitler were reported by Traudl Junge before she was called away on other business: “I would rather have a world with no Germans and no Jews than one with a hundred million Germans and a single Hebrew”.

At 13:20, an explosion shook the bunker ... the only problem was that the bomb was supposed to detonated at 13:30. Faulty wiring in one of the two bombs had ensured that both went off when the first did. Stauffenberg was supposed to leave the Bunker, confirm the blast and start Operation Valkyrie. Unfortunately, Stauffenberg would never live to know his achievement. He died in the Bunker, having just left the meeting room itself based on the location of his corpse.

Many notable people died in the bunker. Among them were Admiral Karl Doenitz, General Alfred Jodl, Field Marshall Wilhelm Keitel, Luftwaffe leader Hermann Goering and, of course, Adolf Hitler.

Interview of Erwin Rommel for the BBC’s ‘World At War’ (1973)

Interviewer: “Where were you on April 15th 1944?”

Rommel: “At my Command Post, in France. I’d been moved around several times. I didn’t want to serve in the Russian Front a second longer than I had to, given what the Einsatzruppen were doing. I wanted to go back to fight the Americans and British in France. It probably saved my life – I’d already sent my family to Sweden.”

Interviewer: “When did you first suspect that something had gone wrong with the operation?”

Rommel: “I was supposed to receive a phone call from my comrades telling me about how the operation had began. At that point, the army would seize the key points of the cities and take control. Then I would come in and convince the German people that the SS had been behind it, say I was interim Fuhrer, clean up the remaining Nazis and give a conditional surrender to the West – we’d clean up the Russian situation first and then get a good deal there. The whole point was that we’d catch the Nazi regime before they could act. So it was quite a surprise when my second-in-command came in and told me that the troops were saying there was an assassination attempt on the Fuhrer in Berlin.”

Interviewer: “What was your reaction?”

Rommel: “That we were all dead.”

Extract from 'The Second World War' Christopher Armlong

Heinz Guderian had been critical of Hitler. He considered him an idiot and worse, especially after the Italy campaign began. But at the same time, he was loyal. More loyal than any form of reason could conceive. More importantly, he was stationed just outside Berlin, along with his Panzer divisions. These would crush the dreams of the Valkyrie Conspirators for an easy end to the war.

The death of Stauffenberg during the operation had left everyone in the dark. Crazed calls, one after another flew out of Berlin in all directions to everyone. No one was sure who was in charge, as all three of the German military branches had lost their leadership, not to mention Hitler, though no one knew for sure he was dead yet. Most importantly, in the absence of Stauffenberg’s call before the storm, the other players managed to make their moves before the conspirators.

Guderian received a call from Himmler, whose SS network had created what almost amounted to a state within a state. Himmler had received word of what happened long before Rommel would, though he did not quite understand what had happened. Himmler had gambled by telling Guderian that Hitler was incapacitated. Guderian had indeed received wild stories coming from all sides around Berlin of Hitler having been attacked. When asked what to do, Himmler demanded Guderian stop anarchy from descending on Berlin until everyone knew what was going on by flattening any attempt anyone, including German soldiers, attempting to take over. Having seen the anarchy for himself, he finally took action and ordered his troops to march on Berlin.

Soon after, the Valkyrie conspirators finally pieced together what had happened and realised Stauffenberg had been killed though the bomb had indeed gone off, and far sooner than expected. Valkyrie was put into effect, though Rommel would not be informed of what was going on in the confusion. The revamped Valkyrie that the conspirators had created explicitly dealt with the SS being the ones who had killed Hitler. Indeed, they would certainly find an SS prepared for a fight, though not because they had tried to kill Hitler, but because Himmler had already alerted the SS to seize the crucial functions of state. All throughout Germany, the SS and Reserve Army clashed, both convinced the others had attempted a coup.

However, where it counted most in Berlin, Guderian’s arrival had already squashed any attempt by the Valkyrie plotters to seize the city. And that wasn’t all for the plotters. Once the news had begun to be confirmed among senior members of government that Hitler was dead, the shock quickly made way to desperation, as no one knew who was in charge, who had power, who was fighting who, who killed Hitler, why, or what was going to happen next. The only person in the madness who kept a calm, calculating posture was Heinrich Himmler, who was able to deduce that members the Army had done the deed, based on the fact they would have had access to the Bunker. Himmler contacted Goebbels, who was still devastated but soon fired up with the urge to avenge Hitler, and put him in front of a radio to explain the situation. That evening, Goebbels announced that Adolf Hitler had been killed by senior figures of the army, and that the SS would be entrusted to occupy the main cities of Germany. The new Fuhrer of Germany would be Heinrich Himmler, as he was the only one left in the Nazi Government with the manpower and respect to back it up. The problem was that Valkyrie had assumed that the SS had been the ones attempting the coup, and most of the commanders executing the operation believed that Goebbels and Himmler were just parts of the plot. Furthering the complication, the conspirators had actually managed to successfully take over multiple cities, most notably Hamburg, in no small part due to the historic Leftism of the city which led the population to actively assist the Reserve Army against the SS. The city quickly became the HQ of the plotters. Other cities included Prague and Vienna, had also successfully kicked out the SS. However, these were drops in the bucket compared to the vast scale of Germany.

Rather than ending the War, Operation Valkyrie seemed to have started another one. All throughout the night of April 15th, up and down Germany, the SS fought members of the reserve army with the front line troops baffled and anxious. No one knew who was behind Hitler’s death, but one thing was for sure: the War was going to keep going.

Liberation and Damnation

Extract from 'The Second World War' by Christopher Armlong

The first reactions to the Valkyrie uprising among the Allied leaders were broad confusion. It brought the whole conference to a halt as the leaders tried to confirm what had happened. Eventually, at the confirmation Hitler was dead, an eerie silence filled the room. No one was sure whether to celebrate, or curse that Hitler had escaped their justice (though Stalin would always suspect Hitler had faked his death, especially in his increasingly unstable latter years). The powers agreed to adjourn the meeting.

The next day, the first offers from the “Provisional German Government” as the Valkyrie plotters described themselves, gave their offer of conditional surrender (Rommel having still kept his silence on his involvement as he was only supposed to waltz in at the end). It consisted of 1938 borders with Danzig and Memel included, that the German state would be undivided and administer its own war criminal trials, with the German army itself reduced to 1919 levels. The Valkyrie plotters actually thought that this was going to be remotely acceptable to the Allies. Indeed, it had the complete opposite effect. Churchill and Roosevelt were disgusted that ‘the damned fools haven’t learned a thing’, as the former said. At last, the Conference was united: Unconditional Surrender to every party of the Allies, period. None of them were ever going to allow Germany to come out of WW2 with more territory than when Nazism began. “We cannot reward Nazism, even if we’re rewarding Anti-Nazis,” as Roosevelt memorably stated.

One good effect of the offer was that it finally united the four attendees. It actually made them feel they were in the same fight after all, and greatly aided the Conference’s final conclusions. Ultimately, after another week, the major issues were all ironed out:

1) When it came to Romania and Hungary, it was agreed the two countries would be neutralized. No countries could station troops there, nor could they join any military or political alliance. They would both be democratic nations, free from foreign pressure. They could not stop troop movements of either the Soviet Union or Fascist Blocs assuming they stuck to designated train routes. Owing to the political instability and lack of a credible Hungarian governing structure, having been obliterated in the German invasion, Mussolini suggested and got a referendum on the Monarchy in Hungary. In order to get this, it was agreed Finland would get a referendum on joining the Soviet Union, as its own SSR. The territorial acquisitions of the Fascist Bloc and Soviet Union since 1935 were mutually (and quietly) recognised while guarantees were put in place that they desired no further territory. Dobruja would be de-militarized although it would indeed be given to Bulgaria. In order to get this, Turkey would agree to partially demilitarizing its own Soviet border. Bessarabia would return to the Soviets as well.

2) When it came to the locations of occupation, Germany would be divided into multiple sectors. Firstly, in return for Soviet annexation of Eastern Poland, Poland would seize much of Eastern Germany. Of what was left, Germany would be occupied by the French, American and British forces in the West of the country in their own sectors while the Soviets would run the East. Italy would be given an independent Austria to occupy. In Berlin, the Italians would get a slice of the Western sector, but the Soviets still ran the eastern half in its entirety.

3) When it came down to the zones of influence of nations, the Soviets would occupy Slovakia while the Anglo-Americans would occupy the Czech portion of Czechoslovakia, though they would remain one state (or that was the intention). Poland would also be occupied by the Soviets, as would be East Germany and Finland. Stalin guaranteed free elections, regardless. However, this did not mean that Allied forces couldn’t attack German forces if they weren’t in their designated zones while the war still raged; only that they had to pull out when the fighting was done.

4) Nazi War Criminals would be put on International Tribunals to determine guilt and prove their guilt to the world. However, Churchill craftily managed to convince everyone to have the political and military figures trialed separately, which would have huge repercussions after the war, especially in the case of Rommel.

5) The Soviet Union would join the Pacific War in early 1945, though the precise territorial gains would be determined at a later date.

Every one of these decisions would have colossal impact on the world to come. Some for good, some for evil. One effect was that the race for Berlin had begun. Ironically, Western leaders had no intention of letting their troops be the ones to seize the city. They were perfectly happy to let the Soviets bleed to get there. Then something strange happened – the Western advance was suddenly advancing far quicker than anyone had imagined. Wehrmacht troops surrendered in droves while they continued to fight the Soviet troops tooth and nail. Initially, it was due to the total collapse in morale among German troops as well as command confusion, leading many Germans to throw their hands in the air and give in to the relative safety of the Anglo-Americans (a luxury they most certainly didn’t have with the Soviets, or to a lesser extent Jewish and Italian forces).

Almost by accident, the Race to Berlin began. Roosevelt was not happy – General Patton was very happy.

Extract from 'We're Still Here! The Story of Poland' by Agata Tarski

Many of the Polish resistance were terrified at the thought of bringing ahead the impending liberation of Warsaw – Witold Pilecki, having seen the inside of Auschwitz, was no longer afraid of anything. Many in the Polish resistance, especially the Communists, wanted to wait until the Red Army was right on the doorstep and only then revolt. However, Pilecki was loyal to the Polish government in exile, and knew the Polish resistance was at risk of being subverted into a Stalinist state. He was in communication with the British, who told him to expect Stalin to come barreling into the centre of Poland soon in a desperate dash to Berlin. Though it was hardly ideal, the Warsaw Resistance decided that on May 10th, the city would free itself. Pilecki would hide his rank and fight anonymously with his comrades. [1]

On May 10th, the city erupted into a frenzy of shooting and bombing. The Germans, already baffled as to what was going on in this war, were too divided to properly function. The SS fought to the last while the Wehrmacht was highly individual. Some fought, some surrendered, and many ran. Ironically, the opposite was true against the Soviets. Against the Soviets, no German was stupid enough to surrender or run, because he felt that this was as much certain death as anything else. So while chaos reigned in the command structure against the Western nations, there was no such confusion against the Russians, hence that front being the sole location of decent German performance after the Valkyrie attack, as well as an almost total absence of SS/Wehrmacht conflict. All this ensured that within two days, Warsaw had been declared secure.

Upon news that Warsaw had been taken, Stalin had a rather strange reaction, according to eyewitnesses. One staffer recalled, “he looked like the perfect halfway between anxiousness and anger.” Many suspect that Stalin was angry the Polish resistance liberated Warsaw itself, thus shutting out the Communist government Stalin hadn’t yet established, which would lead to the events that shook the world a few years later. Stalin’s troops were roughly a week away from Warsaw, and he ordered the offensive to keep going to ‘provide support for our allies’. Another staffer recalled, “If it was between killing everyone in the world and getting Berlin, he wouldn’t have thought twice about it”.

On May 20th, Soviet troops came through Warsaw to polite but relatively unenthusiastic reception. From every window, the Polish flag hung draped. In fact, the route had been specifically chosen by the Poles to have the maximum numbers of Polish flags visible. Sometimes, Soviet soldiers passed whole houses painted white and red. They didn’t see a single Soviet flag – in fact, such flags had specifically been forbidden from being waved by Polish Resistance leaders, who wanted to send a message. The meaning was obvious: “Thank you for the help, but this is our country”. To this day, that Poland was the only nation who liberated their capital from Nazism by themselves is a source of immense pride to the Polish people.

Extract from 'Unconquerable: The Story of the Jews of Hungary', by Mel Goldberg

One important, though often overlooked agreement in the Kiev Conference was the clause that allowed troops of any Allied nation to cross into any region as long as it was occupied by German troops, whether to fight like the SS or perhaps surrender immediately like many of the Wehrmacht. This allowed Wingate to begin perhaps his most memorable operation of the war. While Trieste may have defined the Jewish resistance to Hitler itself, the Anglo-Jewish Army itself was soon to have its most memorable assignment.

Wingate contacted Churchill and asked to keep going north from Budapest, into Slovakia and beyond. Wingate tried to convince Churchill of the wisdom of funneling the Soviets into a narrower corridor to delay their advance into Germany. Churchill saw right through it. “I know what you’re asking,” he told Wingate. “While I’m still not entirely convinced of the military wisdom, I want to know it for myself – if the reports are really true. If they are, history will curse me if I don’t go. And who better to go?”

On May 10th, Operation Cyrus began. While the Soviets continued to desperately run to the West to reach Berlin before it fell to the other Allied powers or, God forbid, the Anti-Nazi members of the Wehrmacht, the Anglo-Jewish armies moved from Hungary into Slovakia. They knew they were only staying for a moment – they were cutting right across the country like a scythe. The Wehrmacht ran when the Anglo-Jewish forces came, fearing reprisal for all the cruelties unleashed on Jews during the War and before. Wingate didn’t chase them. The SS fought them, but Wingate and his men fought back with better supplies, morale and purpose. Onward they went – they all knew where.

On June 2nd, the first reconnaissance troops of the Jewish forces could make out Auschwitz.

[1] – True story.

“It’s All True”

Extract from 'Day' (1990) by Elie Wiesel

It was a little island. The SS had been trapped in the camp since the Wehrmacht surrounded them on all sides. The army guys were smart too – they broke and ran the moment we got close and gave us a clear way right up to the gates. They knew we would walk on broken glass with our legs broken and still march without hesitation right up to the camp. I also guess they didn’t want to be anywhere near the camp when we discovered what was there. From what we were told later, it appears the SS in the camp debated what to do. Some of them wanted a fight to the death, some of them wanted to hold the prisoners hostage, but they chose a third; pretending nothing was wrong and letting us in. Zvi [1] ordered me to open up the gates, so I took the bolt-cutters and walked in to that place. The place I was going to be sent. Where my father would be sent. Where my mother would be sent. Where my sister would be sent. Where everyone in my family and everyone I loved and everyone I knew was going to be sent.

Hundreds. Thousands. Tens of thousands. Hundreds of Thousands. All with that awful Yellow Star. They were alive, but so many seemed disappointed they hadn’t died – knowing what it was like to see all you’ve ever loved taken away from you. This was the bottom. This was man sunk to its most degraded, broken form. I saw people crawling to me with so little flesh you could see the white of their bones. Faces that looked more like skulls with eyes in them. Some people were too exhausted even to move. Others had their eyes so far sunk into their skulls that I thought they were dead. Some were dead. Some were bleeding. Some lay lifeless on the barbed wire of the fence, as if trying to run to us in a fit of blind madness and having been shot in another pointless death.

Even now, I cannot begin to describe to you what it was like. It was like walking into the lowest level of Dante’s Inferno, only a Hell that fell on the innocent. Some Jews wept in joy when they saw us, some were so traumatised by the experience that they simply screamed in the corners of the bloody, dirty barracks where they were caged like the lowest of animals, some pleaded with us in a hundred different languages, none of which I knew, for things I knew not.

This is where they wanted to put me. The Nazis wanted to put me in this place. They wanted to turn me into one of these poor creatures just before they killed me, and kill me they would. My death wasn’t enough for them. They wanted to make me suffer. They wanted to hurt me inside and out. They wanted to rob me of my family, rob me of the people I loved and tear my soul to pieces, and only then would they kill me. Just because I was Jewish.

My head began to get cloudy as I led the men onwards through the Gates of Death.


We met the camp commandant Rudolf Höss. I remember being quiet, sullen when I met him – I was too shocked and appalled by what I saw to keep a clear mind. That suited him fine, since he was hardly speaking himself. I think I was the only one of us who didn’t look like I wanted to kill him on the spot – I was just too stunned to do anything. Zvi asked him who he was, his rank and what was going on here. Höss tried to explain that the deaths had been due to cholera and starvation owing to a lack of supplies, hastened by the betrayal of elements of the Wehrmacht. He tried to assure us that the Jews had been treated most delicately – that arbitrary cruelty was not permitted. I don’t know how I did it. I don’t know how I hadn’t already killed him.

Then, as we walked along, we came across a pile of shoes. We looked at the size of the pile – thousands. We knew there had been other piles as well. Thousands of shoes were right there. Then I looked at the size of the shoes themselves. Most of them were smaller than my hand. I could see the fury build up on the men’s faces, as they seemed like rabid dogs on the end of a leash desperate for any reason to lash out. Zvi picked one shoe up and looked back to Höss. He looked quite pale now. Zvi asked Höss a pretty simple question: “May I ask, Commandant, are these the shoes of Jewish children?”

He didn’t answer, so Zvi asked another question:

“May I ask, Commandant, why I haven’t seen any children at the camp since we arrived?”

This was my last memory of Höss. Indeed, it was my last memory before what happened. All I remember is that when I woke up, I was lying on the ground of that God-forsaken place. I wondered how much time had gone by, so I looked at my watch. When I went to look, I could see my hands were bright red from blood.

Extract from 'Unconquerable: The Story of the Jews of Hungary', by Mel Goldberg

Wingate arrived in Auschwitz the next day, but roughly three hundred SS men who worked at Auschwitz had been killed by the Jewish Army after already having surrendered – many others were beaten to within an inch of their lives. Often, the prisoners themselves got to deliver the killing blows as a bloody reprisal. A few officers attempted to put on prison clothes and blend in with the inmates – this was certain death if they were captured. Höss’s body was never recovered, as he had been beaten, bound and thrown alive into one of the crematoriums, with Brenner having done the lion’s share of the work. Joseph Mengele, who had been called ‘The Angel of Death’ by inmates for his cruel activities of medical experiments on everyone down to children, was found drowned in an ice-bath he had used to see how long humans could survive in freezing cold temperature. Most other guards who had been particularly vicious were beaten to death, shot or hanged. The only method of killing not accounted for was the gas chamber. Perhaps it was considered blasphemous to kill the Nazis where so many of their friends and family had died, and they didn’t want to sully their memories. The subsequent Auschwitz Trials of 1946 were quite barren owing to the worst offenders having already been killed and Eichmann having already been sentenced at Nuremburg.

The killings at Auschwitz of Nazi Loyalists has been the subject of much moral controversy, even in Israel. The very name has been debated, with some countries illegalizing the description of the event as ‘The Auschwitz Massacre’ (which is seen as disingenuous to the actual slaughter at the camp), for the more neutral ‘Auschwitz reprisals’ and so forth. The ethical questions of the reprisals have been explored in films, plays and novels ever since. Zvi Brenner’s subsequent trial would be a media extravaganza, with Wingate publicly coming to his defence with Churchill keeping silent, though telling Eden, “I probably would have done the same”. Mussolini would intervene and say that sentencing Brenner over the Auschwitz Reprisals would be “a final slap in the face to the victims of the Holocaust”. This would become one of the origins of the Right-Left divide in Israel, with publicity surrounding the trial turning Menachem Begin into a national superstar for his defence of Brenner and praise of ‘Italian sense over British fear’. But this remained in the future.

“It’s all true,” was Wingate’s infamous three-word report back to London upon his investigation of Auschwitz. Churchill still couldn’t believe it, and asked among his staff if Wingate’s Zionist tendencies had clouded his judgment. But follow-up reports, and the quick dissemination of pictures of everything (the crematoriums, gas chambers, etc.) soon changed Churchill’s mind. Within days, a BBC crew had arrived and recorded the scenes of more than 100,000 [2] broken, starving inmates on the verge of death. The undeniable, unbelievable scenes of the greatest act of inhumanity in human history would be blasted around the world that summer from Rome to San Francisco.

“There is no slander or libel we can invent more terrible than that which the Nazis have already done,” Churchill would tell the House of Commons upon reporting Wingate’s findings. Roosevelt would decry to the press, “It is impossible to conceive an ideology more vile than the one we’re fighting against”. Mussolini would condemn, “The ancient Teutonic Barbarity that is opposed to Civilization in all forms”.

Stalin said nothing.

The Death Spiral: Stalin 1941-1953 by Alexi Ivanovitch

While Stalin had always suspected the Western Allies of having been deceiving him, the inclusion of Italy was gasoline to the fire. Once Mussolini and Churchill started coordinating much more frequently and obviously attempting to stall Soviet advances into Europe for no other reason than to ensure Communism would never thrive there, Stalin’s paranoia began to go beyond its old boundaries. And of course, one of the primary victims would be the Jewish population, whom Stalin was increasingly seeing as more loyal to the Anglo-Jewish forces and their Italian saviors rather than their own country.

Staffers report that Stalin had a strange reaction to Auschwitz in the Politburo meeting soon later. He asked Molotov whether it was really possible that all the reports could have been true, and could have simply been a ploy by the British to increase their support among the Jewish populations by ‘liberating them’ from such a place. Stalin further mused that the plan was to take the “spotlight of anguish” off the Russian people, and plant it on the Jews to justify the ill-treatment the Soviets received at the Kiev Conference. Likely wishing not to be on the wrong end of a Purge, most nodded in assent that the possibility existed. After the meeting, Stalin pulled Khrushchev aside and asked him whether Zionism could be an Imperialist plot to colonize the Middle East. Khrushchev assured Stalin that with the Imperialists anything was possible. In his infamous reply, Stalin said, “Then we should ensure it becomes impossible, wouldn’t you agree?”

While news of Auschwitz would bring an outpouring of support for Jewish communities worldwide, the only place life demonstrably worsened was in the Soviet Union. Zionist newspapers and organisations were suddenly under much greater watch – a handful were outright banned. At the time, it was largely unnoticed, but it would lead into the events that would define the late forties and early fifties, not just in the Soviet Union, but the world at large.

Extract from the Trial of Erich Von Manstein in Berlin, May 19th 1944

Roland Freisler: “And why did you decide to betray the German Reich?”

Manstein: “Sir, I betrayed the Reich the moment I obeyed a command uttered by Adolf Hitler.”


Manstein: “Sir, I would tread carefully, as pretty soon you yourself shall be on trial, as shall the rest of the Nazi usurpers.”


Manstein: “I was thinking just the same thing, sir.”

Extract from 'The Second World War' by Christopher Armlong

Roughly a month into the Valkyrie Uprising by the middle of May 1944, the dreams of the plotters had been almost entirely shut down. Berlin was securely under SS control, as was pretty much every major city with the exception of Hamburg within Germany, which was now besieged by Wehrmacht Loyalists and SS troops. Despite Post-War attempts by the West German government to make the civil strife ripping through Germany in 1944 a simple tale of ‘the brave Wehrmacht against the evil SS’, more Wehrmacht troops actually sided with the Himmler Government over Beck’s Hamburg Government, at least for the first month. Indeed, a significant portion of the defenders of Hamburg were traditional Socialists and Communists who now finally had a chance to rise up and fight the regime they hated so much. Some of the Valkyrie plotters, like Von Manstein and Von Kluge had already been given Kangaroo Trials and were executed, Manstein under particularly brutal circumstances for his flippant address of Judge Roland Freisler. The Field Marshall would be slowly decapitated with a knife, as per Himmler’s orders.

Elsewhere, the Italians had taken most of Austria, marching into Vienna without a fight, as the Valkyrie fighters had seized the city (thus preserving an inordinate amount of the city’s traditional architecture). Italy was already in the process of restoring the old Austro-Fascist state of the 1930s, only this time with much more Italian steel backing it up. The next stage was to continue on into the south of Germany, to Munch and so forth.

On the Western Front, the Siegfried Line failed to live up to its reputation in German propaganda as an impenetrable wall and American troops under Patton had streamed past it. British troops under Montgomery had almost totally liberated Belgium and were in the process of freeing the Netherlands. This had seemed almost a total impossibility just months ago, but the total collapse of order in the German lines had led to more surrenders that the Allies knew what to do with. Added to that, a gigantic internal exodus of Germans had begun, with German civilians fleeing to the West to escape oncoming Soviet forces, who had still failed to seize a German city by that point but this was soon to change.

Rommel was like most Germans, he knew the War as a whole was lost, but was terrified of what Soviet invasion would mean for the Reich. With Valkyrie having failed to relieve the situation, he would make a second decision even more difficult than the one to join the plotters. However, it was likely the one that would save his reputation after the War.

Interview of Erwin Rommel for the BBC’s ‘World At War’ (1973)

Interviewer: “Why did you decide to surrender your forces to the West?”

Rommel: “Because I knew the War was lost, I knew the Plot had failed and I knew I didn’t want Russian troops in Berlin. I wasn’t a fool. I knew that our organisation’s initial demands to the West were not going to be accepted but I thought at least they’d get in power and we could find some better solution, certainly a better one than the Nazis would conceive. Then the Plot failed and we didn't even get that. I knew that the next few years were going to be very tough on Germany. But I also knew we had to do what would increase the long-term potential for our country. I decided that the only way we were going to come out of this war as a proud nation was to separate the perception of our brave, noble army and the Nazis. We had already made a start with the assassination of Hitler but I knew we needed something more than that. I decided the only thing that could do it was if we fought alongside the West. Not to mention, by now, the SS was starting to get suspicious of me. I hadn’t declared for either side in the Civil War, merely saying that I was too busy defending Germany at the Front to concern myself with the political situation at home. That excuse was starting to get thin. Manstein’s death was what finally convinced me to go through with it.”

Interviewer: “So what did you do?”

Rommel: “On May 22nd, I ordered my forces all along the Western Front to ceasefire. I then sent a message to the Americans telling them that not only was I willing to surrender, but that I wished to create a German army group loyal to the Hamburg government to depose the Nazi regime.”

Interviewer: “What was the reaction?”

Rommel: “It was quite a surprise to them, as I’m sure it was to everyone, myself included. I’d developed quite a reputation in Britain and America owing to our various reversals across France, as well as my own story from the Russian Front. They got back to me at the end of the day after what I gathered later was some frantic back and forth, saying that this would not absolve me from trials for war crimes, that I would remain under military arrest for the whole duration of the service and that I would be under Allied command as more of an advisory.”

Interviewer: “And you were fine with this?”

Rommel: “I thought these were fair prices to pay if it could separate the German army from the horror of the Nazis. Of course, after I learned what was going on in Auschwitz, I lost any lingering regret of the decision I had.”

Interviewer: “How was your meeting with Allied Commanders for the surrender?”

Rommel: (*Smiles*) "Then General Patton was there. We went through the formalities, my surrendering as well as what consisted of most of the Western Front. When we were done, much to the shock of the other Allied leaders, he smiled and walked up to me."

Interviewer: “What did he do?”

Rommel: “He told me he read my book. That and some other words I’m afraid I can’t repeat.”

[1] – Zvi Brenner, Hagannah Commander

[2] – No Death marches since the place is surrounded by hostile Wehrmacht forces. Thus, the place is utterly crowded. It makes the OTL scenes of Bergen-Belson's liberation look like nothing.

[3] – This is actually how Freisler trials went

The Jester takes the Crown

The Second World War – Christopher Armlong

News of Rommel’s defection hit Germany like a thunderbolt. That their hero, the man who had so gallantly saved them repeatedly in Russia, who had taken over France without a sweat and had given the Allies bloody nose after bloody nose in Normandy had switched sides was incomprehensible. The initial reaction of the Himmler government was to deny it, which was quickly disproven by pictures of Rommel and Patton shaking hands. From there, Goebbels was given his toughest assignment to date – making the Germans hate Rommel.

Goebbels accused Rommel of “succumbing to ego”, “spitting on the graves of his dead soldiers” and “wishing the rape of every German women to the Jew and Russian savages”. It left little to the imagination, but it had little effect. Most Germans had little hatred of the Americans, British or Italians. They were, however, terrified of the Jewish and Soviet soldiers in the East. For that reason, Churchill would forbid the Jewish Army advancing any closer to Germany than liberating Prague, which it did by mid-July. [1] For that reason, Rommel’s defection was seen in a much more forgiving light.

Rommel would have little front-line command, but his very presence was a game-changer. He had formed a new army, mostly consisting of soldiers who fought on the side of the Valkyrie Coup in the ‘Free German Army’, which quickly grew to about 20,000 men once resolved Anti-Nazis joined in. The ranks continued to grow daily – some Nazis even joining to ‘get this over before Stalin makes a corpse of our country’ said one. By Summer, almost three quarters of Wehrmacht troops would surrender to the Allies without a fight. The only trouble the Allies faced were the SS and Wehrmacht loyalists, the latter being particularly troublesome in that some would feign surrender and launch surprise attacks.

Nevertheless, by mid-July, Patton had crossed the Rhine. The bridges had been preserved by Wehrmacht troops who had defected owing to Rommel’s own defection. The Soviets continue to struggle against the Germans in Poland, but Patton had his eyes on the prize, not that it was easy to convince the President to keep going.

Extract from 'The Madhouse: Germany After Hitler, Before the Occupation', by Ronald Hines

Perhaps the greatest indicator of the mental state of Berlin in 1944 was the faux Trial of Rommel. It consisted of a framed picture of the Field Marshall on a chair in front of Reich Judge Roland Freisler. Freisler berated the inanimate object as if it was Rommel himself and sentenced Rommel to death. A squad of SS members proceeded to grab the picture and smash it on the ground. Perhaps the most interesting thing about this event was the relative indifference the people of Berlin felt given the insanity surrounding them.

Himmler, who had already begun the pointless task of trying to destroy evidence of the Final Solution, decided that the Wehrmacht was simply too dangerous to the health of the state and began a round of Stalin-based purges, even those who weren’t in the army at the time. Walter Von Brauchitsch found himself dragged from his house in the night and shot against the wall despite being in enforced retirement simply due to his historic disagreements with Hitler. Von Rundstedt luckily got word and defected to the West before anything could happen while Kesselring surrendered to the Italians and Von Kluge was safely in Hamburg. Georg Von Küchler and Fedor Von Bock were not so lucky and were both discreetly executed before being replaced by SS hacks. Only Model and Von Leeb were truly prized, as their historic enthusiasm for the Nazi Party line, especially when it came to Jews, was their salvation. Even still Von Leeb was given a fake execution to scare him into compliance. As Goebbels said ‘The ‘Von’ is our enemy’. This ignored the rather obvious fact that Rommel was not a ‘Von’. Himmler ordered his men to prepare a defence of the Reich from the ‘Satanic Babylon of Nations’ as Goebbels called it on the radio.

Everyone was conscripted down to pre-teens and men who were alive when Prussia wasn’t just a province. Street executions of ‘deserters’, ‘race-traitors’, ‘Judaists’ and a host of other charges were as daily a part of life in Berlin as going to the store for bread. It is estimated that there was, on average, a public execution in Berlin every day for the Summer, owing to Himmler’s belief that this would ‘put steel in our bellies’. Needless to say, supplies were getting scarce, though anyone who attempted to leave Berlin, had to have a very good reason unless they wanted to be put up against a wall. This was Total War, and the bombing runs from American, British and by now even Italian planes were increasing. Some cities declared for the Hamburg Government after Rommel’s defection for no other reason than to spare them from bombing runs. With the Jewish Army marching through Czechoslovakia, Dresden was terrified at the prospect of being in the crossfire. The army executed the SS officials and Nazi leaders in the town and declared that Dresden was an open city. Himmler ordered Dresden to be “blasted to rubble” but only after Berlin was upheld against ‘the Cowboy and the Traitor’, by which he meant Patton and Rommel. This would ultimately mean the salvation of ‘Germany’s Venice’, as it was known.

Patton raced through Germany as quick as his supplies could take him. “He’s learned well from me,” joked Rommel, as Patton cut a swathe right through the heart of Germany, with only one target: the one target that would cause so much grief for everyone.

Extract from 'The Dark Decade: America in the 40s' by Wendy Walters

The fight over Rommel’s involvement in the Allies was to have at least one major casualty. Roosevelt and Churchill would furiously argue, with the former believing that Rommel was just an opportunist looking to escape the collapse of the Reich while Churchill seemed willing to give him a shot. The impasse was only broken when Patton demanded Rommel be brought onto the Allied side. Faced with the overwhelmingly popular Patton threatening to resign if Rommel would be kept in a camp for the whole rest of the War, Roosevelt finally relented.

Roosevelt had a troubled few years. His collapse in his relationship with Churchill had affected him and he could feel a layer of coldness between them. The introduction of Mussolini into the Allied fold had made him bitter and resentful, especially when Churchill was seen as getting close to him. After the exhausting Kiev Conference and subsequent fights with Churchill, Roosevelt would grow more and more withdrawn. Historians generally believe that the collapse in his personal relationships and much heightened stress would be the ultimate contributors to his death.

After discovering what was being done in Auschwitz, he issued a press release on June 6th detailing his disgust. After discussing the matters with his generals on June 7th, he called the meeting short and said he was feeling sick due to all the suffering he was now privy too, thus going to bed. However, on the morning of June 8th, staff noticed that he hadn’t arisen. When doctors investigated, they had concluded he had died of a gigantic cerebral hemorrhage in his sleep. That morning, Vice-President Henry Wallace was whisked to the White House and given the Oath. Though he didn’t want it to be like this, there was no other way around it. He was now the 33rd President of the United States of America. It would be the beginning of some of the most troubled years in America since the Civil War.

[1] And of course, that the feared the fury of having discovered Auschwitz could lead to reprisals on the civilian population

O Fortuna

First Radio Address of President Henry Wallace, June 8th 1944

“Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a great American. He was a great man. And he was a great friend. With all his strength, he fought this terrible war against the slave world, that it may become free. We know what we’re fighting against – we’re fighting against the monsters whose trail of carnage we have seen from the fires of Pearl Harbour to the abominations of Auschwitz. We will confront this evil on all sides, at home and abroad, until evil is just a memory itself. And then not even ‘fear’ would have to be feared.”

Extract from 'The Dark Decade: America in the 40s' by Wendy Walters

As the news of Roosevelt’s death travelled the world, the Allied and Pact leaders took stock of the new leader of the Land of the Free. Among the Nazis, a new round of ludicrous delusion swept over, that Wallace’s more open embrace of the Soviets and Communism would trigger a conflict with Britain and Italy. This was obviously not going to happen but the Nazi government had rarely had a decent grasp of reality to begin with. The Beck government in Hamburg was disappointed, as Wallace seemed even less likely to grant a peace that left Russia in the cold. Churchill and Mussolini, however, were both stunned. Churchill was by now even more convinced of the unreliability of America to stand up to Stalin during the Allied conferences, and Mussolini redoubled his efforts to minimize Soviet influence in Europe for the same reason.

But some of the most visceral anti-Wallace feeling came not just within his own country, but his own party. The Southern-wing of the Democrats were mortified that an open Civil Rights supporter had ascended to the Presidency. Wallace’s uncomfortably naïve views of the Soviet Union were also strong contributors to the utter distaste he was held in by large elements of the party. As James Eastland said to his associates, “If it was Wallace and Himmler on a Mississippi ballot, it would be a close run thing.” Harry Byrd of Virginia, seen as the spiritual leader of the conservative wing of the Democrats, had put up token resistance to Roosevelt to pressure his race policies by challenging him for the ballot at the 1944 convention. However, it couldn’t be merely ‘token’ anymore. With barely a month to go, he began sounding the alarms across the party that Wallace would be electoral poison south of the Mason-Dixon line and above. Many Democrat Party officials agreed with Byrd, even among the anti-segregationists, who saw Wallace as too naïve for the role. The idea was to get enough votes for Byrd that the convention would have to be decided in a cigar-filled room with the top echelons of the Democrat Party ruthlessly deciding on a unity candidate for the northern and southern wings.

Wallace himself, however, was quite popular with the American populace, as strange as it sounds now. He was coming off the back of the death of a popular President, was seen as on the side of the working man and people still blamed the Republicans and Wall Street for the Depression. At the same time, internal polls in the Democrat ranks showed that the convention was looking to be a bloodbath of disunity. It was only due to Operation Ragnarok that this all changed.

Extract from 'The Madhouse: Germany After Hitler, Before the Occupation' by Ronald Hines

Hitler, owing to his experiences with gas in WW1, would not use it during WW2. Unfortunately, Himmler would have no such objections. He had actually ordered Speer to manufacture far more Sarin and other forms of deadly chemical weapons to combat the invading forces. Speer, knowing that it would only be used on Germany as the ability for delivery had been totally diminished, not to mention the inevitable chemical retaliation, pretended to Himmler that he was carrying out the command. However, he was delaying with all the strength he could. Unfortunately for Speer, the Gestapo soon discovered his deception. Himmler considered a public execution but didn’t want to raise Allied concerns. For that reason, Albert Speer was bundled into the back of a car on June 10th 1944 and was never heard from again. With Speer’s near certain death, Himmler purged Speer’s offices, replacing them with SS loyalists. Operation Ragnarok would go as planned.

The speed of the American advance into the heart of Germany, even with Rommel’s defection, was astonishing to the world press. Patton seemed to be destined to reach Berlin without a hitch. Unfortunately, this was only half legitimate. Himmler had deliberately been holding his forces back for his final ace up the sleeve: Operation Ragnarok. The plan was to let the Americans and British rush into Germany, outreach their supply lines and be left at the mercy of the SS and Wehrmacht Loyalists. With that, a final attack would be launched with chemical weapons. This would supposedly obliterate the main element of the Anglo-American forces, as well as obliterating the last remnants of the Valkyrie government in Hamburg. It was expected (there were, as can be seens, a lot of addendums that came with this plan) that this would cause the Anglo-Americans to sue for peace. Then, Italy, being Latin cowards, would realise that they could not stand up to the Nordic might of German steel and would organize a mutual treaty with the rest of the Fascist Bloc to leave Germany alone. Thus freed of the ‘Slavic burdens’ of Romania and Hungary, the Germans would easily overcome the Soviet invasion and once more march on Moscow. It was the plan of a madman – unfortunately for Germany, he was the most powerful man there. Unfortunately still, Himmler was now ready to unleash his other hidden card – the Vengeance Weapon, as it became known in the West. It was a missile that could send explosive cargo – it wasn’t good at aiming but it packed a now chemical punch. A sequel rocket was planned (the ‘V2’) but Germany was so resource-starved by the end that none ever flew in anger. After the occupation, the technology would be divided among the Western powers, Fascist Bloc and (to Wallace’s eternal shame) the Soviet Union.

Flushed with confidence, it made the initial sting all that worse. On July 15th, a storm of hell and fire came forth from behind the Nazi lines. Vengeance missiles shot into the sky with their deadly cargos with the few Me-262 jet fighters in support. It was an all or nothing gamble, so the Nazis went all in. Ironically, the first missiles fell not on the Allies, but on Hamburg. Hamburg was coated in an appalling blast of Sarin and other chemical agents while the lines around the besieged city were likewise shelled with similar poison. Though many had masks, masks did no good against the nerve agent. Tens of thousands died in excruciating agony – needless to say there was no concern taken for the civilian population. Himmler would later say that in deciding to say in the city they had announced their allegiance to a traitorous government and the only punishment for such an action was death. It is believed that some 100,000 people died in Hamburg over the next few days, as the overwhelmed, shattered defenders were ruthlessly attacked by the SS. Beck and Von Rundstedt were never found, though most believe they died in the initial attack. The Beck government had been obliterated, which would serve to lionize it in German history. Though only a small element of the German population sided with the Valkyrie plotters for the first month, and even then it’s being debatable how large that contingent was after Rommel’s defection, the Beck government has gone down as a popular uprising of German society, which it never was.

The next stage were the front lines themselves. The British forces in the north were hit just as they made their way into Germany, with the SS intending to force the Allies back to Amsterdam. Likewise, the aim with the attack on the American forces was to trap them on the right side of the Rhine just as their forces passed over in bulk. As Patton and Rommel were both already over, the aim would then be to capture the former and execute the latter. Indeed, the first chemical weapon attacks on the Americans came just outside Frankfurt. Patton was in visual range of the first attack and narrowly escaped death. Rommel quickly realised what was going on and alerted Allied High Command that the Nazis had unleashed a chemical weapons attack. Sources disagree on whether the delayed reaction of Allied Leadership to understand what was going on was motivated by distrust of Rommel or simply the result of the total shock that the Nazis still had anything like the offensive capability they were witnessing. The American and Free German forces were sent into disarray and retreated close to Mainz with Himmler intending to have Mainz be the location of the destruction of Allied forces.

Incredibly, the Nazis may have actually fared even better on the day if not for one act of jaw dropping stupidity almost on the level of their invasion of Italy. Hundreds of Vengeance missiles were deliberately kept in reserve and fired on … Prague. The city was the primary location of the Jewish Army, though senior leadership was entirely away at the time. This was especially astonishing, as the Jewish Army had been camped in Prague for days without moving or even intending to move. It was nowhere close to the serious dangers threatening the German Reich, which included Italians in Munich and the Soviet titan devouring all in its path in Poland, neither of which received chemical weapon attacks. As Himmler would later confess, it was for no other reason than his conviction that the Jews represented the ‘ultimate enemy’. Owing to the poor aim and targeting, only an estimated two thousand members of the Jewish Army would die from the Vengeance Weapon and loaded agents, which had been almost entirely used up. A further fifteen thousand Czechs were estimated to have been killed. With Speer dead, the production capabilities that existed beforehand slowly melted away and few more were produced in any case.

Himmler was ecstatic at the victories he had gained: obliterating the Beck Government, sending the Americans on their heels, Rommel trapped and a few more dead Jews. Of course, he would soon be faced with a fate more brutal than any he could dish out on the Aliies.

Henry Wallace’s speech to the DNC, July 19th 1944

“Ladies and gentlemen, a second Day of Infamy has occurred in our lifetimes. The Nazi Party have proven that there is yet a further depth they could reach. They have unleashed the most murderous, appalling weapons ever invented on our boys and their own people. Added to the relentless invasions of peaceful, neighbouring countries for nothing more than greed … added to the despotic terror they imposed upon hundreds of millions … added to the slaughter of the Jews that we have discovered, whose dimensions are still now too incalculable to even begin to understand … added to all this, comes yet another indictment. Heinrich Himmler, perhaps an even greater evil than Hitler himself, has proven the blackness of his heart and ideology. We will fight his ilk with every fibre of our strength, until Nazi slavery is abolished forever! Let it be known that we did not start this war, but by all the might God gives us in this fight, we will end it!”

Extract from 'The Red and the Dead: How the Wallace Presidency Changed America' by Ben Rushmore

Southern Democrats to a tee stood up and cheered Wallace’s battle cry against Nazism. If this doesn’t indicate the level of success the speech achieved, nothing else will. In the words of prominent Southern Democrat Richard Russel Jr., “The one time he didn’t screw everything up was the one time he had too.” There was no mention of Civil Rights or the future relationship America would have with the Soviet Union. In fact, he had intended to do a speech where both would be mentioned but the chemical weapons attack pushed them off the agenda to one of straight defiance and threats to the Nazis and Japan. Wallace won the support of eighty percent of the delegates – which, though hardly being impressive for an incumbent President, was more than enough for his nomination as President from the Democrat Party, with Southerner and noted Anti-Communist Harry Truman as Vice-President to attempt to unify the Party divide.

Indeed, Wallace meant what he said when he said they would fight back. On July 24th, the Americans and British launched a joint bomber retaliation attack on SS strongholds in Germany. The SS forces outside Mainz that were readying for a final showdown never got there – they were carpet bombed with chemical weapons on all sides and quickly broke ranks. Berlin itself received a terrifyingly large amount, made all the worse with the total medical supply breakdown. Anywhere that looked like storage facilities were relentlessly attacked with American, British and Italian planes. The British even considered an Anthrax attack under Operation Vegetarian, but it was concluded that by the time it would have an effect the British army would probably be the primary victims owing to their advance. It is estimated that some 70,000 German civlilians died in the initial chemical weapon retaliation attacks and a similar number of SS soldiers (owing to their coming out of concealment to attack the Allies). Many more would die in the months to come as these weapons became more commonly used. By means of this not only was Mainz successfully held but, Frankfurt was taken by the end of the month and the Americans blasted right through the heart of the Reich after initial setbacks. Patton was unenthusiastic about using “weapons that forgot the soldiers” and didn’t authorize its use himself. Mussolini and Stalin would order the use of chemical weapons in response, the former using it with far more liberality on civilian centers in Bavaria while the latter hoped it would lead to a swifter advance to beat the Americans to Berlin. Wallace was sympathetic to the Soviet wish to invade Berlin themselves, but he was so angry over Himmler’s attack that he resolved to sort Himmler out himself. For one of the few times of the war, Patton and Wallace saw eye-to-eye, though Rommel’s inclusion still disgusted Wallace and he only kept up proceedings due to the press fanfare that greeted Rommel’s arrival. If Roosevelt had died earlier, it is questionable whether Rommel’s ascension would have been approved.

While the Soviets had still entered no German land but East Prussia, the British were knocking at the doors of Bremen, the Italians had besieged Munich and the Americans were miles from Erfurt. Stalin’s already frayed mental state, rather than cooled by the arrival of Wallace actually worsened. Now he believed that he had the ability to challenge the European powers at will without worrying of American pressure – this would show up at the end of the War and certainly in the years following, the consequences of which ultimately being devastating for tens of millions.
Fascist Methods

Extract from 'Mussolini: The Twentieth Century Man' by Joseph Manderlay

With Munich surrounded and getting pounded by chemical weapon attacks by the Regia Aeronautica, the Italian army advanced ahead and decided to leave the city to wither in the vine. On August 1st, Italian forces came face to face with Dachau, which would be by far the most prominent concentration camp discovered by the Fascist Bloc. Similar camps were discovered by the Soviets, Americans, British and of course the Jewish Army. What distinguished the discoveries was what the Italians did next. When the German Commander came to see the Italians, he saw that they weren’t Italian troops – they were Blackshirts … and they definitely had Semitic features.

The Italians roughly knew what to expect walking into Dachau, as Auschwitz’s horrors had been replayed across the world. The Pope’s open condemnation of the Nazi regime as a result led Himmler to gleefully execute his plan of ridding Germany of Catholic influence by imprisoning and executing a significant number of German Priests. Any who were suspected of aiding the Beck government, and many who weren’t but were still seen as great guinea pigs, were shot out of hand. Himmler, being obsessed with German Paganism and Occultism, saw Christianity as an un-German hindrance that had to be opposed. The last few months of his reign would be characterized by mass confiscation of Church property in Berlin, which did little but sever the Nazis from everyone yet further. Needless to say, the Italians looked upon the Nazis as abominations. As Mussolini declared in a speech to his faithful shortly after Auschwitz’s discovery, “They would have put Capri there to be murdered”. While Balbo continued overseeing the siege of Munich (his own use of chemical weapons being highly criticized since), Graziani was on the move north. Mussolini had ordered blood for blood, and though Graziani himself would always be suspicious of Jews, he was more loyal to his leader than anything else. Especially for the occasion, Mussolini recruited every Jewish Blackshirt he could find (whose numbers had swollen since Capri’s death since it was seen as a ticket to respect in a still Anti-Semitic world) and put nearly three thousand of them (though many had been willing recruits from the Jewish refugee groups who wanted to state their loyalty to the regime) on the road to Dachau.

The Blackshirts, though they had seen the newsreels of Auschwitz, would record that they were still mortified by what they saw at the camp. Half-dead people shuddering and convulsing, train carriages full of skeletal corpses to the ceiling and the brain matter of crushed skull on the ground. Some Blackshirts, some who had even participated in the Rape of Lubiana, threw up and wept at the sight of such unrepentant evil. This was of no matter, of course, as the plan had always been the same. SS-Untersturmfurhrer Heinrich Wicker met the Blackshirts at the gate and was quickly ordered to gather every SS guard at the camp. After doing so, roughly three hundred men had been presented, stripped of their weapons and gathered in the coal processing facility while Jewish inmates stared in awe and bewilderment at these healthy, helpful people – reacting all the more with joy when they realised they were Jews. The SS members didn’t know what to expect when suddenly, they were ordered to stand up and rushed to the wall. They hurriedly did what they were told … only for the Blackshirts to open fire and spray the wall with machine gun fire. Those who were unlucky enough to survive were left to the tender mercies of the inmates, who finished them off so brutally that the SS men would surely have wished to die by the bullet. As if terrified by the prospect of the Dachau Blackshirts coming to them, Munich surrendered to the Italians on August 2nd.

As news of the Dachau Reprisals swept the world, Mussolini had achieved his purposes. Firstly, he had totally detached the notion that Fascism and Nazism were inherently sympathetic to one another. Fascism and Nazism had been seen (and would continue to be seen in the Communist world) as if not identical then extremely close on the political spectrum. However, Nazism had come to be seen more like Islamic Fundamentalism – an evil without a clear space on the spectrum, while Fascism dominated the Far-Right. Many in the Democratic world would praise ‘Fascist methods’ being used on the Nazis (and would continue to justify them against Communist insurrection.). Secondly, he had further cemented his leadership of the Jewish people. Many Jews were outraged with Britain for putting Zvi Brenner on trial for his reprisals at Auschwitz – Mussolini’s defence of the Dachau reprisals as “not just morally acceptable but morally neccessary” would serve to increase Jewish sympathy to Mussolini’s Italy over Britain, which would become a serious question of early Israeli diplomacy. As an added bonus, Kurt Schuschnigg was discovered in Dachau. Mussolini was thrilled – he now had a solid basis for his ideas of an Austrian state in the Post-War world. This would give him more than enough to talk about later that month in Vienna.

Extract from 'The Making of the Fascist Bloc' by Jodie Rutkins

August 10th 1944 in Vienna would be one of the most important dates in the history of the war. It was there that the leaders of the Fascist Bloc would meet and plan their strategies for opposing Communism in the years to come. Indeed, the meeting ended up being about substantially more than that. In attendance were Mussolini, Salazar, Franco, Pavelić, Bulgarian Prince Kiril (acting regent after the death of Tsar Boris III, whose death would bring the country to a standstill) and representatives of the Turkish Junta. However, this was only the official greetings list. In fact, recent evidence now proves there were other diplomats at the meeting, which would mean serious effects on the wider world – there were representatives of both Southern Rhodesia and South Africa. Many had investigated Libya and were astonished by the large Jewish presence as well as the development of the cities. What was once arid desert now had a kibbutz in every direction. Jewish engineers and scientists were hard at work trying to extract oil from the desert and astonishing progress was already being made. Perhaps most incredible was how Italian even the Jewish settlements were. It seemed that, recalled Ian Smith while strolling around Tripoli on leave, “there were as many pizzerias as there were synagogues”.

Firstly, the plans for what to do in the face of the Soviet menace hung in the air. As the members of the council agreed that the Wallace Presidency meant Europe would be left to fend for itself, they began to draw up plans for how to oppose the Soviets. Mussolini announced his intention of restarting the Austrian army under Schuschnigg, but this would still be little in the face of the onslaught expected. Mussolini was also convinced Hungary and Romania would fight against the Soviets, but knew again that this was little. The unanimous conclusion of the meeting was that the Roman Alliance had to remain on friendly terms with Britain and France, not to mention the minor European nations to the north. Further military plans were laid out, explaining how they fight together against the Soviets with or without help.

But the next topic would be the more important one. It began when Salazar, with the support of the Southern Rhodesian and South African representatives, enquired about the Jewish population of Libya. Salazar was curious about the effect of a large non-Italian but still European presence in the colony. Mussolini enthusiastically reported that the Jews had massively built up Libya, which meant that it would be easier for Italians to move in. As Israel was expected to come to fruition in the meantime, the Jews would move there and leave their development behind. They couldn’t take buildings with them, after all. Mussolini thus affirmed and endorsed the idea to the representatives. In his own words, “Build it up to bring them in”. Mussolini had no intention of having Libya be a Jewish state forever, but he felt that in allowing so many Jews in to build up the country, he had created the conditions to attract Italians by the millions.

Until then, Southern Rhodesian and South African governments actually had a very restricted immigration policy, including to whites. They only wanted a very specific type of white immigration – upper class British. It was extremely hard to immigrate to Rhodesia especially, which required stupefying deposits and a general suspicion that bringing in too many continental Europeans would damage the minority government by diluting the British character of Rhodesia. But the experience of Libya had changed everything. Now a belief arose that if they brought in enough continental Europeans in the short term, they could attract millions more of the British they actually sought. As Southern Rhodesia was expanding at an unprecedented rate at the time, it wasn’t like there was much competition for jobs – they were everywhere. Coupled with the poor post-war economy in Britain and a massive advertising campaign in British newspapers, the Rhodesians had begun their great immigration push. Coupled with the post-War Baby Boom, and the upsurge of European refugees in the conflicts following World War 2, the white population of Rhodesia would begin to soar, though remaining a minority. With the justification of ‘Keep Rhodesia White’, the government did its best to weaken opposition to the immigration movements. It would be a game-changer in 1948. South African Prime Minister Jan Smuts, likewise impressed with Libya, began his own push after the war - paving the way for the misery that would follow.

Salazar, for his part, began his own campaign to increase his colonial grip over Angola and Mozambique especially. Some historians suggest he wanted to present himself as the second most powerful force in the Roman Alliance and wanted to increase his prestige by holding a vast colonial empire to rival the Italians. Given the overwhelming poverty Portugal faced, with reports that nearly half of the Portuguese population was illiterate, it wasn’t hard to convince people that there were greener pastures. Salazar began a mass movement to take his poor rural population and move them to the heartlands of Angola. This would be to start an agrarian revolution there to modernize the colony. In order to pay for this, however, he enlisted outside help – specifically the Catholic Church. In return for the Church’s help in establishing healthcare, education and other settlements in Angola and Mozambique, the colonies would become borderline Catholic theocracies – only Catholics could immigrate there, for example. No churches bar Catholic churches could be built and all education services were left to the Priests. Of all the settler countries, Portugal's colonies would maintain a unique culture (and general tolerance to Catholic natives) that distinguished it from the cruelties of South Africa and Italy.

Extract from 'The Madhouse: Germany After Hitler, Before the Occupation', by Ronald Hines

Operation Ragnarok would be the last major Nazi offensive of the War. Once the genie was out of the bottle with respect to chemical weapons, the Germans found themselves hopelessly outgunned on that front. While the Western allies (with Rommel’s pleading) did much to reduce the civilian casualty count, there were only so many who could be spared. By the end, the most retarding force on the American military was not the SS attacks but the waves upon waves of civilians and soldiers fleeing and surrendering wherever they went. SS soldiers, however, were lucky if they surrendered – many were shot out of hand by other Germans to prove their loyalty to Rommel’s Free German Army. There were even cases where SS members shot Wehrmacht soldiers, switched clothes and pretended to be Valkyrie loyalists having done service for the Allies. It is unknown as to what the average character was who fought for the Free German Army, with the Soviets especially alleging the force were overwhelmingly war criminals looking for a post-war amnesty. However, what is known is that by the time the Battle of Berlin began the Ragnarok backlash and hope that a strong showing of the Free German army could produce more lenient peace talks led to the Free German Army totaling nearly half a million soldiers under Rommel. This only increased when the British liberated Hamburg in September. Tales of how the SS treated the local population, their own people, once the lines broke sounded more like something the Soviets would have done, or so the Germans thought. With the Jewish Army itself now moving into Germany – with Churchill having no choice but to get the troops moving after the attack – and moving northward, people wanted the War over with sooner rather than later.

In order to simplify the situation, and as a further testament to the mental state Himmler had created for himself and others in Berlin, Himmler ordered on August 15th that the Wehrmacht and SS were to merge. This was hard to pull off practically with resource and command starvation, but oftentimes merely taking a paintbrush and putting ‘SS’ on the helmet was enough to show one’s loyalty. Tragicomic situations would be encountered, such as one Wehrmacht company running out of paint before the last few helmets could have their letters painted on, and SS commanders coming in and shooting those unlucky few for ‘mutiny’. Wehrmacht generals would often find themselves reduced to the lower tiers of the officer corp with SS hacks young enough to be their grandchildren in some cases being put in charge.

As the Americans and Free Germans approached, the defence of Berlin was prepared for in earnest. The women were conscripted in building defenses, boys in some cases as young as eight were given weapons and told to fight and leaving the city without a permit was an immediate death sentence. Likewise, members of the Free German army would be shot on sight as mutineers – no mercy. In the meantime, Himmler had prepared one final act of vengeance against the Allies, even as both himself and – with strong prodding – Goebbels prepared their escape from the city while they shot anyone else who tried to do just that. By the end of September, the Americans and Free German Army were at the gates of Berlin. [1]

[1] - Appropriate Music (with some details changed):


Extract from ‘To Hell and Back’ by Audie Murphy

“I’d fought all over France and Germany, but I’ll never forget Berlin as long as I live. That place was different – and not in a good way. We were walking into this bombed out, gassed wasteland. We wore our masks for most of the time – even then, the thought of that Sarin was one of the few things that made us afraid. We’d walk down the street and see our guys and theirs lying dead in the middle of the road because they got caught without a mask. I saw one guy dead with his hand just out of reach of one. This had stopped being a war long ago – this was Hell. I don’t think I saw one building that looked close to livable as we fought inside. The Nazis did everything we could imagine. They would use children as shields, send children with rifles to try and fight us – God knows what you’re supposed to do in a situation like that – and booby-trapped half the entrances of wherever you needed to go. I got pretty depressed after a while – I couldn’t believe these guys were still fighting after all that happened. I couldn’t believe they could fight for something so evil. We saw Auschwitz and Belsen and Buchenwald and all the rest – did they really support that? Did they believe it? If they did, I wondered if they worshipped the Devil, or maybe the Devil worshipped them.

But at the same time, I saw the guys in the FGA [1]. We fought with resignation - they fought with anger. All our ‘I’m gonna be the one who shoots Himmler’ talk didn’t fire us up as much anymore after everything in the last few months. But those guys? They fought the SS as if to say, ‘Look! Look at what you’ve done to my country!” To be honest, call my cynical, but I don’t think it was the anger of Auschwitz or anything like that. I think it was the anger that they knew they’d lost the War – and now their country was going to have to go through the whole sorry mess again, like in 1919. I talked to a few that could speak English – nice guys usually. But some of what they said was pretty chilling.

I remember talking to one as we were taking a break underground where we were basically safe from the gas. He could speak English so we all got along swell. We talked about how weird it was that we were fighting not too far back and now we were on the same side. We laughed at how crazy it all was. He said how lucky we were that the Nazis were in charge because if it weren’t for them, “We’d be marching down Pennsylvania Avenue, Trafalgar Square and Red Square by now”. Then he got up, wished us well and went back to fighting. I just thought to myself, ‘Are these the guys we’re going to put into power in Germany?'

The best summary of what Berlin was like was when we heard our guys were about to take the Reichstag. We were excited for the first time in weeks. We wanted to climb up on top of one of the buildings, look over the miasma of gas, rubble and smoke that enveloped Berlin and see the Stars and Stripes flying bravely. We were told on the afternoon of October 25th that it was going to happen – the last guys in the Reichstag were about to fall. We were miles away but we still had a line of sight. We got the binoculars for the occasion. We waited in anticipation – then we heard a bang. In war, you learn soon enough how far away a shell is by hearing it. After a while, you don’t care anymore, because you know if you hear it, you’re still alive – it’s the one you don’t hear that gets you. One of our guys on the binoculars said he actually saw the Reichstag shake – plenty of rubble was falling off it too. We looked down – and when we saw the gas stream out of the dome, we realised to our horror what had happened. We didn’t put all the pieces together until later, but Himmler or Goebbels or some other one of those sons of bitches had loaded the Reichstag with all the Sarin and gas they could their hands on. When it looked like we were about to take it, they let if off. Their own guys were there. I don’t know if they knew about it or not, but given how suicidal those SS guys were, I wouldn’t put it past them. It was their final act of vengeance. They’d stuffed so much of it in and around the Reichstag that 1000 of our guys died in that one release – God knows how many Germans they killed.

And that’s where you got your picture. We were going to raise Old Glory on the top of the Reichstag. Instead, you got the picture of the Reichstag bursting with gas out of every crack and hole. It goes to show you how war has different plans from what you have in mind.

Extract from 'The Madhouse: Germany After Hitler, Before the Occupation' by Ronald Hines

The Battle of Berlin was every bit as terrible as American commanders feared, with Eisenhower darkly calling it ‘Churchill’s revenge’ owing to Churchill’s fears of getting involved in a major operation too soon, only this time there were no British troops. The pictures that came out of Berlin looked like nightmares – with gas-masked squads walking through the mists of a chemical wasteland over rubble and corpses. The Reichstag Trap was only the most notorious example, where the building was deliberately stocked with masses of chemical agents that killed almost everyone close to the Reichstag when it went off. It was supposed to be a symbolic victory against the Allies, organized by Himmler, as if to suggest that the Nazis would fight on. Von Leeb had been given the thankless task of being left to defend the city while Himmler and Goebbels went, and did as best he could to hang on. It was a scene of such unrepentant brutality that the Americans suffered nearly 100,000 casualties – the Free German Army suffered some 75,000, which is impressive given its smaller size. It’s estimated that some 120,000 defenders were killed with more than twice the number wounded by the end.

Elsewhere, the Italians had cleared all territory south of the Danube and the Anglo-Jewish Army had seized Dresden, which had declared itself an open city – with fears that the latter would begin a persecution campaign against Germans proven unfounded. Thus, Dresden would be the picturesque frontier of the Cold War, compared to Berlin’s austere militarism. These would be the last conflicts of both parties in Europe in the War. The Soviets, meanwhile, were in a fight to take the German city of Stettin – this would be as far as they would ever advance against Germany. Stalin’s dream of raising a sole Red Flag from a battered Reichstag would prove in vain. Despite all the chaos around them, the SS and Wehrmacht elements held together in the face of the Russians just long enough to save their capital from Soviet bombardment.

The question was beginning to drive Allied High Command up the wall – where were Goebbels and Himmler? German radio had announced nothing except that the two were ‘safe and fully committed to reversing the current peril’. There were fears that the Nazis would never surrender. Thankfully for mankind, Germany especially, the pair would not escape justice forever.

Extract from 'The Second World War' by Christopher Armlong

In such a desperate state, one would have thought that Himmler and Goebbels were planning on going undercover for life. Perhaps going undercover and hiding in an obscure corner of the world until the day they died. Remarkably, that’s not what they intended at all. Himmler and Goebbels intended to catch a submarine stationed on the Baltic, escape the Allied Naval blockade from Scandanavia, loop around Russia and end up in friendly Japan, where they would ‘rally the forces’ from abroad. Himmler assured Goebbels that the Japanese system of honor would ensure they would never succumb to treasonous mutiny, and the Americans would be forced to cut terms, especially given the new strategy Japanese leaders had decided on.

The pair left Berlin in mid-October, just before the pincers sealed shut. Magda Goebbels had originally intended to commit suicide (along with murdering her children) but Himmler convinced her that a suitable deal could be reached if they waited it out in Japan – the family would survive the war, though with varying fates. Himmler assured her that it would be no time whatsoever until the ‘Unholy Alliance of Bourgeois Capitalsm, Judeo-Bolshevism and Negroid Fascism’ would rip each other apart. Then, there would be an opening for National Socialism to come again in glory in Germany. Right until the noose, Himmler invented a new reality for himself that psychologists have debated for decades. Was he suffering from a brain tumour? Stress? The debate goes on.

Himmler, Goebbels dressed and blended in with a column of SS soldiers and took a truck, disguised in gas masks. Any sort of conspicuous presence would instantly earn them the unfriendly glare of the RAF, American Air Force, and even the Regia Aeronautica. A submarine was waiting at Kiel to take them away. After staying low-key for a time, they proceeded back on their way, totally cut off from the outside world (or more so than before). On the final movement towards Kiel on October 26th just outside Boksee, the truck was struck by artillery fire and flipped on its side. Himmler broke several ribs and Goebbels received a serious concussion. They were pulled out of the truck by their SS helpers … only to find themselves surrounded on all sides by British soldiers angrily pointing sub-machine guns at them. Himmler and Goebbels had planned to kill themselves if caught, but they were thoroughly searched and stripped of their cyanide capsules while in their incapacitated state. The British had made Herculean progress in the final days of the War, and had already taken Kiel by the time Goebbels and Himmler had met with their unfortunate accident. While the Americans contented themselves with being the liberators of Berlin, the British announced triumphantly to the world that they had captured the terrible duo on October 27th.

Other leading Nazis would soon be caught. The Americans in Berlin captured Roland Freisler on the same day Himmler and Goebbels fell into Allied hands. Martin Bormann had already been captured after trying and failing to bribe the Italians to let him take a passage to Argentina. Perhaps most notably, Adolf Eichmann had been captured by the Jewish Army in the Sudetenland after trying to pass himself off as a Free German Army soldier – despite obvious reasons for vengeance, the Jewish Army handed Eichmann over to higher authorities. Robert Muller, head of the Gestapo was captured when a vengeful Wehrmacht soldier, whose brother had been suspected of being a Valkyrie supporter and executed by the Gestapo, betrayed Muller when their truck was stopped by American soldiers. Others captured included Alfred Rosenberg, Joachim Von Ribbentrop and the only military leader at the Nuremburg Trials, Ritter Von Leeb. [2]

Himmler had entrusted Von Leeb to be in charge of administration of the Reich ‘until further orders’. Himmler and Goebbels would be temporarily going off the grid to reach Kiel – from there, they would send out the final commands to hold out. However, with Himmler and Goebbels both in Allied custody, the chain of command had been broken. This left Von Leeb the most powerful man in the Third Reich – a position he never expected to say the least. At long last freed from his Führerprinzip principles, he began the outreach for unconditional surrender. On October 29th, the guns fell silent and Von Leeb opened communications, announcing that he was both the head of the Reich government and interested in ending the War. Sufficient time was given for British Field Marshall Montgomery, Soviet General Chuikov, French General De Gaulle, Italian Marshall Balbo and even Moshe Dayan of the Jewish Army to arrive in a relatively clean area of Berlin to join Patton and Rommel in accepting Von Leeb’s surrender. On November 1st 1944, V-E Day was declared over Europe – one half of the Pact had been defeated. It only cost tens of millions of lives, including almost five million Jews in the Holocaust. [3]

Interview of Italo Balbo for the BBC’s ‘World At War’ (1973)

Interviewer: “Can you describe what it was like to be in that room when the surrender took place?”

Balbo: “I almost felt pity for Von Leeb. Despite all that he did, I almost felt pity seeing his sole figure come up to the table with all of us on one side. Patton sat in the centre with Montgomery and Rommel at his sides. I was next to Montgomery and Dayan was next to me. De Gaulle was to the side of Rommel and Chuikov was on the side of De Gaulle. I remember that the Soviets were outraged over it, that they weren’t at the centre of the table and looked like a minor power. But in reality, we did it for the sensibilities of everyone there. We couldn’t put him beside Patton because Patton hated the Russians, we couldn’t put him beside Rommel because Chuikov thought Rommel was a War Criminal, he couldn’t sit beside me because I was of course a terrible ‘Fascist’, he couldn’t sit beside Dayan because Dayan was outraged with the Soviets clamping down on Zionism and we couldn’t put him beside Montgomery either.”

Interviewer: “Was this out of resentment for British friendliness towards Italy?”

Balbo: “No, no one could stand Montgomery. Myself and Patton took one for the team.”

Extract from 'The Red and the Dead: How the Wallace Presidency Changed America' by Ben Rushmore

The 1944 Presidential Elections would be sealed up by V-E Day. While it was always unlikely Dewey would triumph, the defeat of Nazism made it a certainty. Wallace won the election with 57% of the vote and kept comfortable majorities in both Houses of Congress for the Democrat Party. Despite many Americans wishing that the following four years never happened, Dewey would remain adamant that his decision to not release the papers detailing Wallace’s religious eccentricities, arguing that the risk of an undermined President in the midst of the Big One was worse than even the upheaval of the Wallace Presidency. With the nightmarish visions of Berlin finished, Americans celebrated the news of victory, more determined than ever to finish the job with Japan.

Similar scenes of joy repeated themselves over Europe. In Britain especially, the thought that their own soldiers had captured the ringleaders of the Nazi movement had brought an upsurge in pride. The streets swelled with revelers and celebrations up and down the country. The streets of London were near impassable from people in the midst of ecstacy. Churchill briefly considered calling an election but decided to delay, giving a radio address to the nation saying, “The most evil creatures mankind has ever seen, and perhaps will ever see, are now locked in British army cells, and will receive all the justice they so cruelly denied the European Continent”. He reiterated Britain’s commitment to finish the Japanese Empire’s own monstrous government.

In Rome, the celebrations were just as large (not hurt by Fascist organisations intimidating anyone who was suspected of being subversive) but the tone was different. The mood was that Italy had now confirmed itself as one of the greatest countries on the planet, struggling with Britain for the title of the third greatest country on Earth (they considered themselves far beyond the occupied and war-torn France). Mussolini would deliver an address to the faithful in Rome announcing, “Today, we have done what not even Caesar could do – we went to Germany and we obliterated their barbarian armies!” To the average Italian, the war was the birth of a superpower – for so long an ignored, abused and forgotten country. They weren’t to be pushed around any more.

To the Russian, things were very different. Celebrations were muted and even actively discouraged. V-E Day would not be celebrated in the USSR under Stalin. He was furious with the situation – angrily screaming at Khrushchev “Tens of millions of our countrymen died only for us to barely move from where we started”. Of course, this was partially due to the national mourning that had swept over the Soviet Union, in memory of Zhukov. Though it was reported at the time that Zhukov died due to a rogue artillery strike from the Nazis, by the late forties, people knew the truth.

Extract from 'The Death Spiral: Stalin 1941-1953' by Alexi Ivanovitch

On October 29th, word was going around at Zhukov’s HQ that Von Leeb was interested in surrendering. As Zhukov was farther west than any Russian commander, he was confused why he had received no official communication from Moscow. He was further confused when word started to travel around that Chuikov would represent the Soviets in Berlin. He began an angry tirade about being passed over – of course, that would have been much more preferable over what happened.

On the evening of October 29th, word finally came through from Moscow … through two political commissars. They ordered Zhukov to come along with them, alone, in their car. According to one of the Commissars, who defected to the West years later, Stalin had grown certain that Zhukov had deliberately held back the attack on Germany to allow the Americans time to take over Germany before Stalin could anywhere close to Berlin. Why Zhukov would try to help the West by have them absorb the causalities needed to take a city like Berlin is anyone’s guess. Nevertheless, wild conspiracies involving the Italians, British and “Zionists” had led Stalin on a wild mental goose chase. More likely, fears over Zhukov gaining military credit from his defence of Moscow led Stalin to fear a growth of Bonapartism in the Red Army.

Zhukov went along with the Commissars, having now resigned himself to what was going to happen according to witnesses – Zhukov even going as far as to tell his subordinates that they didn’t see the Commissars arrive. He was taken to a secluded location the woods miles from the front and told that evidence had proven he was a British agent in charge of sabotaging the Soviet war effort. He was given two options: take a painless cyanide pill and allow the Soviet press to report he had valiantly died in the fighting at Stettin with his family and subordinates kept safe, or be publicly dragged through a show trial and have his family and subordinates tortured to reveal the further extent of ‘the spy-ring’. Zhukov pondered for a few seconds before sighing. “Dying's probably easier than taking orders from that son of a bitch, so just give me the fucking thing,” he said, grabbing the cyanide capsule. “When Stalin comes after you, you’re not going to get any nice capsule,” were Zhukov’s last words as he bit the cyanide and died instantly. The first political commissar would die in the Second Great Purge in 1949. The second would defect to the West and relate the story, before being killed by Soviet agents in 1952.

[1] – Free German Army

[2] – Full list of those at the Nuremburg Trials ITTL in alphabetical order: Bormann, Eichmann, Frank, Frick, Freisler, Funk, Goebbels, Hess, Himmler, Kaltenbrunner, Ley, Muller, Rosenberg, Sauckel, Schacht, Seyss-Inquart, Streicher, Von Leeb, Von Neurath, Von Papen, Von Ribbentrop, Von Shirach.

[3] – Mussolini’s friendly policies, an earlier ending of the war, smaller range of German occupation and a wider range of escape destinations lead to an extra million Jews surviving the War. They are disproportionately Hungarian and German, wealthy, Sephardic, right-wing and educated.


Extract from 'The Still Sun: The British Empire after WW2' by Cecil Moore

The Italian entry into the War made little immediate difference to British fortunes in the Pacific. Indeed, the initial consequence was the loss of Italy’s concession in Tientsin. Military aid was initially low, though grain was shipped to help relieve a famine that had begun in Bengal and it provided much needed relief for British resources in the region [1]. It did provide a much-needed boost in morale for the British in the fighting in Burma – the fading ‘Singapore Spirit’ being rejuvenated [2]. By early 1944, the first offensives back into Burma began, with Meiktila being taken that summer.

Over time, a more practical form of aid would arrive. Mussolini had little opportunity to use his navy in the war and was tempted to test out his latest developments, not the least of which was the Aquila, Italy’s first Aircraft Carrier. The Littorio battleships were likewise ready to be used. Though initially used mostly in the Indian Ocean to support the British, necessity forced them to back up the Americans in the far off waters of the Pacific, their first major mission being to support the American navy at the Battle of the Philippine Sea that April. It even managed to score a crippling blow on the Taihō, Japan’s premier Aircraft Carrier, which allowed American submarines to finish her off. The Italian navy distinguished themselves admirably, much to the surprise of American naval commanders. Mussolini, never one to miss a chance, lauded his genius in ‘discovering’ the power of the Aircraft Carrier (which was Balbo’s idea).

Ultimately, the losses of Japan were crippling by mid-1944. The military leaders knew that Germany was soon to fall, but there had been one event that quite interested them. The initial advance of Operation Ragnarok had astonished them, even though it was quickly beaten back by chemical retaliation. The militarists were inspired. They were sure the only reason the Germans had failed was their internal dissent and lateness in using them. If the Japanese used chemical weapons, they would use them before the Americans ever reached Honshū. The thought was beautiful – imagining the slaughter of American soldiers in the millions as they fought for every street under chemical bombardment. There was no way the Americans could endure – they would have to make peace. And thus, Japan embarked on yet another disastrous path.

Extract from 'Silent and Deadly: A History of Chemical Weapons' by Stephen Prince

Unit 731 had mostly been quiet during the war, working primarily on undercover human experimentation with all the cruelty their infamy would indicate. They had already experimented on three thousand unwilling volunteers by September 1944, but their most infamous days remained ahead of them. On August 1st, General Shirō Ishii met the Cabinet in Tokyo, and was asked about his program. After affirming their effectiveness in both the lab and the field, he was told that Japan needed a final ace up the sleeve to pull them through the ‘present discomfort’ as Tojo called it. To that end, the strategy was approved – one that would make Pearl Harbour look good in retrospective. They would deploy chemical weapons on every island the Americans tried to invade. They would bleed them out and thus get a great peace deal, or that was the plan anyway.

While a suggested attack on the American mainland was proposed, it was rejected because it would likely stir up the American public. What the militarists wanted was a campaign to make any invasion of Japan so costly that the Americans would be forced to come to terms. For that reason, the first use of chemical weapons occurred during the invasion of the Philippines that September. Though it was simply mustard gas and hardly of the more developed, terrifying nature of later weapons, American leaders knew that the Pacific War had entered a dark phase. With the use of gas, casualties began to rise exponentially on both sides. Perhaps the best summary of the reaction of American leaders was found in Admiral Nimitz when he told his subordinates, “We’ve entered a level of Hell I didn’t even think could exist”.

But Unit 731 would not simply be content with mere mustard gas. They had something special planned. On October 26th, the same day that Himmler and Goebbels fell into Allied hands, the US Marines landed in Iwo Jima, to what seemed to be initially promising results. The sight of small, smashed canisters along the landing zone was ignored. However, by October 30th, strange events started to occur behind the lines. Soldiers started to vomit uncontrollably, showed up in the hospital with appalling lymph node swelling and collapsed. When the doctors investigated what had happened, they gave the answer – the bubonic plague. There was only one way this Medieval disease had somehow come back from the dead – the Japanese had prepared a cruel arrival party for the Americans. It should be noted that Japanese civilians – even many Japanese soldiers - were just as clueless to the disease as the American soldiers and died just as pointlessly.

The news hit the Western Press on November 2nd, one day after V.E. Day, and was a quick, sobering reminder of the reality of the conflict. ‘Plague Craze’ swept the yellow press of America, Australia and Canada as people saw evidence of a Japanese chemical weapon attack on their homeland from all sides. None of it was true, but hysteria had reached such a peak that it would leave a permanent mark on the healthcare question of the United States in particular. As expected, enthusiasm (though not support) for the War faded.

At the subsequent Tokyo Tribunals, Ishii stated that both his reaction and his superior’s reaction to the news of American casualties in such numbers was joyous, as they expected any American invasion to be too costly for Wallace. They were right, though not in the way they had intended. One wonders whether they would have just signed the surrender right there if they knew what was soon to come.

Extract from 'The Rise, Fall and Rise of Japan' by Mariya Takeuchi

After the liberation of Berlin, American military leaders were stung hard by the experience. Bradley described it as ‘trying to claw yourself out of the dirt while buried alive’. The number of casualties, on top of the horrifying pictures coming out of Berlin of gas-clouded streets patrolled by gas-mask wearing GIs had dampened enthusiasm at home. While V.E. Day rejuvenated the public, it certainly didn’t put joy into High Command – when the news that the bubonic plague had been used on GIs, morale fell even lower. They still had another enemy to deal with, one that certainly wasn’t going to stop using their accursed chemical weapon inventory. The pre-chemical weapon calculations of how many people would die in the invasion of Japan were already astronomical – indeed, the American military in all its subsequent wars still uses the Purple Hearts made for the invasion of Japan. The notion of having to fight for every street in such a gigantic country, with tens of millions ready to fight to the death, old women and children using spears, not a friendly face to be found, now with the added nightmares of gas and plagues was terrifying.

On November 20th, as the bloody battle of Iwo Jima went on, a strategy meeting was held at the White House. Wallace, Bradley, Eisenhower, Patton and others discussed how Japan could be brought to heel. When Wallace was informed of the human cost of the Japanese invasion, from both the American and Japanese perspective, he said there had to be a better way. No man wanted a repeat of the nightmare Americans had seen in Berlin. Ultimately, it was agreed that after taking several more islands to enable the American Air Force to get close to the Japanese mainland, the plan would simply be to blockade and bomb Japan into submission with various weapons, chemical included. The final ace they had, the Manhattan Project, would be used as soon as possible, with more resources allocated to the already nearly completed program as a Hail Mary attempt to save GIs from the utter bloodbath that awaited a full invasion. Owing to a senior member of the American government having gone there for Honeymoon, Kyoto was lucky enough to find itself off the list of targets. Now, with the chemical weapon Pandora opened by none other than the Japanese military themselves, Kyoto was finally put on the target list again. It would exclusively be for chemical weapons, so as to preserve the architecture of the city.

By the time Iwo Jima was declared secure, just before Christmas, nearly 10,000 Americans had died. The already terrible relationship between Japanese soldiers and Americans got worse still – it was exceedingly rare to hear a call for surrender from the Japanese side met with anything other than more rifle-shots. Many feared the Japanese had deliberately infected themselves and didn’t want them anywhere near. The poison gas had poisoned hearts as much as bodies. With American leaders already preparing themselves for the slaughter expected at Okinawa, Wallace went to Potsdam with the firm determination to make Japan lose as quickly as possible, with as little casualties as possible. Of course, there was only one man he knew that had the resources to stick a new, firm blow to the Japanese. Wallace hoped that a decisive Soviet advance into Asia would be enough of a blow to the militarists that they would see sense and surrender. It would lead to ‘Potsdam’ being just as infamous a word as ‘Munich’ in the common vocabulary of the Western world.

[1] – The Japanese never advanced as far into Burma as they did, and further resources and aid being available helps alleviate the Bengal Famine significantly.

[2] – Singapore holds out until June due to a tougher slog for the Japanese owing to the British not having to waste resources in the Mediterranean. Their dogged determination to fight to the end impresses the locals so much so they were called the ‘Lions of Lion City (Singapore)’, and the Japanese treatment of the ethnic Chinese in the city led to a much more pro-British line being developed.

The Red Dagger

Interview of Anthony Eden for the BBC’s ‘World At War’ (1973)

Interview: “Do you remember the first time you met Wallace?”

Eden: “Yes, it was at Potsdam.”

Interview: “Can you tell us about it?”

Eden: “I certainly can. Wallace was the last to arrive. The four other leaders, Stalin, Churchill, DeGaulle, and Mussolini were standing in a line with Stalin on the far left, no pun intended. I remember Wallace arriving on the right side of the line, that is to say, closest to Mussolini. Mussolini actually stood to attention and offered his hand to the President. Wallace didn’t even look at him. Wallace simply kept walking past everyone in the line like they didn’t exist … until he stretched out his hand to greet Marshall Stalin. It was a horrible experience. All the non-Soviet delegations, including the Americans were utterly mortified when they saw it. Well, perhaps we were all mortified – Mussolini was simply incensed. It made Kiev seem like a pleasant afternoon tea break with the choir.”

Extract from 'The Red and the Dead: How the Wallace Presidency Changed America' by Ben Rushmore

Wallace had one goal in mind at Potsdam on December 18th: Get Stalin to help out in Asia come hell or high water. Though Stalin’s mind was already decaying, he had enough wisdom to play cool and talk about how long it would take to rebuild his army from the crippling losses and economic difficulties that beset the USSR, hinting his frustration with a limited territory to plunder. Wallace listened as sympathetically as he didn’t listen to Mussolini at all. After getting off on such abysmal terms, the tone of the meeting had been set.

It was the house of the late Crown Prince Wilhelm, who had been killed by Himmler during the latter days of the war for fear of a Hohenzollern claim on the throne due to the uprising of the Conservative elements of German society against the Nazis. His son, Louis Ferdinand, was there to commemorate his father and wished that the Allied powers achieved a lasting, just peace for Germany. Ferdinand had narrowly escaped capture and fled to the Italians just before being captured by the Gestapo. His refinement and anti-Nazi credentials impressed both Mussolini and Churchill – perhaps an idea was already running through their minds.

The first item on the agenda was the size of the occupation zones for each country. Though Italy was restricted simply to Austria and a small area in Berlin, Mussolini was more than vocal about what he wanted. The new German border had been agreed to follow the Oder River. There had been discussions about an Oder-Niesse border but the Anti-Nazi uprising had given the Germans more leeway than otherwise existed. Thus, they were given this minor break. The Poles were compensated for the Soviet annexation of their eastern territory by the addition of a string of new German territories (with the German residents unkindly kicked from the region). The Soviets never broke into the territory of this new German border, stopping just at Stettin. For that reason, Mussolini concluded that the Soviets had no right to an occupation zone whatsoever beyond that which their new occupied state of Poland had already swallowed, not to mention East Prussia’s annexation. Stalin was of the opinion that the country should be split almost in half like Berlin, with the Soviets going as far as Thuringia. Churchill and DeGaulle objected strongly to this, as this would infringe on their zones. As would soon be a common sight, the European powers stood in unison against Stalin, with Wallace standing on the sidelines though quietly nodding whenever the Russian translator spoke.

Finally, Wallace called Stalin into a private room for ‘frank discussion’. It was here that perhaps the most infamous of Wallace’s decisions came about. It was here that Wallace bribed Stalin’s participation for the war in Japan by not only offering him more Asian territory, but also securing more European territory than he might otherwise have got. Firstly, it was offered that even if not one Russian foot landed in Japan, Hokkaido would be put under Soviet administration. After that, China and Korea would be considered in the Soviet zone of influence – though Stalin had still not decided to 100% back Mao yet, a decision he would come to regret. As far as Wallace was concerned, the Soviets could do what they wanted in China or Korea as long as they kicked the Japanese out. In Europe, America agreed to forsake their Berlin occupation zone and give it to the Soviets (which was thankfully on the side and would not have resulted in two West Berlins). Furthermore, the Americans agreed to strike a compromise with the Europeans on the Occupation Zone question, with an East Germany running along the Elbe and stopping at Schleswig-Holstein (as the British would never leave Hamburg). Even more remarkable, Wallace agreed a unilateral withdrawal of American troops from Iran and Czechia, leaving the British alone to administer the territories outside the Russians. Only a skeleton force would likewise be in Germany. He offered an extension of Lend-Lease while it would shortly be shut down for Britain. He offered complete independence of Soviet action in Poland and Slovakia to choose the government it wanted, with the full right to unilaterally declare independence from Czechoslovakia whenever it pleased. Wallace even went as far as to tell Stalin about the Manhattan Project and about its destructive capability. Some have accused Wallace of outright encouraging the Soviets to build their own but this is unsupported. Stalin was thunderstruck at the number of concessions he gained but did his best to play the reluctant. However, he agreed to launch an invasion of Manchuria in three months.

When news of the terms reached the Europeans, though there was little infringement on their own territory and they had stopped Stalin from getting his full wishes in Germany, they were disgusted. Perhaps best remembered was Churchill’s infamous outburst to Eden that, “The only thing on Wallace’s head is his hat!” DeGaulle had only come to Potsdam due to the desire of everyone to play their own side (the British and Italians thought he would be anti-Communist enough while the Americans and Soviets thought he could moderate the former parties). After words of the deal reached DeGaulle, however, he was in no doubt about it: “Wallace left us to die” he bitterly spat. Mussolini, however, was already beyond anger. In fact, he was already plotting and scheming with Balbo and Ciano about what to do. Many of the suggestions would bear strong fruit.

At the same time, the European leaders knew that this was probably as good a deal as they would get. Britain had already plundered Peenemunde and captured Werner Von Braun, along with the designs and test models of the still unused ‘V2’ Rockets. By the time the Soviets moved into their new occupation zone of East Germany, they would discover the place already starved of talent that had deserted for British shores (and to a lesser extent Italian and American). The European leaders accepted in a private discussion that there was little they could do, as Wallace was merely exercising America’s restraint rather than imposing its will upon them. However, the three leaders agreed that this would not be the end of the discussion. They would meet again, only without Wallace getting in the way. It would be the last time Wallace arrived in Europe for that very reason – he was denied entry by almost the entirety of the continent.

Extract from 'Mussolini: The Twentieth Century Man' by Joseph Manderlay

The formation of the United Nations had been mostly up in the air until the solid reality came to fruition at Potsdam. It was agreed to give the organisation some teeth after the League of Nations had failed (somewhat due to the new leaders of the organisation). At the top of the food-chain was a Security Council which could decide to unleash UN forces to defend against the great evils of the world, notably genocide. And a number of them would be granted the extraordinary power to single-handedly veto the proceedings. This would be a point of some contention.

While ‘The Big Three’ of the US, UK and USSR would obviously be included, there was much discussion about who the others would be. France and the Republic of China (Stalin having still not decided to fully back Mao) were by and large agreed without complaint. It was the ascension of Italy to the table that caused a serious falling out. As Italy represented one of the largest power blocks on Earth in the Roman Alliance, and had the full backing of her fellow members as well as many prominent Jewish organisations who wanted to repay Mussolini’s salvation of hundreds of thousands of their brethren, it was considered diplomatically impossible to deny them a seat.

But this caused another issue. Now the Security Council was chaired by six seats, which left the possibility of ties in the air. This was considered a serious flaw in the process and so a seventh applicant was considered necessary. Japan (still at war at the time) and Germany were impossible for obvious reasons. India and Israel still did not yet exist as sovereign nations. In a highly cynical move, Mussolini pushed for Turkey to be included as the seventh chair to represent the Muslim population of the world. The Soviets were outraged at another member of the Roman Alliance getting a seat and threatened to sink the whole organisation by pulling out (which they had already threatened to do when Italy was included in the seating arrangement). Finally a compromise was reached and the relatively neutral country of Brazil, an Allied power in return for President Vargas beginning a policy of political liberalization. Vargas, seeing an easy opportunity to establish Brazil as a world player, gladly accepted and gave amnesty to political dissidents, mostly Communists. Though Stalin hoped Brazil would ultimately be an anti-colonial aid, Brazil would generally side with the West on foreign policy matters, especially in the fifties and sixties.

Extract from 'We Brave Few: Europe 1945-1949' by Abraham Ferguson

The initial waves of elections across Europe in the winter and spring of 1945 produced a wave of results, many interesting. In Hungary, Otto Von Hapsburg rejoiced as the result of the referendum as to whether the monarchy should be restored ended in a 58% victory to the Monarchists. The Hapsburg Dynasty was restored to its former prestige. The young king vowed to be the eternal defender of Hungarian democracy and its minorities, be they political, racial or religious. By contrast, Finland also had a referendum as to whether it would join the Soviet Union as an SSR. One Finn recalled how a certain polling station in Helsinki consisted of a public ballot with multiple Red Army soldiers standing on all sides of the table, overlooking the voter’s choice. All in all, it was pointless, as the 90% polling victory for the SSR option was in many locales in possession of a higher voting count than the entire population of the area, children included. Wallace would defend the vote count on the fact that the referendum for the French constituent assembly achieved a 96% ‘yes’ rate. Similar results were noted in occupied Czechoslovakia, with the Communists gaining 48% of the vote on the back of ludicrously strong performances in Slovakia. Few had hope for the Polish and East German elections scheduled in the not too distant future. Speaking of France, tensions had considerably boiled over with DeGaulle kicking the Communists out of the Three-Parties Alliance and replacing them with the Conservative bloc. It ignited a firestorm of strikes and riots up and down France, with the Communists winning nearly a third of the vote in the 1945 election, though it was not enough to overcome the alliance. Political instability would rock France for months after the election, though the PCF would never achieve a success as monumental as a third of the vote ever again.

The British elections had been delayed until early-June. At the time, it was commonly expected that Labour would achieve a modest victory. While Churchill was personally popular, the Conservatives were considered out of touch. The Labour program, which called for mass nationalization, was considered modern and revolutionary. The Beveridge Report had been a key issue in the campaign, with all parties pledging to fulfill it, though the ratio of public and private involvement differed party to party. All in all, Labour led opinion polls from anywhere between five to ten percent.

It was perhaps because of this that Churchill decided to take a gamble. One can never be sure how much the infamous ‘Red Dagger Speech’ was motivated by real world or electoral concerns, but both were equally possible. The dormant Anti-Communist feelings of the British electorate were awakened at news of the results in the Finnish and Slovakian elections. The reports of intimidation had stirred wrath that was just beginning to brew. Wallace’s Sovietphilia compounded this, which was by now being criticized by almost every paper that wasn’t avowedly of the Left. Churchill also knew that if he could make the election about foreign policy, he would be in with a better shot of winning. Secondly, as Eden recorded in his diary, Churchill had been mortified by Wallace’s conduct at Potsdam. He had decided that for the forseeable future, the United States could not be an ally and he had to depend only on his European allies. Thus, he crafted a speech that was to be the claxon call for Europe: Wake up! Thus, even though World War Two was still raging, even though the Nuremburg Trials were only heating up, Winston Churchill started the Cold War with the famous words that came from the House of Commons.

Winston Churchill’s Speech to the House of Commons, April 26th 1945

“From Vladivostok on the Pacific, to Stettin on the Baltic, a Red Dagger [1] stands poised over the heart of Europe. And should it plunge down, then all those great cities: Paris, Rome, Vienna, Athens, Budapest, yes even London herself … they shall all be crushed by foreign despotism after having so barely survived another. Once more, Europe finds herself alone against monstrous tyranny. But now, with the cost of appeasement, the cost of surrender and the cost of division now so plain to us, the people of Europe are united. They know it makes no sense to fight amongst themselves when there is bear on the hunt.”

[1] – TTL’s Iron Curtain, but since the new shape of Europe is more like a knife jutting out than a straight cut across, the symbols were changed.

The Destroyer of Worlds

The Death Spiral: Stalin 1941-1953 by Alexi Ivanovitch

Buoyed by Wallace’s grand promises, Stalin eagerly set out on his invasion of the Far East. Vasilevsky would get the starring role and become the new face of the Soviet military following Zhukov’s ‘martyrdom’. On February 24th 1945, guns were blazing across the Russian Pacific region, and more than a million men began pouring into Manchukuo. Japanese forces were materially and mathematically outmatched and resorted to their one ace once again – chemical weapons. Given the location of Unit 731, it was hardly surprising, but the average Russian soldier had never seen gas before as a combat weapon (the Nazis using almost all of its against their resisting countrymen and the West). As it was close to the end, the Japanese threw everything they could – including the bubonic plague. The only thing that served to do was make surrender as difficult for Japanese soldiers against the Russians as the Americans. Despite such a brief fight, it quickly descended into some of the most hateful fighting of the War. Many Japanese settlers even killed themselves and families (sometimes at IJA gunpoint). For their part, the Soviets looted and raped in various cities, so much so that the Chinese Communists sent a letter to Stalin demanding he keep the troops in line – a rare point of descent in a relationship that would grow even more lopsided in the future.

Of course, the Japanese had little chance, but observers were quite impressed with the speed of the Soviet advance. Within ten days, the Soviets had already struck into Korea. By the end of March, the Soviets had successfully taken Pusan, thus all but clearing out the Korea peninsula. They wasted no time in establishing Kim Il-Sung as the leader of this new, united, Communist Korea. Elections would be held at the end of the year, putting the Communists on top with results so preposterous that even Pravda refused to report the figures. It would be the birth of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and it would be one of the most avowedly Stalinist states in the whole world, united under virulent Anti-Japanese propaganda.

Perhaps even more impressive than the conquest of Manchuria and Korea was the ultimate march south towards Beijing. The Soviets, aided by the Chinese Communists under Mao, were able to launch an attack towards the Chinese capital by mid-April from what was once Manchukuo (though not after having stripped the region of almost two thirds of its heavy industry). By now, it was obvious not only that the Japanese weren’t putting up a great fight but that the War wasn’t ending anytime soon – thus allowing time for the Russians to take time to absorb their latest territories, killing political dissidents in the thousands. The alliance of Soviet and Chinese forces (now including Chiang’s forces if only in a mostly secondary role) were able to seize Beijing by the end of spring on May 28th. By now, Chiang had realised the scale of the potential disaster that awaited him. If this kept up, the Soviets could sweep to Hong Kong and install Mao as puppet leader. As a way of buying time, he announced to Moscow his intentions of forming a coalition government with Mao. The Communists would govern the north and the Kuomintang would mind the south. Foreign policy and other national matters would be decided as a group. Stalin was quite pleased with this, as he had been traditionally friendly to Chiang and saw the coalition government as an excellent way to increase Communist influence over the nation of nearly a billion souls. After some arm-twisting, Stalin convinced Mao to go with it. The invasion and subsequent advances by the Sino-Soviet armies were so successful that by the time the war was over the Japanese had lost all territory in China north of the Yellow River and a good deal of everything south of it. While this may sound like an incredible achievement, it wasn’t all that incredible in context of the Pacific War. With the Regia Marina’s help, Britain and France had re-occupied Indochina (the latter already dealing with the angry Viet Minh, being funded by Washington). Britain would retake Singapore by the end of the war too not to mention Italy’s own adventures in the region.

Extract from 'The Second World War' by Christopher Armlong

While the crushing defeats in China certainly had an effect, it was ultimately the Manhattan Project that would deliver the final blow. No matter what was going on in Asia, the Japanese Militarists were highly pleased that the Americans weren’t invading and considered it a validation of their strategy. The Americans were too afraid to invade and therefore they had to end the war – or so the thought went. In reality, the Americans had realised that an invasion was unacceptable and had to resort to a new method, which they bet the house on. Every resource available was flung into the Manhattan Project with a desperation bordering on zeal. If this didn’t make Japan quit, nothing would. Japan might have to starve to the last man woman and child. On the news that the first bomb was hours from falling from on Hiroshima on August 4th 1945, Wallace prayed that Japan would surrender. The explosion that struck Hiroshima killed 80,000 people in the blink of an eye and killed perhaps as many as 200,000 in the subsequent cancers and firestorms. While the Japanese leadership were baffled, they were not convinced the Americans had enough of the weapons on hand. While Churchill and Mussolini were shocked at the scope of the weapon, Stalin was unmoved, seeing as he knew about it in advance from Wallace. Then, days later on August 7th, another nuclear detonation struck Kokura, destroying the ancient city and killing another 60-80,000 people. [1]

Finally, at this point, the Emperor had enough. Yes, it appeared the Americans were indeed not going to invade. Instead, not one American would die and the Japanese as a people would go extinct thanks to these terrible new weapons. There had been some hopes Italy or the Soviets would help broker a decent peace, but with the former unmoved and the latter now devouring her Asian territory, it was obvious that the time had come. The use of the bombs was only the final straw. Japan was bombed, gassed and nuked – and now they couldn’t even lay a finger on the Americans. Hirohito ordered that Japan surrender. After a mercifully brief coup attempt, the word finally reached the Allied powers on August 13th: Japan would surrender unconditionally.

Extract from 'The Rise, Fall and Rise of Japan' by Mariya Takeuchi

Emperor Hirohito would give his famous announcement on Japanese radio on August 13th, the first time the Emperor had talked to the Japanese people. It would also be his last as Emperor. Under the terms formally signed on August 31st, Emperor Hirohito would abdicate (though he would be spared war criminal trials). Douglas MacArthur, the new occupational governor, was initially favourable to keeping Hirohito, but the renewed hatred of Japan in America following the use of biological weapons had led to Hirohito stepping down in favour of his fourteen year old son, Akihito. The role of the Emperor itself was reduced entirely to a ceremonial one, with all claims of divinity thoroughly renounced. Hirohito’s brother, Yasuhito, would become the regent. Wallace was favourable to abolishing the monarchy altogether, but MacArthur convinced him that it would help the Japanese adjust to a new era. The Showa (昭和) Era had come to an end, a time remembered with dread by many Japanese for how it ended. A new era under Akihito, the ‘Banwa (万和) Era’ had begun, which means ‘the Great Peace Era’ (ironic considering the number of wars that spring up around the world in the following years). The term had been deliberately chosen by the Americans to attempt to remove militarism from the Japanese psyche.

Of course, another excellent way militarism had been removed was by simply having the militarists dead. Many of the Japanese leadership had died following the surrender, most notably Hideaki Tojo, who shot himself in the heart. With Tojo’s death, the star of the subsequent Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal was General Shirō Ishii. He had attempted to buy off the Americans after himself and his organisation had fled Manchuria following the Soviet invasion. However, the American population was desperate for blood following the various outrages Japan had committed against them. Ishii and most of Unit 731’s higher-ranked members were given nooses. MacArthur managed to convince the defendants to keep the Emperor and his family’s name clean from the various wrong doings the Japanese had committed during the fighting. Yasuhito would prove an extremely pro-West regent and co-operated exceedingly well with MacArthur. He would particularly build a strong rapport with the British in the darker years of the Wallace Presidency. Hirohito himself would quietly retire to the Japanese countryside, writing his memoirs in 1960, apologising for allowing the militarists to take over Japan. He died in 1988, specifically denying a state funeral to preserve Japan's image abroad.

As MacArthur began the process of working out how to organize a state that had only known feudalism for thousands of years and attempted to turn it into a modern democracy, he had to swallow his anger when the news came in on September 30th. That was the day the first Soviet forces landed in Hokkaido. Quickly, a Soviet administration was formed on the island (with the historically marginalized Ainu population receiving a disproportionate share of power, owing to their more Russian-based ancestry). However, unlike Patton, MacArthur believed that it was best to work within the system to try and stop Wallace’s worst instincts. As he set about how to rebuild Japan, he would lay the seeds for a resurgent power.

[1] – The original target for Fat Man, but weather on the day forced the move to Nagasaki. As every drop of sweat was thrown into the Bomb this time around (rather than seeing it as just one potential solution) the bombs come a few days earlier.

Exit Stage Right

Extract from 'We Brave Few: Europe 1945-1949' by Abraham Ferguson

The most interesting thing about the Nuremburg Trials was that despite everything happening around it, all the diplomatic chaos, the actual cooperation between the Allied authorities never faltered. Even the representatives of the Italian and Soviet judiciaries got along well, despite the uproar between the two blocs outside. The world’s press was particularly drawn to Himmler, the head of the Nazi state during its even worse conclusion. With the Nazis kept under lock and key for so long, by the time they emerged for Trial that July many had sobered up in their life experiences. Their being trialed while the Japanese War went on merely an attempt to distract the Home Front from the lull of news.

Many expected merely a rubber stamp moment – almost victor’s justice if the defendants weren’t so obviously, horribly guilty. Instead, the trial unearthed entirely new information that stunned the world, including Allied leaders. The main moment was during the cross-examination of Roland Freisler by Associate Justice Robert Jackson. Freisler, as if expecting a reversal of the situation he would so often subject his victims to in court, was incredibly on edge and accidentally blurted out about a reference to the Wannsee Conference. Eichmann was visibly infuriated from across the dock. After stern interrogation, Freisler identified the members of the meeting. This started a hunt, turning the official documentation of Germany upside down in an attempt to find the minutes of the meeting. Roughly a month later, the minutes of Martin Luther were found – who had killed himself rather than be captured. While Eichmann had written his report in a way that minimized the directness of what it was talking about, there was no disguising the meaning. This was a document detailing nothing less than the absolute obliteration of millions of people. It’s discovery was heralded around the world as the ‘smoking gun’ of the case – despite the case already being slam-dunk before. “Luther, if you weren’t dead I’d kill you myself,” Eichmann was heard to growl.

Eichmann’s own trial was particularly noteworthy. In order to try and get away with it, he presented the image of a drab bureaucrat, lazily and halfheartedly paying attention to affairs. His involvement in the newly discovered Wannsee Conference had excited attention. However, he maintained his banal form, continuously explaining he was only doing his orders as a soldier and that he had no particular ill will towards Jews. Finally, the British prosecutor, Hartley Shawcross, came up with a way of breaking Eichmann down. Shawcross began by asking Eichmann about his role in the killing of Hungarian Jews who had failed to escape with the rest of their brethren to Italy. Eichmann merely explained that the Jews who had stayed were partisans who had to be routed out and defeated. Shawcross then asked about Trieste, but started to irritate Eichmann by asking him how he felt when he heard that “those people you call sub-human were able to resoundingly and totally defeat your so-called master race?” Eichmann started to growl his replies. Finally, Shawcross asked if Eichmann begged when the Jews came to capture him. Eichmann leapt up and angrily screamed, “I never begged to those disgusting vermin! I’ve done nothing wrong! The fact that we killed five million of them is the greatest thing we ever accomplished! I’ll go into my grave with a clean conscience that I did so much to remove those cockroaches from the face of the Earth!” It beggars belief that there were still more incredible moments of drama at the Trials.

One of those was the story of Joseph Goebbels. Goebbels was the only member of the Nazis that the prosecutors genuinely feared. Whenever he was brought up, he forcefully defended himself and his country while condemning any and all Allied infractions. His attempts to sow discord between the Soviets and Western powers were so good that news reports deliberately censored them to stop them getting spread around. He called Hiroshima and Kokura’s nuclear bombings “the greatest war crime in history with half a million wiped out by Jewish sorcery, and yet our bombings were supposedly immoral”. He asked how it was wrong to treat the Jews as enemies when they “created an army, slaughtering our men in the thousands after they had already surrendered”. He asked how the invasions by Germany of her neighbours were immoral when, “here stands the slaughterer of the Baltic states, the rapist of Greece and Serbia, the subjugator of the Indian Americans and enslaver of negroes, the tyrant of Ireland and the thief of Alsace-Lorraine”. Goebbels had developed a cult following among Pro-Nazi Germans who heard about his speeches and were thrilled that someone was giving as good as he got. The Allied authorities needed a way to kill Goebbels’s popularity before it took off again. At this rate, he could easily become a martyr for Neo-Nazism. The solution by Robert Jackson was as unconventional as it was genius.

When she came onto the stand, Goebbels was mortified. He thought he would never see her again. Her name was Lída Baarová, a Czech actress with whom he had an affair. The testimony itself was, in name at least, merely to give statements about Goebbels’s hatred of Jews. Of course, in reality, the plan was to destroy Goebbels’ image of a straight-line Aryan and have him be known as a ‘race-mixer’ with a Slav. Goebbels stayed quiet for the whole of the proceedings. He was informed the next day that his wife, Magda, had filed for divorce. Though he was certainly going to the noose, though his wife had indeed known about her husband’s doings, she was utterly humiliated enough to the extent that she wanted to get back at him. Goebbels was shattered for the rest of the proceedings and his newfound fame quickly died away.

But of course, there could be no greater star than Himmler himself. While most Nazis defended themselves at Nuremburg by saying they did what they did due to the Fürherprinzip, people were fascinated by what Himmler would say. Since he was the leader of the Third Reich, he couldn’t pretend to have had things out of his hands. His defence was as shocking as it was offensive: he argued he had continued the Holocaust out of ‘Self-defence’. Himmler shocked observers by proudly talking up the material challenges of the Holocaust and how they were able to overcome them by ‘German ingenuity’. He casually explained that the children had to die to ensure there would be no vengeance on German children and to ‘end the cycle of hatred’. He even said that there was a recorded speech on the matter from when he was in Posen, which was uncovered and played in the court to astonishment. His speeches ironically were quite helpful in historians's understanding of the Holocaust. Some people now believe Himmler’s strategy was to shock the judges so much that he would convince them that he was simply insane and get a lighter sentence. If that was the case, he ironically would be insane. Himmler’s terrifying performance at Nuremburg would put him above Hitler in most people’s minds for the more evil of the two Nazi leaders.

The sentences were announced on March 22nd 1946:

Bormann – Death by hanging (“He should be executed if only for being such a damned bore,” Goebbels was overheard saying).

Eichmann – Death by hanging

Frank – Death by hanging

Frick – Death by hanging

Freisler – Death by hanging (“SCUM! VERMIN!” he called out at his sentencing before being restrained.)

Funk – Life Imprisonment

Goebbels – Death by hanging (He just looked at his hands while the sentencing went on and had no visible reaction).

Hess – Life imprisonment

Himmler – Death by hanging (The President of the Tribunal, Lord Justice Colonel Sir Geoffrey Lawrence, almost spat the sentence due to the amount of utter hatred Himmler had generated for himself. Significant evidence exists that Himmler's noose was deliberately shortened to make the death as slow and painful as possible.)

Kaltenbrunner – Death by hanging

Ley – Death by hanging (his jail cell was closely watched for the entire proceeding due to a failed suicide attempt)

Muller – Death by hanging

Rosenberg – Death by hanging

Sauckel – Death by hanging

Schacht - Acquitted

Seyss-Inquart – Death by hanging

Streicher – Death by hanging

Von Leeb – Death by hanging (He would be the only member of the Wehrmacht at the Nuremburg Trials. Unlike many of its members, he was given the full, blunt force treatment for support for the Nazi government and his own involvement with the Einsatzruppen)

Von Neurath – 15 years imprisonment

Von Papen - Acquitted

Von Ribbentrop – Death by hanging

Von Shirach. – 20 years imprisonment

In response to the sentences, a Jewish vigil was held on Passover in Trieste on Saturday April 20th 1946 (ironically Hitler’s birthday). It was attended by leading members of the Anglo-Jewish army, Israel Zolli, David Ben-Gurion and Menachem Begin. It was a celebration of life after so much death. The vigil concluded with Ben-Gurion saying, “The only thing that we can take joy from is that with such wickedness so totally exposed for its evils, no one would dare do such a thing again.” It would be one of the most tragic and unfortunate quotations in history.
A Powerful Enemy

We Brave Few: Europe 1945-1949 by Abraham Ferguson

The fallout from Churchill’s ‘Red Dagger’ speech was immediate. Pravda would immediately condemn the speech as ‘Hitler-esque’ and even Clement Atlee of the Labour Party warned ‘we’re still in a war and the right honorable gentleman seems to be saber-rattling for another’. Mussolini let out an enthusiastic wave of admiration for the speech, calling it ‘a battle-cry for the freedom of Europe and the world’. Charles De Gaulle, worried about Communist unrest in France since he kicked them out of the Coalition government, kept quiet. That didn’t stop a wave of strikes and riots that paralysed France throughout mid 1945, leading it to be called ‘The Red Summer’. Perhaps most importantly, President Wallace outright condemned the speech. Wallace had only grown more thankful of the USSR due to their invasion of China and was outraged that a colonial power felt like it had any right to lecture the Soviets on democracy. Wallace condemned the speech as, ‘hypocritical, divisive and ungrateful’. Owing to Wallace’s current popularity in America, tied with traditional Anti-Colonial sentiments and years of propaganda excusing Stalin for his crimes, a narrow majority of Americans (according to Gallup) felt Wallace’s reaction was appropriate. This would be short-lived. In fact, evidence shows that the reaction changed almost immediately after the Americans announced a halt to the Lend-Lease program on May 3rd 1945. It was incorrectly believed to have been cancelled due to Churchill’s speech, when it had been in the works for a while by then.

Several days later, a now serially paranoid Stalin launched a response. It would be known as the ‘Eternal Enemy’ speech. In it, he drew upon Russian history and its many battles with Britain. He argued that Russia and Britain were pitted to be eternal enemies and that England ‘was soft on Germany, because they are one race’. The use of race in Stalin’s address would foreshadow imminent atrocities in the Soviet Bloc, but the short-term impact was also electric. The insult was read in British newspapers almost at the same time as Wallace’s condemnation and cutting of Lend-Lease. Many Labour members hoped this would sabotage Churchill at the polls and make him seem like a bad leader. Instead, the precise opposite happened. Churchill was seen as a visionary, Stalin like an eternal rival and Wallace like a conceited fool. It made the foreign policy situation of Britain seem so precarious that people wanted a war-time leader to help deal with the chaos. Further to that, the loss of the Lend-Lease program was a gift to the Tories as the new sense of tight pockets meant that Labour’s spending program now faced extreme scrutiny. The polls suddenly shifted in the Conservatives favour, leading to a dead heat by the time of election night.

On July 26th 1945, the UK held her first Parliamentary election since V.E. Day. The Tories were the largest individual party at 321 seats. The turnaround is considered one of the most remarkable in the history of British politics. Atlee resigned the leadership of the Labour Party and handed it over to Bevan. When combined with the eight seats of the National Liberals, this gave the Tories an extremely narrow majority, which Churchill hoped to buffer up with the occasional help of some of the smaller parties in the Commons. Among those were the ten seats belonging to the crippled remnant of the Liberal Party - and of course, the four seats of Mosley’s British Union of Fascists.

Extract from '“Our Misguided Friends”: Fascism in Democratic Nations' by Amy Long

Following a movement among almost all major political parties in the United Kingdom, Mosley finally decided to set out on an international expedition to find an ideology that he believed would take Britain to the next level. He arrived in Italy around the time of Mussolini’s attempted assassination. He was impressed by the character of Isaac Capri and believed that Fascism had played an important role in creating it. He would create the British Union of Fascists (BUF) in 1932 as a reflection of his belief in the superiority of the Italian system. Mosley’s movement would score prominent supporters in the British establishment, including members of both the Daily Mail and Mirror. However, after a series of incidents involving street rioting and clashes with Communists, support cooled considerably. The BUF seemed to stall in reaction, but it was soon to be hit with another blow.

In 1936, the party suffered a rupture. By now, the differences between Fascism and its close relative of Nazism were becoming apparent, notable the friendly relationship the former had to Jews and the utter disgust the latter had. The BUF had many of both schools, but Mosley would always sympathize with the Italian school of thought. During one party meeting, held not too long after the Nuremburg Laws (which both Italy and Mosley condemned) on February 19th 1936, Mosley launched a speech against Germany and called upon the nations of Europe to subdue it. In response, William Joyce (who would become infamous as ‘Lord Haw Haw’) took the stage and accused Mosley of being ‘A Jew-worshipping tool’. The insult led to a gigantic fight to break out in the hall between Nazis and Fascists. After that, some twenty percent of the party left with Joyce to form the ‘National Socialist League’, which aligned itself to the teachings of Hitler over Mussolini. The BUF was temporarily crippled. [1]

The war presented its own challenges. Despite its fight against the Nazis, the BUF was put under intense police scrutiny during the early stages of the War. Many suspected they would support Germany over Britain, especially if Italy declared her allegiance to the Pact. Mosley would give multiple speeches denouncing Nazism but would find it didn’t help relieve police pressure all that much. Mussolini’s opportunistic invasions in the Balkans further damaged their image. This changed upon Italy’s entry into the war. In a flash, the restrictions were lifted. The Fascists were considered a reliable ally in the war against Hitler. The party would quickly find itself back on its feet. Their fortunes multiplied following the stormy collapse in relations with the Soviets in the early stages of 1945. Combined with the newfound respect the Italians had earned, the Fascists suddenly started to become somewhat respected again. This led to their achieving four seats in the 1945 election at roughly seven percent of the vote. Many observers believe this cost Labour the election, as most Fascist voters came from traditionally Labour areas and deprived the party of enough votes to get the Conservatives many seats across the country they would not otherwise have got. Churchill, however, was quite insistent on never entering a coalition with Mosley. He argued for this in spite of his relationship with Mussolini, saying: “There are certain women for whom it’s best to enjoy company with exclusively outside the domestic sphere.” Nevertheless, the Churchill government would occasionally only get a bill passed with the BUF’s help (just as they had many a bill sunk by the same party).

Extract from '“We Weren’t All Like Him”: The German Resistance' by Peter Kahn

In contrast to the SS, who were routed out mercilessly by the Allied authorities (as well as West German), Wehrmacht members received considerable leniency. This included those who were considered to be of strong military potential, notably Werner Von Braun, who was quietly settled in Canada with most of the Peenemunde research team and notes. Already the trials of Wehrmacht soldiers in British, French and Italian occupation zones (and to a lesser extent American zones) were resulting in incidents that could safely be described as a mockery of justice. Even though the Wehrmacht itself was disbanded under the occupation (at least temporarily), her military leaders were let off with extreme leniency. This would ultimately allow the country to wield so much military potential in the years to come.

The Trial of Rommel was perhaps the controversial, if only for its public nature. Many Germans protested Rommel being tried at all, but Rommel gladly went along with it to ‘let the pages of history reverberate with my innocence’. The trial was mainly administered by the British, who not only secretly funded Rommel’s defence funds but pressured the leader of the prosecution to play gentle ‘owing to the sensitive political situation’. It certainly worked, as Rommel was acquitted on all charges on October 13th 1945 to rapturous applause both inside and outside the courtroom. Winston Churchill said, “We are blessed to know that Teutonic might may be used for the good of all mankind. The list of those great Germans – Goethe, Beethoven – they shall soon add Rommel to her pantheon.” Mussolini likewise gave public support to the general, and De Gaulle gave his endorsement, ‘as one general to another’.

The worrying effect, outside of the message that was being spread around to excuse Wehrmacht crimes (which would be the origin of the ‘Clean Wehrmacht’ myth), was what happened in the Kremlin. With Stalin’s already frayed mind mortified of the growing alliance between the Roman Alliance and democratic Europe, the thought of a militarily rejuvenated Germany was maddening. As a result, he did just that – he went mad.

Extract from 'The Great Terror' by Robert Conquest

Palmiro Togliatti had become known as a survivor. He had only survived the purge of Italian Communists in the late twenties owing to his being at the Internationale at the time. This allowed him to find asylum in Russia during the thirties and early forties as the head of the Italian Communist Party (CPI.) He was given pride of place in Moscow and was known as ‘The Best’ among his underground supporters in Italy. Stalin assumed that Fascism was simply a latter stage of the Marxist development cycle after Capitalism. For that reason, he believed Mussolini was on his last legs and foresaw the day when he would fall from grace and have Togliatti put in his place.

Yet a funny thing happened. By 1945, Mussolini was not only still in Italy, he was unassailable. Soviet spies estimated his popularity reached almost 90% after Japan’s surrender. Naturally, the idea of Communism ever arising in Italy by anything other than a full invasion had become utter fantasy. But not only that, Stalin’s paranoia had by now kicked into high gear. Not only did he not see Togliatti as a willing agent anymore, he now saw him as a security threat. After all, why was he the only one outside of Italy at the time of the obliteration of the Communist Party? Stalin’s mind came to a conclusion befitting his new status of a maniac: he decided Togliatti had been Mussolini’s spy all along. Naturally, his minions sycophantically agreed with Stalin’s conclusion and on November 7th 1945, Togliatti was torn from his bed by the NKVD and tortured for three days and nights. He had already confessed his non-existent crimes on the first day.

On November 30th, Togliatti and his associates (including his cleaner) were placed on public trial for two and a half hours before being sentenced to death. Perhaps most incredibly, Togliatti stood up and began an impassioned, unscripted rant. The most incredible part about it was that it wasn’t condemning Stalin. It was praising him. “Thank you Comrade Stalin! Thank you from the bottom of my heart for giving me the punishment I deserve! I am so happy you decided to slay all my associates as well!” By the end of the day, all were dead, shot in the head. The guard who killed Togliatti would report that the Italian was crying tears of joy as his execution approached. Regardless of the perverted insanity of the Togliatti Trial, the more immediate effect was the extinction of the underground Communist movement in Italy. Italian secret police recorded that even as the Cold War stepped up, the expected increase in Communist subversion within Italy never came. This was due to the total collapse in morale owing to the indomitable leader of the Communists having met an early grave.

Extract from 'Patton Vs. Wallace' by Israel Denowitz

Perhaps the most infamous rivalry in American political history began on March 3rd 1945. That was the day the New York Times reported that Patton was publicly condemning the order to pull American forces out of Berlin. ‘I didn’t lead these boys through Hell and back so a bunch of Communists could make camp on their graves’. ` The words shocked America, especially due to Wallace’s popularity at the time and the then prevalent view that regardless of all else, the President was the President and had to be obeyed. While both of these beliefs seem antiquated now, recent Gallup polls proved a slightly larger percentage of Americans sympathized with Wallace. While most agreed with Patton, most also agreed that he went too far in his criticism.

Wallace read the news and was enraged that ‘that crazy son of a bitch wants to start a Third World War, I know it!’ Eisenhower, despite privately agreeing with Patton, offered to sack the general himself in a call to Wallace. In a heat of passion, Wallace said ‘no’. He said he would order Patton back to the Oval Office itself just to dismiss him. He further said that if Patton did anything to resist this command, he would be court-martialed. Eisenhower attempted to mediate the situation between his friend and Commander and Chief, but to no avail. Even General Douglas MacArthur, though likewise agreeing with Patton, encouraged Patton to stay within the system to try and fight Wallace’s Soviet-phillia from a position of power. Privately, Patton would go as far as to call Wallace ‘A gutless son of a bitch’ and said he would rather “spit on the flag than do what he wants, because only one will hurt that flag forever.” At the same time, he would go to Washington with pride, just to tell Wallace what he thought of him.

The meeting on March 20th 1945 at the White House between Wallace and Patton has since entered legend, made all the more mysterious because neither ever commented on what the other had said. While the 1970 movie starring George C. Scott certainly played up the scene to the point of physical violence, the best testimony highly implies a serious confrontation. The closest thing we ever got to a full transcript of the clash was from Harry Truman’s testimony in 1949.

Excerpt from Harry Truman’s Testimony to the Senate Subcommittee on Communist Infiltration in America, August 12th 1949

Joseph McCarthy: ”Okay, Mister Truman, now tell us the truth. What do you know about what happened between General Patton and Wallace in their White House meeting on March 20th 1945?”

Harry Truman: (Weakly shrugging) “It had been built up for a while but I didn’t think anything of it. I was just going about my day and then I was outside the door of the Oval Office. I was walking down the hall – I must have missed the first half. I just remember this incredible sound coming from the Office. No one else was there – Wallace had ordered everyone away, including the bodyguards because of course he didn’t want the contents of the meeting to be well known.”

McCarthy: “I’m sure he didn’t.”

(Courtroom laughs, Truman laughs nervously)

McCarthy: “Come on, what did he say?”

Truman: “I put my ear to the door. I heard the President – er, Wallace – accuse General Patton of wanting American soldiers to die in the hundreds of thousands to soothe his own ego. General Patton replied he only wanted the hundreds of thousands of American soldiers who had already died not to have their graves, uh, defecated on, if you’ll pardon the obvious substitute …”

(Courtroom erupts in cheers, Truman awkwardly claps along)

McCarthy: “And then what happened?”

Truman: “Well, I heard something. It sounded like the general was in the middle of saying something when I heard something and he suddenly stopped. A few seconds later I heard Wallace mutter something in a sound I’d never heard him speak in before. It was a sound of almost demonic intensity. When I heard footsteps coming towards the door I jumped back and saw Patton blasting through the door. He was red, obviously from the shouting …”

McCarthy: “That wasn’t the only red in that room.”

(Courtroom erupts in cheers, Truman awkwardly claps along)

Truman: “Like I said, Patton’s face was red from the shouting but I also noticed that he was a little more red on one cheek. That was when I put one and two together and realised that Wallace had slapped Patton. That didn’t seem to faze him. Patton went out of the door, faced Wallace and said, “I don’t care that you slapped me in the face. But I swear by Almighty God I will make you pay for slapping the faces of the men who died for this country.”

(Courtroom erupts in cheers, Truman awkwardly claps along)

[1] As a consequence, the Battle of Cable Street never happens


We Brave Few: Europe 1945-1949 by Abraham Ferguson

From the Potsdam Conference on, the leaders of Non-Communist Europe knew that if they were able to restore the traditional Anti-Communist spirit of America back to full force and establish it in the White House, the strategic situation would change immensely. At the moment, without Nuclear Weapons, most military leaders in Britain, France and Italy concluded that at best a stalemate would ensue if the Cold War went hot. For that reason, a gigantic intelligence campaign was begun by all three powers within the United States, working to bolster Anti-Communist sentiment wherever they could find it.

Mussolini was perhaps the most brazen about it, as was to be expected. In September, he began the ‘Million Letter Campaign’, which encouraged all Italians who had family in America to write there and encourage them to support ‘Pro-Italy, Pro-Europe’ positions at the ballot box. New York and New Jersey were soon beset by countless numbers of letters urging Italian-American cooperation. Balbo offered to fly into New York but Wallace refused entry. Mussolini pressured the Vatican to increase the volume of its Anti-Communist statements to help bolster Anti-Communism among Catholic Americans, which it readily did. This led to the Decree Against Communism in October 1945, which stated that membership of Communist organisations would be considered an excommunicable offence (Mussolini had wanted it extended to merely voting for or supporting Communists but this was considered to likely to start backlash). The pews across Catholic Cathedrals across the world (and particularly in America) warned of the imminent danger of Communism and its designs on the Holy See itself. In Poland, the declaration was well-received by the populace, who took to jeering Soviet troops in the streets. The last major thing Mussolini did, although it would still leave a gigantic impact, was opening up Italy to foreign investment from the democracies. In part, this was due to the realisation that self-reliance in the face of Soviet hegemony was nonsensical and secondly it was to make American investors want good ties with Italy to continue doing business He advertised Rome, Milan, Turin and a host of other locations as borderline intact and ready for business with the outside world. Soon everyone from Ford to Coca Cola was interested in being able to do business in a country many Americans considered their motherland.

Furthermore, under pressure from Britain and France, Mussolini agreed to somewhat slacken the intensity of his dictatorship. While the Left faced equal levels of repression as before (and in many cases worse), Catholic traditionalists, Monarchists and Classical Liberals were allowed some levels of expression that did not exist before. Among the notable dissidents who were given newfound freedom was Alcide De Gasperi, a right-wing politician who had been persecuted since the rise of Fascism. He was finally allowed the freedom to travel Italy after his exile in the Vatican. In the spirit of the new era, Giovannino Guareschi, satirizing life in Italy, published a comic. It revolved around the stormy relationship between Don Camillo, a traditionalist priest absolutely and rigidly tied to the old ways of doing things, and Peppone, the futurist, Fascist mayor of the town who is obsessed with the new and the modern. While they conflict regularly, when it comes to doing what it is right (often involving some way of stamping out Communism) they work together. The comic was extremely light in its criticism of Fascism (indeed not a word of Mussolini, and it was implied he was the happy medium between the characters) but was still a groundbreaking work that helped sell Italy to foreign audiences as a country that was miles apart from the despotic blackness of the Soviet Union. At the same time, the newfound freedom afforded to the Non-Fascist Right did little to shift the political situation. Mussolini and Fascism in general were extremely popular in Italy, as they were seen as having avenged Versailles and put Italy in the pantheon of global kings.

The British, however, had their own ideas. The files have only recently been released, but the work was astonishing nonetheless. It seems that shortly after the Potsdam Conference, a top-secret intelligence program was launched called Operation Lazarus. It was an astonishingly vast operation designed to support the Anti-Communist elements of American society and injure Pro-Soviet ones. Perhaps even more incredibly, they had a number of high level contacts within multiple sectors of American military intelligence, whether it was the OSS (soon to be CIA), the FBI, even the police forces in the major cities. Agents did everything from seducing socialites into funding Anti-Communist drives, blackmailing other socialites to stop them funding Pro-Communist drives and often finding themselves trying to uproot and uncover Soviet spies working right next door to them. Given that Ian Fleming was a member of this Operation (though his precise role is unknown) it seems likely that many of the James Bond novels he wrote were inspired by his time in America.

Extract from 'Patton Vs. Wallace' by Israel Denowitz

Nicholas Roerich was a Russian mystic and hypnotist. His spiritual works had earned him multiple Novel Peace Prize nominations, and he even managed to get the United States and most of Latin America to sign the Roerich Pact in 1935, which stated that it was more important to preserve culture than use it for military purpose. In 1934-35, the Department for Agriculture (headed by Wallace) sponsored an expedition led by Roerich to East Asia. The two continued to correspond and Wallace outright supported many of Roerich’s more esoteric ideas. He was even fascinated in the idea of creating a modern Shangri-La somewhere in Asia called ‘The Sacred Union of the East’. Roerich stated that he got this idea from entities from other planets to show them how to create an ideal society. When the plans collapsed, the Roosevelt Administration attempted to pretend nothing had happened. Unfortunately, the letters leaked, becoming known as ‘The Guru Letters’. While Americans had already disagreed with much of his policy and went along with it due to his wartime success, October 23rd 1945 would be the day that Americans truly began to turn on Wallace. With the War over, Republican strategists now felt no patriotic duty to silence with respect to the infamous letters that had fallen into their possession. The New York Times would republish the bizarre and uncomfortable transcripts and Americans gawked in wonder at what the leader of the free world supposedly believed.

The fallout was immediate and brutal. Synagogues, cathedrals and churches of all denominations let out a torrent of condemnation of ‘the Paganism at the heart of our government’. In the South it was met with particular revulsion, with W.A. Criswell going as far as to call Wallace ‘a Satanist’ owing to his interest in mysticism. Billy Graham declared Wallace had ‘split bread with a man the Old Testament told us to put to death!’ Even many traditionally black churches condemned the revelations. As a result, Wallace’s approval ratings crashed to the mid thirties by the middle of November. That this had already happened in the first year of his term was already a massive indication that Wallace would not win another term.

On October 28th, Wallace announced a Cabinet re-shuffle owing to the War having come to a conclusion and the need to create a peacetime strategy. In reality, it was due to multiple members of the Cabinet demanding to resign lest they be tied Wallace’s baffling letters. Wallace appreciated their concerns but managed, for the good of the government, to allow a reshuffle to escape instead. Thankfully, they agreed and Wallace was spared an even bigger embarrassment. Of course, an embarrassment even greater than the Guru Letters was only a month away.

American newsreel report on the arrest of Congressman Samuel Dickstein, November 24th 1945

“In news that has shocked America, Congressman Samuel Dickstein of the 19th District of New York was today arrested by the FBI under suspicion of having spied for the Soviet Union against the very nation he swore to protect. Investigators have stated that a series of contacts led them to the end of the chain, at which it is said the final link was a man deep in the heart of power. Dickstein is currently being investigated to determine the validity of these charges. Whether it be true or not, one thing’s for sure: if we can’t trust our own Congressmen, who can we trust?”

Extract from 'The Red and the Dead: How the Wallace Presidency Changed America' by Ben Rushmore

[Samuel] Dickstein was so ravenous and greedy his KGB handlers codenamed him ‘CROOK’. While it was naturally a gigantic score to have an agent in the heart of Congress literally offering himself to spy for the Soviet Union, Dickstein soon proved anything but a useful asset. Whatever materials he provided were of little help and his price-tags were astronomical. Ultimately, he was seen as someone better used for speeches in Congress to further Soviet agendas. For example, he would attack the Dies Committee as ‘Red-baiting’ and turned his back on the House of Un-American Activities (Which he had once played a keen part in against Fascist sympathizers in America). Again, when this was done, the NKVD let him go and was thankful to have seen the last of him.

However, the story continued. A certain Jewish bureaucrat within the Soviet intelligence services by the name of Vasily Abramovich (not his real name but one used for protection) apparently overheard the talk about Dickstein, joking about his codename. He had considered escaping the Soviet Union due to his revulsion of the crackdown on Zionist groups as well as the escalating political repression that was sweeping over Russia. He also felt like he needed to hand over something big, or the British (his preferred option) would never let him out. Thus, on a cold September night in 1945, Abramovich pleaded his way into the British Embassy in his most broken English. He told the British that Dickstein was at least at one point a Soviet agent. Many in the embassy laughed and demanded he get thrown back outside. That was when a file was pulled out on ‘CROOK’. While ‘CROOK’ was never officially identified in the documents, it certainly seemed to be an important individual.

As a result, a sting was arranged in New York under the auspices of Operation Lazarus. British agents pretending to be the NKVD called up Dickstein and pleaded for help to convince America to stay on the sidelines in the emerging Cold War. Dickstein initially refused, owing to his intention to resign at the end of the year and become a judge. But when the price of $5000 was mentioned, ‘he could almost be heard salivating over the phone’ said one observer. The fake NKVD agents then said they’d double the payment if Dickstein provided information on the state of the American military. To say Dickstein was enthusiastic was an understatement and he readily agreed to meet with an NKVD representative the next week at a quiet roadside stop. On the night of November 23rd, he waited patiently for a lot of money to come his way, but it never came. The only thing that came his way was a legion of FBI agents who caught him with confidential material. On top of information about the people trafficking network he had set up (provided to the FBI by proxies of British Intelligence), the FBI now had an ironclad case.

The reaction to Dickstein’s arrest could only be described as Pandemonium.




These were just three contemporary newspaper headlines. As one New York housewife’s diary from the time put it, ‘Everyone in town is walking around with a blank look on their face with just a little bit of terror etched in. We can’t believe it. Were we blind? Were we stupid? If we couldn’t spot that, what else haven’t we found out yet? Was Dickstein as far as it goes? I really hope it is. Because if it isn’t, then I don’t want to imagine the real worst case scenario is. If our own Congressmen were Communists under our nose the whole time, then who’s to say our neighbors aren’t? Our husbands aren’t? Our children aren’t?’ Purchases of firearms skyrocketed, as people feared the government suddenly turning on its citizens and implementing Communism before anyone was ready to resist. Alchohol consumption went up and a statistically demonstrable increase in diagnosed paranoia was recorded by American medical professionals. By now, no one was talking about 'Uncle Joe' anymore.

Perhaps most important to take into account was Dickstein’s role in the McCormick-Dickstein Committee which investigated the supposed ‘Business Plot’ of 1933. General Smedley Butler had alleged that representatives of top businessmen in America had asked him to launch a coup against Roosevelt but he had betrayed them and turned them in. The Committee concluded the Plot really happened, though the media raised an eyebrow after initial excitement. The news of Dickstein’s arrest now gave two sides to the story. The first, readily believed across the right, was that this was proof the Business Plot never happened and that it was a ploy to support Roosevelt’s Presidency. The second option was that the Business Plotters had got back at Dickstein for daring to fight them. While this view was dangerous in that it excused Dickstein for his crimes, this view also had one great supporter: President Henry Wallace.

The Rats

The Dark Decade: America in the 40s by Wendy Walters

Despite being locked in the middle of passing the GI Bill, which would eventually get through and prove a great boon to helping servicemen find jobs and security, Wallace was forced to spend precious time and political capital trying to rebuild his cabinet after the fallout of the Guru Letters. Practically the only person who didn’t voice criticism to Wallace over the affair was Truman and only because, in Truman’s words ‘we needed someone to replace Wallace and I was scared Wallace would handpick him.’ Firstly, some of the roles would be outright abolished, notably ‘Secretary of War’, which became the first ‘Secretary of Defence’ role in the United States. This would be presided over by Robert Patterson, who had become well known for his encouraging more participation from Black American soldiers in the War. Others would keep their jobs, such as Henry Morgenthau as Treasury Secretary, whom Wallace liked owing to their mutual, unflinching hatred of Fascism. Harry Dexter White was appointed as Morgenthau’s Deputy owing to their close relationship.

The most notable appointment came as a result of outrage by Secretary of State Edward Stettinius Jr. He was angry over the Guru Letters and Wallace didn’t trust a businessman running things in the highest reaches of the White House. Other names were thrown around, but one name was lobbied fairly aggressively. He had done a lot of great work with the United Nations, helping set up the charter and was well-liked internationally. He was considered a good candidate by everyone who heard Wallace’s reasoning. Thus, it was decided: Alger Hiss would be the next Secretary of State.

Overall, the new cabinet was more left wing than the one Wallace had inherited, but not radically so. It seemed reasonably sane at the time. Morgenthau’s re-appointment was the main bone of contention, as Morgenthau’s leaked plan calling for Germany to be de-industrialized had stiffened resistance in the last days of the war. Ultimately, Morgenthau was chosen expressly because Wallace did not want to radically improve relations with Germany. He did not want to drag America into another conflict, especially when he saw the new one taking shape in Europe to be between moral grey zones. He regarded Hitlerism as evil personified, but saw a ‘Colonial-Fascist’ alliance as little better than any Communist alliance. He ordered his new Secretary of State to maintain friendly relations with the Soviet Union to avoid having America brought into another war. Alger Hiss would be quite good at this job, though not for the reasons Wallace suspected.

Interview of Storm Thurmond for PBS’s ‘The Wallace Years’ (1984)

Interviewer: “Why did you and your associates decide to form your own political party?”

Thurmond: “The main reason was unquestionably Dickstein and Wallace’s total aversion to the truth. He tried to pretend this was all a bunch of hoo-haw coming from a gaggle of right-wing extremists and all that. But we knew better. We knew the Northern section of the Democrats had totally lost that connection with the ordinary American. Your everyday American was worried about Communism. We had a Red making the laws! You’d think we’d be trying to fix that but Wallace was pretending that nothing was even happening! He was talking about all these extreme policies when it came to taxation and taking property. Now, that environment was tailor-made to let thousands of Commies come crawling in the woodworks and pollute the party we’d grown up in and loved. But no one was going to kick them out! So we had to make a stand. We had to set up a party that said ‘‘Zero Communists’ are still too many!’

Extract from 'Freedom is Slavery: The Dark History of a Party', by Sam Weathers

Thurmond and others would insist that the formation of the Freedom Party was due to the fallout over the Dickstein case. In fact, both he and other prominent segregationists called Wallace in the days after the call to reiterate their support after Dickstein’s arrest. The rumour mills did not churn with news that the Southerners were going to defect any more than before. Dickstein may have been another straw on the camel’s back, but it is hard to argue it was the main event. However, another hypothesis is much more likely. On January 8th 1946, Wallace gave an executive order desegregating the army. This let off an angry fire of wrath from the southerners, who saw it as a blow to the heart of segregation and their local way of life. Wallace did little favors for his position, saying that ‘this was only the first step in the long but necessary road to liberating millions of our fellow Americans from daily indignity’. The Republicans supported Wallace (with even Patton concurring that it was a good move) and the Southern delegation of the Democrat Party now feared Civil Rights becoming the official position of the Democrat Party. When Wallace was asked by reporters on January 15th if Civil Rights would be on the platform in 1948, he said ‘I don’t know, but if it isn’t it won’t be for my lack of trying’.

At this, the southern delegation had enough. They were still convinced that Wallace was only a fool, and that he would invite disaster on the South as totally as he had already hurt America’s international reputation. A meeting of representatives for the Dixiecrats was convened in a Washington hotel room on January 19th 1946 to discuss what to do. Some wanted a separate Southern presidential campaign only, but to generally stick to the Democrat whip. Others just wanted to hold the line from inside the Democrat party, feeling Wallace was only going to be a temporary phenomenon and they would take over thereafter. Ultimately, Storm Thurmond finally convinced the majority of attendees that Wallace’s ascension (alongside the influx of far-left Democrat members who came in during his reign to bolster support) meant certain long-term doom for the Democrats. For that reason, he argued, the best plan was to bail out while they could and resist at will from the safety of their own bench.

For the new party, a name had to be chosen. Some simply wanted ‘The State’s Rights Democratic Party’ or ‘The Dixiecrats’, but it was successfully argued that there had to be a break from the Democratic legacy, which was already getting tainted by Wallace. Ultimately, a simple name was given in its stead: ‘Freedom’, or ‘The American Freedom Party’. The foundation of the party was Social Conservatism through and through, defending segregation, anti race-mixing laws and the traditional model of society. At the same time, they had broadly interventionist views on the economy, though respecting private property. This was all known to Wallace, who was being informed by sympathetic members of the Southern Caucus what was going on … but he didn’t care. As far as he was concerned, he didn’t want to share the same bathwater with the Dixiecrats and was glad to see them go. He only wished that every one of them defected and he would never have to worry about their influence in the Democrat Party again. When word reached him of the Press Conference that Thurmond, James Eastland and Benjamin Travis Lanely headed, announcing the formation of the American Freedom Party, he thought it was ‘the best news I’ve heard in a whole!’ Despite losing two governorships, five senators and roughly a dozen members of the House (not to mention the defections in the months to come), Wallace refused to see the danger of his support of Civil Rights.

Speech by Storm Thurmond at the announcement of the American Freedom Party, February 22nd 1946

“Let us be clear: when we say ‘freedom’ we mean the right of New York not to have segregation as much as South Carolina’s right to do. That’s what ‘freedom’ and ‘state’s rights’ means to us. It means letting people do what they want. But in the modern Democratic Party, it appears that viewpoint isn’t popular anymore. It appears that they consider us abominable, evil, immoral to hold the views we’ve had for generations in circumstances they’ve never had to deal with. At the same time, they’ll let any two-bit Commie stroll in and they’ll put him right to the heart of Washington. If the Democrat Party is more comfortable with Communists than the working men and women all across this nation … If it’s more comfortable with Samuel Dickstein than Robert E. Lee … If it’s more comfortable with people working to destroy America than the people who love it … then it’s clear and sad to say that the Democrat Party is no longer party for any true American.”

Extract from 'The Great Terror' by Robert Conquest

With the death of Togliatti, a new wave of persecution and terror began to grip the Soviet Union and even her new territories. Perhaps the one that suffered the most was Finland. As it had been fully incorporated, her internal opposition was totally exposed to the death grip of the NKVD. The NKVD wasted no time in rounding up anyone suspected of having been members of right-wing parties (even leftists who were right-wing at one stage in their past). Similar actions were taken against prominent policemen and teachers almost everywhere that could be found. All in all, nearly ten percent of Helsinki was arrested in the space of two days in January 1946, with not even half of the total ever returning home from Siberia. Similar demographics were found all across Finland. Carl Gustav Mannerheim, who was in a Helsinki jail cell, was found shot dead. The guards stated he had tried to escape, but given that he was found in a locked cell, it seems unlikely there was any need to shoot him. Mannerheim would become a martyr for Finns, especially among the growing refugee population in Sweden. It is estimated that nearly five hundred thousand Finns would successfully flee the country during the Cold War, a far more successful count than in East Germany. Some suggest this was due to attempts by Russian authorities to encourage the Finns to leave and open Finland up to demographic overthrow. Given the ultimate history of the region, this cannot be entirely dismissed.

In East Germany, the local population received the blunt instruments of Soviet hatred. Field Marshall Chuikov was put in charge of the occupation and had no time to make friends among the local population. With the average Russian feeling they had been robbed of the glory of taking Berlin, they treated the locals with unwavering disdain. Stalin outright encouraged the poor treatment of the locals as a way of letting the soldiers ‘blow off righteous steam’. One NKVD commander would infamously tell his comrades upon their arrival in East Berlin, “We are not occupying people. We are keeping the rodents in check’. It’s estimated that anywhere from 25%-50% of East German women between 18-35 were raped between June 1945 when the Soviets began to occupy their regions of Germany and 1948 when the necessities of war forced the Soviets to try and win the local population over. In what was almost an inverse of the Western situation, both SS and Wehrmacht soldiers were rooted out and given merciless sentences. This included Wehrmacht soldiers who didn’t even see combat against Russians and spent their whole time during the war fighting the Nazis. A particularly loathsome practice emerged where ex-Wehrmacht soldiers were arrested on non-existent charges and their sisters, girlfriends and wives were blackmailed into sex by Soviet commanders to save them (which even then was not always successful). When the extent of the rape became known to Soviet leaders, pamphlets were passed out to Soviet troops demanding they ‘never defile themselves with Germans’. These stories were used by Joseph McCarthy on the campaign trail in 1946 and 1948 to slam Wallace’s handing America’s Berlin zone to the Soviets – it proved devastatingly successful.

In Poland, however, the mood was different. The well-armed Polish population was (for the time) safe from Soviet brutality. However, the mood was appallingly tense. It was not uncommon for Polish and Soviet troops to stare directly across the road from each other. Polish citizens refused to converse with Soviets, fearing being drawn into a disaster. The newspapers, still free, made frequent mockery of the unloved, unwanted Soviet soldier and his plight in Poland. Soviet soldiers found themselves locked up in their barracks, day and night with nothing to do. Even many prostitutes refused business with them as they were seen as occupiers, even though they were at the moment benign. The elections of 1946 confirmed the pattern, with the Communists receiving less than ten percent of the vote, and the Polish People’s Party (a right-wing organisation) taking the plurality to go into a coalition with the Polish Socialist Party. While it may seem strange that these two groups would join together, their platform was actually broadly united: they both wanted the Soviets out of Poland. With the Soviet atrocities against her conquered territories now obvious and overwhelming, they believed that keeping Russian troops in Poland was madness. Their plan would be to buy out the Soviets and neutralize their country like Hungary and Romania.

While this was going on, the tense situation in Czechoslovakia grew worse still. While Slovakia was occupied by the Soviets (and living in day and night terror due to the NKVD’s purge of political opposition) a total open border remained open to Czechia. The Czechoslovakian Communists, the best performing Communist party at the polls in Europe pleaded with Stalin to calm the terror, as it was killing their popularity throughout the region. Stalin refused, with Klement Gottwald having to reluctantly support the party line that there was a ‘Pro-Tiso conspiracy’ within Slovakia that had to be dealt with. This broadly meant an Anti-Catholic purge as vengeance against the Papal edict that Communism was now an excommunicable offence. With Poland off limits, the Slovakian Church felt the full brunt of Russian efforts. It’s estimated that some ninety percent of Catholic priests in Slovakia were arrested for at least some length of time in 1946/1946 to ‘confirm their loyalties’. Of those ninety, more than half would never speak from a pulpit again. Some twenty percent were never seen again. With this, organised resistance to Communism in Czechia began to grow, culminating in the Brotherhood March, a meeting of nearly two hundred thousand Czechs and Slovaks in the centre of Prague to condemn Communist oppression in Slovakia. Jan Masaryk would deliver the final speech declaring, ‘We don’t want them in Czechia, in Slovakia, or anywhere!’ This would set off the chain of events that were soon to unfold in the unfortunate country of Czechoslovakia.

Elsewhere, in Asia, life in Hokkaido proved particularly harsh. Japan had an extremely class-based society, with a language highly structured based on social standing. As such, the locals proved particularly resistant to Communism. Of course, the Russians did little favors for themselves. They didn’t even call it ‘The People’s Republic of Japan’ but ‘The People’s Republic of Hokkaido’, owing to the overwhelming presence of Ainu in the government. In direct but quiet defiance of Wallace’s orders, active Communists were rooted out of the Japanese government by MacArthur. They were subsequently ‘pointed’, to use his words, in the direction of Communist rule. These people often found themselves under Communist heel in Hokkaido owing to Ainu grievance. In many cases, the Soviet rulers had taken a lesson from the British and actively encouraged the visibility of the Ainu to put the anger for the actions on them as well as making sure the Ainu were dependent on Russia for their survival. The Yakuza, which had swollen to the ratio of having one member for every two policeman by the end of the war, proved surprisingly friendly to American interests in Japan. They were an extremely traditionalist organisation (not to mention one with a taste for materialism). As such, American planners used Yakuza members in Hokkaido to sabotage Communists initiatives and gather intel in return for a hands off attitude from the authorities when it came to ‘bloodless activity’ (such as gambling and prostitution, though these often included violence). The Yakuza quickly became the boogeyman of Hokkaido’s society and endless ‘Anti-Yakuza’ programs sprang up (it’s estimated some eight percent of Hokkaido was murdered by the Communist government with a further twenty-five percent fleeing). Of course, these were often simple ways to justify persecution and murder by the state. Shinto shrines in particular were burned down with astonishing intensity to try and destroy Japanese tradition on the island. This led to a gigantic growth in Japanese nationalism on both sides of the strait and a resolute Anti-Communist spirit to unshakably grasp the Japanese heart.

Extract from 'We Brave Few: Europe 1945-1949' by Abraham Ferguson

The first war on the European Continent following World War Two had had her seeds sown long before. Serbia, after having been devastated in the Third Balkan War, had been left to rot under the misrule of Milan Nedić. His state was so unstable that it could not even drum up international support to regain her Hungarian territories that were free for the taking following Hungary’s fall. He commanded no loyalty among his subjects, or even love among the Roman Alliance, who treated him with disdain. His state suffered from a gigantic influx of Serbian migrants who had been expelled (mostly from Croatia) into the already shattered remnants of the core country. Needless to say, aid for reconstruction was not forthcoming. Food riots rocked Belgrade in 1943 and 1944, with the ruling regime having no support among any segment of the population.

In this environment, a guerilla war was almost inevitable. By far the largest was under the command of Josip Tito, a Communist who received covert funding and support from Moscow. But what made Tito especially popular was his strident Serbian nationalism. While he was initially a strong believer in the Yugoslav state as a concept, having seen the murder of hundreds by the Ustashe and the indifference with which the Croatian population greeted them, he decided it was a lost cause. He decided that he was at the very least going to defend Serbia from the humiliation the Fascists had imposed upon it. To first do that, he needed to overthrow Nedić. This task proved astonishingly easy. Despite Nedić’s position being guaranteed in the peace treaty with the Fascists, he received no support from any quarter. Indeed, some historians suggest that he was deliberately set up to fail so that the Fascists had an excuse to come back in again and flatten Serbia as many times as needed. By the end of 1945, it was estimated some 80% of Serbian territory was outside Belgrade’s control. Defections were so common that whole units would sometimes go out into the forests and never come back, only for them all to write letters home saying they had joined Tito.

On February 2nd 1946, Tito planned his final operation – a full-on attack on Belgrade. Nedić had pleaded for reinforcements the prior week from the Roman Alliance but was dismissed. There were many reasons, notably the belief that defending Serbia was beneath the Roman Alliance, that Tito’s threat was exaggerated and that there was plenty of time to act. Instead, the attack was so sudden, overwhelming and intense that Parliament was seized by the end of the day, with the People’s Republic of Serbia declared. What had happened was that the regime’s soldiers mostly defected at the first sign of trouble, there was no ideological resistance to Tito anywhere in the population because even the right was desperate for a national liberator and the population overwhelmingly supported Tito as well. Nedić was arrested, given a court martial lasting forty minutes and shot to the displeasure of almost no one. The only displeasure the Roman Alliance felt was that now they had a Communist nation snuggled up against it. Pavelić relished the opportunity for further punishment of the Serbians, saying, ‘we’ll turn Belgrade into a field with rubble instead of soil’. There is some suggestion among historians that Pavelić outright wanted to genocide the Serbian population. Bulgaria and Italy were likewise readying their troops for invasion … until a message came through from Moscow on the morning of February 3rd. It stated that any invasion of Serbia by the Roman Alliance would be considered an act of war against the Soviet Union.

Et tu?

Extract from 'We Brave Few: Europe 1945-1949' by Abraham Ferguson

The ultimatum from Stalin on Serbia caused frantic back and forth on all sides in the Roman Alliance. Pavelić was adamant that Serbia had to be dealt with while Bulgaria and Italy both stressed the need for negotiations and caution. This was in part due to the fact both Bulgaria and Italian troops in Austria would be the first to feel the Soviet onslaught while Croatia was relatively safe behind the protective wall of Hungary. Turkey, Portugal and Spain were even more adamant on avoiding war, remembering their being dragged into the last one and not too fondly. After calls between Rome, Moscow and London, an emergency meeting was set up in Bucharest for February 27th. Representatives of the Roman Alliance, France, Britain, the Soviets and Tito’s government were there. Notably, the collaborationist government’s few leading figures who escaped abroad were not even invited.

Mussolini was told right off the bat from Churchill that Britain was not going to join a war to re-impose Fascist control over Serbia, who the majority of Briton’s sympathized with despite Tito’s Communism. Likewise, the central figure of the Anti-Serbian campaign would inevitably be Pavelić, who was loathed in Britain and elsewhere for his genocide against Serbia. Churchill said that if he even breathed support for Pavelić in Parliament, his coalition would collapse and the Labour Party would almost certainly be elected to power, which would be a disaster for Italy. Churchill cautioned, “The British people remember what happened the last time there was some foolish business over Serbians”. De Gaulle voiced similar concerns, saying no one in France would die for Pavelić against Tito. The even more complicating factor was that Pavelić had a death sentence over his head from the French government for his role in the assassination of King Alexander of Yugoslavia and the French foreign minister in 1934. Obviously, no help was forthcoming from America. Mussolini was even more desperate by now to avoid a conflict, fearing the Roman Alliance may end up facing the Soviets in isolation, which they could never win.

Negotiations were tense from the offset, but surprisingly avoided the chaos of conferences such as Kiev or Potsdam (though Molotov’s offer of ‘neutral American mediation’ was met with laughter from Ciano). A loose agreement was beginning to be formed. Tito’s position was unassailable, but negotiations began to suggest turning Serbia neutral just like Hungary and Romania. Tito could continue to run the country as he saw fit on the condition that he demilitarized and forsook taking back any territory from the Roman Alliance (suggestions were given that Hungary’s annexations could be returned to sweeten the deal and avoid war). The Soviets were suspicious about this, fearing Serbia could be invaded, given that she had been invaded years before, if in her Yugoslav form. Amazingly, real progress seemed to have been made.

Unfortunately, not everyone seemed to agree. Pavelić was furious with Mussolini for negotiating not only with Communists but with ‘the garbage of humanity’, by which he meant the Serbs. Pavelić had always mistrusted Mussolini, only seeing him as a means an end. He lusted for the Adriatic Coast and hated Italy for having taken it from him, even if he only had a Croatian state due to Mussolini (with Bosnia added for good measure). The last straw was leaving a Communist Serbia on his doorstep. He did not believe that any of the demilitarization pledges were serious enough to stop Tito and was convinced that in time it would lead to Serbia becoming strong enough to take back her old territories. Pavelić personally attended the Bucharest Conference and angrily lashed out at Ciano for Italy’s ‘weakness’ in the face of Communism. When Ciano angrily replied that Pavelić only had to worry about ‘a scattering of sheep farmers with rifles from the Great War’, the Italians, Turks and Bulgarians had to worry about the might of Asia slamming on their heads at full force. At those words, Pavelić left the Conference on March 7th. Ciano thought nothing of it and went to bed soon after. On March 8th, Ciano walked into the main Conference Room with Molotov and Tito glaring in fury. He was baffled why they were suddenly being so undiplomatic … only to be told that Croatia had invaded Serbia that morning.

Extract from 'The Making of the Fascist Bloc' by Jodie Rutkins

The Croat-Serbian War was the first international war in Europe to emerge after World War Two. It very nearly caused a Third World War too. Ciano pleaded with Molotov that Croatia’s action was unilateral and that the Roman Alliance would take no collective part – something the Bulgarian ministers enthusiastically agreed to. Molotov angrily accused Italy of orchestrating a delaying action to get Tito out of Serbia so the nation could be attacked while leaderless. After several hours of pleas of innocence, Molotov was ushered out of the room by a Soviet officer and returned ten minutes later. When he returned, he stated that he had come to believe the Italian. In reality, Soviet spies who had overheard Ciano and Pavelić’s argument and how it really was a unilateral action told him. Ciano breathed a sigh of relief, as did fellow representatives of the Roman Alliance.

The next question was what they were going to do about it. Any Soviet declaration of war against Croatia would trigger the Roman Alliance into war, which all parties wanted to avoid. At the same time, Italy refused to invade Croatia themselves by saying it would be diplomatically impossible for them to suddenly attack an ally. Ultimately, it was agreed that both Croatia and Serbia would be allowed to duke it out on their own, unless either country was on the point of obliteration. Covertly, both sides wanted to test their latest technologies and techniques as well. Soviet equipment traversed into Serbia over Hungary for months for this very purpose. Italy was more reluctant to supply Croatia, feeling their Balkan partner didn’t need it. They were also outraged that Croatia risked the total destruction of Europe by their insane invasion of a broken country. Britain France and America announced their neutrality in the conflict, thus averting further headaches.

Pavelić went into the war in a state of giddy excitement. Indeed, his initial invasion had curiously little manpower because he was already planning the troop formations for the victory march in Zagreb. Croat propaganda darkly promised its citizens that ‘there won’t be any Serbs left to start another war’. The initial Ustashe invasion lived up to all its worst reputation, even in its limited scale. The Ustashe bombed refugee camps of Serbs that had been kicked out during the Third Balkan War. These camps had no conceivable military purpose. This could only be described as a war of extermination. The morale in Serbia was low upon news of the Croat advance. Tito’s radio speech to the nation (one so broken and poor that millions had to huddle together to hear the Dictator’s words) told them ‘There will always be a Serbia as long as there are brave men within her!” Serbians rallied to the cause, especially when it became clear this was going to be a solo fight against the Croats. Soviet weaponry poured over the border, giving desperately needed supplies to the desperate people of Serbia.

The first major battle of the Croat-Serbian War was fought at Šabac on March 26th. The Ustashe numbered some fifty thousand men and the Serbs numbered barely a fifth of that (many had already scattered to prepare for a long guerilla war, or defend Belgrade). Yet owing to the sheer arrogance of Croat commanders, the badly outnumbered defenders were able to hold off the Ustashe for four months, inflicting devastating losses upon the invaders. Pavelić, in his rage, ordered every Orthodox Church to be burned to the ground in occupied Serbian territory. The resulting condemnation of Bulgaria (an Orthodox nation) led Mussolini to genuinely fear the Roman Alliance was about to break apart. Ultimately, Bulgaria had to be donated ships from the Regia Marina to stop them from leaving the Alliance. In Serbia, the vandalism now managed to rally even the fanatic Christians in favour of the Communist ruler.

Pavelić ordered his troops to march on Belgrade, but they were so hampered by guerillas and the autumn weather that it took until mid-October before there was any sizeable enough amount of people outside Belgrade to begin an assault. By now, the logistical nightmare of fighting deep in the mountainous region with 100% opposition from locals and a well-supplied enemy had led Pavelić to finally realise what was happening. The choice was clear: take Belgrade or lose the War. With that, he threw every man he had at the Serbian capitol. It was a brutal fight, with Serbian men and women fighting together with an intense desperation not unlike the Jewish refugees of Trieste. The fighting was as brutal as any scene on the Eastern Front in World War Two. The notion of prisoners was forgotten almost immediately. The Ustashe would execute male prisoners almost immediately. Female prisoners were generally raped first and then executed. Likewise, Serbian fighters had no interest in taking Ustashe men alive. As one American journalist commented, ‘it was like seeing what human beings would look like if the whole world were devoid of souls or conscience’. On November 29th, the Croats received the news they had dreaded – they could not capture Belgrade. Pavelić flew into a rage and ordered the Ustashe stood their ground and fought to bleed the Serbians to the last. While it bled out the Serbians, it most certainly hurt the Croats as well. All in all, roughly forty thousand Croats died in the struggle to take Belgrade, with nearly 100,000 Serbs meeting the same fate. Nevertheless, the mood throughout Serbia was one of celebration. Tito decided to turn this to his favour, and planned to push the Croats out of Serbia. Not only that, he started thinking bigger. He made plans for a full invasion of Croatia.

Extract from 'Total: Fascist Terror in Italy' by Sven Dietrich

After Serbia blew up in their face, the Fascists anxiously looked towards Greece and were mortified to see the same situation arising there. Prime Minister Ioannis Rallis (who led the puppet government) desperately pleaded with the Roman Alliance to save him from the growing Communist insurrection in the country. Almost everything south of Athens was under the rule of Communist guerillas and gun battles were becoming common between the police and Communists in the streets. The provisional head of the Greek Communist government was set up in Sparta as a propaganda device under Nikos Zachariadis. Markos Vafeiadis led the guerilla forces against the government. Much like Serbia, the collaborationists were extremely unpopular and the Communists had broad support across society, even in the traditionally hostile regions due to their being the most vocal, visible resistance to the Fascists. Communists around the world foresaw a repeat of the Serbian situation.

But this time around, the Fascists were wily. They responded to the situation by sending in troops across the border from Albania and the formerly Greek territories that Bulgaria had annexed on March 16th. The Turks sent their own reinforcements with the Bulgarians and began patrolling the seas alongside the Regia Marina. Unlike the Serbs, the Greek Communists had no consistent supply lines. The closest thing they had to supplies from the Soviets were the long boat rides from the Baltic and an awkward stream of weapons that had to traverse Bulgaria or Italy to get there. A further propaganda coup occurred in the immediate aftermath of the government’s reinforcement. Zachariadis decided that there had to be an immediate assault on Athens to seize it before the Italians arrived. That way, there would be no government left the save. Thus, over Vafeiadis’s objections, the guerilla army was hurriedly forced into conventional warfare. The Italians were overjoyed as this allowed the guerillas to be easily fought back with their airpower. Yet this wasn’t the most damaging event for the guerillas.

The most damaging event for the guerillas was the Athens Pogrom on March 18th. The chaotic invasion had led to troop discipline disappearing. Once they entered the Jewish quarter of Athens (which had expanded greatly following the annexations of Greek territory from Bulgaria), their frustrations were let out. Jews had unfairly been maligned as Pro-Italy owing to Italy’s alignment with Jewish interests. As a result, the entire community was considered to be collaborationist in nature. The Jewish quarter was devastated in a brutal pogrom (ironically one where the locals put up a much more spirited resistance than the government). The main synagogue of Athens had been burned down and half of the Jews of Athens had been rendered homeless. The atrocities against the Jews of Athens would foreshadow the later atrocities committed by Communist governments. As a purely military idea, it was calamitous as it allowed the government more time to organize defenses, not to mention time for the Roman Alliance troops to occupy the key regions of the country. But it was even worse for propaganda purposes. Unlike the Croat-Serbian War, Britain would find herself outright endorsing the Italian action in Greece, mainly citing the pogrom committed against Athens’s Jews as proof of the evil of the guerillas. While it would remain a long slog, Rallis was relieved. His government had survived the worst stage of the Greek Civil War and looked forward to the Italians obliterating Communism from the peninsula for him.

Extract from 'Mussolini: The Twentieth Century Man' by Joseph Manderlay

While disaster in Greece had been successfully averted, the situation in Serbia had been a total nightmare. Pavelić’s incompetence and defiance of his generals had led the Croat army to be outclassed by the numerically inferior and undersupplied Serbians. Even worse, there were now reports of unrest in Bosnia because Croats were blamed for starting a war that might very well soon expand into Bosnia. Talks with Pavelić had collapsed – he didn’t even return calls from Mussolini anymore, which particularly irked the Italian. In November, as it became obvious that Pavelić had invited disaster upon his country, a meeting of the Grand Fascist Council was called. Graziani, predictably, advocated supporting the Ustashe to finish the job over Serbia. Ciano and Balbo both agreed with their own conclusion: Pavelić was dangerous and had to be dealt with. This was quite difficult, as Mussolini had no direct power over Pavelić. Even Tomislav II (the nephew of Vittorio Emanuele III) had no constitutional power to kick Pavelić out. What Tomislav did have were connections throughout the Croat establishment. This was what convinced Mussolini to side with Balbo and Ciano.

The most promising candidate was former Chief of the Internal Security Service, Dido Kvaternik. He had extensive influence among the generals and despised Pavelić after having been sent into exile. He had resided in Italian Slovenia when the Nazis had invaded and found himself trapped in Trieste along with hundreds of thousands of Jews at the end of 1943. The courage of the Jewish fighters made this once anti-Semite (though he was half-Jewish) much more amiable to their plight. In later years, he would even speak of pride of his Jewish heritage. There is some suggestion Pavelić explicitly fired him due to his Jewish heritage but none of this can be confirmed. What can be confirmed is that Kvaternik was very much interested by the Italian offer. It was offered that both himself and Timoslav would work together and organize a coup against Pavelić. After the fact, the King’s power would be increased to stop any rogue elements of the Ustashe from taking Croatia on a dangerous path again. Of course, Kvaternik would take control of Croatia for the most part. He agreed to tone down the extent of racist rhetoric coming from Croatia, end the war against Serbia and make Croatia more ‘presentable’ to the wider world. With that, Mussolini began Operation Brutus, named after the assassination of Julius Caesar.

More Peace, More War

Extract from 'The Making of the Fascist Bloc' by Jodie Rutkins

On December 20th, one of the most important events in the history of the Roman Alliance occurred. It was the moment the members of the Roman Alliance knew that they could not threaten the security of the organisation or they would face obliteration. Pavelić had repeatedly risked Soviet involvement in the Croat-Serbian War, which would have destroyed the Roman Alliance. His atrocities against Orthodox Christians outraged Orthodox Bulgaria and burned serious bridges in Greece. Not to mention that he severely retarded relations with the West. Operation Brutus would serve as a reminder that being in the Fascist Bloc was not a blank check to rape and pillage as much as each member state wanted, but a security organisation to protect the existence of her members. This would work as a ‘third way’ between the laissez-faire attitude of the democracies and the iron dictation of the Soviet Union.

Fuelled by his lust for revenge, Kvaternik lobbied every connection he had ever amassed in Croatia. He was overjoyed to discover that most of the army had likewise grown to loathe Pavelić. The disasters in Serbia had now invited a simmering resentment in Bosnia, which would be impossible for the army to contain. Timoslav had arranged a series of meetings in the safety of his Zagreb Palace and enjoyed considerable protection from Mussolini, who was whole-heartedly behind the endeavor. Ultimately, the army overwhelmingly agreed to side with the plot, while the Ustashe Party remained mostly committed to Pavelić for their religious hatred against Serbia. Indeed, rumours were swelling that Pavelić planned a purge not unlike Himmler or Stalin for their failure to take Belgrade. Finally, it was agreed that enough men had been organised to make a smooth transition. With all things put in place, December 20th opened with Timoslav making an urgent request to see Pavelić at the Palace. Pavelić had developed an air of invincibility about him for his certainty of ultimate victory and failed even to bring bodyguards. It couldn’t have gone any better.

When Pavelić walked into the Palace, he entered the throne room, only to find there was no one there. Then ten OVRA agents burst out of the doors and grabbed Pavelić before he could fight back. He was dragged to the basement and given a show trial that lasted for less than ten minutes (Kvaternik wanted him dead as soon as possible but the Italians insisted on even the shortest possible one). He was accused of ‘criminal incompetence’ and ‘treason against Croatia and Fascism’. ‘ Of course, the outcome was obvious – Pavelić was shot in the back of the head seconds after the verdict of guilty was announced. Photos were taken to prove his demise and were sent as quickly as possible to all the leaders of the Roman Alliance, who were invariably relieved. With that, the rest of the coup unfolded. Prime Minister Nikola Mandić was thrown out a fourth-story window by the OVRA and died instantly. Vjeckoslav Vrančić, the head of Croatian Foreign Affairs and one of the chief instigators of genocide in the Third Balkan War, was ran over by an army truck driven when he tried to escape. Vjekoslav Luburić, who had carried out the order to destroy Orthodox Christianity in Serbia, was thrown off a cliff at his headquarters in Serbian territory. December 20th is described in modern Croatia as ‘The Day of Blood’. It is estimated that some 3000 Ustashe members were killed by the OVRA and army in Croatia and occupied Serbia, which decapitated the organisation (and certainly her most fanatical and criminal members). With total communications support from Rome, Kvaternik was able to easily coordinate the operation. On Christmas Day, Croatia was declared secure from a counter-coup. Pavelić was accused over Croatian radio of much the same charges his show-trial had accused of him. Croatians (especially Bosnians) had come to dislike Pavelić for his failures in the recent war, and were ready to see change. Kvaternik became Poglavnik (leader) of Croatia, though laws were quickly passed giving Timoslav veto power, and further purges of the Ustashe were committed, with another 2000 being killed or imprisoned in the coming years. The broken party quickly came to be dominated by Kvaternik, who wasted no time in asking for a ceasefire on December 27th. Though Tito was suspicious of Kvaternik, he much preferred a ceasefire over a hard slog to Zagreb (if that was even possible).

The Treaty of Sarajevo was signed on December 31st 1946, with attendance from Ciano and Molotov. Repeating their Bucharest standoff, the Soviets knew they had the upper-hand. Ciano and Kvaternik reluctantly agreed that limited amounts of Soviet troops could be given to Serbia to defend herself (though nowhere near enough to threaten Croatia). In return, Croatia would not have to pay reparations to Serbia (who would soon receive financial support from the Soviets) and no border adjustments were made. While this seemed to be a massive victory for the Soviets, it was not. The removal of Croatia’s worst element led to the West being far more willing to associate with the Roman Alliance. De Gaulle personally sent Mussolini a letter of thanks for having served justice to Pavelić. Churchill would commence his return to the House of Commons by leading an ovation for ‘the purge of that most criminal organisation in Croatia’ which met with strong agreement from all sides of the benches – though a subsequent thanks to Mussolini for his involvement was met with some heckling. Ultimately, the Day of Blood would greatly increase cooperation with West and South, which become extremely important due to the heart attack they would receive just a year from then.

Extract from 'Mussolini: The Twentieth Century Man' by Joseph Manderlay

The situation in Greece would be another area that demonstrated somewhat of an improvement in the morality of the Roman Alliance (not that they ever came close to virtuous). By April 1946, Athens was declared secure, though the Jewish community unfortunately mostly fled to Solun (formerly Thessaloniki, which had been a traditional Jewish haven and acted as one once again). Rallis pleaded with his masters to allow him more leeway to operate. Though he went in thinking this was a hopeless venture, he was amazed at the outcome. The members of the Fascist Bloc had realised the hard way that brutal force alone could not work in keeping her Alliance secure. They knew it was a path to being bogged down in a dozen guerilla wars at once. As a result, Italy, Bulgaria and Turkey all agreed that they had to treat the Greeks much better than they did previously. They would never win their love, but they could win their acquiescence. But of course, the first thing was to win the war.

The Greek Civil War was concluded much sooner than many expected (many observers felt it would linger in such a mountainous country). Instead, severe divisions among the Communists about strategy (Zachariadis having put a target on his back for his disasterous failed assault on Athens) made the situation much easier than anyone foresaw. The Regia Aeronautica acted with surprising restraint, but they were still able to grind the Communists to powder. With modern tanks, guns and the coast blockaded, it was only a matter of time. Zachariadis’s order to make a stand at Sparta equivalent to the 300 were met with an attempted coup, the result of which being that Sparta was seized almost without a fight due to the weakened state of the Communist fighters. By the end of October 1946, Greece was declared secure once again. With the war won, the difficult task became how to win the peace.

On January 8th 1947, the Treaty of Athens was signed. In it, a mild resuscitation of Greece occurred (though the country would now be placed under permanent but not wildly visible occupation). Firstly, she was opened up to investments not just from the Roman Alliance but Britain and France as well. The Greek government would be granted autonomy over most of the domestic sphere (except in matters where foreign policy was explicitly addressed). Greek minorities in Italian Albania, Bulgaria and mainland Turkey would be given extended and well-defined rights to practice their ways of life as seen fit. Perhaps most excitingly for Rallis, Turkey accepted an offer of joint rule over Crete. While the only troops on the island would be Turkish, the Greeks would be given much more of a say over what happened on the island. As a last nod, Greece was promised that in a few years, it would join the Roman Alliance as a full member, enjoying her full protection (though threatened that if she were to act out of line, the fate of Croatia would soon be repeated). Rallis declared to the Greek people the wisdom of collaboration, and how he had saved Greece from total destruction. While the Treaty of Athens didn’t create any good feelings among the Greeks for Italy or her allies, they were all relieved not just that the war was over, but that Greece would soon be given more freedom. This would be a wise decision for Mussolini, as it would lead to far more troops being available in the wars to come, the Arabian Wars especially.

Extract from ‘The Arab Tragedy: 1944–1956’ by Abdul Nazim

The first seeds of the Cold War’s wrath in the Middle East were planted in Iran. After Wallace’s abrupt pullout of American forces agreed to at Potsdam, the Soviets and British were left still occupying the region, primarily north and south respectively. The initial plan was to leave when the war was over, but the quick and decisive deterioration in relations between the two meant that neither side was willing to budge. The British desperately wanted to keep her oil investments safe in the south of the country, under the guard of British Petroleum, whose use of Iranian material wealth had developed more than a few cases of resentment among Persians. The Soviets were desperate to avoid another Anti-Communist power on her border, which they believed would be the result if they pulled from Iran. As the deadline for leaving Iran approached, both sides refused to leave. Indeed, some have suggested that one reason Churchill was so keen to cling to India through granting it Dominion status in 1946 was the belief that the Third World War could erupt in Iran between British and Soviet troops.

Finally, it was agreed that the situation could not be resolved through the creation of a neutral state, owing to the interests of both parties. On July 8th 1946, both sides met in Qom and made the ‘Qom Agreement’, which divided Iran into two separate countries. The north would be a Soviet Socialist Republic, the south a Constitutional Monarchy with the Shah as a figurehead but the main power resting in a democratic parliament (Britain would naturally keep her control over the oil and have a token occupation force). The division was set at the 34th Parallel – Tehran would be the capital of North Iran and Bandar-Abbas the capital of South Iran. As the Soviet border was secure and almost all oil fields in Iran were under British control (not to mention the Gulf), both parties were happy. The announcement created a short-lived firestorm of riots in Tehran that were mercilessly obliterated by the Soviets. Ironically, the British discouraged reporting on the incident, as it didn’t want to be seen as making a deal with such a hated power for Imperialism’s sake.

The Soviets soon realised how much of a nightmare they’d inherited. With almost no natural resources, they’d inherited a mountainous region that was tailor-made for ambushes and guerilla warfare. The liberals, religious conservatives, feudal lords and capitalists overwhelmingly opposed them – the Tudeh Party was established as the sole representative of the Iranian people, much to the Iranian people’s dismay. In particular, it would be the religious conservatives who opposed the Soviets with all their vigor. For the moment they only received token support compared to more moderate, Western aligned groups that were on friendly terms with the Southern government under Mohammad Mosaddegh, a nationalist politician who had impressed the West with his resolute will to reunite Iran under ‘Shah, Allah and Democracy’. The ride in Iran would not be smooth in the coming years, especially for the British and Soviets. Of course, the Arabs would be one of the main victims in the ensuing carnage that resulted from the partition of Iran.

Extract from 'We Brave Few: Europe 1945-1949' by Abraham Ferguson

In response to the Roman Alliance’s purge in Croatia, British and French planners were much more open to working with the Fascists. However, they both knew that joining the Bloc was politically impossible. As a result, the seeds of a democratic alliance blossomed. It would be the democratic alternative to the Fascist Bloc, though they had no intention of being enemies. The reality of Soviet pressure forced democratic Europe to come to the table and join forces. This would lead to the creation of ETO (European Treaty Organisation). The initial document signing was held in Copenhagen on March 15th 1947. The initial members would include:

· The British Empire

· France

· Belgium

· The Netherlands

· Denmark

· Norway

· Sweden

· Luxembourg

In addition, everyone knew that Czechia and West Germany could be relied on in a fight, though it was then diplomatically impossible owing to the former’s supposedly going to be given to a neutral Czechoslovakia and the latter due to her prior fighting. The colonial question was particularly difficult, with Sweden especially refusing to defend the practice (it had barely agreed to join, and that only due to Communism resting on her border). The Scandinavian nations were assured that any colonial revolts would not be considered as part of the defensive arrangement (unless invaded by a third party). Sweden's ultimate agreement to joining ETO was controversial, but the reality of the brutal situation in Finland convinced the Swedes it was worth the price.

In response, Stalin decided he needed to form his own organisation. In an impressive measure of grandiosity (even for himself), he created the ‘Stalingrad Pact’, signed in the famous city on May 1st 1946. The initial members of the Stalingrad Pact were:

· The Soviet Union

· The People’s Republic of Korea

· The People’s Republic of Mongolia

· The People’s Republic of Iran

· The People’s Republic of Hokkaido

· The People’s Republic of Serbia

It was paltry compared to the West’s arrangement, especially given the total lack of strong, European partners. Slovakia was still supposedly heading to neutrality, Stalin never wanted an armed Germany again and China was too divided to be a reliable partner. That was when the pressure began to increase on Poland. Stalin ordered the Poles to join his new alliance to beef up his numbers. The Poles were appalled at the thought and refused. Stalin was infuriated and ordered troop levels in Poland to double, which was met with countless examples of passive resistance. Trains stopped working whenever a Soviet carriage went by. Material deliveries to the Soviets were so low-grade they were already falling apart by the time they crossed the border. But not only that, the people of Poland became more defiant than ever. Russian troops were berated at and chanted in the streets with ‘go home!’ On July 15th 1947 a march was held in the centre of Warsaw, with an estimated one million people attending. The Polish government had organised it as a show of resistance to the Soviets and to let Stalin understand what he was up against. That was when President Raszkiewicz announced that there would be a referendum would be held on August 15th (the anniversary of Poland’s victory over Russia in the First Polish-Soviet War) to determine not just whether Poland would join the Stalingrad Pact, but whether it would join ETO. Stalin was so incensed at the news he almost collapsed. He ordered Molotov to make a final attempt to reason with the Poles ‘or else we’ll simply leave charred grass and rubble where Poland once existed’.

Extract from 'The Dark Decade: America in the 40s' by Wendy Walters

Anti-Communist energies, which had escalated to a peak exceeding 1919 with the arrest of Dickstein, reached further heights in 1946. This was initially due to the Great Strike Wave of 1945/1946. It was a series of strikes throughout most major industries in America, and would be the largest in American history (subsequent laws would make any reprise almost impossible). Some strikes reached as many as three quarters of a million in the case of the steel workers unions. The timing was extremely unfortunate – with America already looking for Communism in every corner, the strikes were seen as a Communist plot to destabilize America. Wallace added fuel to the fire by lambasting employers for refusing to meet union demands. Major employers soon found something extraordinary – many men actually volunteered to break the strikes for them without even being paid. In the south, the KKK (which had experienced a resurgence in the south owing to Dickstein’s reveal of being a Communist as well as Jewish) would often patrol the town to make sure strikes were stopped as quickly as they started. Similar things happened in New York, with Italian-Americans (obviously not co-operating with the Klan) forming makeshift groups to attack strikers without even going to the employers (many of whom were outraged since it often increased the determination of the strikers). The police departments (and especially the FBI) often turned a blind eye to the attacks, including one riot in New York that killed ten strikers and three strike breakers. The resulting uncertainty, of strikes and riots becoming commonplace in America’s major cities, made the economy suffer. As a result, Wallace’s popularity fell even further. By mid 1946, Gallup recorded an approval rating of 29%.

Yet Wallace only seemed to double-down on his prior convictions with a near Messianic belief that he could be the person who would single-handedly save the world from another World War (a belief that seems to have been created in reaction to the hatred he received from Conservative and Fascist forces). This was when Wallace committed what was perhaps his most infamous act. In August 1946, Wallace met with Anatoly Gorsky, who ran the NKGB’s Washington station. Wallace explained that with the threat of the Fascists (he stated the Croatia’s invasion of Serbia as the moment he decided Fascism was impossible to negotiate with, the Greek Civil War only confirming this view) he decided that the Soviet Union needed help to ensure they would never be attacked by ‘Colonists and Fascists’. To that end, he offered something extraordinary: he would hand over Atomic Technology to the Soviet Union to speed up their own Atomic program [1]. Wallace explained that he was sure this would make the Fascists think twice about attacking the Soviets, thus ensuring peace in Europe. Gorsky was so amazed that he reportedly asked a member of the Soviet delegation at the Embassy whether he was drunk without knowing it. When Stalin read the report, he was just as flabbergasted. He asked to check whether Wallace really was on their payroll (it wouldn’t be until the unearthing of Soviet archives in the late 1970s that it was finally proven Wallace was not a spy), before reluctantly agreeing. Indeed, Stalin’s suspicions of Wallace would thankfully somewhat delay the Soviet’s getting the Bomb. Wallace had furthermore only deepened the extent of Soviet espionage within the White House over 1946. With Alger Hiss and Henry Dexter White already there, John Abt and Charles Kramer became Wallace’s Chief of Staff and Secretary for Agriculture respectively. He had known both of them in the Department of Agriculture and had gotten along with them; they were both active Soviet agents. [2] Vito Marcantonio defected to the Democrats to support Wallace as well; Wallace even briefly considered making him Attorney General before feeling it would step on too many toes.

Yet with the sheer extent of Soviet influence now flooding the White House, mistakes were inevitable. Perhaps the most blatant was on July 22nd 1946, where Wallace declared that the strike-breaks that had recently attacked strikers in Pittsburgh were ‘walking, talking and attacking like crooked Fascists’. Two days later, an investigative reporter for the Chicago Tribune discovered that the exact phrase had been used in an article in the Daily Worker (a Communist newspaper) that morning to describe the exact same people in the exact same way [3]. While Wallace dismissed it as a ridiculous coincidence, it now seems likely that Abt had lazily placed the suggestion in front of Wallace while foolishly thinking no one would spot it. It seemed that there was such an air of comfort to Soviet spies in the White House that they almost thought they’d never be found. According to Soviet Intelligence reports, Hiss in particular was infuriated and almost started a fight with Abt before both realised that their situation was too serious to be divided. The blunder had allowed a new belief to work its way through America, one that many Americans were terrified to think but one that might well be true: What if the President was a Communist double-agent? In Wisconsin, that was what one man in particular was arguing.

[1] This meeting happened OTL, but Wallace didn’t have the resources to make it happen.

[2] Also OTL. They were Wallace’s counsel and speechwriter in the Progressive Party respectively.

[3] Believe it or not, this is even milder than OTL. He quoted the Daily Worker that Jan Masaryk ‘could have died of cancer’ and stated it was no more suspicious than the recent death of a Republican politician.
The Vast Right Wing Conspiracy

Extract from 'The Dark Decade: America in the 40s' by Wendy Walters

As October dawned, the mood in the Democratic Party’s backrooms had gotten far lighter, though only due to the acceptance that the midterms were destined to be an utter annihilation. “It was all very ‘Last Days of Rome’ as October began,” Truman recalled in his later years. Not only were the Republicans surging in every swing-seat, the Freedom Party had only become more popular in the south and were destined to make major gains throughout the south. Indeed, in some parts of the south, the Klan had taken to become the Freedom Party’s unofficial paramilitary wing and literally chased Wallace loyalists out of town. It had gotten so bad that the Secret Service would tell Wallace that it would be difficult to go much farther south than Virginia. Wallace’s approval rating had solidified to the mid-20s, though Wallace felt following his conscience was more important and blamed his ratings on the American Business establishment. By now, Wallace’s approval ratings had even fallen beneath 50% with American blacks (not that most American blacks were allowed to vote at the time) despite his progressivism on Civil Rights. As one NAACP official would recall, “You don’t get from A to B with a dead horse”. Then, something happened that sent the entire country into an uproar.

J. Edgar Hoover of the FBI had been watching the proceedings in the White House with disgust and, as one colleague later said, “Only had the thought of personally strangling Wallace to death to sustain him”. In mid-1946, his mind focusing on almost nothing but uncovering Communists agents working in America after Dickstein, he was given material from men claiming to be from MI6. They claimed they had uncovered information from Soviet agents in America that there were spies in the highest reaches of power in the United States. The information was quickly concealed, as Hoover feared (literally) for his life if this became well known. He was especially convinced of the information because he had been given information from Elizabeth Bentley (a defecting Soviet espionage courier) in 1945 that Harry Dexter White was indeed a Communist agent. While the information had been sent to the Wallace White House, it was concealed before the Senate confirmation hearings. With this in mind, the agents directed Hoover to a man who had been dismissed by the FBI before (due to World War Two alliance concerns). His name was Whittaker Chambers, and was a former Soviet agent and Communist himself, breaking with the party after the First Terror.

But this interview shocked even Hoover. Whittaker, fearing for his life more than ever, told the whole story of who he knew in the Ware Group (a Communist cell) and how many of them had climbed right to the top of the country. If what Whittaker was saying were correct, it would be the biggest political uproar and societal catastrophe for America since the Civil War. The Secretary of State? The Chief of Staff? The Secretary for Agriculture? The Deputy Head of the Treasury? All Soviet agents? Hoover pressed Whittaker for information on Wallace and whether even the President could be an agent. Whittaker responded that he was unaware of Wallace being an agent but that it was entirely possible. Hoover was stunned, but knew there was only one thing for it: Wallace had to go. Even in the unlikely event (as Hoover saw it) that Wallace was not an agent, there was no way Wallace would fix the mess America now found itself. Hoover, with only one co-conspirator in Clyde Tolson (his eternal protégé), actively planned to sabotage Wallace to get the country back on her feet. While both agreed of the necessity of getting the information It was felt that they had to maximise the level of shock that the country felt and at that they certainly held nothing back.

Under an army of protection, Whittaker made a public statement to the US Senate on October 15th 1946, with Hoover sitting right in the crowd. Whittaker relayed the whole tale about how prominent members of the Wallace administration were not mere dupes but active Soviet agents. To add fuel to the fire, Hoover later held a press conference where he stated, “We do not know the highest location where Communists agents have reached, but it could very well be the top”. This veiled accusation against Wallace shocked the country that was by now used to hearing about Communist agents … but never that high up. The Republicans (once they recovered from the initial shock) saw their poll ratings reach astronomical highs. The Freedom Party saw similar movements in the South. In the words of Harry Truman, “It was like someone stabbed me in the gut with a cold knife”. Democrats had initially planned for a brutal but ultimately survivable election campaign. Whittaker’s declarations (with deliberately inserted partisan condemnations of the Democrats at Hoover’s request) sent the Democratic Establishment into bedlam. The Left of the party believed this was a gigantic conspiracy by Capital to drag America into an alliance with the Fascists while many on the right were now starting to believe there leader was something other than a fool – or left altogether, as did the Kennedy family to the Republicans. All across the south, career politician Democrats likewise escaped into the welcoming arms of the Freedom Party. At the news of Whittaker’s announcement, Gallup recorded another opinion poll on Wallace. He had fallen to a 15% approval rating, but Wallace was about to do one more thing to make the situation incalculably worse. On October 23rd, Wallace announced to the nation’s press that J. Edgar Hoover had been fired.

Extract from ‘The Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy’ Speech, October 23rd 1946 by Henry Wallace

“Ladies and gentlemen, we are indeed faced with an appalling enemy. They are the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy, who only thirteen years ago were caught trying to extinguish the light of American freedom. They are the fat-cats, the exploiters, the bigots, the warmongers – all the people that defined who we fought against in the War. Their talons stretch into every sinew of American life – business, banking and indeed the FBI. Mr. Hoover, likewise, could not keep his political beliefs out of his search for justice. Indeed, what he has done ranks as among the greatest injustices in FBI history. To accuse these men, my friends, who I have known for years as agents of a foreign power is beyond laughable. And to insinuate that I have betrayed the American people is so reprehensible it staggers human understanding. No Mr. Hoover, the only person who has betrayed America is you.”

Extract from 'The History of the FBI' by Frank Jefferson

Wallace publicly condemned Hoover shortly after his firing, saying that Hoover had betrayed America. Wallace, outraged by Hoover’s obvious ploy and insinuations, had described him as ‘A Gestapo in American rags’ to the Cabinet and wanted nothing to do with him. The reaction of the public on the other hand was outrage, though not at Hoover. Wallace’s firing Hoover was seen as confirmation of a cover-up, though Wallace was convinced that the same forces behind the Business Plot were converging on American liberty and that it was necessary. By this time, Wallace’s approval rating was so low that much further loss was impossible. What was beginning to happen, however, was that the pre-existing hatred against Wallace in broad parts of society was metastasizing into a wrath unseen since Lincoln’s hatred in the South during the Civil War. Exit polls on the day of the Midterms confirmed the shocking statistics.

· 86% of voters felt Wallace was too soft on the Soviets.

· 46% were convinced that Wallace was an outright Soviet agent.

· 60% agreed with the statement: ‘The Democrats are infested with Communists.'

· In a hypothetical 1vs1 match-up with Thomas Dewey, Dewey would win more than 75% of the vote (with Wallace’s margins falling if Strom Thurmond ran).

· 88% agreed that the Soviets were America’s biggest foreign policy rival.

· 35% openly stated they would support a military coup against Wallace (those opposed at 32%).

To make matters worse for Wallace, he had failed to purge the FBI of Hoover’s allies (half due to the fact that most people in the Democrat Party now also wanted his head). Tolson (often literally taking orders from Hoover over the phone) had organised the FBI into a political weapon with the sole purpose of taking down Wallace. Thus, Whittaker’s accusations were continuously investigated day and night, looking for further confirmation of their merit, the press greedily reporting on every update to the case they could find. The resulting madness that swept over the American population was prime territory for demagoguery. Of course, one of the most adept at the practice was Joseph McCarthy.

McCarthy had generated massive coverage for himself in the middle of 1946 for calling Wallace a traitor for Potsdam. He relayed graphic stories of German women being raped on the graves of American soldiers who died in Berlin, Slovakian churches burned to the ground and shootings day and night from the Baltic to Pacific. Initially, many Republicans were relieved as they assumed he had shot himself in the foot with his graphic assertions. To their horror and astonishment, McCarthy only continued to grow in popularity and his name began to ring through the country, even though he wasn’t even elected to any office yet. His accusations only escalated, going as far as to accuse the Democrats of being a party, ‘Run by Traitors trying to sell us into slavery. They are perhaps even more evil than the Communists themselves’. Though his rhetoric was considered too extreme to win office in Wisconsin, the revelations at the end of October catapulted his claims back to prominence. Many of his supporters had taken to calling him ‘the prophet’ for his claims of Soviet influence in the Wallace Administration before confirmation. His success was causing concern not just in Democrat circles, but Republicans too.

Extract from 'The Red and the Dead: How the Wallace Presidency Changed America' by Ben Rushmore

Observers expected the Democrats to have a bad night – no one expected just how bad a night it would be. Though rumours that Democrat fixers attempted suicide on the night have never been confirmed, there would hardly have been a better occasion. The Republicans had more control of government than even the heights of their 1920s domination. The Republicans had managed an astonishing 62% of the House of Representatives vote, winning 298 seats (compared to less than 200 before). In the Senate, the vote was just as bad. Republicans added fourteen seats in the Senate, taking their total to 54. The Republicans also added another six governorships nationwide, taking their total to 28 of 48. Some of the main movements to the Republicans came from New York, especially the Italian-American community, who felt that Wallace was hostile to Italians owing to his constant condemnation of Fascism and quiet towards Communism. Though the Republicans were already empowered exponentially by the elections, it was even better beneath the surface.

The Freedom Party had likewise performed incredibly well on the night, with observers noting that it performed much like the Democrat Party used to do in the South. By now, owing to defections as much as elections, 19 Senators now resided in the Freedom Party, bringing the Democrat’s total in the senate down to 23. In the House, the figures were just as alarming, with 51 members of the new Freedom Party now taking their seat (not to mention a handful of loyalists who refused to leave the Democrats even if it meant going down with the ship). This left the once powerful Democrat Party with some 70 seats left in the House of Representatives. The gubernatorial elections were just as brutal. Owing, again, to defections from Southern governors, the Freedom Party now had eight governorships, as compared to twelve for the Democrats. That said, voter intimidation in the South was immense, even putting aside the usual discrimination against black voters. It was not an uncommon sight for Klan members to patrol the outside of voting venues (sometimes in full view of the police) to ‘defend against Communist attacks’. In many parts of the South, the Democrat Party wasn’t even allowed on the ballot and was a write-in option only, despite being the Party in control of the White House.

The Democrats had an even more terrifying fact to consider. Though some in the party wanted to use these results to push against Wallace (particularly the fading Dixiecrats), the number of Anti-Wallace members in the Democrats had been obliterated as they were disproportionately the ones who lost their seats in the Landslide of 1946 (a term used in American politics to this day to denote a catastrophic electoral loss). By contrast, the Party was actually gaining new members from the American Labor and Progressive Party, who were turning the rank and file of the Party religiously in favour of Wallace even as the country as a whole wanted his head. Thus, when Wallace refused to resign, as some Democrats had demanded following the Hoover Scandal and subsequent elections, they knew they were trapped in an extreme uphill battle. There was only one hope, as insane as it was when they stopped to think about it – they could wait for the Freedom Party and Republicans to impeach Wallace. The fact that wishing the President of their own Party was impeached had become their best option was not a fact they took pleasure in, but it seemed the only way. The only problem was that the rank and file Republicans and Freedom Party officials, for the moment, had no interest: Firstly, they knew that Wallace staying in charge of the Democrats would eventually lead to the Party’s extinction, which would electorally benefit them both. Secondly, many Traditionalist Republicans (most notably Robert Taft) expressed reluctance to impeach Wallace on the grounds that he had not done anything expressly criminal. With that, there wasn’t enough manpower to guarantee a successful impeachment in the Senate, which would be seen as a wasted effort. However, the Republicans would certainly launch investigations into the Wallace White House – if they found anything there, they would be sure to let the world know. Indeed, for Republicans, the only worry was of a rather different kind.

Extract from victory speech by Joseph McCarthy, November 5th 1946

“Some people ask me if I am in favour of impeachment. And though I would certainly take it over the current nightmare we find ourselves in, it is not my preferred option. My preferred option would be to run that jackal of a so-called President out of Washington on a rail. And if he’s done what we suspect him of doing, of selling our country, our people, our children into Communist bondage … tell me why he doesn’t deserve the death penalty, when he would inflict a crueler fate on us?”

Extract from ‘Patton: The Man’ by George Wallaby

McCarthy’s speeches were growing intensely in popularity across the country, capturing the intensity of the Anti-Wallace phenomenon, which had still not hit a peak. The Republican hierarchy had precisely one concern for the next election. They feared that Wallace would be dumped, the Democrats would have an untainted candidate … and if the Republican candidate was as off the track as Joseph McCarthy, then who was to say they would win in 1948? Ultimately, they feared a character like McCarthy winning, or at least by playing up to his base. They wanted someone who would have enough credibility to not need to play up to McCarthy and his like-minded demagogues. Ultimately, there was just one option presented that everyone agreed on.

On February 9th 1947 in San Marino California, Patton was sitting at home, wistfully staring at pictures of American soldiers in Berlin before the city was given away. He heard a knock at the door and was surprised to see recently elected Californian Congressman Richard Nixon making a visit. When he asked what the matter was, he quickly sighed as he realised this was another attempt to recruit him for higher office. He had seen many of these letters in the mail from the Republicans (and indeed the Freedom Party) asking him to be their candidate for the next Presidential Election. Patton didn’t see it. He couldn’t see a life for himself outside the military, felt his story had been told and that it was someone’s else’s job to fix the bedlam in Washington, which was still only escalating daily. Nixon did his best to convince Patton he had what it took, talking about how the whole Republican Party would back him, how the military would be made strong again and how Communism could be fought. But Patton once again shook his head, telling Nixon that he’d gladly vote for the Republicans in 1948 but that he couldn’t imagine himself on the ticket.

Patton thanked him and turned away. Then Nixon thought for a moment, and said the words that would change history: “Well, old Wallace just gave the biggest sigh of relief he’s ever made”. At that, according to Nixon, “Patton stopped. He was so tired and quiet for the whole conversation and then all of a sudden I just saw him burning with anger. He started to shake and his skin went a shade more befitting blood. ‘Oh, he does? Does he?’ Patton said. ‘If that son of a bitch thinks he’s got the last laugh on me, I will make damned sure I punch him so hard in the goddammned face that he’ll be shitting teeth!’ I asked him once more, whether he would agree to run for President for the Republican Party. He looked around, as if looking for some way out of the situation he found himself, before yelling, ‘Goddamnit! I guess I will!’” With that, so began the Presidential Campaign of George S. Patton.

America Lives!

Extract from ‘Patton: The Man’ by George Wallaby

Perhaps somewhat ostentatiously, Patton announced his Presidential run on July 4th 1947. Despite this, his run had been long prepared by the Republicans, almost none of whom dared to make a run against so thoroughly popular a figure. The only major Republican who dared make a significant run was Robert Taft, representing a more isolationist position that was rapidly falling out of favour in America as outrage against the Soviets grew every day. Thomas Dewey, seen by many as the strongest candidate apart from Patton, declined to stand and reached an under the table deal that he would become the Vice-President in a Patton White House. Patton in his meetings with Republican officials stated he had no interest in domestic and economic affairs short of ‘sending the Commies back home to Hell’ and asked that the Vice-President handle those responsibilities. The Republican East Coast Establishment was keen to be able to rein in Patton when he was in his more violent moods and gladly took the proposition. That said, he was considered manageable, unlike McCarthy.

Upon Patton’s announcement, a pleasant surprise greeted the Republican Party: the Freedom Party announced that it would not run a candidate in the 1948 Presidential election (assuming Patton was the Republican nominee, as was overwhelmingly likely). As Thurmond would state, ‘The crisis gripping our country is so terrible and so dangerous that it would be irresponsible of the Freedom Party to divide the Anti-Wallace vote. We’re telling our voters to support General Patton for President. He may be a Republican, but at least he’s an American.’ With that, suddenly the entire South came into play for the Republicans, an area of the country where they had never had support in for the century they had existed. Patton received a further boost a week later, as he came to a meeting of Republican senators, one of whom was Joseph McCarthy. At the conclusion of the meeting, McCarthy would tell reporters that he was endorsing Patton for President and was sure Patton would be the candidate who would save America from ‘Red-Slavery’. With the Republican Establishment, grassroots and even the Freedom Party throwing their weight behind him, Patton received endorsements from all quarters, notably Douglas MacArthur, John Wayne, Walt Disney and J. Edgar Hoover (with Patton saying that Hoover would be reinstated immediately if he became President). Even Churchill, DeGaulle and Mussolini privately expressed their good wishes to Patton in thanks of his service in Europe, while the Soviets publicly denounced Patton as a warmonger. Eisenhower declined to endorse any particular candidate, feeling it would be wrong of a military figure to interfere in the election despite his own deep-seated objection to Wallace’s policies.

By contrast, the Democratic Primaries had already become an abject misery. Everyone apart from Wallace and his loyalists knew that he would lose an election against the Freedom Party in a 1-Vs-1 contest, never mind Patton. Democrat fixers encouraged Truman to make a run, which would be remarkable owing to the Vice-Presidency position he was one. Truman, however, had grown tired of the White House. The seeping paranoia that ate at America had gotten into his own flesh – he never said a word in the presence of ‘The Four’, as he called Hiss, Abt, Kramer and White. He wanted out of the White House as soon as possible. Regardless of whether they could beat Wallace in the Primary, however, every Democrat knew they’d be slaughtered against Patton. Many didn’t want to take such a massive risk to their reputation and simply pushed back. Everyone was approached from William O. Douglas to James Roosevelt (FDR’s son), but finally it was agreed that Alben W. Barkley would be the Anti-Wallace candidate. It was agreed that since Barkley was a southerner (one of the few left in the Democrat Party) he would be able to convince people that he was not an ‘out of touch Yankee’ like Wallace was (despite Wallace coming from Iowa). Upon the aged Barkley’s announcement (he was 69 at the time his candidacy went public) the Left of the Democrat Party went to war, accusing him of being a Republican sock-puppet despite his longstanding support of the New Deal. The Left had already been enraged with the recent passing of the Taft-Hartley act, which curbed Union power in America (passed with a veto-proof majority), and wanted payback in any way they could. As the campaign began, it was clear that there were going to be many bumps along the way. Few could have imagined how many there would have been.

Extract from ‘Miracle: The History of Israel’ by Joel Hagee

By 1947, tensions in the Trans-Jordan Mandate had reached a fever pitch. Ben-Gurion and the rest of the Israeli leaders, including Begin, began to plan their strategy for the incoming, promised Arab onslaught. Chief among their contacts was Wingate, who was lobbying across Britain in favour of a Jewish state in Palestine. Wingate promised that the moment a war between Jews and Arabs started he would fly down and ‘fight like a man possessed’. His efforts had succeeded, and creating an Israeli state was now the official position of both the Conservative and Labour Parties (as well as the Liberals and BUF). Churchill was distracted in India, managing the continued calls for Independence even after Dominion status had been granted, but he had high hopes for the future of any Jewish state in the region. While Wingate was making contacts in London, Begin was doing the more unseemly task of winning support among the Roman Alliance. Ben-Gurion loathed Mussolini (and Fascism as a whole) but knew he had an ally he could use. He sent Begin to try and help the situation. On March 19th 1947, Begin arrived in Rome, meeting with Mussolini and Turkish leader Omurtak. Ben-Gurion wanted Begin to sell Mussolini on providing Israel with aid in case of war with the Arabs. Begin would report back several days later that the meeting had gone ‘even better than we thought’ and that Mussolini had agreed to ensure the Israeli state’s survival. What Begin did not tell Ben-Gurion was that he and Mussolini had quite an extended conversation, and that Mussolini had far bigger ideas than saving a tiny Jewish state. This would be what would leave Mussolini’s footprint on the Middle East forever.

Moshe Dayan, by contrast, led the task of trying to turn the Jewish forces, many hailing from Hungary and Libya due to the expulsions, into a cohesive fighting unit. He had been saddled with a large degree of work as Zvi Brenner had been convicted of illegal behaviour in his reprisals against Auschwitz’s monstrous guards and was serving six months in jail (reduced to four). The incident would badly damage Britain’s standing among Jews (Wingate and Churchill excluded) and would mean Italy was the most loved country among world Jewry for its repeated salvations. Dayan was enlisting help from all around the world, calling upon Jews of any note to come and help their community. Infamously, Dayan was told by the leadership to ‘do whatever it takes to build our army, and we’ll back you’. Then Dayan had an idea, but it was one he knew would be controversial. He knew this would anger many, but he felt like he had the credibility to make it work. On March 28th 1947, Dayan shocked the world by announcing that he had called in Erwin Rommel to serve as an advisor to the Jewish forces. He argued that, as the Yishuv’s survival was paramount and Rommel was considered one of the finest generals alive in addition to opposing Hitler, it was a necessary appointment. The two had befriended in Berlin during peace negotiations. Rommel, wanting to clear Germany’s name from Nazism, had accepted the offer and was desperate for some semblance of his old military life to return. Many in the leadership of the Yishuv were angry at Dayan for appointing a man so linked to the still loathed Germany, but the wave of international support for the decision quieted their rage. Churchill praised the move, saying, ‘It warms the conscience of man to see Germans and Jews, whom many feared forever doomed to mutual hatred, begin to come together to face the ultimate in human evil’. Mussolini likewise praised the move for ‘bringing the civilised world together against the ravages of anarchy’. The Wallace White House, however, was outraged. Wallace condemned the Jewish leadership for allowing ‘Fascist mercenaries’ to do their work. The outburst convinced Jewish Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau to resign from his position. In reality, Morgenthau was terrified of spending a second longer in a White House so besieged but wanted a decent excuse to bolt first. Ultimately, Wallace was so loathed that his condemnation of Rommel did more to help rather than hinder him. However, Jews in the Mandate still mostly opposed his appointment, thinking Rommel secretly harbored broad Anti-Semitism despite his association with the plot to oust the Nazis. Rommel would recall, ‘I walked into a room with about one hundred staff in it. Every single one stopped what they were doing and turned in my direction. Everyone stopped talking, everyone stopped breathing. I was more scared at that moment than when a Soviet shell exploded just beside me back in the war!’ Despite his cool reception, Rommel proceeded to teach his doctrines as best he could to the hostile Israeli officers, many of whom had got their rank in Trieste and only knew urban conflict, which wasn’t going to help in the desert.

On the other side of the divide, the Arab powers had found themselves with an unusual ally. The Soviets, emboldened by America’s isolation and increasingly bigoted against Jews, publicly announced that any attempt to create a Jewish state in the region would be ‘vetoed while the ink was still wet’ according to Molotov. Molotov would enunciate the Soviet position on Israel as a ‘Fascist-Colonial conception’ and that ‘the Soviet Union will give any and all support for the Arab people in their struggle against the international Zionist conspiracy’. Emboldened by a superpower’s support, the Arabs felt strong enough to start openly defying British offers of a peaceful resolution to the crisis (indeed by now, the Yishuv were likewise emboldened and started making higher demands). Of course, the Jewish population of the Eastern Bloc was met with ever worse persecution. Perhaps the worst episode before the First Arab-Israeli War was the ‘Doctor’s Plot’, which claimed that Zionists (almost invariably a codeword for Jews) had poisoned leading Soviet officials. Ironically, some of them had died in Stalin’s most recent purges. The invented plot led to a wave of condemnation in Soviet press that stated the conspiracy had originated among ‘Zionist schemers in Palestine’. Sporadic violence began against Synagogues and other Jewish cultural symbols. Jews were quietly removed from their academic or military positions (for now, mostly non-violently). By now, it had become clear to most Jews worldwide that the Soviet-Union had become an Anti-Semitic power, crippling the popularity of Communist Parties in Europe among the Jewish populations. Likewise, the Jewish populations of the world overwhelmingly sided with the embattled Yishuv, as it prepared for the war that would determine whether the dream of a Jewish state would be realised.

Extract from 'The Dark Decade: America in the 40s' by Wendy Walters

The resignation of Morgenthau produced even more hysteria in the United States. Henry Dexter-White, accused of being a Soviet agent, was now the most senior person in the Treasury Department. Wallace insisted on appointing White, but he needed Senate confirmation. For obvious reasons, the Republicans were not going to grant it, the Freedom Party even less so. Wallace even cajoled Morgenthau into saying he knew White to be an upstanding individual and a great choice for the role, but this meant little. Wallace refused to compromise leaving the position vacant. As a result, White was forced to assume most of the day-to-day activities by default. This led to McCarthy to bitterly decry, “We have Communists running our agriculture, our economy and our diplomacy! Is there anything that traitor won’t surrender to those demons?” At the same time, the sight of no official Secretary of the Treasury mortified investors even more than they already were. The US was in a state of recession, with some fearing a Second Great Depression was just around the corner. As such, riots (including race riots, as blacks were often seen as ‘Wallace’s footsoldiers’ according to one Klan leaflet) became an increasingly common occurrence in the Home of the Brave. The strikes had died down from 1946, though in many cases due to the sheer amounts of violence that descended upon strikers.

Hoping to find a smoking gun that would get the situation resolved, investigations were opened in both the House and the Senate on the extent of Communist influence in the wheels of power (HUAC having been superseded and replaced, partly in embarrassment that Dickstein had been a member). Sparks flew when Lee Pressman, a famous Union leader, was brought to testify about whether he had links with the Soviets and was a member of the Ware Group, in which he denied both. He was, of course, lying in both instances. As the holes in his testimony became clear, he proceeded to plead the Fifth Amendment, hoping that would stonewall the investigation. He was sorely mistaken. On June 14th 1947, the FBI raided Pressman’s house and arrested him on charges of espionage. A planned strike in his support was cancelled when the League of Columbus (a 50,000 strong Italian-American pressure group that supported close ties between the two nations and included the likes of Frank Sintara [1]) threatened to meet the strikers head on. Pressman had most of the FBI investigating him, but there was still no lead on the Ware Group. Every inconsequential spy that could be found was dredged up and presented to the press to cool shouts that the authorities weren’t doing enough. In reality, the Ware Group had done a remarkably good job of keeping themselves clean. It was for that reason their downfall came down to the poor decisions of others.

August 5th 1947 was a beautiful day in Washington, with the sun up and the birds singing. It was also the day of the March on Washington at the National Mall. In an unprecedented display, roughly one million people had been bussed in to launch the largest demonstration the capitol had ever seen (funded in no small part by major Republicans and given extensive build-up in the national press, particularly those owned by William Randolph Hearst). Many companies actually stated they would allow their workers a day off if they marched in the capital. The message was simple: “Wallace out!” Every placard from every demographic was there: “Democrats against Wallace”, “Blacks against Wallace”, “Housewives against Wallace” etc. The Italian contingent was the largest, but the remarkably diverse line-up illustrates to historians the level of discontent the average American felt towards Wallace. At the peak of the event, Patton gave a speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial. He had no shortage of material to condemn Wallace on but focussed on the Battle of Berlin. He gave numerous anecdotes of heroic actions by American soldiers in the conflict to the cheers and jubilation of the crowd. He then talked about how the American sector was surrendered by Wallace to Stalin and the many atrocities the Soviets committed in their occupation. He built to a roar and finally let out the famous line: “When I see all of you here today, from all walks of life, from all creeds, I can only say one thing: America lives!” Those two words would become Patton’s campaign slogan and would go on to be much imitated around the globe. The real meaning of the March on Washington speech was that it killed any doubt in the typical American’s mind if Patton could play a political figure - he sure could. Little did anyone realise, this was simply the calm before the storm.

Extract from 'We Brave Few: Europe 1945-1949' by Abraham Ferguson

While the Second Polish-Soviet War was probably inevitable, the actions of both parties only accelerated the conflict. President Raszkiewicz met with Molotov in Warsaw on August 2nd, the referendum less than two weeks away. Molotov insisted that Soviet occupation was a non-negotiable position due to the agreement at Potsdam. President Raszkiewicz stated that ETO membership did not mean every Soviet soldier had to go home. Since both sides knew the Pro-ETO side would win the referendum, Raszkiewicz offered a deal: Hungary/Romanian style neutrality in return for Poland having internal independence. The referendum would be cancelled and Poland would renounce any intention of joining ETO. Molotov refused both, repeating the original demand for Poland’s full membership of the Stalingrad Pact. While this approach may seem blunt and unhelpful, it was actually motivated by the intensifying purges in the Soviet Union at the time. Molotov would recall in his memoirs that he wanted Stalin to see him as ‘unflinching in the face of the Capitalist-Fascist Alliance’. Despite this intensity in his demands, Molotov would gradually soften over the next few days, offering membership of the alliance while withdrawing all Soviet troops. This was much more interesting to the Polish leadership and on the night of August 4th, they went to bed to ponder the offer.

Unfortunately for everyone, events had gotten beyond control by the time they woke up. In Krakow, tensions between the occupying Soviet troops and the local Polish had grown exponentially. With so many people, someone was bound to make a mistake. Finally, it happened on the night of August 4th. While the events took a while to be reconstructed, the basic series of events seems to run like this: A Soviet soldier, whose mother had recently died back home, had taken to drink. That night, he was quite drunk and didn’t take the abuse the Poles gave him as well as he was used to. What made it worse was that the abusers were two thirteen-year-old boys. He snapped and began striking them, when a Polish regiment (the Poles made sure to keep close to watch on the Soviets) ran in to stop the soldier. When the soldier turned to fire, the Poles shot him dead. Seeing this, the other Soviet soldiers stationed near the city centre began to fire back, killing the two boys and multiple Poles, regardless of age or sex, who were unlucky enough to be walking by at the time. A firefight erupted in the centre of Krakow, with the Soviet troops besieged within their base. Finally, after a massive heap of – ironically – Molotov cocktails blanketed the base, the Soviet troops had been obliterated. The locals were overjoyed, celebrating as if a war had already won. Instead, it had only begun.

Hearing the news the next morning, both parties in Warsaw knew that further negotiation was impossible. By the end of the day, Molotov was back in Moscow. Even before that, the Soviet armies began their assault. From East Germany, Slovakia, Belarus and Kalingrad came the Soviet forces, with instructions to march into the cities and liberate their comrades in the occupational forces, who were by now trapped in a gigantic, hostile country. Almost all of them would be overrun by the Poles before the Soviet troops arrived, although a few would stage massive upsets and manage to hang on long enough to be rescued. The Soviets badly overestimated their abilities, and were forced to slog through a universally hostile territory. Poland, owing to government policy for precisely this purpose, had perhaps the most lax gun laws in the world. The government put up giant signs in the cities advertising gun-ownership as a Polish necessity. It certainly played its part – militias were formed all along the country that would prove priceless in the years to come. Of course, the Polish were awash in aid coming from ETO Sweden and Czechia. The Poles had the supplies and they had the will. Now the only question was if that was enough to beat the Soviet army. Tragically, that was not the question they should have asked …

[1] Sinatra would regularly perform in Fascist Italy throughout his career, leading to criticism that he was a fellow traveller. Sinatra would insist that he abhorred Fascism though he ‘liked that Mussolini was cleaning up the mob’.


Extract from 'We Brave Few: Europe 1945-1949' by Abraham Ferguson

Compared to the Polish, the preparations of the Soviet Union would seem almost insane to a modern historian. Firstly, Stalin’s purges (which began with Zhukov) had already hollowed the officer pool available. Perhaps most shockingly, Chuikov, who presided over the occupation of Germany with iron loyalty, was inexplicably arrested and shot by the NKVD one week prior to the invasion. Marshall Konstantin Rokossovsky (a Pole himself) was hurriedly instated by Stalin to ‘liberate’ their target. Rokossovsky faced a gigantic invasion of a hostile, sovereign country, with some of his best troops trapped and doomed to certain deaths in glorified pillboxes in Poland’s city centers. They had been placed there to strike fear into the locals but they only ended up dooming the occupiers. He faced even more startling issues. He discovered to his astonishment that East Germany barely had the troops needed to hold down a potential revolt – this was before a gigantic front opened up on the eastern border. As creating an army of German Communists was unacceptable to Stalin, there was little to do but launch diversionary attacks (which stopped fooling the Poles after a week). In Slovakia, with election polls predicting electoral annihilation for the Communists in the numerically superior Czechia, Stalin had ordered a unilateral declaration of independence of Slovakia, who signed the Stalingrad Pact on the first day of the slave state’s new existence (August 31st). In response, Czechia held snap elections, wiping out the Communists in the Parliament while still declaring sovereignty over her Slovakian neighbor. On September 11th, Czechia became the newest member of ETO, and the state began to militarize. With that, yet more troops were diverted that could have been used in Poland. This wasn’t even counting the troops needed to hold down resistance in North Iran.

Coming to the actual invasion itself, it was a nightmare. Admiral Yamamoto’s prophecy of an invasion of the American mainland being like finding a gun behind every blade of grass became terribly true in Poland. One Soviet sergeant remembered, “I was a veteran of the Great Patriotic War, and had fought to liberate Gdansk from the Germans. When we came back to defeat the Polish Fascists, there were towns so small you could walk through them in less than an hour that gave more resistance than whole German armies. We hated every single day.” Stalin wanted to use chemical gas, but it had been agreed in the Potsdam Declaration (owing to its use by the Pact) that ‘Chemical and Biological weapons are hence and eternally outlawed’. No such declaration was made with respect to nuclear weapons as the weapons were not public knowledge. As the use of chemical weapons was considered the final depth to which the Nazis stooped, the practice was considered so loathsome that it was the one ‘Red-Line’ that ETO and the RA declared they would enforce if necessary. As none of the major powers wanted a war, Stalin reluctantly decided to (for now) follow a strictly conventional approach, certain that superior numbers would win the day. Instead, he found a population that rabidly opposed every action they took. The Poles fought with a religious intensity that terrified the Soviets – an intensity helped by the Pope’s declaration in his Christmas address in 1947 that ‘every Pole that dies to defend their land and faith shall be a martyr before Christ’. Despite overwhelming air superiority, the dogged determination of every town was something that bled the Soviets white as they crossed into the country. The Western press gave breathless coverage to ‘proud Poland’, locked in the face of the Communist onslaught and standing tall. Enraged, Stalin ordered Beria to unleash perhaps the harshest counter-partisan and repression operation the NKVD had ever unleashed (indeed, it highly resembled the astonishing brutally of the Nazi occupations of the Eastern Front). Eastern Poland would be in rubble by New Year’s, but it was as much of a disaster for Russians as well as Poles. One Russian soldier recalled, “To drive from any one village in Poland to another unescorted was certain death. Only the paranoid survived.” The anti-partisan sweeps of the NKVD would be notorious even to the Red Army, with some commanders ordering 100 dead Poles for every dead Commissar. Bialystock in particular would be renowned far and wide for the cruelty with which the Red Army acted. There were 60,000 people in the town before the war started, and after the handiwork of the NKVD, that figure was reduced to 20,000. The cruelty was so unrelenting that even most Polish Communists sided with the government against the Russians, who were rapidly running out of steam.

By February 15th, the most advanced brigades of the Soviet army could make out Warsaw. They knew the finest fighters in Poland would defend it to the hilt. The Polish government had already gone into hiding and were out of reach. Stalin’s mind returned to 1920 and the campaign that had gone so disastrously wrong before. He remembered how at the gates of Warsaw, the Poles had repulsed the Soviets and managed to send them out of the country. To make things worse this time around, on February 3rd, the first reports of strikes in East Berlin were grabbing Soviet attention. The East German police had already been overwhelmed (or outright joined the protests) – with the Soviets themselves now providing the repressive boot, Stalin feared that one great victory for the Poles would convince the Germans to rise up too. Stalin told Molotov, “If the Soviet Union does not take Warsaw, there will not be a Soviet Union”. And then, Stalin made one of the most infamous decisions in history, the effects of which were felt around the world; none more acutely than in the Land of the Free.

Extract from 'The Death Spiral: Stalin 1941-1953' by Alexi Ivanovitch

Most historians believe that the transfer of American nuclear knowledge to the Soviet Union started at the infamous meeting Wallace had with Gorsky, though the rest is somewhat fuzzy. Gorksy (in what could only be described as darkly humorous when one has the full details of the case) tried to convince Wallace that Secretary of State Hiss could be relied upon to do the job. Hiss feigned reluctance when approached but was inwardly stunned nonetheless. It was the greatest possible outcome for the Soviets – Hiss reportedly mused if he would get an Order of Lenin for the accomplishment. From there, Hiss contacted his controllers and coordinated a plan to extract the mechanisms for nuclear weaponry in full. From that, Operation Lighthouse was born. Every Soviet spy in Moscow’s books in the American atomic program was given a specific assignment. With the White House itself giving out passes to the assailants like candy, it was no problem. While the chain had many links, it culminated primarily in a series of spies who existed right at the heart of the Manhattan Project. Heading the ground operation were the couple of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who enlisted Klaus Fuchs and Morris Cohen among others to gather the materials required. Given security passes straight from the top, the assignment proved to be, in the words of Cohen, ‘boring and easy’. By the middle of 1947 (precise dates are hard to quantify given the intensity with which the Soviets approached the secrecy of the operation), it was estimated by one historian that ‘more than 90% of the Manhattan Project’s notes could be recreated in Moscow’. MI6 had reported to Whitehall that there were serious movements in the Soviet atomic program, but they were dismissed given reports of how primitive their systems initially were. Indeed, the European powers (especially Britain and Italy) continued to pursue separate programs. As the head of the Italian Nuclear program (Enrico Fermi) would later recall ‘we worked lazily without knowing we had gun barrels pressed to our temples’.

Ironically, it was Stalin’s surprise at how easy the operation was going that blunted Soviet attempts to create the A-bomb. Some have estimated that the Soviets could have had the bomb as early as the first day of the Second Polish-Soviet War if it was pursued whole-heartedly. Regardless, the word reached Stalin on December 15th 1948 that a Soviet device was ready. Stalin, however, had been disturbed by the stiff Polish resistance in the war, and wanted to shatter the morale of the Polish fighters. He believed that to maximise the psychological shock, the first demonstration of the device should be in combat, preferably on an important cultural centre that would arrest Polish attention. Stalin ordered the hasty construction of a deliverable nuclear device and ordered that the plane drop her deadly cargo on Warsaw. With that, the final Soviet offensive on the capitol would begin. The name of the operation would be Operation Midnight. The name of the device was ‘IS-01’, the ‘IS’ meaning Joseph Stalin in the original Russian.

One day after Valentine’s Day 1948, Polish fighters in Warsaw saw a single Soviet plane fly overhead. As the Poles had little to reply with and it was only a single plane, they let it fly on, eyes firmly on the opposing force just beyond the city. At 09:14 that day, a nuclear bomb exploded in the heart of Warsaw. While it was not as destructive as Hiroshima due to the superior building quality, twenty thousand human lives were extinguished in an instant with the whole of Warsaw awash in nuclear flames. The chaos was so immense that even the plane that delivered the bomb failed to make it out in time and crashed into the Vistula, killing the crew. Though many of the casualties were soldiers, some fifty thousand Polish civilians were killed due to the device immediately or due to complications resulting from fallout (a large chunk of which went in the Vistula and polluted surrounding regions). Ironically, large amounts of Soviet troops became casualties, many being blinded due to their facing the blast when the bomb exploded. Ultimately, the troops were marched in nonetheless with no regards to the effects from radiation. The Polish lines had indeed collapsed and the Soviet troops marched into a poisoned, burning city without protection. Some studies suggest that nearly twenty thousand Soviet troops would die of complications from the radiation, leading to the refrain in Poland to this day that this was the ‘Curse of Warsaw’.

For the time, however, the use of nuclear weapons had accomplished precisely what Stalin had wanted. Warsaw had fallen into Soviet hands at the end of the day. Krakow would fall by the end of the week after a mass exodus from the city from many expecting another nuclear attack. Thankfully there would be no more. The list of red lines for the RA and ETO was expanded to include nuclear weapons, though it was thought not to apply this retroactively. The main reason was, of course, panic had set off right across Europe. In the halls of power, frantic phone calls were sent out between De Gaulle, Mussolini and Churchill, resulting in a European-wide nuclear program between ETO and the RA. Investigations were held as to how the entirety of European intelligence had so totally underestimated the Soviet nuclear program. Riots broke out across London and Paris while being brutally suppressed in Italy. They were fought between anti-Communists, whose fear and shock at the realisation the Soviets held nuclear supremacy over their lives had driven them to attack visible left-wing targets. Harry Pollit, the head of the British Communist Party, would die on the same day as the nuking of Warsaw. He was trapped in the party headquarters while the building was set on fire. This would create a diplomatic crisis between the two countries, with the Soviets alleging assassination by the British government. Though many in Britain feared this would result in Stalin pushing his advantage and beginning a nuclear war, in reality, the Soviet nuclear arsenal was already depleted and her troops were much more tied up in Poland.

Extract from 'The Dark Decade: America in the 40s' by Wendy Walters

The nuking of Warsaw would be the catalyst that ended the Second Polish-Soviet War. President Raszkiewicz and virtually every major Polish diplomat caught a plane to Sweden to set up another government in exile. The only major figure that stayed in Poland to fight to the end was Witold Pilecki, who had made the same decision to stay in 1939. With the remainder of Poland falling like dominoes in the aftermath of the nuclear attack, he would create the ‘Polish Liberation Army’, which was mainly centered in the Carpathian Mountains. These would provide the backbone of what would eventually become known in Polish history as ‘The War of Polish Liberation’ (which some historians call ‘The Third Polish-Soviet War’), but for now it was simply a battered, frightened husk. This isn’t to mention the crippling refugee crisis that came out of Poland, with Czechia taking the overwhelming brunt of it. This inflamed nationalist resentment in Czechia that it was taking the cost of the refugees, and the European democracies had no interest in the electorally suicidal position of importing tens of thousands of unskilled foreigners to their nations. In response, Czechia began receiving overtures from the far sides of the world, in particular: Portugal, Rhodesia and South Africa.

Most historians regard the fall of Gdansk on May 8th 1948 to be the end of the Second Polish-Soviet War. Amazingly, there were three events that would result from the bombing of Warsaw even bigger than the occupation of the Polish state:

· On February 20th 1948, King Abdullah of Jordan, a state that was carved out of the Trans-Jordan mandate, was assassinated by Soviet agents with the help of Arab nationalists within the King’s bodyguards. Abdullah supported peace negotiations with Israel, but the Soviets wanted the nascent Jewish state obliterated. Adbullah’s son Talal was cowed by his military officers to face down the Israelis, with the support of the Soviets. Talal, terrified of the same fate befalling him as his father, agreed to suspend negotiations with Israel. The officers had been thrilled by the Soviet nuking of Warsaw, and saw the Soviets as the stronger party in the Cold War, especially given Western inaction – seen as weakness. On March 1st, after further threats from officers within the Jordanian army (now thoroughly penetrated by Soviet agents and sympathizers), the Arab League began military operations against the Jewish state. British troops were nowhere to be seen, having been moved to Europe in light of the slaughter in Poland. In those initial days of the conflict, it seemed certain that the Jews of Palestine were doomed.

· In China, seeing the strength of his hand, Mao finally decided to begin the final operation to crush Chiang. Mao had thoroughly imposed his rule in the north of the country, while Chiang held together a loose alliance of interests in the south, and that only by the skin of his teeth. Despite Stalin’s initial protests, on February 27th 1948, Mao Zedong launched the ‘Red Sun Campaign’, the conquest of all China. By the end of March, the Communists had already seized Nanking, and were continuing southward. Chiang’s troops were not loyal to him and often surrendered at the first chance they got, seeing no hope. The success of the campaign convinced Stalin that he had perhaps been unfair to Mao, and began to take an active interest in ensuring his success. He began stepping up funding to Mao, just as his own war in Poland was winding down.

· But it would be the third consequence that may have had the greatest effect still. The explosion of the nuclear bomb over Warsaw had awoken many people to the dangerous nature of the Soviet Union. Among those was President Wallace. Upon hearing the news, he reportedly stared blankly and holed himself up in the Oval Office for three hours by himself. By the time he had recomposed, he ordered that a message come out that the US ‘was deeply concerned’ by the attack. When pushed by some for an outright condemnation, Wallace reportedly said. “I can’t. If I say that it means I was wrong. If I was wrong about everything up to now … I could never live with myself.” While Wallace talked in hypotheticals, others couldn’t. Ethel Rosenberg, one of the heads of the Rosenberg Spy ring was devastated when she heard the news. She only wanted the Soviets to get it to even the score in the Cold War. Now, with the avowed Anti-Semitism becoming more and more obvious from Stalin, not to mention the news of the destruction of one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, she couldn’t take it any longer. On March 4th 1948, after having a fight with her husband, Ethel Rosenberg walked into the FBI offices, offering – in return for saving her own and her husband’s life - the full story on the Soviet nuclear spy program, including the involvement of members of the Wallace Administration. When the news hit the FBI’s main office, Clyde Tolson reportedly had one word: ‘Bingo’.

The Day of Three Presidents

Extract from 'The Dark Decade: America in the 40s' by Wendy Walters

On March 10th, the bombshell hit national headlines: Ethel Rosenberg publicly testified that she had been in contact with Alger Hiss to facilitate the transfer of American nuclear technology to the Soviet Union and that she believed only Wallace could have given the clearance that they had been permitted. Though she didn’t outright call Wallace a spy (as indeed he wasn’t), to the ears of most Americans it was a confirmation of the worst fears of all: their own President had been a Communist double agent. By the end of the day, photos of FBI agents storming the White House and dragging out Alger Hiss in handcuffs were being sent around the world. To most of the world, having long seen America as a quiet haven in a political sense, were shocked to see the political carnage that was being wreaked across the country. There was, of course, real carnage too. On March 12th, four days of rioting ripped Chicago to pieces. The Polish-American community was incensed that the atomic bomb that had murdered their brethren (in many cases their literal families and not just of their race) in their homeland had been given wholesale to the Communists from President Wallace and his team. Again, black Americans bore the brunt of this violence as they were seen as closet Wallace supporters. [2] It’s hard to tell at this point who hated Wallace the most: the Italians, the Poles, the Southern WASPs or whatever other group. But there is one thing for certain – almost no one liked him. On March 17th, Gallup recorded a 4% approval rating for Wallace. This remains the lowest rating ever recorded by a professional pollster in the history of the United States for the American President.

By now, with the Secretary of State languishing in a jail cell, the Republicans believed the time had come. While they were content to let Wallace continue to implode the Democrat Party, it was believed that the country’s suffering was too destructive to allow it to go on for another second. Finally, impeachment was put on the table. Impeachment had been tried once before against Andrew Johnson, but it had failed. This time, no one was in any doubt about the outcome. The Republican domination in the North combined with the Freedom Party’s domination in the South coalesced into an almighty axis. The Democrat Party was divided, with more moderate members stressing the need to ditch the horrendously unpopular Wallace, while true believers such as Vito Marantonio continued to vigorously defend against ‘the creeping march of Fascism in Washington’. While the Freedom Party didn’t care if Wallace was simply shot out of hand, the Republican’s East Coast Establishment worried about the effect an impeachment would have on the United States as a whole. It was agreed in secret meeting between Republican and Democrat senators that Wallace would be pardoned for his actions if he resigned the Presidency without fuss.

Senate Majority Leader Wallace White and Democrat Senator Carl Hatch would meet with Wallace on March 25th to push for this option. White remembered, “I looked at Wallace and he was as pale as a sheet – he’d barely left the Oval Office since Ethel Rosenberg testified. He already looked like a dead man – he knew what he did, and he knew the situation he was in.” An hour-long meeting ensued, where the two senators desperately tried to convince Wallace to resign for the good of the country. Though Wallace did not commit, he stated that he would consider, in return for certain assurances by the Republicans about what they would do when they won power in November (which no one doubted). Another meeting was set up for March 28th. Unfortunately, General Patton gave a speech on March 27th to a crowd of some 10,000 in Richmond, Virginia. Patton had a habit of going off-script on multiple occasions to rile up the crowd – which Republican coordinators had generally been fine with. Patton, however, had heard about the attempts of Republican leaders to let Wallace off the hook. His rage of Wallace clouding him from anything else, he decided he would never let that happen. He told the crowd, “If the politicians in Washington let him get away with what he’s done, then God strike me down if I lie to you right now, I’ll chase him inside the Kremlin to put him to justice myself if I have to!”

Fearing the Republicans had betrayed him, Wallace cancelled all negotiations and swore to fight to the end against all hope. Though the Republicans and Democrats tried to convince him otherwise (including Truman), Wallace was unmoved. There was no choice. On April 1st 1948, freshman Congressman Richard Nixon approached the House of Representatives [3] and began the process of impeachment against Wallace. The House would vote 390 – 32 (with thirteen Democrats not voting) to impeach Wallace, with the entirety of the Republicans and Freedom Party throwing their weight against the President. Due to the fears Wallace would attempt something in co-ordination with the Soviets, the process was rushed to the Senate and blasted through every committee (mostly dominated by the Freedom Party) where the higher hurdle of a two-thirds majority was required. In the end, of course, it made no difference. On the afternoon of April 27th, ninety senators voted for Wallace’s conviction on the grounds of providing classified nuclear material to the Soviets and obstruction of justice in firing Hoover, thus covering up the investigation. Within an hour, Wallace was escorted out of the Oval Office by federal marshals thirty minutes later and was taken to a secure location in rural Iowa. Photos taken of him showed a pale-faced, shattered man who had lost a significant amount of weight being escorted into a windowless transport. Wallace was so unpopular that the location was kept from the public to stop him from being assassinated.

Amazingly, that wasn’t the only act of insanity that happened on April 27th in Washington. With Wallace out, Harry Truman had officially become the President of the United States. However, having been locked in the middle of the most brutal political crisis in American political history, multiple suspected Soviet spies still in the administration and his name having been thoroughly dragged through the mud through Wallace’s association, to say he was unenthusiastic was an understatement. At sunset on April 27th, Truman shocked his associates by saying that he didn’t want to be President and resigned. Thus, the first successful Presidential impeachment and resignation occurred on one day, which would become known in American history as ‘The Day of Three Presidents’. Truman was later affirmed to have been President by subsequent court decisions, which paved the way for the 22nd Amendment. His seven-hour reign is the shortest duration of a US President in history, and likely will be for a long time. He was also the last President to represent the Democrat Party.

Joseph Martin, the Republican House Majority Leader, was sworn in that night as the 35th President of the United States, though he would only last in power for less than a year before once again running for his Massachusetts constituency in the fall of 1948 in what was an amusing sight for the media. Ultimately, the sight of President Martin campaigning to return to his little seat brought him favourable views from all across the country. More importantly, however, were his rapid actions in the field of foreign policy. At Patton’s insistence (or rather by the need of keeping up with Patton’s uproarious public speeches), Martin got the US army booted up. They would soon be going back to Asia, although it wasn’t Japan that was the enemy this time around. America went from a neutral party to the most rabidly Anti-Communist country on the planet in a single night. The effects that would befall the world at large were incalculable.

Before that, again due to Patton’s rabble-rousing, the Soviet Embassy was shut down and all Soviet diplomats were expelled on May 1st 1948, a symbolically chosen date due to its resonance in the labor movement. Martin announced that the United States no longer recognised the Soviet Union, due to their ‘hostile invasion of the highest halls of America’. Within a week, Stalin had reciprocated and expelled all American diplomats from the Soviet Union, denying that there had ever been a spying operation in the first place. Of course, Stalin’s denial only made Americans more animated. By now, multiple Senate and House Committees (aided greatly by the re-instated Hoover) had sprung up to investigate the Wallace administration. Hiss was quickly joined in his jail cell with people who had only weeks ago been among the most powerful people in the most powerful country on Earth. Abt, Dexter-White and Kramer were singled out for their involvement in the Ware Group and put under intense scrutiny behind bars. Unfortunately, almost every member of the Wallace Administration, guilty or not, was viewed through the same lens. No one wanted to touch them, even other Democrats. Working with Wallace meant your name was tarnished forever. Even Morgenthau would find himself narrowly avoiding arrest, and this only due to his strong denunciations of the Soviet Union following the dictatorship’s actions to her Jewish subjects following the end of the First Arabian War. Truman was dragged even more thoroughly through the dirt, with Fielding Wright, Governor of Mississippi and a leading member of the Freedom Party saying, ‘even if he weren’t a spy he should be hanged for being so danged stupid to work with that jack in the box’. Truman would attempt for all his life to deny charges that he was a Communist agent but it wasn’t until close to his deathbed that passions had cooled to the point a historical appraisal was possible and people could realise how horribly he had been treated by all sides. Even still, he had a far better fate than other members of the Wallace Adminstration.


However, in both the popular and academic world, the Wallace Presidency is considered the most catastrophic in the history of the United States with the possible exception of James Buchanan or Andrew Johnson’s terms (though in popular polls Wallace is considered by far and away the worst). Wallace’s term was marked by economic free-fall, an immense long-term blow to America’s reputation in international affairs, significant increases in racial strife, the shattering of his century-old political party (a feat not even the Civil War could accomplish), the direct empowerment of the Extreme Left and the indirect empowerment of the Extreme Right and the total loss of faith of Americans in their government and institutions. Wallace was perhaps lucky that he never lived long enough to see the full condemnation he would receive from history.

[1] Ultimately, this testimony would indeed be enough to save the pair from execution, even though Julius never forgave his wife while she was alive. Both would die in prison in May 2003, with Ethel dying on May 2nd and Julius on May 6th - many believe Julius’s death was due to hidden grief.

[2] - Indeed, blacks uniquely began to hate Wallace because of how much he had cost them politically – Storm Thurmond would privately speak with joy about how Wallace ‘set back the desegregationists a hundred years’ (which he was, of course, quite wrong about).

[3] – Having earned the role through his service in getting Patton on the ticket and being seen as a guy who could win the general over. The Establishment have their eyes on him.

'Har Habayit Beyadenu!'

Extract from 'Memoirs of a Young Girl' (1988), by Anne Frank

I still remember the early days of the war. In Tel Aviv, we were cleanly divided into two camps. The ones who thought we were doomed and the ones who believed in divine relief. I hoped for the latter but in my heart I feared the former. There was a remarkable amount of dark humour. I remember one girl saying she was ‘learning to swim’ to prepare for the Arab invasion. I must confess that I was worried. Even the sight of veterans of Trieste marching through the city and to the frontline filled me with dread. I feared they’d come all that way just to perish. The Arabs had quickly seized the Arab majority areas of Palestine and made no pretense that this was going to end up with anything less than our obliteration. Indeed, within days we had already heard tales of Jewish villages slaughtered to the last, pogroms and violence not seen in the Holy Land since our expulsion from Hebron two decades before. We also heard about how they had advanced Soviet weaponry, or even a handful of Soviet troops among them; this mostly wasn’t true, but when existential crises come one after another you tend to imagine the worst. The one good thing that the Arabs accomplished was that it united our whole people together as only those in Trieste could remember. I had been conscripted myself, much to my parent’s fear, and I dreaded the moment I would be told to go into battle. I was told to expect to fight the Egyptians, since they were considered the most advanced Arab country at the time. I hated it – I cursed my parents for taking me from the safety of Libya to have us all die and then I cursed myself for saying such cruel things of my parents. Like all creatures, nothing makes one do foolish things like the belief that very soon there will be no more things at all.

I remember on the night of March 7th in my bunk while the other girls were asleep. We were going through some basic military training. It was hard – it appeared that the tough living of Libya had not sharpened me up as much as I thought. Even still, I was wide awake; I couldn’t go to sleep and I was baffled that everyone else could. Staring at the unfamiliar ceiling, I finally closed my eyes and prayed to God. I asked him, no, begged him to end the war and save us. We’d already gone through such impossible suffering, such monumental evil … how could he let it happen again? Though I spoke with high-minded words about other people, in reality, I was mostly worried that I would die. I wasn’t ready to die – indeed, I’m still not ready to die. To die is to lose the chance of helping and healing others. If I died, I would deprive the people I love. What’s noble in that? I prayed that God would hear my prayer, and save us from obliteration.

I woke up late on March 8th, but I could instantly tell that something was happening … and it appeared to be good news. The girls all had smiles on their faces, hugging and crying a little. Even the commanders seemed fine with the drop in discipline and were acting like the cadets. Baffled, I saw a stack of newspapers just at the entrance to Headquarters. I put my hand to my mouth: Italy had joined the War. Not supplying us, not wishing us well, but had outright joined the War. They had bombed Cairo from their carriers, shelled Alexandria with their navy and swept in from Libya to charge into the heart of Egypt. Furthermore, Turkey had joined the War on our side, having attacked Syria. Mussolini had said that the Italian army would soon be deployed to Israel proper to defend her against the Arabs. He even hinted that other members of the Roman Alliance would join. I was too flabbergasted to say anything … and then I remembered my prayer. Did it do anything? Probably not, since it takes more than a night to plan an invasion, but I chose to believe it. I chose to believe that God had heard not just my prayer, but the prayer of the Jewish people. Now that the final battle hung in the balance, no weapon would prosper against us. The Lord was our shield.

Extract from ‘Miracle: The History of Israel’ by Joel Hagee

The entry of Italy and Turkey would prove decisive. Though every member of the Roman Alliance would contribute token support (with the exception of the Anti-Semitic Franco, who was never fully comfortable with the bloc’s relationship with Israel despite reluctantly recognizing her existence) Italy and Turkey were the only two who provided significant military support. Italy would land a professional army in Tel Aviv at the end of March, but it was its lightening campaign against Egypt that shocked the world. On the morning of March 8th, the Italians had pulverised Cairo and Alexandria in air strikes with troops in Libya storming over the border. As most of Egypt’s fighting force was concentrated in the Sinai, the Italians were almost totally unopposed. King Farouk had anticipated an easy victory. He didn’t anticipate the sudden invasion of Italy - which he thought the British would never allow. In this, he was only partially right in that Churchill had to be convinced, though he eventually agreed owing to the pressing commitments of the Empire elsewhere. On March 11th, still shocked by the sudden invasion and with the Italians in Mersa Matruh already, Egypt agreed to an armistice with Israel and Italy; this was the first crack in the Arab coalition. It was also a serious point of humiliation for Egyptians, to not only be the first to surrender, but to do so on such a sudden basis, given the waves of propaganda bragging that they would throw the Jews into the sea. Everyone expected an easy victory. To have been so suddenly defeated outraged the population, which would pave the way for the far more destructive Second Arabian War.

Turkey, by contrast, was slower but no less overwhelming. Lebanon had declared neutrality in the war due to the influence of the Pro-Israel Christian population and bribery by the Western powers. Thus, Turkey’s strategy was to race down the Mediterranean and cut off the Syrian state from seaborne resupply. As a significant amount of Soviet supplies came from the sea, everyone knew that to lose these territories would be ruinous to the Arab cause. Of course, at the same time, this was a highly populated area, and not as easy to make strong advances in. This didn’t stop the Turks from taking Idlib on March 17th, Aleppo on March 25th and Lattakia on April 10th. On May 7th, Tartus was seized with the help of the Regia Marina, and by May 20th, the entire coastline was declared secure. In reality, the Soviet supply line had been eviscerated by Roman Alliance blockade long before the shoreline closed, but to Syria’s leaders, this represented the end. On May 22nd, Syria’s leaders likewise capitulated and accepted an armistice. Unlike Egypt, which was granted a white peace, the Turks had no interest in an unadjusted border, but the final terms would be agreed once the conflict was resolved.

In both the Syrian and Egyptian fronts, the Israelis put up spirited but minimal resistance. The vast majority of Israeli strength was concentrated in the Palestine area against a force that mostly consisted of Palestinian Arabs, Jordanians and Iraqis. Needless to say, of course, knowledge that both the Golan Heights and Sinai would be quiet was a significant aid to the deployment of Israeli forces. They suddenly found themselves, contrary to popular imagination, the numerically superior force. This was in small part due to the influx of the Hungarian Jewish fighters. Hungarians would be the plurality of the young state’s immigrant groups and for obvious reasons. The ferocity with which Jewish Hungarians fought at Trieste made them renowned across world Jewry on par with those who perished at Masada – except these Jews had survived, now to undo Titus’s wrath. Therefore, not only did the Jews have obvious technically superiority (owing to aid from the Roman Alliance, ETO and a handful of aid from the United States close to the end of the fighting), they possessed a huge array of soldiers who were battle-hardened and unafraid of the Arabs.

The Arabs, by contrast, were terrified. The speedy fall of Egypt had sent a thunderbolt of fear stretching from the Mediterranean to the Gulf. The treatment of the Jews captured was even more brutal than before, with artillery shelling often completely ignoring troop concentrations to attack Jewish residential areas to lower the Jewish population (indeed, it is estimated 1% of the entire Jewish population of Palestine was killed in the less than one year of fighting that marked the war, with many more wounded). The Arab Coalition, under Jordan’s King Talal, was suffering from psychotic episodes and proved a poor Commander in even his most lucid moments In reality, his already poor medical state was significantly worsened by the disastrous news on the front. Finally on June 2nd, with Jewish forces knocking at the gates of Jerusalem, Talal told his officers to request a ceasefire with Israel. In response, he was placed in a straightjacket and thrown into a lunatic asylum in Amman by his subordinates. Ultimately, the imprisonment became a real breakdown and he was later transferred to Istanbul. There, he was kept blissfully unaware of what befell his country. The officers, by contrast, were being paid off not just by Stalin, but Ibn Al-Saud, the King of Saudi Arabia. To say this was a startling union of forces is an understatement. Nevertheless, the question was now serious. The officers had no credibility themselves, neither the Jordanians or Saudis wanted to increase Iraq’s prestige in the region and they needed someone who could restore Arab pride after a startling string of defeats. Who would be the new face of the Arab forces? For that, an awful answer was the reply.

Extract from ‘The Arab Tragedy: 1944–1956’ by Abdul Nazim

Of all the most baffling decisions taken by Arab leaders, few could have been more idiotic than to announce on June 4th that the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Amin Al-Husseini, would become the leader of Arab forces. It was done as a way to revive morale, especially among the Palestinian Arab exiles, as he was seen as someone who could inspire confidence into the beleaguered population. It was announced he would lead an independent Palestinian state (with no Jewish state of any kind in the region) after the war was done, though it would be a de facto Jordanian puppet state. At the same time, his role was restricted almost entirely to propaganda and the Mufti would have little actual input on the fighting. This was done because the Mufti had no real military experience (not that he could have done a much worse job of things than the current crop of Arab generals themselves). However, the effect was disastrous on every front. The Mufti had openly supported not only Hitler and Himmler, but the Final Solution on a public basis. He had called upon Arabs to rise up against ‘the Jewish-Colonial brotherhood’, by which he meant Britain, France and Italy (as Germany did not set foot on Arab land during the War). His open Nazi allegiances, coupled with his genuine, material support to the Nazis had made him a wanted man in Britain for war crimes. Word of the Mufti’s ascent made Britain double her contributions – it also allowed Orde Wingate to get an all-clear to openly campaign in Jewish areas of Britain to recruit fighters for the Israeli forces [1]. Though he had failed in the attempt, Italy wanted to prosecute him for attempts to get the Muslim Bosnian population of Croatia to fight the Ustache in the name of Hitler. Of course, for his multiple endorsements of pogroms back in the 1920s and 1930s, Jewish leaders reviled him. Most importantly, Stalin himself may have hated Jews but he hated Hitler far, far more. When word met him that a Nazi war criminal had ascended to the leadership of Arab forces, what little Soviet aid and support that was still coming into the Arabs from North Iran was stopped. Though the material effects were little, the public condemnation of this by Pravda was a wake-up call to the Arab people of the stupidity of their leaders. Ultimately, only Ibn-Al Saud would come out of the conflict with a mostly unblemished reputation, the rest seen as fools or cowards.

To make matters worse, on June 8th, Iraq pulled out of the Arab Coalition. As Iraq was still ruled by a Hashemite monarchy, Prince Regent ‘Abd al-Ilah cut off ties with the Coalition, calling them a ‘collection of murderous cutthroats’ for their killing of Talal loyalists within Jordan. This decision was to lead to disastrous consequences in Iraq in the upcoming years, which closely mirrored the situation in Egypt. By now, the Arab Coalition consisted mostly of Jordanian and Palestinian Arab forces with small numbers of Yemenite and Saudi troops to bulk up the now embarrassingly small numbers. Arab leaders had envisioned an unstoppable mass of people laying waste to a scattering of Jewish settlers. Instead, they faced a numerically and technologically superior foe more dominant in both respects then they could have ever feared.

In terms of command, it wasn’t even close. Arab Coalition leaders proved inflexible to the changing demands of the situation, while Jewish forces – aided by multiple helpers – proved adept. The Soviets took a mostly hands off approach to the war, believing it should only be a matter of supplies. Once the weakness of the Arab performance became clear, Stalin’s opinion of the Arab nations consequently fell as well. Arab and Soviet relations would not truly improve until after his death. Indeed, across the West, many had argued that the Arabs should have been supported, believing that the numerically superior, conservative and religious population made a more natural ally against the Communists. Again, due to the poor performance of Arab leaders, the Arab people would suffer the consequences. Churchill would infamously state, “A few tribes of savage cannibals in the Congo could outperform the Arab world in battle.” This Anti-Arab racism would only grow more acute in the coming decades.

But of course, the worst incidents of Anti-Arab racism happened much more physically. The Lehi, a Jewish-Fascist Paramilitary group that supported Italy and wished to transplant the Italian system to Israel (some members even going as far as to ponder whether Mussolini was their Messiah), would become notorious during the war [2]. They saw Arabs as a lesser race, with some of their literature even demanding their extermination. With such ardor, it can be no wonder about the multiple atrocities they had committed (with no small amount of help from the Italians). Indeed, many thought Lehi would disband when the fighting started and that it would fall under the control of the newly formed Israeli Defence Force (IDF), but Italy’s support for the organisation ensured that it operated on a semi-independent basis. While the Italians ensured that Lehi never attacked third parties, they cared little about the fate of the Arab population. The worst incident would be the fate of Gaza. On March 31st, the Egyptians long having left, the weakened and cut-off remnants of the Arab Coalition made a stand in the town of Gaza. The city was overwhelmed with Arab refugees fleeing Lehi atrocities. Despite this, the city was relentlessly bombed and shelled from sky and sea by the Italians. The Italian Aircraft carrier Il Sparviero parked in the middle of the Mediterranean with almost no protection, ceaselessly sending planes bombing Arab targets; they knew the Arabs had no capacity to respond. The IDF was busy in the Jerusalem Campaign, leaving the Lehi mostly free to mop of the remnants of shattered Arab forces. On May 31st, the Lehi broke into Gaza, and began a campaign that one witness remembered as ‘the visitation of evil on Earth’. The Lehi often simply grabbed any military aged man and flung them against the wall to be shot. The remaining Arab civilians – those who hadn’t fled to Egypt – were rammed into trucks to be thrown over the Egyptian border. It’s estimated that 500 innocent Arabs were murdered by the Lehi in Gaza – they would commit a series of similar atrocities across Israel. Ben-Gurion was disgusted and issued a public denunciation of the Lehi for ‘mishandling’ the situation (though privately he well-knew and despised them as murderers). The rebuke lit off a firestorm of criticism from most of the Provisional State Council (that Ben-Gurion chaired in fear Begin would take the role), Roman Alliance and even Britain, who worried about the diplomatic fallout. This caused Ben-Gurion to think about what he could do to halt the march of Fascist ideology in Israel dead. Ultimately, his fear of dark forces taking Israel would lead him to write an extraordinary letter in its time that would change the course of Israeli history.

Faced with relentless assault, Arab forces found themselves broken and demoralized. Ultimately, when the final attack on Jerusalem began, many simply surrendered out of hand. Ben-Gurion, knowing that the eyes of the world would be on the operation, made especially sure the Lehi would be nowhere near the operation. Instead, he put a surprising figure in charge of the final attack on Jerusalem – one of Moshe Dayan’s recommendation: Erwin Rommel. The German general, at once treated with extreme suspicion upon arrival in Israel, had been praised for a series of incredible victories in the Palestinian desert to the point that the Israeli press began to praise him as ‘Shu'al HaMidbar’, which roughly translates as ‘The Desert Fox’. Given his success, he was quickly called up to more prominent positions, becoming a national hero by seizing the town of Hebron (leading the first Jews to enter the city since they had been expelled in the 1929 Massacre). His triumph at the Battle of Bethlehem was not particularly impressive, but the name itself excited the attention of the Christian West, leading to an outpouring of international praise to the German which completely washed away his alleged War Crimes. With that level of adoration internationally, Ben-Gurion decided to put Rommel in charge of the operation to seize Jerusalem. Begin demanded that only a Jew was qualified to lead the assault, but was eventually cowed. The loftily titled ‘Operation Kingdom’ had begun.

Extract from ‘Day’ (1990) by Elie Wiesel

The troops had all been assembled. Myself and the other commanders stood at the forefront. Even now, still thinking about how quickly I had ascended the ranks shocked me. I had seen my fair share of tribulations in Trieste, in Hungary, in Auschwitz, in the Sudetenland and now even in the land of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. From that tiny Hungarian village of my birth I had seen the world in all its beauty and ugliness - all its good and evil. What made the thought all the more incredible was seeing my superior before all of us: Erwin Rommel. He could still barely speak any Hebrew and he had his translator just beside him to speak into the microphone on his behalf. Despite this, he had a presence that left us floored. I felt horrible for my suspicions about him, though he had insisted that he understood and that no feelings were lost. We stood to attention, ready to die for a man many of us had wanted to kill.

“Men,” he said, “I thank you for coming here. I thank you for coming all this way with me. Many of you come from Hungary … or Poland … or Italy … or America … or Britain … or Germany. You came from every corner of the world … all for one purpose: that your children would never live under the heel … of a man like Adolf Hitler.”

We were shocked that he had brought up the subject with such bluntness but continued to listen.

“You may hate us. I understand that. If the German people had gone through the trials and tribulations of Jews, the tribulations we silently watched, we would have hated our cowardly witnesses almost as much as our oppressors too. I don’t know how long the word ‘Germany’ will make you shudder, but it breaks my heart to know that the name of my country could bring pain to any human being. That’s why I stand before you today. Today, we begin the operation that will return to their possession the city that God had entrusted to them. The city of Solomon, of David. Think if no Catholic could visit the Vatican. Think if no Muslim could visit Mecca. Yet the world silently watches as the Jews are cast out of their homeland. For two thousand years, the Jews have been exiled from their homeland. That changes today! Today, the Jewish people shall return to the land of their fathers! And all the Titus’s, all the Tsars, all the Hitlers couldn’t stop them! For two thousand years, they tried to destroy you and every single time they have failed! You are more than any Dictator! More than any monster! You are the Chosen People! And today, you will take your place among the nations of the world! And if a German can help you do this … so that you know we weren’t all like them … then perhaps even if our generation is doomed to the poison of bigotry and vengeance … perhaps our children will do a better job than we did.”

We stood in stunned silence. Finally, I heard a man just beside me clap. I turned around … only to see that he was missing an eye. It was Moshe Dayan! We were stunned to see such a senior Israeli official, let alone giving salutations to Rommel! Soon, in light of his example, we began to follow. One by one, thousands of Jews, some holding back tears, stood tall and began to applaud. I’d seen Rommel in many positive states – I saw excitement, relief and coyness. But I’d never seen him give such a look as I saw at that moment. It was a look of eternal happiness – like he had fulfilled his life’s work and had found unfading joy and purpose. I prayed that our mission would not be in vain.

Extract from 'The New Roman Empire' by David Lassinger

The final assault on the Old City on July 4th was more motivated by cultural rather than military matters. Extreme caution was exercised to ensure that no priceless religious artifacts were lost in the carnage. With Jerusalem now totally surrounded, it was only a matter of time before the Arab forces in the city surrendered, which they did on July 7th. That night, Erwin Rommel sent his famous message (having relentlessly proof-checked it due to his poor grasp of Hebrew): 'Har Habayit Beyadenu!' It meant ‘The Temple Mount is ours!’ For the first time in 2000 years, the holiest location in Judaism had returned to its original spiritual owners. On July 9th, a pilgrimage of several thousand Jews descended on the Temple, the date declared a national holiday in Israel (Jerusalem Day). Orthodox preachers led sermons to their hearts content both at the Western Wall and the Temple Mount itself. Ben-Gurion and many Socialists had been extremely concerned that Jewish prayer in the Temple Mount would be extremely diplomatically risky, but the Arab states could do little and no one had the political capital to tell Jews not to pray in their holiest location. Internationally the Jewish population of the world was likewise electric. Celebrations filled the streets of New York, London and Rome. After decades of persecution, culminating in the greatest crime in human history, to have triumphed so totally and quickly was beyond the imagination of most people, Jew or not. Unfortunately, they would soon receive a grim reminder of the propensity for human evil.

On July 10th, a telegram was sent to Jerusalem from the Arab powers. In it, a group of Arab officers in Jordan told Israel it stood ready to execute a coup against the Mufti and hardline members of the Jordanian army who wanted a war. The terms were generous: 75% of the Palestine region would be granted to Israel, including all of Hebron, Bethlehem and Jerusalem (with guarantees of freedom of religion for Muslims at their holy shrines). The Palestinian Arab remainder would be annexed to Jordan to present it as a ‘win’ to the population. Ben-Gurion was ecstatic that morning, as he was told the contents of the letter. He felt that he had achieved almost everything he wanted. As he attended the meeting of the state council that morning, he could instantly tell something was off. Begin stared from the opposite end of the room. Ben-Gurion demanded to know what was going on, before being told that he had Begin and the Council had already rejected the letter. Ben-Gurion was even more startled to know that Italian planes had begun bombing Amman and that troops had already began an assault on Aqaba. Suddenly, Ben-Gurion had realised why Begin’s meeting with Mussolini had gone on so long: Mussolini had been sold on Begin’s ideology of Revisionist Zionism. The Israeli state was now not just fighting to exist – it was fighting a war to conquer Jordan … with the Italians to make sure they finished the job. When Ben-Gurion demanded the armistice be accepted, he realised that he was the minority. Ultimately, the small land mass of the Israel he wanted had little strategic depth and that convinced many Israeli leaders of the virtues of Revisionist Zionism. The growing influence of the Israeli Right (who were much more likely to be Revisionist Zionists) had likewise left Ben-Gurion realising he had been outmanouvered.

The die was cast: Israel would continue fighting until she had conquered Jordan - then and only then would the Israeli government ask for peace. The consequences would be gargantuan to the world, and the Middle East in particular. Mussolini had truly stamped his footprint upon the Earth.

[1] Wingate wanted to be among the troops, but it was decided that he was of most value in Britain, influencing the British government. He would be the first ambassador of Britain to Israel, a position he had dreamed of. He would be invaluable in moderating the influence of the Roman Alliance on Israel and keeping Israel and the Democratic West on close terms.

[2] – To the point they declared themselves a neutral party in ITTL WW2 up until Italy’s entry, only not endorsing Nazi Germany due to Italian influence. Just look them up OTL - they were an incredibly odd group - brutal as well.
The First Catastrophe

Extract from ‘The Making of the Fascist Bloc’ by Jodie Rutkins

The Israeli army celebrated her seizing of Jerusalem, giving time to reorganize their forces. Of course, it mattered little; the Arab Coalition’s army was in a state of disrepair and already knew it faced doom short of divine intervention (which the Mufti took pains to promise in his increasingly Apocalyptic radio broadcasts). The Mufti promised a day, “when even the very trees and rocks will screech ‘Muslim! There is a Jew behind me! Come and kill him!’ So shall end this war.” Leading Jewish Council member (and hardline Revisionist Zionist and Mussolini-supporter) Abba Ahimeir joked that the Mufti comprised half of the fighting force the Arabs had left; though a joke, this comment would eerily predict the ending of the conflict. The Israelis not only had their well-supplied army, but the Lehi, under the command of Yitzhak Shamir. The Lehi looked forward to the campaign in Jordan, as were the Italians. Under the table, a deal was reached between Italo Balbo (who was in command of Italian forces in Israel) and Shamir. It stated that while ‘major population transfers were inevitable and desirable’, Arab Christians (especially Catholics) would be granted certain protections from these movements. In return, Italy promised that she would veto any measure by the UN that would condemn the Lehi’s actions. Ultimately, this is more or less what happened. Arab Christians made up about 20% of Jordan before the war, but made up roughly 60% of the remaining Arab population in 1949. Likewise, the Lehi mostly ignored the rural Bedouin, as they were considered too detached to mount a threat. By contrast, the Lehi’s actions against urban Muslim Arabs were shameless (and there exists a serious debate to this day over the extent that Begin and other members of the Israeli government allowed it to happen). Of course, the Lehi’s reputation alone was usually enough to clear out a town before they even arrived. Aqaba had already been almost entirely abandoned by human beings by the time the Lehi arrived, leaving a ghost town. Similar but not as remarkable stories repeated themselves in Amman, Karak and Irbid. Jordan had already been overrun with Palestinian Arab refugees. The mass of refugees flooding into Syria and Egypt was brutal, but the ones who had it worst were the ones aiming for Iraq or Saudi Arabia. Given the scale of the desert between the refugees and the nearest respite, thousands perished in the travelling. The miserable fate of the Trans-Jordan refugees would only worsen as time went on.

Meanwhile, the IDF began its final campaign to take over the remainder of Jordan, now fully supplied and ready. Launching from Jerusalem (now with three Regio Esercito divisions and one Blackshirt division), the campaign began on August 7th in three pincers. The main attack would be lead by Rommel towards Amman. A northern pincer, led by Dayan, would clear out the last areas of the West Bank still under Arab control and finish in Irbid by closing up the main road links between Syria and Jordan. Lastly, Balbo would lead an army group to cross and surround the Dead Sea, taking Karak and proceeding to chase the Saudis to their border. The operation went even smoother than expected. Rommel plowed through the Arab Coalition, even taking time to pose for pictures to the world’s press in Jericho. The Biblical symbolism was not lost on Israeli/Italian propaganda, who used it to great effect in the West to interest and excite Christians. Similar pictures were taken from the summit of Mount Nebo, with Rommel staring into the far distance like Moses. On September 12th, Rommel had reached Amman. He would later record that the swarms of refugees from the city were more difficult to deal with than the Arab Coalition forces, many of whom had started fighting each other in the doom-laden atmosphere that had descended upon Jordan. At the same time, the Mufti was not found. Initially, it was suspected he had fled to Saudi Arabia, but witnesses report that he headed east rather than south. Undisclosed radio broadcasts would soon commence, with the Mufti saying he was still in Jordan ‘To continue the resistance to Colonial-Zionism’. As the location of the Mufti baffled Israelis, Dayan took Jerash on September 20th and stood on the Syrian border on October 10th. Balbo crushed the last decent Saudi divisions at the Battle of Karak on September 9th and proceeded to work his way down south, seizing Petra on October 29th and closing the final road with Saudi Arabia on November 22nd.

By this point, the joint co-operation of the newly MI6, the DGSA the OVRA and the hastily built Mossad (the Israeli’s secret intelligence/security service) had borne fruit on discovering the Mufti’s hideout. On November 25th, the move that ended the war began. Traced to a barn in Az-Zarqa, a joint Israeli-Italian team landed by helicopter nearby, broke into the Mufti’s compound (which was mostly unarmed to conceal his hiding place) gagged him and dragged him back to the helicopter, where he was brought back to Israeli territory. The capture of the Mufti was an international sensation in its advertising of the capabilities of the new Israeli state (ignoring Italian help). The war would give Israel a fearsome reputation around the world. Ironically, the Arabs were the only ones who didn’t feel that way, blaming their loss almost entirely on foreign aid and the weaknesses of their own leaders. On November 29th, the Saudis and Iraqis would both agree to an armistice. This ended the First Arabian War. Given that though defeated, the Arab states had more than enough energy to come back again, it is likely the Second Arabian War was inevitable with the amount of bad blood that was sowed and would continue to be sued in the intervening years.

Extract from ‘The Arab Tragedy: 1944–1956’ by Abdul Nazim

The Iraqis, Egyptians and Saudis would ultimately be let off with a white peace (though only the Saudi leadership would escape large-scale hatred by their populations). Unfortunately for the remaining states, some lost everything. From being granted a relatively small portion of the Palestinian area, the Jewish leadership had not just swallowed everything west of the Jordan river, but a significantly larger amount of territory through the total annexation of the Trans-Jordan mandate. In the north, Syria would also be a major loser. It would lose its coast to Turkey, which annexed both Tartus and Latakia. Israel would annex the Golan Heights for defensive purposes. Turkey’s annexation of these two small provinces was more important than many realised. In closing off these ports, they had denied the Soviets sea access, on top of significantly imperiling Syria’s economy by reducing foreign trade (especially from former Colonial master France). Given the intense economic hardship that fell on Syria as a result, its no surprise that the initial seed of the second conflict would spring from that part of the world. The Mufti was to be put on trial in Jerusalem for his crimes stretching from his involvement in the riots of the 1920s to his co-operation with the Nazis and his involvement with atrocities committed by Arab forces in the recent war – it was ultimately agreed the death penalty would be permitted.

The status of Jerusalem was far more uncertain, specifically the Old City. While there was no objection in the West about making Jerusalem the capital of the new Israeli state, the status of the Old City was controversial owing to the religious sensitivities of the world’s three Abrahamic religions. Ultimately, it was a lucky coincidence that the three victorious countries who contributed men to the fight would be Jewish, Christian and Muslim. The administration of the Holy Sites of Jerusalem was put in the hands of an interfaith council of Israeli, Italian and Turkish representatives. When it came to the Temple Mount/Al-Aqsa, it would be open to all faiths, though prayer would be reserved on the Holy Day of each religion for their respective use (Friday for Muslims, Saturday for Jews and Sunday for Christians). Similar arrangements were made in Bethlehem and Hebron. This would ultimately prove wise propaganda for Israel; many on the Right wanted Jewish exclusivity at Holy Sites, but the Socialists managed to win this fight. It was doubly wise as the heavy involvement of the Vatican in the Interfaith Council, which quickly became a propaganda tool against ‘International Communist Atheism (an irony given Mussolini’s own beliefs on the subject), would force the Holy See to recognise the state of Israel in 1949. This co-operation would lead to a much-needed revision of traditional Catholic hostility to Jews, a fact alluded to by Pope Pius XII on his Papal Visit to Jerusalem and Bethlehem in 1950. The visit would be an international sensation and cemented the connection between Italy and Israel. On top of that, Turkey was more than bellicose about her new role in world Islam. The military commanders, despite leading an avowedly secular state, were quite interested in manipulating the feelings of world Islam for their own purposes. To this end, Turkification of the annexed Syrian regions was intense, the blows ironically falling harder on the Arabs than the long-suffering Kurds. In 1951, Turkish law required that Imans would preach in Turkish, including in Holy Sites in Jerusalem. The law would cause riots throughout the country, which were mercilessly suppressed.

With respect to the Israelis, they had to deal with an upswing in religiosity due to the religious fervor that erupted with the capture of the Temple Mount. The fears of an uncontrollable religious minority would ultimately convince the Israelis to not exempt the Haredim from conscription (many of whom would immigrate back to Libya and often to other Settler States in Africa to practice their religion without interruption). As the demographic situation was precarious, the Lehi made every attempt to ensure this wouldn’t be an issue. Village after village met brutal clear-outs and expulsions. The Lehi’s training by the OVRA had been well remembered, as they cut a swathe of destruction through the smaller towns of Jordan. It’s estimated that 200,000 Arabs would be chased out of Jordan by Lehi violence (with another 200,000 leaving beforehand at the very mention of the Lehi). This was on top of the some 500-800,000 Palestinian Arabs who left their own region before. The human carnage that resulted from this atrocity (on top of the loss of Jerusalem) was initially called the ‘Nakba’, or ‘Catastrophe’. It has since been called ‘The First Catastrophe’ due to the events of the Second Arabian War.

It must not be forgotten the mass of Jewish suffering that encompassed the Middle East as a result of Israel’s establishment. In Egypt, the desperately unpopular King Farouk made a last grasp to preserve his power. On January 23rd, he enacted a law decreeing Jewish residents to be enemy aliens and renouncing their citizenship. By the end of the year, the 75,000 strong Jewish population of Egypt had gone. While Farouk preserved his leadership in the short-term, the resulting economic contraction of the loss of so many skilled workers and artisans (not to mention the immediate and total embargo such a move created from the Roman Alliance and Britain) would ultimately result in his downfall anyway. Similar expulsion orders rang out across the Middle East in short order. These were often met with streams of mob violence against Jewish citizens who could trace their ancestry in their native countries for hundreds of years. This string of violence peaked in late 1949 at the news of the conviction and execution of the Grand Mufti (whose last words were, ‘That my one life has led to the obliteration of so many Jews, it has been a boundless success.’). The Mufti’s martyrdom would light a boundless fire of Anti-Semitism across the region. Though riots within Israel were quickly stamped out (and often used as an excuse by the Lehi to continue their actions), the rest of the Middle East only grew more resistant. Attempts by Israel at this time to divide the Arabs between Christians and Muslims or Shia and Sunni were failures; Arab nationalism was the order of the day. By the early 50s, Jews had been almost entirely removed from the Middle Eastern region outside of Israel, South Iran and Libya. Jewish communities that had existed for centuries had vanished in the space of a few years as a result of pogroms and state expulsion. This number was close to one million, which ironically gave more than enough settlers for the Israelis to fulfill their territorial ambitions. The main settlement areas were in and around Jerusalem, Hebron and Amman, the former two both becoming some 90% Jewish by the time of the Second Arabian War.

While horrible, we can take small comfort in the fact that the Jews of the Middle East met a collective fate better than their Soviet brethren.

Extract from 'The Death Spiral: Stalin 1941-1953' by Alexi Ivanovitch

Though Stalin had forsaken the Arabs, his opinion of the Jews had only grown lower. Indeed, by the time the armistice had been declared, his opinion had grown to sheer terror. He realised he had underestimated the Israelis and that they were a far more serious threat than he thought. He believed that his new, powerful state had willing millions of fifth columnists in their ranks, by which he meant the Jews of the Soviet Bloc. The Doctor’s Plot had already been implemented as a covert method of removing Jews from positions of power and influence. Indeed, by early 1948, it is estimated that not a single Jew worked in the Politburo or any other position of serious influence in the USSR, though this was obscured due to the massive increase in death that had accompanied Stalin’s final and most brutal purge. However, this bloodletting would not be enough for Stalin. On December 27th 1948, the opening stages of what was perhaps Stalin’s most notorious act began: the mass incarceration and deaths of the Soviet Jewish population. Initially, the operation was restricted simply to the Moscow and Leningrad urban areas, targeting journalists, doctors, teachers and anyone else considered to be in a sensitive position. This was soon expanded as the weeks went on to include what ultimately amounted to more or less the entirety of the Jewish population of the Soviet Union by the end of 1949. Two and a half million people would be deported to the Gulags in Siberia for no other reason than their Jewish ancestry. Ultimately, by the time the order was rescinded, less than two million were left. While the West was broadly aware of something horrible befalling Jews within the Soviet prison, it would be some time yet before a full reckoning fell upon the USSR.

The chief architect of organising this atrocity, NKVD leader Lavrenty Beria, would go the extra mile, making sure to imprison the gentile spouses of the Jews as well. It is believed that Beria was desperate to prove his loyalty and had consequently increased his ruthlessness even further than it already was to escape Stalin’s Purge. For this reason, he was able to successfully harangue the Soviet slave states of Poland, East Germany and Slovakia (the Eastern slave states considered to have to small a population to matter) to hand over their Jewish populations by July 1949. His zeal for arrests, including his astonishingly cruel subjugation of Poland, was so intense that one figure suggests close to 10% of the entire population of the Eastern Bloc was in some form of Labour camp by January 1950. Ultimately, it was all for naught. Beria was accused, of all things, of being a ‘Zionist agent for the Fascist Israeli state’ in December 1949 and shot under Stalin’s orders. Unfortunately, Beria’s death was not enough to liberate the Jews stranded in the cruel colds of Siberia.

It must be remembered that these remarkable monstrosities were happening against the backdrop of one of the most gigantic wars in human history in East Asia. That Stalin could so casually support such damaging and brutal purges at a time when the Soviet Union (already committed in Poland and North Iran) had to support Mao’s regime to the hilt against the might of half the world was a strong indicator of the Dictator’s mental state. Nevertheless, Stalin committed himself to supporting Mao. He was embarrassed at himself for turning down Mao back in 1946 and 1947 when Wallace was in the White House, and he could have seized the entirety of China. Now, the new Republican dynasty would likely rule America for the foreseeable future. Stalin was determined to make China a Communist state, as well as most of Asia. This laid the stage for what made the Chinese War (in reality much wider than the Chinese state itself) such a generation-defining conflict.

Changing Of the Guard

Extract from 'The Dark Decade: America in the 40s' by Wendy Walters

With the Martin Presidency underway, Democrats breathed a bizarre sigh of relief. It was bizarre in that, while their President had just been impeached and they faced utter obliteration in the elections that year, they were at last free from the Wallace burden. Alben Barkley was considered a sufficient sacrificial candidate to salvage some sense among the population that the Democrats were not all Wallace supporters. Barkley was hard-hit by the Wallace acolytes of the party, notably Vito Marcantonio (who still proudly waved the Pro-Wallace flag, living under day and night guard from lynch-mobs), as a Republican tool. However, as the DNC was coming soon on July 12th, the hierarchy of the Democratic Party was willing and ready to clear their names. That was when the news came in on July 5th that Barkley had received a heart attack due to the massive stress of brutal campaigning in his old age. While he would live, it couldn’t have come at a worse time for the Democrats. There was now no serious candidate anywhere in the line-up for the Democrat nominee: Wallace was under investigation, as was anyone in his cabinet, Barkley was in hospital and everyone knew the chalice was poison to the touch.

Tensions were astronomical in the Philadelphia Convention Hall from July 12th to 14th. Marcantonio’s faction (called ‘The Progressive Faction) still held significant sway, and had arrived with no intention of going into the night. At the same time, none of the Anti-Wallace candidates wanted anywhere near the candidate position. Many feared literal assassination – others feared that they would be dragged through the incoming waves of Federal investigations that were about to fall on the Democrat Party and didn’t want to endure that level of media scrutiny. The only people with credibility on Communism, the Dixiecrats, had left to establish their own party. The only person who really wanted the role was Marcantonio, who was told by the Mayor of Minneapolis Hubert Humphrey that ‘we would stop the Klan from assassinating you by strangling you with our bare hands first’. Finally, on July 14th, the Democrat hierarchy made their decision – and it was not a pretty picture. The candidate supported by the Democrat Party in the 1948 would be … General Patton.

The Democrat elite had decided that there was no chance in hell with the current situation. Also, given that they were suspected of being disloyal, the worst possible thing to do was run a campaign against a beloved war hero. The plan was to take the resources from the Presidential elections and put it all into preserving the Democrats in Congress (though donations had plummeted with the certain obliteration Democrats faced in November). They expected that the measure would be a tough-sell – they badly underestimated the reaction. At word of what had been agreed (behind closed doors), the Progressive Faction raised hell and stormed the stage, chanting ‘DNC, GOP, they both look the same to me!’ Fistfights between the Moderates and Progressives broke out inside and outside the hall. The police swarmed in and made the scenes even more chaotic. Soon the Progressives turned their ire on the police themselves, resulting in a full-blown riot. Ultimately, more than 500 people were arrested that night and in the next few days.

Marcantonio, however, was able to get out without being arrested. Many, including Patton, demanded to know how he had escaped cuffs, but that was soon an irrelevant question. On July 20th, Marcanotonio delivered the final death-blow to the moribund Democrat Party. He and multiple hard-left members of the Democrat Party had decided to split, refusing to listen to the demands of the DNC to support the Patton candidacy. He created the ‘Progressive Democrat Party’, often shortened to ‘The Progressives’. For the 1948 election, Marcantonio would be the Presidential Candidate, and Glen H. Taylor would be the Vice-Presidential candidate. They stood on a campaign of annulling the Wallace Administration of ‘all fabricated charges’, a treaty of friendship with the USSR, opposition to ‘Colonialism, Zionism and Fascism’, full Civil Rights, a maximum wage, nationalizations of the major industries and surrendering the entirety of America’s nuclear bombs. Harry Truman described it as ‘so stupid it could only be written in crayon’. One thing was for sure though. The Democrats quickly lost what little heartlands they still had left. The Democrat Right had left for the Freedom Party, her Centre had defected to the Republicans and now her Left too was under assault.

The 1948 Presidential Election could only be described as an event of Gotterdammerung proportions. The Progressives were the only major opposition to Patton, and they had almost nothing to work with. They were loathed by almost everyone in the country, especially in the crazed aftermath of Wallace (who had gone into hiding as senior Republicans pondered whether to go after him or not). The League of Columbus swore to smash any Progressive Parade where they discovered one – the Klan outright stated that members of the Progressive Party ‘would be shot as enemy combatants’. Thurmond outright argued that the Progressives should be banned, which Patton had to be talked out of agreeing with by Dewey. Faced with utter hatred from all quarters, it’s little wonder the results came in as they were. That November, General Patton repeated General Washington’s great feat: he had won every Electoral College point and every state in the election with a globe-shattering 90% of the vote. The Republicans held roughly 70% of the House and 60 seats in the Senate. The Freedom Party won every Senate and House seat in the old Confederacy outside a handful of Republican ones. The Progressives had scored less than the Democrats in the House elections, but it was more than enough to split the vote yet further. The Democrats were broken as a political party, only standing tall in a handful of Northern urban districts, where they fought with the Progressives for scraps. The thought that only four years ago this Party was once seen as the unbeatable leviathan of American politics would shock most people. Nevertheless, the destruction of the Democrats would pave the way for a new America. With the overwhelming endorsement of his people, with more than enough support in Congress to push through his will, George Patton became the most powerful man on Earth.

Extract from 'We Brave Few: Europe 1945-1949' by Abraham Ferguson

While the new interest in Kings had certainly been inspired by reactionary backlash against Communism, it was not exclusively for that reason that Monarchy returned to vogue in the Europe of the 1940s. One reason was that it was seen as a great way of ensuring the continued direction of the state. The example from America had shown how suddenly a Republic could radically shift gears. It was felt that a monarchy could serve as a backup to ensure a successor could not suddenly change a country overnight and dramatically upset the geopolitical picture. As the model of bringing back the Monarchy had worked well in establishing order back to Croatia and Hungary, the example soon spread to the neighboring states of Europe.

In Portugal, the Royals had been banished since the 1910 Revolution, but Salazar was interested in furthering Portugal’s international reputation as the ‘most presentable nation’ (in his own words, with reference to the West) of the Roman Alliance. He believed that if he brought back the Monarchy, it would defang some of the poison attached to Portugal’s reputation by not having the state entirely beholden to a single dictator (though it would remain in practice). It also fit in well with the Traditionalism he wanted to bring to the Portuguese Empire, not to mention his belief that a King would be a unifying symbol to the Portuguese settlers in Africa like the English had for their own. Duarte Nuno was the successor, who had successfully married Princess Maria Francisca, thus uniting warring branches of the Portugese Royalty – this would be an advantageous move. Ultimately, it was decided that the ailing President Carmona would step down in 1949. The National Assembly repealed the laws of exile, and in what was perhaps the most stamp of Salazar’s authority, he put the date of coronation on October 5th, the date of the 1910 revolution. Portugal was now a Constitutional Monarchy, under King Duarte (Edward) II.

After sixteen years without monarchy or kingdom, in 1947, Spain was made a Kingdom again by General Franco, who claimed to rule Spain as Head of state of the Kingdom of Spain through the Succession Law. However, without a king on the throne as the future Juan Carlos was considered too young, he ruled through a coalition of allied organizations from the Spanish Civil War including, but not limited to, his Falangist allies, the supporters of the Bourbon royal family, and the Carlists until his death.

In Germany, with the ascension of Martin to the US Presidency, the Western occupiers finally united West Germany under a single, consistent policy. With fear of the Soviets at fever-pitch, the belief was that Germany had to be rebuilt to deal with the threat. To that end, bad feeling from World War I aside, appointing a Kaiser was considered a great way to stop any one dictator from grabbing hold of power for themselves, thus keeping another madman from taking over Germany. Mussolini was fine with this, though the Soviets naturally lambasted it as if Hitler himself had been reappointed. Due to his friendliness to the West, connections in America and generally liberal demeanor, Louis Ferdinand was given the role. On November 3rd 1949, Aachen Cathedral greeted the Coronation of Ferdinand V, thus re-establishing the Hohenzollern Dynasty on the European Continent. This was an extremely controversial move in Britain and France, with the British Labour Party condemning the move outright and multiple WW1 veteran organisations in both countries protesting. Ultimately, Ferdinand's unrelenting commitment to Democracy and friendly relationship with Queen Elizabeth II would convince Western Europe of his good heart. To Germans worldwide, their only true homeland would be the Federal Kingdom of Germany.

Ironically, Mussolini fought against the trend. Upon the death of Victor Emmanuel III of Italy in December 1947, Italy entered waves of unprecedented mourning, with a gigantic state funeral sending off the King into the next world. At the same time, Mussolini was plotting to undermine Umberto (the son and successor) to get him out of the way and become the sole fountain of power in Italy. He was shocked and outraged when he woke up and discovered that the national newspapers had unanimously voiced their vocal support of Umberto. It turned out that Ciano had done the deed. He told his leader that it was necessary to keep the support of the army, who would be offended by any other decision than keeping the monarchy. Most of the Fascist Counsel agreed with Ciano, though it was felt that Ciano’s connections (through post and familial) would preserve him. They were right, in that Ciano was not publicly humiliated, though many believe the fact that Ciano was not chosen for Mussolini’s successor was due to this one act. Mussolini reluctantly abandoned his plans to abolish the Italian Monarchy, and Umberto II was crowned as King (with Mussolini infamously planning on skipping the ceremony until Balbo convinced him it would damage Italy's reputation).

Extract from ‘Miracle: The History of Israel’ by Joel Hagee

The first official elections in Israel would be held on January 25th 1949. The results cemented the pattern that had begun in recent years. The once overwhelmingly Socialist Israeli people had become a much more Right wing one. This was due to multiple factors, notably the influx of more affluent Jews from those saved by Mussolini, the feeling that Revisionist Zionism had been vindicated and the sympathy with which the general population held Fascist Italy (and increasingly loathed the USSR). That Italy had guaranteed to more than make up for the imminent loss of trade Israel would receive on top of the military protection, Israelis had no fear for the future. By contrast, the British were perceived as indifferent to the Jewish struggle, owing to their failure to open the gates to Palestine prior to the Holocaust, their imprisonment of Zvi Brenner and relatively low amounts of military aid during the conflict. The Socialists wanted stronger ties to the European democracies, but the Right wanted closer ties to the more ‘reliable’ Roman Alliance. Ultimately, Israelis seemed to prefer the Right’s choice.

The official results had Begin’s Herut Party on 33% of the vote to Ben-Gurion’s Mapai Party receiving only 20%. Begin went into coalition with multiple Right wing and religious parties, including the Lehi’s newfound ‘Homeland Party’, which commanded 7% of the vote, the General Zionists and the United Religious Front. The new government quickly banned the Communist Maki Party (at the Lehi’s instigation) and ruthlessly pursued the Settlement Program. Enterprise was encouraged (though the Lehi wanted it to be restricted and only in ways that Jews were empowered) while the Sabbath had multiple restrictions placed upon it. Ben-Gurion was horrified that the Lehi now had in power in the Knesset; fortunately, he had provided a back-up. He was able to hand-pick his choice for the first Israeli President, and it was a choice that shocked the world: Albert Einstein.

Einstein had initially turned down Ben-Gurion’s offer of the Israeli Presidency, feeling himself unsuited to politics. However, Ben-Gurion made Einstein realise that only he had the clout to be able to successfully stare down the Far-Right in Israel and keep them from turning the young state into a Fascist nightmare. With that, Einstein finally and reluctantly agreed. His ascendency silenced many left-wingers in Europe who had begun to turn on Israel as a result of its Right wing government. At the same time, the new climate and political hardship was not favourable to his disposition. As his then aide and later speech-writer Anne Frank would say, “Every day there would be some moment where he would sit in perfect stillness in his chair, eyes lost in thought with only a twinkle of horror to animate them. It was as if they said, ‘why did I ever decide to do this’? I pitied him that I could give no answer.” His meeting with Mussolini in 1949 during the Italian’s World Tour was notoriously icy, with Mussolini declaring that one day Italian scientists would find a way to travel faster than light speed, thus was the magnificence of Italian science. Einstein would joke to Frank, “There are only two things that are infinite: The Universe and that man’s ego, and I’m not sure about the universe.” Einstein’s humanism would have a great effect on Frank as she became a politician herself later in life

Importantly, Ben-Gurion’s choice proved good to his purpose. Einstein would regularly denounce racism in all circles, both from the Arabs and Soviets against Jews and the Lehi against basically everyone else. The Lehi’s young leader, Yitzhak Shamir, would regularly get involved in public spats with Einstein, which greatly embarrassed Begin. Ultimately, in 1953, Shamir provoked further outrage by following a speech by Einstein and Begin (who weren’t friends but knew how to work together). The two had jointly stated their wish for Polish freedom on the fifth anniversary of the nuclear destruction of Warsaw - the event convincing Einstein with great reluctance to continue the Israeli nuclear program. Shamir had responded by saying that he cared not for Poland, called them Nazi Collaborators (a great irony considering the Lehi’s past), and that “Poles drink Anti-Semitism from their mother’s breasts”. Begin had felt he had endured enough and kicked the Lehi out of the government, the only one they would ever be in. In the subsequent elections, the Socialists would come to power, ensuring a healthy balance of Left and Right in the future decades of Israel.

Getting Down to Business

Extract from ‘The War of Dragons: China 1948-1953’ by Wu Long

By the time serious help was on the horizon, Chiang’s Republic of China had been reduced to a toehold at the far south of the Middle Kingdom. Chiang’s troops had no aid, little discipline and no hope. The Wallace Impeachment changed all this, with the dormant China Lobby now fully reawakened. An aid package was immediately rushed to Chiang’s forces (with help from Italy, who was at the early stage of the fighting the only European country directly helping the KMT). This was enough to stop the Communist advance in the Battle of Nanning in the far south of China, but everyone knew there was no way, robbed of so many resources, that Chiang had a chance of fighting the Communists in the long run. President Martin contacted De Gaulle, Mussolini and Churchill and attempted to direct the Western response to the Chinese situation. The Americans were by far the most animated about the project, wanting to get back against the Soviets for their infiltration of the government – indeed, a march of some 500,000 New Yorkers filled the streets soon after the expulsion of Soviet diplomats, saying that America hadn’t gone far enough. Virtually the only way of sating Americas rage without starting a war with the Soviets outright was to fight the Communists in China. This was an easy sell, as America was generally Pro-China (Chiang) even before Mao’s attacks. American troops were rushed from Japan to bolster Chiang, the Draft was reinstated and some of the wartime controls returned. Dwight D. Eisenhower was placed in command of the rapidly expanding American presence. This annoyed MacArthur, who wanted the role for himself, but it was believed that Eisenhower’s prior relationship with the Europeans would be helpful to America’s reputation in the Post-Wallace world. The once peace-loving American people roared with near unanimous approval of the new conflict.

A question arose as to how the Chinese War would be conducted. Some wanted it conducted much like World War Two, with an Allied High Command. However, it was argued – ultimately successfully – that the best thing to do would be to use the United Nations as a tool to send in the forces of the world to try and deal with the Communists. Under usual circumstances, this would have been impossible due to the veto power the Soviets possessed. However, Martin’s expulsion of the Soviet diplomatic team meant that there was no one sitting at the desk in New York. This absurd loophole, rammed through by sympathetic judges as legitimate, ensured that the Soviets could not veto the UN’s vote to send in ‘Peace-keepers’ to China to fight the Communists on June 4th 1948. Declaring the proceedings a farce, Stalin officially renounced all claim to the United Nations a week later. His Soviet slave states (with the exception of Poland, whose United Nations seat still had representatives of the Government in Exile) quickly pulled out as well, followed by several of the Arab states. On October 30th, the Comintern was re-established as the Soviet answer to the United Nations, with only Communist and Republican Arab states to count among her number. They publicly approved aid to the Communists (though they secretly provided men too, mostly in the Red Air Force). In addition, Korea and the newly declared People’s Republic of Ezo (formerly The People’s Republic of Hokkaido) sent in swathes of ‘volunteers’ – the UN deciding against sending in avowedly Japanese troops due to fears of revulsion from the Chinese populace. The vacant Soviet seat at the United Nations was the subject of much debate as to what would become of it. Ultimately, as a World War Two ally, loyally Anti-Communist partner and - while not being democratic - at least being significantly better than the Soviets, Turkey was gifted the seat. This was also done as a method to try and exert influence on the Islamic world and stop it falling into the Soviet sphere.

The United Nations forces were placed under Eisenhower, though they were already overwhelmingly American. The next largest detachments of men (naturally excluding the KMT) were Italy, Britain and France. At the same time, there were men from all corners of the world congregating in the South Pacific. Australian, Turk, Canadian, Israeli, Swedish, Brazilian and South African – no corner of the world was unrepresented in China. At the same time, despite this overwhelming coalition, the Allies had two severe constraints. Firstly, Chiang was adamant that no nuclear, chemical or biological weapon could be used in China as he feared this would turn the population against him, not to mention not wanting to deal with the carnage. Coincidentally, incoming President Patton was also against nuclear weapons being used, though for the bizarre belief that it would rob soldiers of valor. Regardless, nuclear weapons were not put front and centre by the Allied forces. The second was that Chiang now created the same situation that the White forces in the Russian Civil War had – they had allowed the Communists to play the nationalism card. Mao effortlessly whipped up resentment against Chiang by saying he was trying to reintroduce Colonialism to China by bringing in Western armies. Even to Anti-Communist Chinamen, the arrival of so many foreigners was not a cause for joy. Mao may have killed far more people than Chiang (and not due to the latter having a gentle complexion), but he was also significantly more popular, at least for now. By late 1948, the only locations the KMT still had control over were Taiwan, Hainan and portions of Guangxi and Guangdong. Eisenhower wracked his brains over how he was supposed to salvage the situation as hundreds of thousands of soldiers from the Philippines to Philadelphia swarmed into China. What awaited them was one of the most diabolical wars of the Twentieth Century, with only World War Two in the same region of casualties.

Extract from 'The Red and the Dead: How the Wallace Presidency Changed America' by Ben Rushmore

Martin’s Presidency had already decidedly shifted the United States rightward, going as far as to outright expel all Soviet diplomats (a move not even the Roman Alliance entertained until it felt it had to catch up with the United States and do so too a few days later). Patton’s inauguration would promise only escalation. Against the advice of almost all of his staff, his inauguration was performed wearing his old military uniform – the crowds roared with delight, not recognizing the precedent that had been set, or rather broken. He promised what would become known as ‘The Patton Doctrine’: “The United States will not rest until there isn’t one rock on Earth under a Communist heel.” The moral simplicity of the statement would delight the American public, though there were private regrets in the Pentagon at the lack of freedom it granted them. The so-called ‘Rollback’ strategy was chosen over the more moderate proposal of George Kennan, who advocated ‘Containment’, which meant simply stopping Communist aggression where it arose. Patton had no such patience, angrily saying, “We’re supposed to just sit there and keep letting these Red sons of bitches give us a kick in the ass whenever they want?!” That settled the debate, at least as far as American planners were concerned. Thankfully, with the American economy roaring once again after the Post-War recession, a tax windfall ensured there was more than enough funding to pay for the military expansion that was about to ensue.

Patton’s primary diplomatic mission was to restore ties to Europe and regain trust with his old allies. This delighted the Roman Alliance especially, owing to the poor terms they had experiencd under Wallace. Mussolini and Balbo came to New York and Washington as part of their World Tour on July 26th. They had flown directly from Rome – by Balbo’s hand – and the greeting they received ‘was something akin to the arrival of Christ’ according to the New York Times. The streets were rapturous, as Italian and Jewish communities especially came out to show their love. Mussolini would deliver a speech in Madison Square Garden that night, declaring what would become ‘The Mussolini Doctrine’: ‘No Fascist state is an enemy of Democracy, no Fascist state is a friend of Communism.’ The essential meaning was that Mussolini publicly announced his total non-interference in the Democratic world, which put him in stark contrast to International Communism, or at least gave a good justification to diplomats in the West for a reason not to interfere in Italy’s domestic affairs. In English, he praised the United States, George Washington, the Italian-American (and Jewish-American) communities, leaving New York in such a wave of excitement that, so said Ernest Hemmingway (in New York at the time), “laws permitting, he would be voted President for life in this country.” He would travel to Washington to meet with Patton, the two respecting each other’s ego. The extent of Patton’s Anti-Communism even took Mussolini by surprise, especially when he learned that the Communist Party was imminently to be banned (even against the recommendations of Hoover) – which it soon was. The two hashed out an informal agreement that America would not diplomatically pressure the Roman Alliance for changes in their political policies, while favourable arrangements were made with American oil titans with respect to the growing Libyan supply.

Patton’s inauguration was praised in France and Britain as well, as they believed that the United States had returned to reason. Unfortunately, it had done anything but. Patton, with McCarthy overjoyed at the extent of his growing power, was determined to smash not just Communism, but any threat to the new Republican Congress. While McCarthy saw no threat either on the electoral or social level with the Freedom Party, he looked upon the Democrats and Progressive Democrats as bastions of Satanism. For the former, almost every notable figure was dragged before the House and Senate Investigations, relentlessly photographed by the press. Harry Truman’s was a particularly brutal session, which was so damaging that he temporarily went into hiding. The investigated were badgered about their connections to Wallace, the Soviets and so forth. Some outright broke into tears before the proceedings – the heart of the average American had been hardened by events, and there would be no remorse. While few cases were ultimately pursued, the events were so exhausting and damaging to the reputations of almost everyone in the Democrat Party that no donor would ever associate with them again. Starved of any institutional support, or opportunistic donors, the Democrats continued to decline. Unions flocked to the Republicans, pleading for partnership (when in reality it was a plea of mercy). In the South, the unions were ironically at their most powerful and Socialistic, though this was only due to their endorsement of segregation sparing them from law-enforcement (black unions were treated lower than any group in the Union).

The Progressive Democrats fared even worse – the League of Columbus in the north and Klan in the South, often in full view of law enforcement, regularly attacked the party. There was no infraction so small that a meeting wouldn’t be told to disassemble, no jaywalking that wouldn’t invite a pistol-whipping and no unkind word that wouldn’t be met with a fist. The party was bankrupted in 1951 – laws had been put in the books to illegalize the party and would have passed if it had somehow lived. Marcantonio and Taylor, along with Paul Robeson would all escape to asylum in the Soviet Union in 1950 by means of Canada. They would all live out the rest of their lives in the Soviet Union. Marcantonio would die in 1954 of natural causes (supposedly). Glen Taylor and Robeson would live long enough to regret their decision, being imprisoned in 1957 into the Gulag system. It was later confirmed in documents recovered in the 1970s that the pair had been killed almost immediately after their arrival at the camps.

Ironically, it was incredibly easy to evade detection with a quick political change. Former Democrat and head of the Screen Actors Guild, Ronald Reagan, was saved from brutal questioning by having changed his political affiliation to Republican. Others, like Henry Fonda, were not so lucky and found themselves out of work in America. Soon Fonda, along with other big name stars like James Cagney, Judy Garland, Katherine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, Gene Kelly and Orson Welles would find themselves on boats to England to continue working. All would go on to have impressive careers, though none in their homeland. By contrast, ideologically ‘safe’ members of the Motion Picture Industry found themselves in high demand. This included but was not limited to: John Wayne, Ronald Reagan, James Stewart, Cecil B. DeMille, Gary Cooper, Walt Disney, Barbara Stanwyck, Clark Gable, Frank Sinatra and Ayn Rand. All in all, Hollywood had become a top-to-bottom Right-wing institution, leading to a slew of Anti-Communist epics being released in the ensuing years. These included:

· We The Living (1949): Ayn Rand’s semi-autobiography, portraying her early life in Russia. The last film directed by Viktor Fleming (who died only days after filming concluded) and starring Barbara Stanwyck, the ending was changed to have it conform to the Hays Code (in that the protagonist had a happy ending). Rand would renounce the film for this reason, but it became one of the first major films to address the atrocities committed under Communism. It would prove quite popular in Italy, though it was banned when the authorities realised that people interpreted the story as equally applicable to Fascism as Communism.

· Right Hand Man (1949): Humphrey Bogart made a villainous turn as a common Russian thug recruited by the NKVD after they take a liking to his brutality. Bogart’s character quickly rises through the ranks and becomes a respected man in town, terrorizing his old enemies with his fellow NKVD bullies. He takes a liking for a certain religious, Jewish girl (Lauren Bacall) after she has been arrested for trying to save her Rabbi father from being rounded up and begins making overt moves upon her. At the moment he is about to violate her, he is arrested by his fellow NKVD members for ‘plotting against Comrade Stalin’ (in reality a cooked-up charge by an ambitious underling). He is soon treated as badly by his old comrades as the helpless victims they tortured. Broken by the torture, he ends up in the same labour camp as the girl and her father. Shocked that they forgive him, he ends up sacrificing his life that they can escape to Isreal.

· Know Your Enemy (1950-1953): Frank Capra would be re-comissioned to make a series of documentary films on the subject of Communism, much like his Why We Fight series during WW2 against the Pact. The films would detail various Communist crimes, from the Paris Commune to the nuclear destruction of Warsaw.

· A Tale of Two Cities (1951): Directed by Cecil B. DeMille and starring Cary Grant (with cutting edge split screen techniques), tells of the famous Dickens novel. For propagandistic reasons, the evils of the aristocrats in the novel are underplayed while the evils of the revolutionaries are shown in explicit, unyielding detail. Gloria Swanson would win an Oscar for her immortal portrayal of Madame DeFarge.

· The Other Great Dictator (1952): Charlie Chaplin’s sequel to The Great Dictator (1940) has all the emotional power of the original, mixed with a tragic horror of the acts man would commit upon his brothers. Made when news of the crimes against Jews had leaked, this film packed a poignant punch. It detailed the Barber being released from jail (once the party leaders realised he wasn’t Heinkel) as the Russians – under Joey Salami – liberate a Tomania that has fallen into chaos without the leader. Initially overjoyed, freedom is slowly and brutally eroded further still. Finally, the film ends with the Barber (and most of the cast from the first movie) escaping to Israel.

· Warsaw (1952): This would be the film that ensured John Wayne received his Oscar, as well as another for John Ford. Beginning with an old man searching through the ruins of Warsaw, he flashes back to his younger self (Wayne) in 1919 and the fight against the Soviets way back then. The film ends with the old man deciding that even though Warsaw has been destroyed for now, the spirit of the city lives on, and he decides to join the resistance. A critical and box office success, it made the Duke a figure of reverence in Poland – giving him a State tour just before his death when Poland became a free country.

Of course, the societal effects of the Wallace/Ware Group Trial deserve a chapter to themselves ...

Extract from 'The Rise, Fall and Rise of Japan' by Mariya Takeuchi

Following the War, Japan’s military forces were almost entirely dissolved with little mind to rebuild them. The beginning of heavy Western involvement in the Chinese War changed everything. Suddenly, there were not nearly enough Western troops in the region. MacArthur would bluntly tell Patton there were enough troops to hold Japan and fight in China, but not both. As a result, the Treaty of Osaka was signed on July 4th 1949 between America and Japan. It called for the rebuilding of the Japanese Armed Forces (excluding the Navy) to serve as ‘an agent of Democracy’ as stated by MacArthur. Likewise, any notion of a WMD program was removed outright. Japan would be strong enough to defend itself with no issue, but it would have no means to attack anything without the support of the United States. That said, it would certainly have enough firepower to flatten Ezo. There is strong evidence that Ezo's Anti-Japanese streak would only be enlarged by Japan's newfound military power.

The mood in Japan was more than ready for the occasion. Nationalist sentiment had been stirring for a while, with the Japanese administration attempting to ensure all the bile fell on Ezo, rather than the Americans. This was accomplished rather well, with refugees coming across the sea at regular intervals to warn of the harsh treatment Japanese nationalists received on Hokkaido. The outrage was so intense that even relatively apolitical filmakers like Akira Kurosawa would make films detailing the more famous escape stories from the land that was once Japan's. By contrast, Yasujiro Ozu would create more moving films talking about the fate of refugees in Japan and their struggle to start over. But the most famous cultural artifact of the time is perhaps Yukio Mishima's 1953 classic 'Mizu no Oto' (The Sound of Water) - which details a young Japanese boy and his Bildungsroman. After trying and failing to find meaning in life, he finally finds it in dying for his country by refusing to surrender the Japanese resistance network in Hokkaido (even though they abused him). The book struck an emotional chord in Japan, making Mishima perhaps the most famous Asian writer of the Twentieth Century. Mishima's regular denunciation of Communism and the state of Ezo made him quite popular in Western circuits as well. No matter how tough Japan was at the time, the country never wavered in its public support of the Hokkaidan resistance. Regent Yasuhito even went as far as to publicly declare the Treaty of Osaka, ‘the first step to re-uniting Japan’. Such saber-rattling statements may have infuriated the Soviets but delighted the new mood in the White House. While Japanese troops would not be called into the hellfire that engulfed China during the War, they would certainly provide a useful base for the US Air Force.

Japan’s military would give the United States much needed breathing room. Indeed, it proved even more advantageous than originally expected. As 1949 went on, and America attempted with all its diplomatic might to ingratiate itself with the European powers, it was decided that there would be less pressure on the European powers to accept America into ETO if they were part of a group. Japan’s ascension to military strength would finally convince ETO of the wisdom of expanding its modus operandi. For that reason, on September 20th 1949, in the Treaty of Stockholm, ETO was officially expanded into ITO (pronounced ‘Ai-toe’), and given the same worldwide extension as the Stalingrad Pact already enjoyed. The same restrictions (the necessity of strong, democratic institutions) kept Chiang’s Republic of China out of the expansion, but America, Japan, Brazil, South Iran and the Philippines soon enjoyed full membership in the supreme alliance structure on Earth. Of course, having seen such an expansion, the Roman Alliance began to get ambitious too ...

The Trial Of The Century

Extract from ‘The War of Dragons: China 1948-1953’ by Wu Long
UN forces may have been stretched during their first major confrontations with the Communist Chinese, but so were the Communist Chinese. Mao’s troops had totally consolidated power within the north, but their blitzkrieg in the south had left them without strong concentration of men. Fortunately for them, the KMT were so shattered from initial assaults that it was like a red-hot knife through butter. The UN forces, of course, were different. By now, Chiang and most of the KMT’s hierarchy (including prized possessions like Qing Dynasty treasures) had been successfully sent away to Hainan and Taiwan. In conjunction with Eisenhower and Rommel (whose success in Israel had raised profile to such an extent that Patton successfully nominated him for involvement in the campaign), the three planned to fight against the Communist onslaught. They knew what the target would be: Canton.

Canton was the biggest city left in China not painted red on a map. It was also a port city, which made it highly valuable for the United Nations to allow men in to the country. Men began pouring in by late Summer, conspicuous in their foreign appearance. Many of the Americans had imagined China as a wonderfully exotic country and had no idea of the realities of the location. Relations between Americans and Chinese civilians were decent, albeit not affectionate. American propaganda did its best to prop up Chiang as the Chinese George Washington, but it didn’t hold water to most of the populous, who generally preferred Mao. The KMT did little to help as well, with the combination of a total breakdown in the ROC and a sudden tidal wave of foreign supplies resulting in corruption that made the black markets of World War Two Britain look like a night with the choir. Tanks could be sold in open markets due to top-level material not reaching the front. Patton was mostly indifferent to this, believing that American troops alone were more than enough to do the job.

This theory would first be tested in September, when the first forces of the Communist Chinese arrived. There were two major attacks: one in the city itself and one to try and take Haizhu Bridge, which would allow the Communists to cut off Canton from the rest of the ROC and bypass it. In the former, street-battles raged through the ancient city of two and a half million people, while in the south, the American Air Force began to bombard General Lin Biao’s forces as they crawled ever southward towards their goal. It was also the first time the American army (even under UN aucpices) fought a major battle without segregation. Perhaps the most notable of this was Jackie Robinson, who would become infamous some years later in one of the most important events of the 1950s. Robinson had been considered for becoming the first black player to cross the colour barrier in American baseball, but the racial tensions that defined the Wallace Era forced the Brooklyn Dodgers to dump the idea “for the safety and wellbeing of the fans”. Frustrated, he had returned to the army. It was there that he would find his initial fame. At the Battle of Canton, Robinson and his battalion had been cut off behind enemy lines in the city. Trapped and desperate, Robinson managed to successfully lead the group (which included civilians) through the sewers and back to the safety of the American lines without further loss of life. This was despite being badly wounded himself – so much so that he collapsed the moment the company was discovered by an Italian regiment. It was for this service that he received the Medal of Honor, the first time the medal was awarded for service during the Chinese War, straight from the hands of President Patton on December 2nd 1949. It would be the first of nearly 400 such medals for the war, almost as much as World War Two.

Ultimately, the might of the US Air Force proved too much for such open field operations by Biao. After repeated attempts to reach the Pearl River, a counterattack led by Rommel succeeded in repulsing the attack. With that, despite half of the city by now having fallen into Mao’s hands, the retreat was sounded. The American media rejoiced, proclaiming it the first in an inevitable wave of victories that would surely send Americans to Peking, perhaps even Moscow itself. Unfortunately what they didn’t know (or indeed what Eisenhower didn’t know) was that Mao had already prepared to fight a new type of war. It would become known as the ‘Water Strategy’ based on how water would fill any object it was poured into. The idea was that no matter where the US sent their troops, they would be confronted. While the main campaign of millions of men and tanks would continue, Mao ordered the formation of a guerilla group to keep the Americans held in South China. They would become known as the Red Guards, and would soon gain a reputation almost as infamous as the PLA.

Extract from‘The Dark Decade: America in the 40s’ by Wendy Walters

There were some people in the Republican establishment who wanted to leave Wallace alone and focus exclusively on the proven members of the Ware Group – President Patton was not one of those people. Perhaps incensed by personal reasons, he had looked at Wallace’s actions as exceeding Benedict Arnold’s in treachery. The very notion of letting Wallace off with what he was accused of doing, namely handing over American nuclear secrets to the Soviet Union which had resulted directly in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, would never have been pushed under the carpet if the common man did it. Patton felt that the same would have to apply even to the highest in the land. Ultimately, despite all of Dewey’s pleading (who had already taken to be the main potential brake on Patton’s behaviour), the former general had made up his mind: Wallace and the Ware Group would go on trial together.

Wallace was pulled from hiding and placed in a secure prison cell on February 15th 1949, which many pointed out was the anniversary of the Warsaw Bombing. Adding to Wallace’s humiliation, he was placed in the same prison as the members of the Ware Group. According to several eyewitnesses, there were violent altercations between Wallace and former members of his administration in the prison courtyard (mostly John Abt, whom few of his fellows attempted to save). Wallace would write his memoirs in prison where he affirmed his innocence of being a Soviet spy and condemned Stalin explicitly and unreservedly. Ultimately, when the Trial started on June 5th, his strategy was to apologise for his follies, state that he was wrong and that Stalin was an evil tyrant. The remainder of the Ware Group swore off all wrong-doing and, under Soviet instruction, maintained their innocence to the end to unsettle global confidence in American democracy. The same American prosecutor at Nuremburg, Robert H. Jackson, was appointed the chief prosecutor of Wallace (a role he eagerly accepted following claims that his appointment by FDR had made him suspect). The move succeeded in turning the trial into a slugging match. Jacksons’s showdown with Hiss would prove particularly confrontational, with both ending up screaming at each other over the slams of the judge’s gavel. The media were quick to call it the ‘Trial of the Century’, only a few years after Nuremburg.

Ultimately, the conclusion was somewhat inevitable. By now, not only had Ethel Rosenberg and Whittaker’s testimony come down the line, but the words of dozens of other spies and collaborators identifying the Ware Group and confirming their sending nuclear secrets to the Soviets. One thing could not be confirmed, however: There was no one outright saying that Wallace was a Soviet agent, something the press had begun to note. The notion that Wallace had simply been duped the whole time began to gain credence from what was mostly believed beforehand, that Wallace had been an outright agent. John Abt, who had grown bitter in his isolation within the group, decided to put a stake through the whole concept. Abt, knowing he had no chance of escaping conviction, decided to take out his vengeance on the rest of the group. He suddenly announced in October, as the Trial was calming down, that he had flipped. He handed over real information about the Soviet spy program, but he added countless falsehoods that condemned his fellow prisoners. For example, he had invented conversations with Wallace where both discussed how the NKVD had recruited them. The authorities, pressured by the Patton White House to find evidence that Wallace was a spy, took the information to heart and barely checked it. The news was broadcast nationwide and soon worldwide that it had been ‘confirmed’ that Wallace was a Soviet agent. Wallace would sink further into Depression. The last words written in his memoirs were, “If I had tried with all my might to fight for the things I hated against the things I truly believed in, I could not have succeeded more perfectly than I have here and now.”

In the end, it was no surprise what happened. Wallace, Hiss, Abt, Kramer and Dexter-White were all found guilty of conspiracy to commit espionage. It was at this point that the extremely difficult part began – sentencing. Ultimately, for their involvement in transferring nuclear secrets that resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands, the four main members of the Ware Group faced prompt and utter destruction. All four were to be sentenced to death. However, it was the case of Wallace that excited the most passion. Patton was adamantly in favour of Wallace receiving the same penalty as anyone else in the same position while almost everyone else in the Republican Party recognised how dangerous it was to execute a former President. Extreme pressure fell upon the judges to make a decision that would keep all parties satisfied. Ultimately, they got it better than some had feared. The decision of the judges was that Wallace would be sentenced to life imprisonment, while arrangements would be made that he would be sentenced to the most notorious prison of all, Alcatraz. To add insult to injury, it was arranged that Wallace would take the same cell as notorious bootlegger Al Capone to associate his name with criminality. Patton laughed when he heard the plan, saying, “Jeez, I like that more than killing him!” According to Gallup, just 20% of the population found the sentence too harsh, 34% about right and about 40% stated they would have preferred the death penalty. It is often forgotten how radicalized the American public became in the aftermath of the Wallace case, but the polls provide the clear-cut reminder.

However, that sentence never came about. On December 18th 1949, as Wallace was being transferred for final arrangements in his prison sentence, he was shot at close range by a mentally disturbed soldier by the name of George Lincoln Rockwell. Rockwell had been among the first to volunteer for the war in China, but had quickly been sent home due to being wounded in the Battle of Canton. Depressed that he had been sent home so quickly, as well as mentally breaking in combat, he came to the idea that his woes were all Wallace’s fault. Subsequent discoveries in his diary suggested that he was supportive to Fascism, even flirting with outright Nazism. Ultimately, whatever force compelled him, he managed to work his way through the crowd and unloaded three shots in Wallace’s chest before he could be restrained. He was subsequently arrested and placed in an insane asylum where he died in 1989. Rockwell was difficult for America to process, as his insanity and cruelty helped many people sober up from the more intense moments of the Red Panic in 1949 to the slow cooling of the popular imagination in the 1950s (though Communism would remain as unpopular as ever). Of course, Wallace and Rockwell’s case has led to many conspiracy theories on the subject, with theories ranging from second gunmen to Rockwell having superiors (everyone from a vengeful Patton to a vengeful Stalin) and even theories that Wallace’s death was faked altogether. No strong evidence for these ideas has been found.

Wallace was joined in his fate by the Ware Group on December 28th 1949, with Hiss, Abt, Kramer and Dexter-White all meeting the electric chair for their aiding the Nuclear Espionage Scandal. Rumours persist that the sponge (which is usually wetted to reduce the pain to the victim by aiding electric conduction) was dry during the executions, but there was no final confirmation on this. All four bodies were cremated and scattered in Chesapeake Bay. Wallace’s body too, after some debate, was also cremated and scattered in Chesapeake Bay. Wallace still divides America today. Though evidence has since emerged that he was not a Soviet agent, the most recent poll on the subject had roughly a third affirming that he was with another half saying that he was only criminally naïve. To this day, historians generally consider James Buchanan worse than Wallace, though Wallace remains the least popular President in popular opinion polls (which is somewhat impressive given some of the presidents who followed him). Thus ended the dark decade of the 1940s, a time of War, division and the most chaos that had befallen America since the Civil War. This wasn’t to say that the 1950s would be a happy one in American history, but it would be one without the relentless race to destruction that characterized the nation in the 40s.

Extract from ‘Patton: The Man’ by George Wallaby

Though most of the focus of the Chinese War is placed on the fighting in the namesake country, the fighting in Indo-China was just as important. In Vietnam, a conflict raged between French Colonial authorities and the Communist/Nationalist Independence Group of the Viet Minh, led by Ho Chi Minh. Minh was an extremely popular figure in Vietnam and commanded a broad array of support. That said, he found few friends in France, and De Gaulle swore he would not allow Vietnam to slip out of his grasp, and certainly not to a Communist. The late forties had been particularly challenging to De Gaulle, with troops needed in France to calm the waves of strikes and terrorism that had defined the political exile of the Communist Party. The only advantage was that French troops were well positioned in Vietnam, having taken back the country from the Japanese almost simultaneously with the Viet Minh. They faced serious difficulties from, of all parties, the US. The OSS (under orders of the Wallace administration) had provided training to the Viet Minh, even after World War Two. Thankfully for De Gaulle, the new American President had no such ideas. In fact, Patton did something that pleasantly surprised him. Patton promised to send troops to Vietnam to back up the French. This represented a stark change in the traditional Anti-Colonial outlook Americans usually had, but the madness of the last half-decade had erased that tendency in the American public. They wanted dead Communists – period. If it meant squashing a few third world uprisings, that’s what they would do.

The first American troops landed in Hanoi that October in 1949, with the UN as a whole refusing to fight for French colonialism. Though American newsreels showed a cheery picture of local relationships, unlike in China, the mood was outright hostile. No one liked the French (apart from the educated Catholics), and no one liked anyone who fought for the French. One American soldier remembered to his surprise how, “They treated us better in Tokyo than they do here in Hanoi”. Nevertheless, they had one advantage: nothing was getting in to Vietnam that the Allies hadn’t approved of. The seas were totally dominated by the American and European navies, with the Chinese border guarded to within an inch of its life. Ho Chi Minh and General Giap soon found themselves starved of weaponry before the battle had even begun. Though they had popular support that meant nothing in the grand scheme of things. The French did most of the fighting, with American troops doing more administrative work to keep the American population at home more comfortable with events. The French scored a series of open-field victories but the Viet Minh always seemed to survive in some form or another. In May 1950, De Gaulle asked Patton to deploy the might of the Air Force against the Viet Minh. The Virginian agreed, commencing Operation Charcoal under General Curtis LeMay, the bombing of Vietnam.

It was an utterly ruthless, unrestrained bombing campaign of the Indo-China jungle, but it was effective. Ho Chi Minh himself would be killed in one of the strikes, which brought the spirit of the Viet Minh to a new low. On July 10th, General Giap launched a failed attack at Dien Bien Phu, which resulted in almost thirty percent of the entire Viet Minh getting killed in the space of two weeks. Of course, with those losses, it was simply not sustainable. By the end of 1950, De Gaulle declared that Vietnam had been tamed. Of course, a new political settlement had to be constructed, but he had indeed succeeded in obliterating Communism out of Indo-China. Patton likewise praised the achievement. Yet despite the two general’s praise of the victory, and indeed a victory it was, the two did not realise the extent of the force they were building up throughout the Third World.


Extract from ‘The Making of Fascist Bloc’ by Jodie Rutkins

The expansion of ITO had been met with public approval by the Roman Alliance, in keeping with the Mussolini Doctrine of support to the democracies of the world. Privately, the dictator was frustrated, believing that the expansion of ITO to encompass the United States and White Commonwealths (South Africa would join ITO in 1950) meant that the Roman Alliance was gradually losing relative power. In late 1949 and early 1950, Mussolini felt that it was his last best chance to expand the Alliance on easy terms. Patton and Churchill were both broadly sympathetic to the Roman Alliance, or at least certainly more so than the Democrats or Labour Party (the former assumed to make a comeback which never happened).

With confirmation from the Patton Administration that they would not oppose the move, in August 1949 the first non-European member of the Roman Alliance was added to the fold. It was President Peron’s Argentina, who had made a habit of standing out from the crowd in Latin America. As Argentina was unwilling to make the political reforms that would assure membership of ITO, Patton was more comfortable having Mussolini drag Peron into the Cold War on the side of the West by having Peron join the less public-relations focussed Roman Alliance. While some worried that this violated the Monroe Doctrine, Patton insisted that the most important mission America had in the post-Wallace era was to rebuild relations with Europe – “Allies are allies”, as he famously said to Eisenhower. The move was met with wide celebrations in Argentina, owing to the large amount of the population with Italian and Spanish ancestry. After the precedent had been made, the Roman Alliance had gone from an exclusive, core club in the Mediterranean to an international power broker. Eva Perón, wife of the President, would celebrate the newfound alliance by travelling to every European state in the Roman Alliance (leading to long-standing rumours she had an affairs with Mussolini, though it likely was just innuendo by political opponents). With newfound access to markets and expertise, Argentina exited isolation and entered the wider market again, regaining an economic credibility she had long since lost.

The Italians would continue their power-reach in Latin America. Months after Argentina’s ascension, Trujillo’s Dominican Republic would enter into the alliance. In 1951, Nicaragua would also join the Roman Alliance, and in 1952, shortly after a military coup, President Batista of Cuba announced his membership of the Roman Alliance in an attempt to combat charges he was an American puppet (though he had first confirmed through the American Ambassador that such a move would be okay as long as America’s economic position on the island remained intact). Though Batista failed to realise it at the time, his time presiding over the country (or more accurately failure to preside) would lead to one of the most important events of the Cold War. Patton outright encouraged the moves as a way to force Latin America to contribute troops and materials to the front-line of the Cold War. Indeed, American troops were often given free travel through the countries, with Mussolini explaining, “They (Nicaragua/Cuba/the Domincan Republic) are our friends, not our possessions – unlike what Poland, North Iran and Hokkaido are to Stalin.” Batista, Trujillo and Somoza would all receive ticker-tape parades through Rome – not all of them had such a glorious ending.

On January 3rd 1950, Thailand became the first Asian member of the Roman Alliance (assuming one counts Turkey as European, which it certainly would prefer). Surrounded by turmoil on all sides, the monarchical nation (though under firm control of Field Marhsall Phibun) was firmly Anti-Communist but had no interest in liberal ideas that seemed utterly unsuited to such dangerous terrain. While the Roman Alliance were often colonialists, they had no designs on the country and were glad to accept Thailand into the fold (who provided a convenient counter to charges to the bloc of White Supremacy during the latter half of the twentieth century). Thailand was already supplying men and material to the Chinese War, but it now became utterly enmeshed in the conflict, and not just due to events in China itself. That March, Thailand openly declared itself to be a Fascist state in the mold of Mussolini’s Italy.

Though South Africa and Rhodesia both maintained their current ties to the Commonwealth for the moment, both increased their under-the-table cooperation with the Roman Alliance. Both had accepted tens of thousands of Polish refugees from the war-torn country. Along with Portugal, they had brought the refugees to cheap, hastily constructed hovels that may have been unenviable, but were outside the reach of Communism. While outside the main cities of settlers, the ‘Poletowns’ soon provided a fantastic source of willing soldiers. Angry, bitter Polish men were told to vent their frustration on ‘Communist militias’ (often mere Anti-Colonial Liberationists), and willing did so. At the same time, they provided training and support to the Polish Liberation Army, continuing to provide training and support to the battered militia that still held out in the Carpathians. PLA Leader Witold Pilecki would go so far as to call Portugal, Rhodesia and South Africa, ‘The Guardian Angels of Polish liberty’. With Italy mainly administering the transfer of Polish refugees from Czechia to Africa, the settler nations would owe Italy a debt they would fully repay during the sixties and seventies.

Extract from“Our Misguided Friends”: Fascism in Democratic Nations by Amy Long

Churchill’s constant delays to Indian Independence had by now triggered a wave of protests throughout the region, made all the worse by its close proximity to the Chinese conflict. In January 8th 1950, the whole administrative region was grounded to a halt by peaceful strikes and protests organized by Gandhi and the National Congress. Though Patton offered to help Churchill maintain order in the region, Churchill assured him that everything was under control. What was not under control was Churchill’s situation in Parliament. Hugh Gaitskell’s Labour Party (Gaitskell having ascended the ranks due to Bevan’s combativeness and concerns among the higher-ups he was too far to the left), fresh after having removed Clause Four from the Labour Party Constitution, hammered Churchill for his handling of the Indian situation and warmness towards the Roman Alliance. Gaitskell would stand before Parliament and accuse Churchill of “recreating the Anglo-Irish War except in a country of nearly a billion people.”

Behind the scenes, however, there were fractures in the Indian Independence movement. The Islamic and Hindu factions had grown increasingly hostile over the former’s want of a separate Islamic state. The Islamic movement, alongside most of the Sunni world, had been radicalized by the fall of Jerusalem and considered Britain an agent in that act of sacrilegious monstrosity. While protests organised by Gandhi and other Hindu leaders were generally peaceful, the Islamic ones took on an increasing level of violence. Ironically, the inciting incident would be from among the Hindu population on February 27th. A Pro-Mao Communist protest had taken place in New Dehli, which was shut down by the police. Unfortunately many mistakenly believed that the police were shutting down a Pro-Independence drive and attempted to stop them. This led to a conflict between the police and protesters that ended up killing five policemen and forty Indian civilians. The news soon spread and riots began breaking out all across India in response to the news, with thousands killed in the explosion of violence despite Gandhi’s pleas. Finally, Churchill’s coalition partners had enough and pulled the plug on his government, with Churchill losing a vote of no confidence.

On April 27th 1950, the first majority Labour government came to power under Gaitskell in an astonishing landslide of nearly 380 seats. The population had grown weary from drab Post-War conditions, constant foreign entanglement and a sense that Churchill did not know how to manage peace. Once an obviously Anti-Communist but doubtless progressive leader of the Labour Party came along, it was no contest. Churchill would resign his leadership of the party and hand it over to Anthony Eden. Oswald Mosely’s Fascist Party stunned observers by gaining thirty seats, definitively replacing the motley collection of Liberals as the third political force in Britain. Gaitskell’s popularity soared as he invested strongly in health and education (though never going as far as to nationalize the health service as many on the left wanted), continued to support Chiang in China and more vocally opposed the actions of the Roman Alliance where it was obvious the group was behaving improperly. As was Labour policy, he supported Indian independence.

However, while Gaitskell and the Labour Party wanted Indian Independence, they wanted the country to be a whole and secular one. This was to minimize the fears that the Muslim Bloc would not only separate but join the Communists like the Arab states did (indeed, many Islamic leaders in India threatened to do just that in joining the Comintern). While Gaitskell won many friends in the Hindu leadership circles, the Muslim League under Jinnah were adamant: “Pakistan (a Muslim state) or resistance”. Once it was discovered that the Soviets were funding the Muslim League under the table, the resulting revelation tanked British support for a separation-styled solution to the crisis. Though the Congress were dominated by Socialistic elements with former sympathies to the Soviet Union, the revelations of Stalin’s behaviour both in Europe and now in India caused an increasing belief in India that the future lay with some form of accommodation with the West, even if not necessarily with Britain. Despite that, Gandhi continued to protest for a peaceful solution to what had become known worldwide as ‘The Indian Crisis’, which was watched with particular attention due to the nearby wars happening in China and Indo-China. Indeed, a significant amount of Indian troops were already fighting in China against the Communists (though friendly-fire incidents between Hindu and Muslim servicemen was growing increasingly common.)

Ultimately, Gandhi would never see his dream of an independent India. On June 6th 1950, an Islamic extremist assassinated him. The assassin would later be discovered through archives unearthed in Moscow to have been financed and instructed by Soviet spies. The plan was to spark a conflict in India that would distract and undermine the West by starting a Civil War in India between those that wanted a Hindu-majority state comprising all of the subcontinent and a separate Islamic Republic. In this, the Soviets succeeded completely. Gandhi’s death triggered sectarian riots across the country that spiraled totally out of control. Realising that it was now or never, Jinnah declared Pakistan an independent state on June 10th 1950, comprising the Muslim regions of the country both in the west and east. The Indian Civil War had begun to the joy of absolutely no one but the men in the Kremlin and Beijing.

Extract from ‘The Arab Tragedy: 1944–1956’ by Abdul Nazim

The entire Arab region was rife with discontent, even after the mass expulsion of Jews from non-Israeli territory. The years after the First Arabian War had brought no economic revival, no positive political reform nor even more hope. The Israelis were rapidly industrializing, the Roman Alliance had grown ever more powerful and the Colonial West had joined in the kicking. It was at this time that movements appealing specifically to the Arab people started to gain major traction. While Communism certainly got a boost in the arm, its more avowedly atheistic nature hurt it among the mainly socially conservative region. At this time, Islamism remained a relatively radical fringe movement outside of Saudi Arabia (a state of affairs which would not last forever, unfortunately). Most painfully was the belief in ‘The Stab in the Back Myth’, that the only reason the Arabs had failed in the First Arabian War was due to the weakness and decadence of their ruling elite commanders. The failures of the Arab leaders both political and military in the build-up to the war and during it are well established, but no serious historian doubts that the Arabs faced no chance against the qualitatively superior Western forces. Despite that, while Germany ultimately survived the disastrous consequences of mistakenly believing their own Dolchstoss, its debatable if the aftermath of the Second Arabian War can be counted as ‘survival’.

It’s no coincidence that Syria was the location where the first rumbles of what was to come would originate. Syria had been particularly bruised in the war, having not only lost the Golan Heights to Israel, but the entirety of her rich, cosmopolitan coast to Turkey. Cut off from the sea, and forced by political necessity not to trade with either the hated Turks or Jews, the Syrian state fell into total disrepair. There could be as many as three political coups in a week in some cases. Poverty and violence were universal and everyday experiences. Here, much like Germany, a strange nationalist group was gaining traction. They were called the Ba’ath Party, under the command of Syrian Christian Michel Aflaq and Muslim Salah al-Din al-Bitar. Though separated by religion, they were united in their love of the Arab mythos. They forsaw a great Arab revival in a solitary, united and Socialist Arab state to fight against ‘Judeo-Colonialism’ as would be used in state propaganda. Though they started small, they rapidly became a serious political presence in Damascus. Their Anti-Turk, Anti-Semitic, Anti-West rhetoric found great support among the population. By mid 1950, the Ba’ath Party could attract six figure crowds in Damascus in a week’s notice. On August 19th 1950, Colonel Adib al-Shishakli, the latest military leader of Syria, decided that things had gone far enough and ordered the military to arrest the Ba’ath Party leaders. Instead, the soldiers turned their guns on al-Shishakli, killing him and most of his cabinet. Aflaq and his fellow comrades were delivered a letter from the soldier who had performed al-Shishakli’s killing, saying he was invited into the President’s office at any time. By nightfall, the Ba’ath Party had set-up shop in the halls of power in Damascus. In a radio broadcast that night, Aflaq would infamously declare, “Give us but ten years, and no one will recognise the Arab World.” It would certainly be true, though absolutely not in the way he intended.

In Syria, most people gladly went along with the change – no one loved the juntas, but many loved the Ba’ath Party. It united all Arab religious groups, all Arab class groups and all Arab geographical groups. There was relatively little blood spilled outside of the ruling elite upon the ascension of the Ba’ath Party. Again, it should be noted that this is quite in common with the Nazis, as was the ultimate conclusion. At the same time, the initial reaction to the ascent of the Ba’ath Party was muted in the West and Israel. They considered it just one of another in an endless string of purges in a miserable part of the world. The notion of the Arab world teaming up seemed laughable at this point. The Soviets were no longer bankrolling them to any serious degree, most Arab nations blamed each other for the loss and the West remained overwhelmingly superior in men and weapons. In fact, Iraq was the most concerned by the change in stewardship. King Faisal would infamously pen a letter to Prime Minister Gaitskell to say, “That man (Aflaq) will be the death of us all. I just know it.” Suspecting that it was a ploy to strengthen his own position and undermine Western support of Israel, Gaitskell would dismiss the letter. Gaitskell would rue that ignoring the letter 'was the single worst mistake of my time in office'.
God Have Mercy On Us

Extract from 'Patton: The Man’ by George Wallaby

Outside of foreign policy, life assumed surprising normalcy in Washington. With Republican super-majorities in both houses of Congress, the Republican Party platform was implemented with little but token resistance from the Freedom Party and nihilistic few Democrat senators who knew their time was up in 1950 at the end of their six year cycle. At the same time, nothing was particularly radical. The top rate of tax was reduced from 90% under Wallace to about 60% by the end of Patton’s term – still high by today’s standards but considered a giveaway by business leaders at the time. Military spending spiked, but the country still went on as normal. After the chaos of the Wallace years and the gigantic crackdown on strikers not just from law and management but desperate Unions themselves trying to keep the eyes of Uncle Sam off them, people got back to work. Unemployment tumbled and economic growth soared. The fifties began brightly in America, leading to many Baby Boomers to associate their early lives with progress and growth. America once again seemed to be the land of opportunity.

Of course, the President paid little attention to such things. Patton had little interest in domestic affairs and left them to Dewey and the Republican Establishment. One thing Patton did strongly support was the creation of the Interstate highway network, which he had heard about during his time in Germany. After hearing the potential military use he was quite excited and demanded it be done. The highway network in America owes its existence to Patton, though he cared little for the civilian purposes that it would primarily be used for. Moves from more radical Republicans to end the New Deal got crushed by the Party Establishment (with the support of multiple Democrat refugees, notably Joseph Kennedy Jr. and Lyndon Baines Johnson). Dewey would privately denounce, “Those arsonists,” as he called the right of the Republican Party - not for the effect it may have had on the country, but for threatening the Republican’s dominance in Washington. Social Security would go relatively unmolested through the Patton years for electoral reasons. The primary agenda of the leadership was to thoroughly trample the Democrats into the ground so they could not come back – the assumption being that the Freedom Party would never pull enough support to control the country. It seemed a safe bet, especially when the 1950 Midterms came along. The Wallace Wave of 1944 had now been completely reversed in the senate, with the Democrats down to a sole five senators nationwide between Republican and Freedom Party onslaught. On election night, Patton joked owing to the seemingly even division between a Republican-dominated North and Freedom Party-dominated South that it seemed the country’s politics ‘hadn’t changed a luck in a hundred years!’ These words would become eerily prophetic given the events of the next few years.

At the same time, the Republicans prepared for the long run by using their enormous majorities to enshrine multiple amendments to the US Constitution. The 22nd Amendment, a direct slap to Roosevelt, was to limit the President to a mere two terms in office – though this was tradition, FDR’s break from the practice led to the catastrophe of the Wallace era. For that reason, few objected. The 23rd Amendment was more controversial, as it was the ‘Balanced Budget Amendment’. A staple of Republican wishlists (in a not-so-subtle attempt to appease Anti-New Deal forces), it forbade budgets being passed by the government where a deficit was created unless a two-thirds majority could be reached. Some had theorized the heavy deficits that characterized the Wallace era (as much due to a flat-lining economy as any political spending increase) were part of Wallace’s plot to undermine America by indebting it, and thus the new amendment would restore American frugality. In reality, enough creative accounting and political cooperation were employed on almost all occasions to get the material through to the President’s desk. The 24th Amendment illegalized flag-burning following the arrest of some Pro-Wallace groups for committing the act, who had later been cleared in court (indeed, the Freedom Party had introduced the bill originally). Proposed culls on Presidential power were always met with anger from Patton, and so Republicans hoped he wouldn’t go too rogue.

Early in Patton’s term, Civil Rights was not on his mind. He was much too focussed on the state of international Communism than anything entirely domestic. This was ironically to the relief of major Civil Rights organisations. Their hope at the ascension of President Wallace had turned to utter desolation at the word of his allegiance to the Soviets. William DuBois of the NAACP said, “If I lived a hundred lifetimes more, I shall never see the liberation of my race.” They were relieved Patton had taken over, fearing an even fiercer reactionary backlash. Indeed, the Klan had been revived from its membership crash in the twenties and was as strong among WASPS as it had ever been. Patton, despite being a WASP Southerner, had allowed impromptu desegregation on the frontlines during the race to Berlin. The experience would lead him to conclude that segregation in the military was a terrible idea, hence his rejection of calls from Freedom Party Senators to reintroduce it to the military. Senator James Eastland called it ‘part of Wallace’s Commie plot to weaken our armed forces, which our so-called ‘Patriot’ President refuses to undo’. Patton would angrily write a letter to Eastland demanding he ‘do half as much work as the Negroes in China who’re busting their asses so you can be free to say that crap.’ Of course, a significant amount of effort in Washington was in repairing the hurt feelings the President regularly caused. It had grown so bruising that by 1950 it was finally agreed to reintroduce Jefferson’s tradition of the State of the Union Address being a carefully written letter to stop Patton’s off-script, off-colour remarks, most infamously joking about how remarkable the ROC snipers were in China “even though their eyes are so slit I’m amazed sometimes they can see three feet in front of themselves!” The comments were used by Mao to back up his nationalist position. These positions don’t so much show that Patton had any strong feelings on race, more so his indifference and insensitivity to it. Of course, this would make the events he was caught up in all the more extraordinary …

Extract from “Our Misguided Friends”: Fascism in Democratic Nations by Amy Long

Though it was mutually agreed that British soldiers would not serve in India, much to the relief of both the National Congress and British leadership, it was agreed that the British would fling resources (typically just American as Patton wrote a blank check) and train the Indian army as best they could. While they called themselves ‘Indian’, it de facto typically just meant ‘Hindu’ – with many non-Hindus who fought for the national government calling themselves ‘Unionists’. With pacifism against the Islamists discredited with the murder of Gandhi, the ‘Hindutva’ idea became popular among Hindu leaders, who felt that Islam was a threat to Indian identity. The head of this new ideology was a man by the name of Veer Savarkar, who opposed partition, praised Fascism and was an avowed Zionist. His Hindu Mahasabha Party suddenly grew remarkably powerful and influential (with unearthed documents now proving he received significant support from Rome). The ideology was also remarkably tolerant to certain faiths like Jainism, Sikhism and Buddhism, which it considered kin of the Hindu religion (which Islam did not fall under). Though Western newspapers tried to downplay the phenomenon, it was unmistakably a sectarian war fought primarily between Islamic and Hindu groups pursuing government policies favoring their respective religions. The West supported the Hindus against the Muslims and tried to stop the radicals in the Hindu leadership from getting out of control and implementing policies that would tank support for the war among domestic audiences. It should be seen in that context, therefore, that one of the more controversial aspects of the Indian Civil War should be viewed.

The sudden start of the war meant that roughly seven million Hindus and seven million Muslims were trapped in territories led by the opposing religious authorities. As arranging a population transfer was impossible given the circumstance, many Hindu and Sikh rabble-rousers demanded the Muslim population be treated as enemy combatants. Fearing total disaster, Gaitskell convinced the Indian authorities to ‘relocate’ most of the Muslim population into internment camps that the British would help administer. They would be based on the camp system used on Japanese Americans during World War 2. Though it was seen as a necessary evil to avoid even more bloodshed within India, Gaitskell would say that, “I was almost sick after giving my approval”. It didn’t help that Eden’s Conservatives and Mosley’s BUF hammered the Labour government over ‘their failed decolonization policies which have led to the loss of British prestige and the loss of countless Indian lives that this was supposed to improve,” as stated by Winston Churchill, whose own sins in India had long since found their apologists. With Anglo-American money, the Hindu government created a string of concentration camps throughout the sub-continent. While they were relatively decent in terms of accommodation and generally free of violence (so much so that there were protests from Hindu groups that the camps weren’t harsh enough), the soul-crushing effects of the imprisonment were etched on the face of any Western observer who came to glance at what was going on. One journalist would famously describe it as, “Stone-age brutality in a Nuclear-age world”. Almost one third of Dehli’s population were herded into camps – an unheard of proposition. The treatment of its Muslim population, as well as the involvement of Western powers, has ensured that the events of the Indian Civil War are controversial topics in modern India. The act only served to further Anti-West resentment in the Islamic world (outside of Turkey and Iran who considered themselves apart from the Pakistanis for ethnic and doctrinal reasons respectively).

For Hindus trapped behind Muslim or ‘Separatist’ lines, their fate resembled the worst days of pogroms in Russia, only on an hourly basis. Hindu communities were ransacked at will, pushed into the wildness and suffered countless trials and tribulations. Thankfully, Gaitskell and Lord Mountbatten had focussed most British resources on ensuring that these communities were preserved. Thus, with ample material help from the Americans and ample planning help from the Israelis, who were well used to these operations given their recent airlifts of the Iraqi and Yemeni Jewish populations, Operation Atman (the rescue of the trapped non-Muslim populace in the Separatist regions) went full steam ahead, with Field Marshall Orde Wingate commanding. Thailand and South Iran would prove important players as well in providing Britain bases to intervene. As the separatists had no air-force to speak of, Wingate used helicopters to secure the perimeters and flew in gigantic gliders that took off thousands at a time. The good international press the operation got did much to quell lingering resentment in Hindu India against the British. Indeed, multiple ITO, Roman Alliance and even neutral states agreed to help with what could easily have been an economically ruinous undertaking. It’s estimated that almost five million men, women and children were rescued between 1950-1952 by the help of the British Air Force and others. Indeed, Wingate is the sole British man to have a prominent statue of himself in India, right in the heart of New Dehli for his actions (thus making him a hero in two post-colonial states). Unfortunately, it’s estimated that perhaps one million Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jainists and Christians were killed in the sectarian slaughter that enveloped the Islamist regions (excluding those who died in the war by itself). By contrast, some 400,000 Muslims were murdered in the Hindu regions, which would undoubtedly have been higher if not for Western intervention.

Extract from ‘The War of Dragons: China 1948-1953’ by Wu Long

Many Americans had grown impatient with the Chinese War. It was 1950, a year after Patton’s inauguration, but there had hardly been any movement outside the narrow holdout in the south that Chiang desperately hung to. Mao still controlled the vast majority of China and was relatively popular. The reason was that China had, simply put, a lot of people in it, and Eisenhower did not want to begin offensive operations until he had a lot of people of his own. Throughout the Winter of 1949/50, Mao sent countless charges against the UN lines, though with increasing failure being the only return. Countless times, he was pushed back, so Mao too had grown impatient with his returns. Though his 'Water Strategy' had successfully held down the West in South China by keeping them distracted, he felt like the stagnation in progress was making people jittery.

The UN had suffered setbacks in 1949 and 1950 even before the battles began. Both Britain and France grew distracted in the neighbouring regions of India (even before the fighting began) and Vietnam, with America forced to send resources there as well. Patton didn’t mind, seeing almost any colonial battle through the lens of good democrats against bad would-be tyrants, even when he was fighting for those who would deny democratic power to those very people in some cases. While this caused little friction in the UN, it caused shortages at the front, which was increasing dominated by the Americans and Italians. Balbo, who had been flown in help arrange matters with Eisenhower, was much more aggressive than the American general, who urged caution. Rommel seconded Balbo’s opinion, with Patton giving not to subtle hints to Eisenhower that Americans were growing restless. Ultimately, the chance would come sooner than anyone thought.

Mao had left Hong Kong alone, feeling that its return was inevitable under treaties and that taking them would anger Western opinion too much for anyone’s good. Finally, Mao decided that it was time to take the city and excite the withering faith of the Chinese masses. On January 23rd 1950, the shelling of Hong Kong began. The commanders of Hong Kong feared something like this would happen, and were thus well prepared. The US, Royal and every other kind of Navy provided all the back-up that could be fired and all the aid that could be sent. The attack had united the House of Commons, with Churchill proclaiming, “Mao’s serpent shall find itself torn to shreds not just by the Chinese Dragon or the American Eagle, but the British Lion.” With that, Eisenhower had no choice. The relief party, led by Rommel, cut off the Chinese while they were halfway through the city. Hong Kong had turned into a warzone once again, with British soldiers and local policemen fighting side by side for every street corner. Mao was shocked that the local population seemed to resist him, which led to further attempts to commit troops. All it meant was that he had created a bigger catch for the UN forces. Rommel closed off the peninsula on February 13th, trapping almost 100,000 Communists. They would finally surrender on February 28th. The success would start Eisenhower’s ‘Sea Strategy’, to work up the shoreline with the aid of Western navies to take the populated cities and arable land while leaving the wild interior to whither. In theory, it sounded promising. Of course, in practice, it would be anything but.

In May 1950, the advancing UN began the Battle of Xiamen, which would last for a month. Nearly ten thousand Americans would die in this sole battle alone, with more than a hundred thousand dead Red Chinese soldiers (though some think civilians were counted for purposes of propaganda). The casualty rates mortified high command, but there was nothing else they could do. Patton and the American public were totally committed to the war, Chiang was still trying to get his own army off the ground and Mao was still saying he would never stop until all of China was Red. Eisenhower would privately relay in his diary: “I never thought anything could make a dent in China’s population. God have mercy on us that we seem to be giving it a try.” But to Mao, that was fine. Mao was convinvced that the sheer scale of China's population would ensure his victory, laughingly writing to Stalin one time to say, "By the time they get halfway through China's population, there won't be a GI left in the world!" Unfortunately, Patton was more than willing to meet the challenge.

… They First Make Mad

Extract from 'The Still Sun: The British Empire after WW2' by Cecil Moore

On June 6th 1950, a bright flash lit the Libyan Desert, leaving scorched glass as its feet. All of a sudden, the nuclear duopoly that the Americans and Soviets held had been broken. What was interesting about this was that it wasn’t merely the Italians who had entered the Nuclear Club. At the test site, British and French scientists freely mixed with Italians, under the command of Enrico Fermi, who is considered the father of Nuclear Weaponry in Europe. After the panic-attack that swept Europe upon news of the Soviet nuking of Warsaw, the Mussolini, DeGaulle and Churchill immediately agreed to combine their nuclear programs under one roof to speed up the process. The Italians were the most advanced scientifically on the project (mostly due to the amount of resources that Mussolini could shovel into the project that a Democracy could not), though the British Empire was the primary supplier of the required resources, especially uranium. It culminated in the explosion of a test device, full agreements between the three parties to trade all resources required to construct the weapons, while full disclosure of the process of making one was spread to all the military elites of all three countries. Quite literally in a flash, there were five members of the Nuclear Club instead of just two.

Behind the scenes of glory after the successful use of a Nuclear Bomb, the colder reality of decolonization began to bite. All across the world, the colonial peoples of Africa, Asia and elsewhere were growing increasingly impatient with political reform. While Gaitskell and others desperately wanted to push decolonization, two major factors stood in the way. Firstly, due to the fate of India, the withdrawal option from the colonies was looked upon as both weak and immoral by the Right, who argued that colonization was necessary to preserve Britain’s place in an uncertain world, defeat Communism and ensure the wellbeing of the native populations. The second was a more recent trend. Many colonial groups were now actually contacting the British to state how much they didn’t want them to leave, in light of the new threat from the Roman Alliance. British Somaliland in particular was terrified of the thought of being left to fend for itself on the borders of the Italian Empire. A petition of ten thousand prominent members of the territory said they would ‘never accept a day the British flag doesn’t fly when hostile flags fly so close’. Tunisia had likewise maintained close ties with France as it became independent, due to the fear of Libyan invasion. Even in South-East Asia, the Vietnamese, Cambodians and Laotians were much more comfortable with accepting French rule when Thailand joined the Roman Alliance – resulting in the formal creation of the Francophonie in 1952 as a French version of the Commonwealth. Head of State for Vietnam, Bao Dai, tried to sell it as a successful devolution of power to Dominion status, which it was for the most part – though the majority of the population wanted independence. Gaitskell was sympathetic to this argument, and thus decolonization was slower than it may otherwise have been, especially due to the drop in Soviet aid to fighters to finance the Chinese War and Patton’s outright support of colonialism (sending advisers from everywhere to Kenya to Vietnam to support the host regimes).

In terms of European politics itself, the rebirth of German Conservatism had met mixed reaction in France. De Gaulle was concerned about what a revived German militarism could mean, especially with Rommel having gained such international credibility. For that reason, De Gaulle decided that it was best to find a way to work around German armament. This led to the creation of the EDC in 1951, or European Defence Community. It was a way of integrating the small German army, alongside the Low Countries, Czech Republic and Scandinavia into a single cohesive unit with the French military. Of course, France would dominate the arrangement, not in the least due to her Nuclear advantage. Though De Gaulle was not thrilled with the perceived loss of French sovereignty, he considered it a necessary price to pay to nip German nationalism in the bud. Likewise, the creation of the European Economic Community in 1951 created a gigantic free trade bloc stretching along the ITO nations of Europe. Britain, focusing on the Commonwealth and feeling in the words of Churchill ‘of Europe but not in it’, decided not to join. The actions of France in forging a Europe where she remained the premier was noticed by Mussolini, who sought even laxer trade restriction with the Roman Alliance. As she was by far the most powerful member of the Alliance, Italy continued to economically dominate the region – a role that would only increase when Libya’s oil became a gigantic source of wealth and the Second Arabian War would forge a new global order.

Extract from ‘The Arab Tragedy: 1944–1956’ by Abdul Nazim

While the Ba’ath Party had secured dominion over Syria, neighboring Iraq was plagued with internal issues. Though the country was totally hostile towards Israel, it maintained relatively friendly relations with the West. The last bastion of Hashemite rule was loathed in all quarters – from the Kurds in the north who wanted independence to the religious who decried Royal decadence to the Pan-Arabian supporters who wanted to merge with Syria into a single state. Aflaq was convinced that this party was strong enough to take power in the neighboring kingdom. For that reason, he suggested something extraordinary to his commanders: an invasion of Iraq. Iraq was larger, had a more developed economy, stronger army and would have international support. Most Syrian commanders considered it suicide. But Aflaq was convinced that the country was ripe for revolution. He also believed that with the world distracted in China and India, now was his only chance to seize glory. Organising his army along the Euphrates, far enough away from Israel and Turkey for the two parties not to care, on February 2nd 1951, the Syrian army marched into Iraq. Aflaq’s prediction about Western non-involvement proved correct. So correct, in fact, Israeli Prime Minister Begin took to the radio to gloat about the division that ran rampant in Arab ranks. He was soon silenced.

The Iraqi army was sent to repulse the invasion at Tall ‘Afar. The Iraqis were surprised that no bombing or shelling had been launched – only leaflets demanding national revolution against the unpopular Hashemite Regime. That was when a startling piece of news was announced – the Ba’ath forces wished to meet under a white flag in the city. However, what was vastly more surprising was when Aflaq himself, having been inspired by Napoleon, showed up in the city, defying fears of assassination. He gave a speech to startled Iraqi troop, saying, “You do not serve a King but a servant of a King – a European one. You do not serve an enemy of Zionism – but a supporter of it. You do not serve a man – but a boy. Soldiers of Iraq! If you shoot your Arab brothers then who will rejoice but the Zionists and Colonialists? Join us to end the oppression of Arabia, that she may stand above the world!” Aflaq stated he had fully accepted the probability of death while concealing a cyanide capsule in case he would be captured – he wanted to be a martyr to the Arab World, and was resolved to have his moment of truth at Tall ‘Afar. He believed that whatever happened would be God’s will. Having violated the terms of the armistice, Iraqi commanders demanded their troops arrest Aflaq, who quickly ordered his bodyguards to stand-down. Instead, much to the commanders’ horror, the Iraqi troops dropped their weapons and rushed towards Aflaq to raise him on their shoulders like a conquering hero. When news of the defection of the Iraqi Army reached Baghdad, senior commanders told King Faisal (who was only 16 years old) to get out while he still could. Faisal fled to London as quickly as he could with his family on February 7th, narrowly escaping the wave of revolutionaries attempting to storm the airfield.

With almost no opposition to speak of and Aflaq leading the march, the Syrian leader walked into Baghdad on February 10th 1951 to waves of public celebration. Iraqi commanders, many of whom were likewise disgusted by their regime’s alliance with Britain, pledged the allegiance of the Iraqi armed forces to the new Republic. Speaking from the ransacked Palace, he proclaimed the birth of the United Arab Republic, which he said would unite the Arab world under one roof. The capital would be established in Baghdad, owing to its greater significance in the Islamic world than Damascus. Most Syrians didn’t care owing to many believing their country was a false colonial construction, and that they were all Arabs at heart. The connection to the Gulf also allowed Syria access to the sea again, albeit in a very roundabout way.

While the world still reeled at the news, another shock soon awaited. On March 3rd, with unrest sweeping the Arab world in reaction to the startling events unfolding on all sides, King Farouk ordered Ba’athist marches in Tahrir Square to be stamped out. Instead, the group of officers that had been entrusted with quelling the crowds went up to the marchers and offered to lead them to the Palace. The man who led the officers lead a group known as the Free Officers Association, by the name of Gamal Nasser. He had little distinct ideological affinities before the ‘Velvet Invasion’ of Iraq (as ‘no blood’ was supposedly spilled, though that was not entirely true due to riots and reprisal), but Aflaq’s movement inspired him. He thus declared himself and his movement to be Ba’athist in nature, and decided to strike while the iron was hot. He knew the Israelis were never going to lift a finger for Farouk after his pogroms and that he was safe in his conduct. The crowds cheered and marched on the centre of Egyptian power. Soldiers broke ranks and gladly joined the crowd against the hated Farouk. Farouk would be lynched attempting to escape the Palace before order could be restored, thus beginning the Ba’athist era of Egypt.

The distance and division between Egypt and the UAR created issues of administration. For that reason, Egypt would officially join the UAR, although for all intents and purposes it was an independent state outside of foreign policy and the military. Nasser wasted no time in developing his own cult of personality within Egypt, much to Aflaq’s outrage, who wanted to take the sole credit for the Arab revival. Their first meeting in Baghdad was so awkward, it was described by one observer as, “like boys talking out of necessity when their mother had scolded them for fighting”. Nasser also felt that Egypt had its own identity that it had to protect. After all, he was not a through-and-through Ba’athist – it was merely an opportunity to seize power and restore Egyptian dignity. In reality, he had no interest in surrendering Egyptian identity to an Arab super state, or at the very least he wanted Egypt to be the heart of any such state, which was not going to be any time soon.

The UAR was supported strongly by the Trans-Jordanian Arab refugee populations in all three countries, as well as the secularist, militarist and nationalist segments of society, all of whom felt they had something to gain. Sectarianism was highly frowned upon by the government (with the obvious exceptions of Anti-Semitism and increasingly Anti-Hinduism). The long-suffering Kurdish population suffered yet further under the virulent Arab nationalism of the UAR, as well as the small Persian population in the east and Turkish in the north. Ironically, though the Roman Alliance were identified as near-Satanic, the UAR took a lot of inspiration from Fascism. The state was Totalitarian with Aflaq identified as a savior figure for the nation (and Nasser added to the posters in Egypt). Such was the level of personality cult in the UAR, that one man in a coffee shop who accidentally spilled his cup over a newspaper with Aflaq’s face on it was beaten to death while still in the shop by a squad of Ba’athists. Every school classroom had Aflaq’s picture on it, listening to Western radio and records was punishable by shooting and even the newly composed national anthem ‘An Arab Heart’ made explicit reference to ‘Our Noble President, sent to save us’. It was a level of megalomania few people could fathom, which went hand in hand with the expansion of state power. Most industries were nationalized, though some private property was allowed, not that the state couldn’t grab it whenever it wanted. Islamists were given minor sops to try and incorporate their Anti-Israeli/Turkish/Western attitudes.

The UAR joined the Comintern and became the sole representative of the Arab world. Stalin was impressed by the revolutionary character of the movement and guaranteed his support – even when Communists were detained and even executed in the new regime. Economic support would only increase after Stalin’s death. Naturally, relations with the Roman Alliance were abysmal, with Mussolini declaring Aflaq, “Another Hitler”. President Orbay of Turkey went even further, calling the UAR and Ba’athism, “A greater threat to the world than the Communists. If they are able to gain nuclear weapons, it will be the end of mankind.” While these declarations may seem premature in light of the Second Arabian War, they were especially scary thoughts to Europeans in the 1950s. When word came out that Algerian independence groups had tied their movements to Ba’athism as well, France started to pay attention. When Kuwait started to be paralyzed by strikes organized by Bat’athists, the British reluctantly increased their stretched military presence in the region, despite Gaiskell’s instinctive Anti-Colonialism. Many historians believe that his rejection of King Faisal’s letter forced his hand on the matter. At the same time, he desperately attempted to rally the Gulf Monarchies to oppose the Republic, fearing what would happen if the UAR was allowed to continue growing. Then, on November 22nd 1951, he would get the horrifying answer.

That day, Aflaq met King Ibn Saud in Ridyah. They formed the ‘Treaty of Arab Friendship’, which promised that Saudi Arabia would merge with the United Arab Republic 100 years in the future. There were many reasons for the treaty. From Aflaq’s side, he did not want to start a war with a respected Arab leader like Ibn Saud (who was no Farouk or Faisal) – he also worried about the religious implication of a Christian leader invading the country that at that point in time had both Mecca and Medina. Lastly, he also feared that if he launched an invasion, then the Roman Alliance would leap on top of him and defeat him while he was distracted in the south. From Ibn Saud’s perspective, he knew Aflaq was popular in the Middle East, much more popular than him, and he was still popular. But he knew that his links with the West were under increasing scrutiny. Anti-Israeli hatred had grown at such a rate that any attempt to side with the West (seen as an extension of Israel by many) against Aflaq was doomed to failure. Thus, an alliance was in both sides’ interest against far more hated foes. At the same time, neither party was sure how to normalise relations, as the stated goal of the UAR was the total control of the Arab world. That was when a brilliant stop-gap emerged. It was agreed that the Saudis would join in a hundred years, which would allow more than enough time for an effective alliance. Once that was up and the Saudis apparently had to join, it could even be extended from then. Of course, neither side had any intention of respecting the treaty. Aflaq would tell his second in command, al-Bitar, that ‘Once Israel is gone, the Saudis are next’. Ibn likewise told his son Saud that Aflaq and Nasser were a conflict waiting to happen, and when that came around, ‘the whole Republican insanity will fall apart’. Many in the West compared it to the Molotov-Ribbentrop agreement, and many wondered whether it spoke of an imminent march to war.

A Continent of Tigers

Extract from ‘The War of Dragons: China 1948-1953’ by Wu Long

The Battle of Xiamen demonstrated to UN commanders the impossibility of a long grind to Beijing. Too many men had been lost in what was ultimately a single, even somewhat small holdout. For that reason, Patton ordered Curtis LeMay to implement the bombing campaign he had masterminded in Vietnam to the vast landscape of China. LeMay was given an extraordinary level of area and resources with which to work and wasted none of it. No corner of China was safe from bombing runs, from Nanking to Manchuria. Owing to the relatively minimal nature of air defence and the poor building quality of Chinese housing (certainly compared to the hard stone and concrete of Europe), civilian casualties escalated at an alarming rate. At the same time, the bombing run had accomplished what it set out to do, obliterating almost anything close to heavy industry throughout the Middle Kingdom. Shanghai and Beijing were bombed almost daily with only the occasional help of the Soviet Air Force, whose primitive designs were left in the dust by modern American, Italian and British jets. The Italians in particular had very little concern for civilian casualties, with Balbo rumored to have joked with Graziani about how ‘It’s not like we’ll ever run out of them [Chinamen]”. Italian troops would also be at the centre of the Letian massacre, where almost 1000 Chinese civilians were killed, in an overwhelming show of power after a member of the Red Guard assassinated an Italian officer. The incident was covered up in American media. Italy increasingly became the second partner in the UN forces behind America, mostly due to French and British distraction in the surrounding regions. Moves to step up the ROC’s role in the conflict continued, but they remained mired with the reputation of being foreign puppets, even as their own military prowess grew.

In response to the material devastation of his country, Mao started a ‘Metal-drive’ campaign in the fall of 1950 to make the rural population produce the metal that was lost in the same explosions that took their factories. The effects were calamitous, as peasants were ordered to stop farming and thus the harvests were not completed. Famine was the result, and the war had made it exponentially worse. To add insult to injury, the metal was too poor a quality to be any use. From the end of 1950 to mid-1953, China would experience one of the worst famines in human history. More Chinese would die in the war due to hunger than any military campaign, with some forty million estimated to have starved to death between the beginning of Mao’s invasion and the final peace. In an astonishing act of callousness, Stalin not only didn’t attempt to alleviate the situation but actively reduced the amount of food given to China, nominally on the basis of tightening belts at home, but actually, according to one aide’s diary, because “We need to know if Mao is loyal.” It was the first real chance for the UN forces to make a good impression, which they did successfully. No matter how abysmal the situation was in the north, the areas controlled by the UN and ROC were relatively free of starvation. Ironically, this made the security situation worse in some ways, with refugees from the inner-country fleeing to the coasts to escape the worst effects of the famine, with many Red Guards slipping inside in the confusion.

The Red Guards would slip into UN controlled zones through the gigantic, every expanding border the UN made for themselves. They would launch assassination campaigns, poison wells and generally raise hell behind Allied lines. They were lionized in Communist propaganda, though their daily existence was often hellish. Patton had no interest in guerilla campaigns and wanted American troops at the front line against the main bulk of Mao’s forces. This left the business of guerillas to the ROC and Italian troops (who were already experienced in counter-insurgency warfare from their wars of conquest in the Balkans and Africa). As Red Guards wore no uniform in defiance of the Geneva Convention, it was considered fair game to shoot them on sight (of course, it was awfully difficult to tell them apart from citizens). If you were captured as a Red Guard, unless you were lucky enough to meet a UN soldier who wasn’t in the Roman Alliance or some similarly dictatorial country, you often wished that you were simply killed immediately – especially if you were a woman. Torture was routine and outright encouraged by superior officers as a way to keep morale up in the face of the invisible enemy. Public executions of Communists were also commonplace in rural areas. Nevertheless, the Red Guards proved resilient in the number of attacks they launched throughout 1950 and into 1951. Of course, this was when Mao had his next big idea, which would prove to be one of the most important actions of the whole war, though not in the way the dictator would have wanted it to be.

Extract from 'Cowboys and Indians: A History of American-Indian Relations' by Mitrra Rahul

Ultimately, the Islamists knew they had no chance of winning an outright war with the Hindus. What they wanted was simply to bleed the Unionist forces out long enough to make them relent. What they underestimated was the extent of Hindu nationalists managed to capture the popular imagination, leaving Nehru and more leftist figures in the dust. Savarkar would publicly declare in Mumbai that India would sooner surrender it’s existence entirely than surrender an inch of land to a Muslim state. With regular atrocities against the Non-Muslim populations in Pakistan proving easy recruiting materials, the Indian government was hardened against negotiating. Though in Karachi (the De Facto capital of the new Pakistani state) was always ready to offer peace, their offers were repeatedly rebuffed. The Indian Communist Party was the only major party to support partition (under Moscow’s orders), and found themselves banned as fifth columnists. When Nehru opposed the move (seeing the Communists as potential allies in the Indian Parliament), he was deposed by his cabinet, thus letting Indian statesman Chakravarti Rajagopalachari (or Rajaji) step in as Prime Minister. Rajaji was far more comfortable with negotiating with the West and was deathly afraid of Communism. Thankfully he was somewhat of a moderate when it came to the Muslim population and steps were put in place to ensure that the worst excesses of sectarianism on the Unionist side were not tolerated.

As Rajaji came from Bengal, he prioritized subjugating the Eastern segment of ‘Pakistan’ first with a general offensive in early 1951. This proved easier than most expected, as Bengal’s Islamists had divided between those who wanted to be part of a whole Pakistan and those who wanted an independent Bengali state. The Unionists marched along the Ganges, encountering dogged but useless resistance. The Islamists had almost no infrastructure to help them whatsoever, leaving them exposed to a qualitatively and quantitatively superior force. By the time the Unionist forces had arrived in Dhakka, a full fledged Civil War had already begun in the city between the two forces, making the event a rare three-way affair (and a favourite of Indian storytellers in the coming decades for its take on the confusion of war). Of course, with Anglo-American aid and airpower, not to mention the better-regimented and motivated attitude of Indian troops, Dhakka fell on August 29th 1951, which was seen as the end of the East Pakistani element of the rebellion. That left West Pakistan, which everyone knew would be an appalling struggle. This forced Rajaji to make moves he wouldn’t have in normal circumstances.

On September 22nd 1951, Rajaji flew to America to meet President Patton, which would lay the foundation for the ‘New Indian Century’ program. Though Rajaji would pander to the reporters with talks about America and India’s solidarity as post-Colonial nations and rallying crowds with Anti-Communist sentiments, he remained a lifelong Socialist and was suspicious of the American development model; of course, he made little mention of that to reporters. At the same time, he knew India was in a bad way economically. The country had been torn to pieces in the major cities by riots, forced to suffer shortages and poverty due to the war and it was soon to inherit a bitter, angry Muslim population. This needed economic aid, for whom the only possible partner was America. Yet the Americans had little interest in investing in a country so punishing to businesses that the bureaucracy had been labeled the ‘License Raj’. For that reason, Rajaji made an offer to liberalize India’s markets as part of a trade deal with the United States in return for guaranteeing the aid that would finish off the Pakistani rebellion once and for all. With Patton seeing an opportunity to solidify the country as an Anti-Communist asset and the Republican Party seeing dollar signs as big as the moon, the American-Indian Free Trade Agreement was passed in February 1952. Restrictions on business and investment were lifted, privatizations of industry began and foreign media and pop culture started their march into the Indian market. It would be a seminal moment in Indian history, and would foretell the astonishing changes to come on the subcontinent and the wider Asia region.

Extract from ‘The Asian Century’ by Yuki Souma

Though one could argue that the early 1950s was the dark era for Asia, even worse than the Second World War, it’s hard to deny that the real seeds of growth that would radiate all across the continent were forged in that time period. In terms of economics, the realities of the Cold War and the firm but retreating presence of Western ideas pushed developing nations away from Communism. This was compounded by the news of what was going on in the Soviet Union. With Communism and the Far-Left by extension either discredited or suppressed through most of the continent, a more market-friendly approach was taken. The most ardent practitioners were Hong Kong and Singapore, but those had always been port cities and thus open to merchant idealism. India had begun it’s Capitalist revolution even in the midst of the Indian Civil War. But the biggest gainers from the boom, per capita, were the populations of Japan and the Philippines, both of whom were considered First World Countries (in terms of living standards) by the late 1960s. Great economic booms would happen all across Asia, leading to then Senator Nixon in 1962 to declare Asia, ‘A Continent of Tigers’.

Thankfully, political rights were generally upheld as well. As if perhaps embarrassed at the thought of being expelled from ITO (as was the fate of those Democracies who turned their back on their institutions), no East-Asian country would ever leave the alliance, unlike other parts of the world. Even locations where despotism had been normal resisted the urge to fall into prior evils. Japan certainly became more nationalistic in the face of Ezo’s persecution of their fellow countrymen in Hokkaido, but Japanese Democracy prevailed. Tibet may have been a cruel theocracy in the past, but after some stern warnings from the British and Indians that they would abandon them to Mao should they not reform, a much lighter arrangement was created with the Dalai Lama as a mostly ceremonial role like the King of England. Though the French had crushed Vietnamese hopes of independence under Communist Ho Chi Minh, they knew that they had to give some sops to the East Asian colonies. For that reason, they gave Self-Government to Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos as French Protectorates. Vietnam became an Empire again under former Emperor Bảo Đại, Cambodia was a Kingdom under Norodom Sihanouk and Laos as a Kingdom under Sisavang Vong. All three countries had a small level of Parliamentary independence, though their royal families remained the rulers. That said, none of them were considered especially cruel and all naturally hated the Communists. France guaranteed their internal liberty and guaranteed them not only against aggression from Communists, but from South China. With the specter of Chiang hanging over their heads, the three states reluctantly agreed to the new set up. While it wasn’t independence, it was certainly much better than before – and all felt that it was suicide to challenge the French again, now that America had become an agent of colonialism and not an enemy. Nevertheless, the political stability would enable the Indo-China region to become yet another jewel in the new Asia.


Of course, this is not to make total apologism for Colonialism. Though, for example, the Malay Emergency that the Anglo-Americans worked together in was mostly benign (not that all would agree) and did indeed result in the defeat of Communist forces and preservation of Malaysian democracy … not all Colonial regimes were as sensible. The Portuguese in particular were harsh about preserving their foreign domains. In East Timor, it was joked that the Portuguese would surrender Portugal herself just to keep the tiny region. Independence demonstrations were met with bullets in the streets and silence in the UN (the Comintern loudly decried but most independence protestors wouldn’t be caught dead beside a Communist). Then, of course, was Indonesia, which was mostly controlled by the Dutch. The Dutch wanted to preserve control, but everyone, even Patton, knew it was utterly hopeless. In normal circumstances, keeping the islands restrained would have been impossible in the long run, but it was somehow made even more impossible when most of the population was Muslim and was utterly outraged at what was going on in the Middle East. The actions of the Roman Alliance and Colonial Powers, resulting in the loss of Jerusalem, had sparked outrage across the Muslim world (outside of more secular regions like the Caucasus and traditionally Anti-Arab parties like the Turks and Iranians). For that reason, the resistance to Dutch occupation was intense. Though Patton reluctantly gave scraps of aid to try and stay on Europe’s good side, everyone knew it was a lost cause. It was perhaps for this reason that Indonesia would go alongside North China, Korea and Ezo as one of the few failures of the continent.

The Satanic Empire

Extract from‘The War of Dragons: China 1948-1953’ by Wu Long

As the terrible Chinese War continued its brutal existence as 1951 lingered on, UN forces may have been winning, but they were also hurting. Though they had advanced deep into China, taking Kunming and most of Yunnan province in the Fall of 1950 alongside all of Guangxi, Guangdong, Fujian, Guizhou with the majority of Hunan and Jianxi, the Red Guard networks were as active as ever. The bulk of UN forces made the slow march up the Chinese coast, by now decimated by American aerial and naval supremacy. Brutal battles continued in Zhejiang province for almost all of the remainder of 1950 and early 1951, which was the period when American dead had surpassed the 100,000 mark. The plan was to take Shanghai and Nanking, completely reestablish Chiang’s old government, and then send him off to deal with the devastated remainder of the Communists without getting too close to the Soviets. Mao had given up on winning by traditional attacks of massed armies, seeing that his forces would simply be bombed. He decided that the best plan was to rally the Red Guards and have them attempt to launch a general insurrection in the ROC territories, overwhelming Chiang and the UN’s forces. To add to the potential for success, it was decided to hold the attack on April 4th, the Qingming Festival, where Chinese mourn their ancestors. Knowing that many considered it a holy day in China, it was hoped that an armistice would be assumed by UN forces and then the Communists would rally their forces and overwhelm them before they knew what was going on. The Qingming Offensive was hotly debated in the circles of power in Beijing. If it weren’t for Mao, it would almost certainly have been defeated, as Lin Bao decidedly opposed it. One wonders what may have happened had Lin Bao been listened to.

The preparations were immense, with all the best Soviet weapons sent down to the regions through the jungles in preparation for the great offensive. Once flagging Red Guard moral shot back to old highs, as it seemed that the moment of final victory was about to be reached, regardless of the old setbacks. Terror cells in the major cities as far as Taiwan were put on standby. As expected, the Americans and their fellow UN allies had an unofficial ceasefire on the morning of April 4th 1951, as their Kuomintang allies celebrated the holiday. Then in an almighty screech that morning, from the Laotian border to the fields of Fujian, the Red Guards began the Qingming Offensive, hoping to inspire a general revolt and defeat the Western powers.

Unfortunately for the Communists, almost everything went wrong. They decidedly underestimated how much the ROC had improved their reputation in recent times and how badly the Communists had tarnished their own due to the famines and how the ROC was a relatively safe place from hunger. Beijing had underestimated the strategic mobility of the UN, which allowed them to redeploy at will to threatened areas with vehicles like helicopters. The Communist battle plan was too complex and difficult to coordinate; attacking everywhere instead of concentrating their forces on a few targets allowed their forces to be picked off at will. According to Molotov in his memoirs: "Mao did not correctly evaluate the balance of forces between himself and the Capitalists, did not fully realize that Chiang was more popular than he was, that his capabilities were limited and that he was too proud to get the help he needed.” The Communists’ best victory was their brief taking of Fuzhou back from the UN – which wasn’t anywhere near as effective as they expected because so many ports had been captured north of the city that supplies were coming in easily. In the Second Battle of Fuzhou, fought through until June, some 50,000 Red Guards perished in the city, alongside 15,000 ROC/UN troops and 100,000 civilians. It would be the bloodiest individual battle of the Qingming offensive, but the bloodshed was universal, stretching from Kunming – half burned down by the Italians in their wrath – to Hong Kong, where the Red Guard infrastructure in the city would be reduced to 50 members hiding in terror from the police. By the end of September, all the gains of the Qingming Offensive for the Red Guards had been removed. Seeing the advantage presented to them, Patton and Eisenhower cancelled the march northward until the next year and focussed on smashing the scattered remnants of the Red Guards so they would never rise again.

They certainly succeeded in their goal. The Communist leadership was shocked by what had happened. It was estimated that almost one million Red Guards had participated in the Qingming Offensive. Of those, the ruthless suppression campaigns of the ROC and Italians with American indifference proving especially effective, some 510,000 Red Guards had been killed in action, all for not a millimeter of land. The Chinese countryside, which many Americans had taken to calling “Injun Country” due to the chance of ambush from Communists, was emptied of enemy forces. The Red Guards controlled almost no territory worth description inside the boundaries of Chiang’s domain. Due to the many atrocities the Red Guards inflicted when they made their temporary gains (notably the Fuzhou Massacre where it was estimated that 30,000 ‘counter-revolutionists’ were executed), they were more hated now than they had ever been. Recruitment fell to a dead halt as both the support base and the chance of glory vanished. There were some in Beijing who hoped that the scale of death would force the Americans to back down and consider the whole thing a quagmire. Unfortunately, they underestimated the Americans. Still lit with burning rage from the Wallace fiasco, with the media and citizens more eager than ever to prove their loyalty, news was filtered to near unrecognizable depths by the time it reached stateside. The Qingming Offensive was compared to Operation Ragnarok in WW2 to show that these were the simply the last moves of a dying enemy. The Red Guards would survive in one form or another until the early 1970s, but could barely reach the level of nuisance after the Qingming disaster.

It seemed to work. Gallup showed that 70% of Americans supported the Chinese War and General Patton’s conduct in it in a poll from November 1951. This ensured Patton would gain the Republican nomination, a role he was reluctant to take but he wanted to ensure that at the very least China was brought to a satisfactory close. However, this would be his first election with a somewhat serious opponent, not that his reelection wasn’t essentially guaranteed. Though Patton didn’t know it, he was about to finish one war, only to begin one altogether different.

Extract from ‘The New Roman Empire’ by David Lassinger

On December 5th 1951, the Macau Conference was convened, involving Chiang, Patton, Mussolini, De Gaulle, Gaitskell, Turkish President Orbay, Brazilian President Vargas, Portuguese President Salazar, Israeli Prime Minister Begin, Eisenhower and Rommel. It was the first and only major meeting of the UN leaders during the Chinese War, but much was done to solidify the mutual strategies between all sides. All parties agreed that no side would sign a separate peace accord with the Communists unless all members of the UN Security Council agreed. Though there was much pressure to do so, no agreement was reached that Unconditional Surrender would be the sole terms open to Mao. Patton and Mussolini lobbied for it, while Gaitskell, De Gaulle and ironically Chiang argued that it would be counterproductive. The reason Chiang was so uncomfortable with the idea of fighting Mao to the death was the reality that all Western powers agreed the slaughter in China, having reached Biblical proportions in surpassing World War 1’s military death toll by a significant amount even before the Qingming Offensive, was proving costlier than thought. It was agreed by Chiang, reluctantly, that the Western powers would assist him up to the Yangtze and provide him with supplies and bombing support from then on, but no men. The plan was to pull out all UN troops by 1953, assuming the war lasted until then. The policy of ‘Sinocization’ was met with much relief by Western mothers and fathers, who were happy that their sons needn’t face death in the jungles of China forever. Chiang would also have to accept that Tibet would be an independent state, something that revolted him as a nationalist, but something he couldn’t refuse as Tibet had sworn to defy Communism and no one in the West was going to give supplies to crush the harmless state.

One of the other major agreements of the conference was that Korea, which had become an important player in the war, could no longer be allowed the free reign it had been given before, as a member of the Stalingrad Pact. With this, Japan joined the war, though only in letting the American air force base itself there and mercilessly bomb the railways and bridges connecting China to Korea. Though Korea would be spared the carpet-bombing that had turned parts of China to ashes, they soon suffered from shortages as nothing could get into the country, especially following strict sanctions that cut Korea off from the world. The more troops Kim Il-Sung sent, the more the bombing increased. The campaign started in February 1952 and was masterminded by Curtis LeMay. LeMay would soon end up halving the amount of contributions Korea could provide the brittle PRC. A similar campaign against Ezo was considered too incendiary and was never implemented. Nevertheless, the pressure on Mao was increasing at the worst possible time.

Despite the positive pictures displayed for the cameras, like at Kiev and Potsdam, there were divisions starting to boil beneath the surface. Gaitskell and DeGaulle had grown suspicious of Mussolini, who was acting more arrogant than ever in the face of Italy’s newfound role as a major player in geopolitics. Despite their common enemies in Mao and Aflaq, Gaitskell and Mussolini had totally opposing views on colonization, with Gaitskell arguing that it was a wicked practice to be stopped as quickly and humanely as possible and Mussolini rebuffing on the basis of the order in Italy’s colonies compared to the slaughter in India. DeGaulle was more likely to agree with Mussolini, but he found the Italian system a threat to France itself. Patton tried to keep the sides on one page, as his policy of eternal deference to the will of the Europeans found issue when the Europeans themselves couldn’t agree. One unlikely friend Mussolini did find, however, was Chiang. The two had a cordial relationship before, but their cooperation during the Chinese War had brought the pair close together, with Chiang opining that ‘If all UN leaders were like you, we’d be in Beijing by now.” Mussolini could only respond by thanking Chiang for ensuring, “Italy’s armies will be well-trained for the final battle against the Red Huns and Saracens.” Of course, Chiang was also grateful for the Roman Alliance being the only major members of the UN not to talk about ‘Democratic Reform’ and other things Chiang felt were not in Chinese nature. One thing Chiang had accomplished, and with relish, was the Anti-Corruption campaign. With most of his old warlord allies killed by the Communists, he had removed much of the competing power structure within the ROC, allowing his newly reclaimed lands to be ruled with an iron fist. Chiang would later joke that the Chinese War was the best Anti-Corruption measure that ever happened to the ROC. With that, the seeds of Asia’s divisions in the second half of the Twentieth Century were well sown.

One thing everyone could agree on was the need to continue the fight. Everyone knew that the war was only going to get bloodier. It was expected that the first troops would reach Shanghai in March, where the real fighting would begin. Of course, at the time, no one could comprehend the sheer level of carnage that would be wrought on the Asian continent in the brief year the war had left. For that reason, it was debated how to drum up support for the war in case civilians at home began to turn against the war – Mussolini would audibly snort as Gaitskell asked the question. Nevertheless, just weeks after the conference, word would come out from the Soviet Union of something so horrible, so monstrous, that all Western leaders knew they would never negotiate with Stalin until their dying breath.

Extract from 'The Death Spiral: Stalin 1941-1953' by Alexi Ivanovitch

As the 1950s dawned, the Soviet Union was in its most rancid state yet. Simultaneously dealing with guerilla campaigns in Poland and North Iran, they were stuck with having to fund the vast majority of Mao’s campaign, lest they have a Pro-West enemy along almost their entire Eastern and Southern border. Yet the country was in a terrible shape, suffering from extreme economic deprivation and the ever-escalating insanity of Stalin’s last and most dreadful purge. When Kaganovich was executed in 1947 for being part of a ‘Zionist spy network’, despite having personally ordered the destruction of multiple synagogues, it should have tipped off most of the world that something more serious than expected was happening against the Jewish communities within the Red Dagger. Yet no one could believe that something so abominable as the total imprisonment of an entire major ethnic group in the heartless depths of Siberia, having whole villages massacred and what any reasonable person could only describe as ‘genocide’. Yet owing to the heightened tension and increasing isolation of the Soviet Union, no one understood just how bad it had actually gotten. That was when something incredible happened.

Władysław Szpilman was a Jewish-Polish conductor, who had already gone through abominable treatment in World War 2, surviving the Holocaust and the Ghetto Uprising. He would participate in the Warsaw Uprising and would be the first person to play on Polish radio as it resumed following liberation (he was also the last person to play before the war began). Yet not even all this suffering could keep him safe from what was to come. He was in Warsaw when the nuclear bomb was dropped, miraculously surviving by being in the basement at the time. When he emerged, he was under the heel yet more Anti-Semitic Tyranny. Initially blacklisted as a ‘Zionist’ he was barred from any public performances. When the news came in that Israeli forces had seized the Temple in Jerusalem, Stalin ordered the Jewish population seized under the belief that Israeli victories would embolden them. Szpilman was put on a train and taken to Vorkuta. On the way, he encountered atrocities he described as equal in evil to the Nazis, of women and children being murdered, public humiliations and even the loyalist Communists finding themselves on the same train to doom. Vorkuta was notorious for the cruelty of her guards, the gigantic ethnic tensions among inmates (Ukrainians, Russians, Jews, Poles and Germans), and its utter desolation and barrenness. At the same time, he learned from fellow inmates about how this wasn’t happening just in Poland, but over the whole Eastern Bloc. It seemed certain that Szpilman had finally met the end of the road, but once more luck stepped in to save him. As it turned out, one of the camp commanders had heard about the inmate’s piano prowess and invited him to play. In lonely Vorkuta, Szpilman’s performances touched the commander’s heart. Overwhelmed by grief about what was happening to Szpilman, the commander – in total violation of every order from the top – gave Szpilman papers for leaving and helped direct him to the British embassy in Moscow (Britain being one of the few major Western powers who had direct diplomatic links to the Kremlin). Time doesn’t record the fate of the commander, but we do know what became of Szpilman. He managed to reach the British embassy in the freezing cold of January 8th 1952. The British staff were baffled by the languages Szpilman was speaking and were astonished to realise it was Polish and Yiddish. Szpilman was let in and offered to give the full story of what had befallen the Jews of the Eastern Bloc. After brief fact-checking, the British realised that Szpilman was telling the truth. [1]

On January 15th, Szpilman landed in Britain and three days later was invited to the House Of Commons to tell the world what he saw. Szpilman’s testimony was more shocking than anyone could have imagined; even the most committed Anti-Communist could not have imagined that a near repeat of the Holocaust had been launched by Stalin. Orde Wingate stormed out of the Commons and broke his hand punching through a wall. Gaitskell would tell the House, “If there was any doubt amongst the members of the house that the Cold War is not a struggle between Right and Left but right and wrong, let it die here today.” Churchill would blast the Soviet Union as a ‘Satanic Empire’, while Oswald Mosley demanded the expulsion of all Soviet diplomats from Britain, which was narrowly defeated after consultation with MI6 showed it would be counterproductive. In Israel, President Einstein and Prime Minister Begin were so enraged that they banned the Communist Party, with the former not only finally reversing his opposition to Israel having Nuclear weapons but going so far as to tell the UN in New York to “point every gun at the monster threatening to consume the world.” Mussolini, the famously Semitophilic leader, reportedly considered a nuclear strike in his fury. Patton, who had personally seen the horrors of Nazi concentration camps, burned with a smaller but more intense flame, ordering that the bombing runs over Mao’s China increase until it would be nothing but ‘rubble on top of rubble’. Naturally, the Eastern slave states condemned Szpilman as a fabricator. Aflaq, the leader of the UAR, called the story a 'laughable fable from the brood of liars', but it was clear that he was the only Non-Communist power to excuse the Soviets as even the Saudis kept quiet. What little support the Communists had in the democratic world had vanished overnight. Yet this didn’t bother Stalin one bit, as he began his final, bloody year.

[1] - Szpilman would move to Israel and lead the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra. His magnum Opus, 'Warsaw: Ode to a City', would become his most famous and celebrated work, which he made after a triumphant return to the old city in the 1970s.

Worse than Hell

Extract from ‘The War of Dragons: China 1948-1953’ by Wu Long

The very word ‘Shanghai’ still haunts America today. Though it was planned to take the city in 1951, the sudden, overwhelming attack of the Red Guards put things on hold. Eisenhower spent the interim fortifying and improving his position … but the Chinese did as well. There were roughly six million people in the city when the war started, but bombing and famine had already taken a toll when the first UN and ROC soldiers reached the outskirts of the city on February 25th 1952. They were shocked at what they found. It seemed as if the whole of the PLA had camped in the city, with every brick in the metropolis seeming to have its own defender specifically for the task. The response was to flatten the city with more and more naval and aerial attack, but this just made the city even more of a nightmare to traverse. Mao, having been stung by the failure of the Qingming Offensive, had resorted to his new plan: fighting to the last Chinese. The jokes he made in the past about China’s population now became a terrifying reality. He ordered that Shanghai become ‘The Graveyard of the West’. Many of his subordinates were getting worried by his increasingly erratic behavior, which seemed much more motivated by revenge and holding onto his position than any sort of informed military strategy. Shanghai was a meat-grinder, the generals argued, at a time when the home front was growing restless from famine and bombing. Mao overruled their concerns, sending literally millions of Chinese men and boys across the Yellow River, into the depths of Hell that had once been the greatest city of China. “We don’t need to win,” Mao boasted, “all we need to do is bleed more.”

Even Eisenhower was baffled as to what Mao was doing. He knew that countless streams of men were flowing into the battle; but men did not simply materialize out of nothing. Mao was taking troops out of other areas of the map, leaving the west of China in particular exposed to further advances. As if to illustrate this, on March 7th, the first crossing of the Yangtze began, with Chungking taken on May 1st. This represented a serious strategic failure by the Communists, but Mao continued to pour more and more men pointlessly into the depths of Shanghai, sending human wave attack upon human wave attack over the last wave of corpses before them. While the battle still haunts Americans to this day, it’s the Chinese who remain most traumatised by it. The sufferings and heroism of the Red Chinese in this battle were even lauded in the darkest nights of Chiang’s dictatorship in plays, novels and films (though with the inevitable condemnation of their sociopathic superiors, which was hardly an invention of Fascist propaganda). But just like Stalingrad, Mao would not let the city fall, holding onto his Verdun strategy, even as the city was obliterated street by street. Rommel, who well knew the lessons of Stalingrad, held the flanks and made sure no one could break in and surround the UN forces, which were roughly 50% Kuomintang, 25% American, 10% Italian and 15% from other countries sworn to Chiang’s defence. On August 3rd, Rommel crossed the Yangtze and made his way to the coast to cut off any further arrival of Red Chinese. Rommel thought that the troops would pull back in face of the onslaught and try to retreat. Instead, Rommel, Eisenhower and even Patton were appalled by what they saw: as Rommel approached the Sea, Mao sent more troops into the incoming encirclement. It wasn’t even to fight back Rommel, as they were sent south into the destroyed metropolis. The plan was, as Mao explained, to have a force that would bleed the West out, and the best way to ensure the army would fight like that was to “have the Sea at their backs”. The political commissars were ordered to shoot anyone who tried to surrender or retreat, so most units fought to near destruction. Finally on September 10th, after appalling carnage had been wrought on the world, Shanghai was declared secure.

Though the word of the Soviet Holocaust had raised a gigantic outcry, Shanghai had been a brutal snap to sobriety. The UN forces had suffered 250,000 casualties, mostly from the Kuomintang. However, in this one battle, 40,000 GIs would perish, far more than any other battle in the history of the American armed forces – Patton reportedly had to have the numbers repeated to him he was so shocked. But perhaps they would have felt better if they knew the full scope of deaths on the Communist side. Though there were wildly different reports at the time, most historians now agree that the casualties on Mao’s side were close to one and a half million. Including civilian deaths, the total number of casualties from the battle is usually estimated at two million people, making it the bloodiest battle in all of human history. Shortly after the battle, Eisenhower would have a heart attack from the amount of stress he faced in the field – though he would recover. That would finally give Douglas MacArthur his opportunity to come into the conflict, though he would ultimately only be involved in a few operations until the armistice, notably securing Nanking the day before the fighting ceased. Meanwhile, the loss of Shanghai further eroded Mao’s reputation, although it was obviously compounded by events elsewhere in the country.

On August 14th, buoyed by support from Chiang, rebellion sprang up in Xinjiang. The Muslim populace was secular and distant enough not to resolutely hate anything Western due to Israel’s victory in the First Arabian War, and they also resented Mao’s rule. The famine from Mao’s failed agricultural policies had left bitterness in all directions, but in the vast emptiness of Xinjiang, the hatred was allowed to foster. With enemy troops taken from administering the region to be sent to certain death in Shanghai and their own men armed with guns routed through Tibet, the Xinjiang populace rose in rebellion, and a successful one at that, quickly seizing Ürümqi by August 17th. By now, panic had begun to set in among Mao’s generals, who pleaded for men to be retrieved from Shanghai so that they could help with the conflict in Xinjiang. Mao said it could be resolved later – but of course it never was. Mao was convinced that whatever else, Stalin would not allow him to perish. Of course, he didn’t realise what was around the corner.

Extract from ‘Patton: The Man’ by George Wallaby

Coming into the 1952 election, who was going to win wasn’t a question: everyone knew it was going to be Patton. It was so obvious that Patton joked that even if he died he’d still get at least 300 electoral votes. What observers were most interested in was: who would come in second? The main contenders for the honour were the Democrats and the Freedom Party. Minneapolis Mayor Hubert Humphrey, who had wisely decided against running for Senate in 1948 and thus avoided the obliteration that befell most of his colleagues, represented the former. It was also fortunate as he was low-profile enough that McCarthy hadn’t dragged him before a committee to publicly humiliate him. The Democrats by now had been reduced mostly to a regional party in the Rust-Belt, only without the ironclad control of their home-region that the Freedom Party boasted. They were by now mostly made up of Union loyalists and African-Americans. It had been crippled by the loss of funding, party division and a sense that it was finished as a political movement. The goal of the Democrats was to try and reassert their national position.

The Freedom Party, equally as determined to get second place in the Presidential election to solidify themselves as the main opposition to the Republicans, would nominate the Governor of Alabama, Bull Connor. A former baseball announcer, Connor would quickly rise through the ranks of politics following the expulsion of the Democrats from the South and became a leading figure in the party. He had passed publicity grabbing measures as governor, infamously banning ‘Communism’ until being informed by the Supreme Court that his ruling had no Constitutional backing – a ruling he was sure to demand a court overhaul for. The Freedom Party stood in every state, but Connor and leading figures only campaigned in the states claimed by the Confederacy during the Civil War. This wasn’t even enough to win the election, but that wasn’t the point. The goal was to ensure that the Freedom Party became a self-standing movement. Virginia, Patton’s birth state, would become a particularly contentious area owing to its sympathies with Connor’s pro-segregation message.

With the only two major opposing parties either considered a den of traitors or a nest of bigots, Patton was considered the only choice for moderate Americans. A Gallup poll in August 1952 recorded Patton as being on 60%, with Connor and Humphrey on 20% each (though in terms of the electoral college, Connor was crushing Humphrey). Patton paid little time to his opponents, focusing his campaign on the rebounding economy and progress in China. Connor condemned Patton for ‘not being aggressive enough’ in China and for ‘leaving the working class behind’ in the current economic growth (by which he naturally exclusively referred to the White population). Humphrey condemned the erosion of Civil Liberties under Patton and proposed a ‘New New Deal’, which observers were apt to point out was likely to fall afoul of the new Balanced Budget amendment. Nevertheless, it was a mostly quiet campaign with very little serious disruptions. That was until a pair of October surprises grabbed the attention of the world: one in the darkest halls of the Kremlin, the other in the darkest regions of the South.

Extract from 'The Death Spiral: Stalin 1941-1953' by Alexi Ivanovitch

Upon the revelations of Stalin’s treatment of the Jewish population, the dictator’s mental health deteriorated further. He ordered another round of purges, murdering yet more members of the Poliburo, including but not limited to: Alexi Kosygin, Nikolay Shvernik, Anastas Mikoyan, Andrey Andreyev and Nikolai Bulganin. In the regional SSRs, sometimes as many as 70% of the members who existed before the revelations were dead before Stalin’s time had come. Upon the arrest of Leonid Brezhnev, just weeks before he was appointed to the central committee, he reportedly sighed in relief despite the obvious punishment that awaited because, “now I don’t have to worry about whether or not it will happen anymore”. Observers reported that he was indifferent at his trial, taking his execution with as much fear and apprehension as if he was waiting for a bus to arrive. That was what Stalinism had created by 1952 – it had created a culture where fear and murder were so common that people looked forward to their deaths as a means to escape the hell that Stalin had created.

The harvest had likewise been poor, and with resources tight and being sent to China to be destroyed by American bombs, everyone knew it would be a hard winter, and one without foreign trade. With 10% of the Eastern Bloc’s population in some form of work camp by the end of the year, productivity was as low as it had been during the worst days of the war. Stalin had met all of this with cold indifference, which is what makes the events of September 28th all the more interesting. That was the day Mao had sent a letter to Stalin, saying that the situation in Xinjiang was troubling. Mao asked if it could be possible Stalin could send some fifty thousand “volunteers” to aid in the subjugation of the Xinjiang Rebellion. Then Stalin lost his temper. In full view of Molotov, Khrushchev and Malenkov (in which the foremost former recalled that he was sure they were all dead as Stalin would kill them in a fit of rage), Stalin cursed Mao for his military failures. He even went as far as to suggest that Mao had been a Western agent sent to suck out his resources and leave the USSR weak. Stalin got more animated with every second, getting redder and redder, until …

Molotov was the first to react, rushing to Stalin just after he fell to the floor. Khrushchev called a doctor. Medics arrived instantaneously, as Stalin had needed a lot of medical attention in recent months and years due to stress. They quickly took him to a hospital, despite the bad signs. Finally, on the morning of September 29th, they had their report: Stalin’s condition had stabilized, but he had entered a coma and they were unsure how long he would be in that condition, or if he’d even wake up. As Molotov recalled, “I thought it had been dangerous to deal with Stalin before … now I realised we were in the middle of something far more dangerous than we could ever have imagined. If we had been in hell, now we were somewhere even worse.”

Extract from 'Cowboys and Indians: A History of American-Indian Relations' by Mitrra Rahul

In Karachi, when East Pakistan fell, almost everyone amongst the senior leadership knew that the war was destined to come to a close. It came especially hard to Pakistani Prime Minister Khwaja Nazimuddin, as he originally came from Bengal and was trapped in the western region only due to a badly timed travel schedule. With the Unionists now able to transfer countless resources out west, the fate of the remainder of Pakistan was written in the stars – not even counting the aid the Unionist government was receiving from abroad. Nevertheless, there was no mood to surrender anywhere within the country. The Muslim population knew that their future in this newly sectarianized India was going to be a harsh one, and gladly fought against the seemingly inevitable, even in the face of death. After the Unionists cleared Kashmir of Pakistani forces (and for that matter, a significant amount of the Muslim population), the final plans for reaching the Iranian borders was set up. They had more men, better trained men and the money from the West to make it happen. Savarkar boasted that the Unionist forces would ‘Do what the Christians in all their Crusades could not – destroy the armies of Islam’. After getting an intense reprimand from Rajaji for his comments, he somewhat retracted the remarks, but his Sectarian pronouncements were certainly popular among the broader population. It made the final months of the war particularly brutal.

Pakistan’s major cities would be bombed day and night without any air force to defend them. The final march for Indian forces was beset by a myriad of improvised tactics by desperate defenders, including the first large scale use of suicide bombers. Added to that, Pakistanis would regularly fight to the death rather than be captured, fearing that they and their families would be sent to camps. All these served to make surrenders by Pakistani troops increasingly rare as the Indian troops marched onwards to Karachi and had reached the outskirts on July 17th 1952. By then, Indian troops had been hardened by the fighting and had little mood to accept prisoners. In the end its estimated that the numbers of surrendering Pakistanis in the battle didn’t break into five figures. Indeed, word of Indians simply shooting Pakistanis trying to surrender so troubled Rajaji that he begged the British to step up bombing runs on the Pakistanis, in hope that they would be finished off before Indians could reach them. Unfortunately, Wingate told Rajaji that forces were needed for the Airlift and the Chinese front. Historians generally agree that this was the case, though accusations of Anti-Muslim feeling seem vindicated by reading his diaries – the feelings having been developed due to his time with the Israelis and his time saving religious minorities in Pakistan. Finally, on September 4th 1952, Karachi fell.

Mysteriously, Nazimuddin’s body was never found, and he has become a figure of legend among Indian Muslims. Even to this day, long after he would have passed away naturally, people still claim to have seem him doing everything from begging in the street to being a taxi driver. Interestingly, similar stories seem to happen among Arabs with Aflaq, though this likely was a by-product of the Nazimuddin Myth, and more unbelievable given that it required body doubles to explain Aflaq’s death. Of course, both had a common source in what had befallen their respective worlds and the dream that somewhere out there, they could reemerge. But for Pakistan, it would never come. There was no official surrender, especially given that most of the Pakistani leadership perished in the conflict. Instead, the long march continued to the borders of Iran and Afghanistan. For once, both Irans were in agreement. The South did not want an Anti-Western force inside their borders and the North did not want more Islamists continuing to raise Hell inside their boundaries. Afghanistan, being a somewhat weaker state, would become an Islamist outpost despite the wishes of their government. The Pakistani Continuity Army (PCA) would continue to make incursions into India for years. Unfortunately, the Soviets announced that they would consider the invasion of Afghanistan to be a diplomatically inexcusable offence in that it would put war right to the Soviet border, for which they would have to secure the frontier with their own invasion. Not wanting to risk a war with the Soviets (though certainly enjoying the newfound outrage against the Soviets among the Indian people), Rajaji limited his attacks on the PCA to the occasional shelling. When it came to the internal border, Pakistani forces were declared to have been vanquished on January 3rd 1953, which is generally considered to be the end of the Indian Civil War. It was a war that killed five million people, mostly Pakistanis, and left India bitter, bleeding … but united. With Separatist activity reduced to occasional terrorist attacks, which only served to maintain the Hindutva ideal, India was free to focus on its newfound role in the world as an economic (and Capitalist) powerhouse. With India now securely in the Western camp, the question remained: Would they align with the Democracies or the Fascists?

Extract from ‘The Death Spiral: Stalin 1941-1953’ by Alexi Ivanovitch

For the next week after Stalin’s coma, an eerie stillness gripped the Kremlin. Stalin’s work continued to pile onto his desk to the point that that some papers were so stacked they reached halfway to the ceiling. As it had been the custom to run most of the Soviet bureaucracy through Stalin, the daily operation of the country seemed to have gone with him. Supplies were not being sent off to the front, rations were not being provided at home and all the while the trio of Molotov, Malenkov and Khrushchev (who became known as the Triumvirate or Troika) knew it couldn’t last, but it seemed impossible to break it. Their hope was that Stalin would awake from his coma and all would be fine; unfortunately he did not awaken. Their fear was that if they took up the operations of state and Stalin woke up, he could think a coup had happened and order their executions. Finally, the Triumvirate met almost exactly a week after Stalin’s episode and agreed to collectively share the responsibility of running the country. They hoped that if all the major Politburo figures did it, Stalin would relent on mass executions (which was a pretty rich bet). The three looked at the documents and got a sense of where the Soviet Union was and were astonished. In the words of Molotov, ‘The country was in as bad a condition as Stalin.’

The reports indicated that grain harvests for the year were brutally low, and had been falling for a while now. One report warned that if the fall were to continue next year, ‘It would be like the Ukrainian situation [the Holodomor] on a national scale’. Military spending had strangled all other areas of the economy with foreign trade almost non-existent. Though Stalin’s death had successfully been kept a secret (to the tragic-comic effect of having body doubles represent Stalin at the annual celebration of the October Revolution), they knew it couldn’t be covered up forever. Thankfully for the Soviets, Patton’s undermining of intelligence in the USSR by getting American diplomats pulled out likely gave the Politburo sufficient breathing room. Once that was out, it was expected it would embolden Anti-Soviet forces not just in North Iran, Poland and China, but in the remainder of the occupied Eastern European states, or even the SSRs. Then there was the Jewish situation, which all parties knew to be abominable. The Triumvirate had never truly realised how bad the situation was. They concluded that the Soviet Union would not last another three years unless the Chinese War was ended immediately. Then they could ramp down spending on the military, hold the West at bay with their nuclear arsenal and rebuild. There were two major problems though.

The first was that it was almost diplomatically impossible for the West to sit down with the Soviet Union in any capacity. The revelations of what was happening to the Soviet Jewish population had made Anti-Communism in the West as tense and unrelenting as it was in 1948. Not to mention the horrific death tolls in China forced the UN to demand a high price of the Red Chinese forces. They certainly weren’t going to accept a status-quo arrangement. Ironically, the Soviets found much the same problem in their own camp. The second problem was that due to his repeated failures, Mao had burned almost every bridge he ever had. He had infuriated his commanders and fellow Communists with his inane orders and meddling which resulted in the near obliteration of the Red Guards and now most of the PLA following the loss of Shanghai, had infuriated the Chinese people who originally supported him over Chiang with his disastrous agricultural and industrial policies and perhaps most importantly infuriated the Soviet leadership for wasting precious resources that were so desperately needed elsewhere. Mao was by now, as Patton joked, “As popular as a Prohibitionist in a Speakeasy.” Even still, the ultimate fate of Mao was something few could have expected, and was certainly not chosen lightly. No, a simple assassination wouldn’t do. This was going to be a gamble …

Extract from ‘Amazing Grace: The Story of Civil Rights in America’ by Judith Moore

Jackie Robinson was the first American to receive the Medal of Honour during the fighting in China. It had made him a cause of celebration among many in Black America, though others just did it for appearance’s sake. Patton was resented by certain segments of African Americans at the time for having so brutally taken Wallace to pasture – Black Americans were the only ethnic group with any form of sympathy for Wallace in his moves to alleviate their plight. This had led to accusations among many in the Freedom Party that the black populace was too sympathetic to Communism and Fifth Columnist beliefs to be allowed to vote. Robinson’s story did much to relieve those accusations, and he found much support from Patton when he asked to help advertise the army to Black Americans as a way to achieve (not that he could easily get a cab back home). Robinson became a great admirer of Patton, and the two met somewhat regularly, with Patton looking for more manpower for the Chinese chaos. Robinson wanted to repay the favour, but felt constrained by his situation. He endorsed Patton for President in early 1952, but knew that most blacks in America lived under the Hegemony of people like Thurmond and Connor and so could not vote. Then Jackie Robinson decided he would do something extra-ordinary. He’d helped the cause of freedom on one side of the world, and was determined to help in another.

Robinson became increasingly vocal in his support for Civil Rights, which brought condemnation from the Freedom Party that he should “mind his owned damn business” in Connor’s words. Even Patton wrote to Robinson, stating that while he totally understood what he was doing and that he was ‘probably right’, the cause of the country dictated keeping peace on the home front. In response, Robinson quit his advertising position in the army and devoted himself entirely to the cause of ending Jim Crow. Robinson sent a respectful letter explaining his departure and Patton sent a respectful letter back; it was the last time the two would ever converse Having been on the frontline in China, he wanted a frontline position in the South. Understanding that this meant nothing could be done publicly, from late July onwards Robinson and a few White Civil Rights activists would drive into the South. Sometimes sleeping in their car to avoid detection, Robinson and co would help sign up people on voting registers, which was not an easy thing to do under the Separate and (supposedly) equal laws. The White activists were used to gain the compliance of white authority figures and Robinson was used to gain confidence with Blacks. Though it was rumored that Robinson was helping with underground voting registration in the night, many members of the Freedom Party thought it was just a myth blacks were talking about to sustain hope. Unfortunately, not all groups did.

On the night of October 13th 1952, just outside of Cairo, Georgia (Robinson’s birthplace), the car was stopped by a posse of four men. All were drunk, all were members of the Klan and none of them had served in China (two had applied, with one turned down due to bad eyesight and the other due to intoxication issues). After a brief round of questions confirming their targets, Robinson’s three fellow white passengers were shot and killed. Robinson was taken from the car, tied up, beaten and hanged as per traditional lynching style. His last words, in response to how he was feeling in the midst of his torture were reportedly, “You can’t degrade me. You’re only degrading yourselves”. To add insult to injury, Robinsons’s corpse was dumped inside his birthplace, so unrecognizable that even those who grew up with him couldn’t recognise him. He still had his Medal of Honor in his pocket. The news spread fast though, and before it was even afternoon, word had reached the White House. As Vice-President Dewey recalled, when Patton received the news, “It looked like he’d heard a close member of his family died. George looked at me and said, ‘Get Hoover on the phone. Tell him to find the bastards who did this and tell them to give to them what they did to Jack twice over’.” For having stopped a small voter registration effort, those four Klansmen had awakened the unceasing wrath of the most powerful man on Earth. You don’t just kill a US serviceman. You don’t just kill a Medal of Honor winner. And you sure as Hell don’t kill a friend of the US President. They had doomed not only themselves and their organisation, but their whole world.

The Enemy of the World

Extract from ‘The War of Dragons: China 1948-1953’ by Wu Long

Mao’s mental state had deteriorated greatly after the Qingming and Shanghai disasters, which destroyed the fighting capacity of both the Red Guards and PLA together. His failure to suppress the rebellion in Xinjiang was the final straw that convinced General Lin Biao that Mao was out of control and that he had to be stopped before every Communist in China was lined up against a wall by Chiang. He had little trouble finding allies. After all, Mao’s once overwhelming popularity had evaporated after the failed agricultural and industrial policies had created famine in China, not to mention his inane handling of the tactical situation. Added to this, his erratic behavior had grown increasingly bizarre, such as sleeping with young (often underage) virgins to ‘restore his youth and mental processes’. Rumours of these acts had already begun spreading around Beijing and were impossible to suppress. By now, his enemy list had grown to gigantic proportions – and closer to home than he thought. Mao’s own wife, Jiang Qing, had decided that Mao was ‘only going to degrade his legacy by living on’. The two communicated together, with Jiang being an important party secretary who knew who was where and at what time – this information would soon prove valuable.

What they did not expect was to be contacted by Soviet agents on October 7th 1952. They were informed by the Soviet agents that ‘Stalin’ (actually the Troika) had come to believe that continuing the war was suicidal for both Russia and Communist China. Unfortunately, as Mao had repeatedly sworn that he would never stop fighting ‘until either every reactionary or every Communist in China is dead’, the Soviets knew Mao would never consent to any peace settlement – especially not in his deteriorating mental state. For that reason, the Troika had concluded that Mao ‘would be neutralized and removed from power’. Mao had planned a trip on October 14th in preparation of spending time there during the celebration of the October Revolution. The Soviets asked when the earliest time was the Biao could launch a coup – Biao replied that the soldiers were so desperate to kill Mao for his stupidity that ‘I could launch one yesterday’. Indeed, Biao had little trouble convincing the rest of the PLA leadership to back him – they had grown so frustrated with Mao’s commands that they were certain that in one more year Chiang’s troops would be at the Korean border. Having Mao’s own wife at hand to convince people to turn against their leader was notable encouragement. To add to the imminent carnage, Soviet agents were placed around the city close to where major members of the Communist Party were.

On October 14th, Mao landed in Moscow, famously looking glum and angry for the cameras the moment he saw that Stalin personally was not greeting him on the runway and that it was ‘only’ Molotov. Molotov would say that he considered calling the coup early because he couldn’t stand to be in the room with Mao. When Mao arrived at the Kremlin, he did little to amuse his hosts. He angrily demanded more men and supplies as if he was the superior power, and not a dependent, bombed and starved vassal. He accused the Soviets of undermining Communism, being the cause of his failures in the Qingming and Shanghai debacles and even started to bring up the border disputes in the Ussuri River region. Khrushchev joked to Molotov “is it too late to support Chiang?” All the while, of course, Mao demanded to see Stalin but was informed that he was away on ‘highly sensitive business’, which made Mao even angrier as he demanded to know who or what was more important than ‘the leader of China’. With remarkable patience, the Troika waited until October 16th.

On the night of October 16th, NKVD agents grabbed Mao from his bed. They then put a bag on his head and put him into a car to an undisclosed location. Mao was certain that he was about to die … but it didn’t happen. He was simply thrown into an abandoned warehouse in the middle of nowhere, minded day and night by an entire NKVD squad to make sure he wasn’t going anywhere. It was a better fate than what befell Mao’s compatriots in China. Zhou Enali was shot to death in broad daylight in the streets of Beijing. Liu Shaoqi was mauled to death by excited crowds when trying to escape the PLA troops coming after him – the crowd was excited that people were getting rid of the old regime, so hated had it become. Finance Minister Deng Xiaoping had predicted what was coming and was found dead in his room by gunshot with a suicide note by the time the PLA troops had broken in. All across Beijing, the leadership of the Communist Party was mercilessly purged and the PLA (and Soviets) took their places. On the night of October 17th, Jiang would deliver a radio broadcast to explain that Mao had failed in his duties ‘as a leader, and indeed as a husband’. She announced that she would ‘bring peace to China’ and ‘not bring her to national ruin and humiliation’. In her most biting denunciation, she would declare Mao ‘The Enemy of the World’. She triumphantly announced that the Soviets had recognised her as the legitimate ruler of China, and that they had gone so far as to arrest Mao. Mao’s popularity had fallen so astronomically low that on some parts of the front, Communist and KMT troops made temporary truces just to celebrate together. The results of the first few days of the Eastern Bloc's only female dictator's rule were looking strong.

It had been decided that Mao’s wife would make the best choice of leader, the Chinese being historically well-adjusted to female leaders in the past. The reasons were that the military brass was likewise hated for their role in the war, while Jiang was considered clean in that respect. At the same time, many sympathized with her given the multiple rumours about Mao, and many believed she would be a fair ruler if given the chance. Of course, the new North China would be even more subservient to the Soviets than before, but most were desperate for any change that could mean the coming of peace and rice. Mao himself was brought to the fires of hell in fury, denouncing his wife, Chiang, the Soviets, Americans, Jews, Europeans, Capitalists and various other parties in no clear order. He still had the gall to laugh at his captors and demand to know why he hadn’t been killed yet - saying the reason they didn’t was because ‘every man in China would march northward in fury at knowing the Soviets killed the great Mao Zedong!’ Of course, that wasn’t the reason. When he did learn the reason, it finally sobered his pride. He was informed that to sweeten the deal with the West, which the Soviets were unsure could be made, he would be handed over to Chiang for trial in the South.

On October 19th, Jiang contacted the Swiss Embassy through Seoul, stating that she wanted a ceasefire. Word was sent to the West quickly. As most Westerners were surprised by the coup and suspected something may have been happening, they agreed to relent for a few days so they could work out what was going on. Many hoped and prayed that it meant the war was finally coming to an end. On October 20th, the guns across China fell silent for what seemed to be the first time in a country that had been beset with Civil War, Japanese invasion and now a proxy battle between the greatest forces on Earth. In the ‘Chinese War’ phase, it is estimated that some seventy million died due to the war from when Mao invaded south until the Pro-Soviet coup brought the war to an end. Three hundred thousand of those were Americans. Those numbers do not include the Indochina War or the Indian-Civil War.

Extract from ‘Patton: The Man’ by George Wallaby

Robinson’s murder was met with outrage and disgust across the entirety of America, and indeed the world. “He fought for us in China,” said one New York Times extract, “only for the very Americans he fought for to murder him like a dog.” Protests and vigils for Robinson occurred among all sides in America – even the nascent black community in Britain organised a protest at the American embassy demanding an end to the system Robinson had fought to end. Even Mussolini went as far to hold a moment’s silence for Robinson in Rome, “in memory of a great warrior.” The attention of the world was being swung back constantly with events in China, but this was an act that would not soon be forgotten. By now, unprecedented scrutiny had fallen upon the Jim Crow system which Robinson had fought. Political campaigning from all major parties had stopped in respect of Robinson. Freedom Party officials raced to condemn the Klan, but their reputational damage had already been inflicted. Attempts by the Freedom Party to campaign anywhere north of the Mason-Dixon line were met with eggs and scorn. This was not helped by Bull Connor’s infamous botched condemnation of the event, saying “It’s common sense among all good Southerners: You don’t lynch the wrong negro.” The seeming trivialization of lynching and Robinson’s murder led to Joseph McCarthy to launch an infamously scathing attack on the Freedom Party members of Congress, accusing them of being ‘the political arm of the Ku Klux Klan, for whom the blood of that great American is on all their hands.’ McCarthy had began to fall into irrelevance as the Democrats had been bludgeoned to death beneath his assaults, and his use of bashing the Freedom Party in the same way became a ticket to a revival of his political fortunes, which would pay dividends in the next Congress.

But perhaps the most telling condemnation came straight from the White House itself. To the shock of the entire political establishment, President Patton would attend the service, as well as multiple leading military officials. Robinson’s funeral would be held in Cairo, Georgia where he was born and died, and would be held on October 18th. Even word of the goings on in China did not shake Patton from attending. Some Blacks from as far as California had travelled by (often in the back of) train to attend the funeral, whose numbers began sprawling to totally unexpected size. It is estimated that some eighty thousand people comprised the crowds, which made security a nightmare for the President but he demanded the service continue on time. When the eulogies were read, Robinson’s wife and fellow servicemen he saved (who were often white and subsequently shunned by Southern society for attending a black funeral) gave their telling. But it was when General turned President Patton took the podium that history was made. Patton talked about how he had gotten to know Robinson and the time they had spent together. Then he delivered the words that electrified the nation:

“I’ve fought Nazis, and I’ve fought Communists. Now it’s time to fight the elephant in the room. The monster lurking right in America. The monster of racial hatred and oppression. I’m ashamed of how little I’ve done about it before … and as part of my apology to Jackie Robinson, to his family, for not doing as much as I could … I make this solemn oath, and I apologise to the Preacher if it’s not suitably Christ-like enough: By the time I leave office, the only place you’ll see people with a burning cross and white hood is in Hell.”

Patton’s announcement was met with wild ovation from the congregation, which grew to a roar when word of what he said reached outside. Patton’s eulogy was sent with all the enthusiasm of the Emancipation Proclamation among Black America, read excitedly everywhere from Harlem to Atlanta. William DuBois would describe Patton as, “the unlikeliest deliverer we’ve ever had.” One Southern Black Preacher by the name of Martin L. King would call Patton “a messenger of God.” Patton had gone from at best a fiure of indifference in black communities in America to the next Lincoln almost overnight. While the strangness of cheering an elderly, Conservative, white, Southern man with a history of cringeworthy racial jokes was not lost on anyone, here finally stood a man who would not only take on the Klan, but perhaps the whole of Jim Crow itself.

When it came to the investigation, the FBI flooded the area with so many troops that some Klan divisions outright fled town for fear of the numbers for a mass roundup. Though Hoover was unenthusiastic about Patton’s zeal to defeat racist politics in the South, even he was outraged that the Klan could murder a Medal of Honor winner. For that reason, he was just as enthusiastic about finding and bringing Robinson’s murderers to justice. Finally, all four were discovered lying low in Atlanta, sharing an apartment and waiting for the event to blow over. The information had been found by the FBI, working together with local law enforcement. On the night of October 24th, FBI agents knocked on the door of the apartment, only to find that the four had bailed. A city-wide manhunt began, finally culminating in the four being intercepted on a train to Florida. Another chase and shootout began, culminating in all four members being shot dead, as well as two FBI members. The nation alternatively rejoiced at the deaths of the murderers and mourned the agents … but questions were quickly raised about how the four men knew to run. When the answers were revealed in the coming months, it would not paint a positive picture of Southern law enforcement.

Amidst the bedlam across the nation and feeling that the War in China had been ‘won’, Patton was ensured of winning a blowout election result. Patton won 64% of the vote, including big downticket wins in Virginia, Florida and Texas and other areas in the south that had a growing level of cosmopolitanism (or weren’t as deeply embedded in Confederate mythology). Many political observers were convinced that Connor had blown his chance of second place by his comments on lynching and the vibe crossing the nation. They were sorely mistaken. Connor scored an impressive (for the time and circumstance) 22% of the vote, leaving Humphrey to flop on 14% (and only Minnesota in terms of the electoral college). Political observers were stumped as to what happened. That was when the awful truth became clear. Patton’s turn to a more actively anti-Jim Crow stance had devoured the Democrat vote as most social liberals now felt their votes were more effective in lending support to Patton’s crusade. Meanwhile, Patton’s words had terrified white moderates in the South of a quick and chaotic end to segregation. Thus, even the clumsy Bull Connor was a better choice than the President. With that, the battle-lines of the new America had been drawn up. The next four years would be just as contentious as Wallace’s final four.

An Evil Miracle

Extract from ‘The War of Dragons: China 1948-1953’ by Wu Long

With the fighting in the Chinese War now reaching its merciful conclusion, it was agreed to hold peace negotiations in Budapest owing to the location’s supposed neutrality. The current border was roughly around the Yangtze, while the Xinjiang Rebellion complicated matters. Though there were representatives of the new Jiang government at the meeting, everyone knew that in all matters the Soviets would have the final say. The Soviets, led by none other than Molotov himself, arrived in Budapest on December 5th as the negotiations began. He recalled, ‘we were pretending to negotiate when we were actually begging for our lives’ and called it his most brutal assignment in all his days. The Soviets merely wanted to get a peace that would ensure they could restructure their economy away from war and hold off incoming famine. If that meant trampling on the PRC’s toes, no one cared - and if Jiang cared, she would be informed she could share the same fate as her husband. By contrast, Chiang wanted to increase his hold over China and become the sole ‘legitimate’ ruler of the Middle Kingdom, which meant reducing the PRC to a small, dependent inferior. Patton was constrained by past statements that he wouldn’t end the war until Communism was ended too. He knew he had to get a good deal to maintain credibility.

On the subject of the border, though the Soviets attempted to create one on the Yangtze, UN negotiators would accept nothing of the sort. They knew that Red China’s forces were in shambles and that they could probably reach Beijing in six months. Ultimately, the final borders would be at the Yellow River and Wei River (the latter to stop an unnatural protrusion into the PRC and keep the border relatively stable). Thus, everything up to Xian and Jinan fell under Chiang’s heel, reducing the PRC to a rump state. Furthermore, much like Berlin, Chiang insisted on having half of Beijing. This too was finally accepted, and South Beijing would escape the poverty that enveloped the PRC for the Cold War. The trickier questions would fall on the fate of Xinjiang and Tibet. While Tibet’s independence (in both allegiance in the Cold War as well as its self-government) was quickly accepted, Xinjiang was where the Soviets refused to yield. They did not want gigantic border exposure to a ‘Fascist’ state like Chiang’s, and threatened to pull out of the Conference. Much to Chiang’s reluctance, Xinjiang would become an independent state, likewise unaligned. However, behind closed doors, the rebel leaders of Xinjiang would silently swear themselves to defend the ROC if the Stalingrad Pact attacked it. Chiang had agreed to the terms for one reason: the greatest prize he could imagine.

While swearing he would never accept the loss of Xinjiang, Molotov showed his ace. Molotov offered to hand over Mao for trial. Many were shocked, thinking he’d already been killed. Others were shocked they could potentially be handing over an extreme asset when it came to information on the Stalingrad Pact. Indeed, this was the suggestion of the British, who thought Mao could be a supreme source of information, as well as a great propaganda coup if he turned on Stalin. However, Chiang would have none of it. As he would later tell Emperor Akihito of Japan, “I would have sold my soul to the Devil to send that man to Hell myself”. With that done, Mao’s transfer to the ROC for trial was arranged. Chiang insisted that unlike Nuremburg, only Chinese officials would administer the trial. It would be an explicitly Chinese rebuke to Mao, all the way to the grave. When asked if it would be acceptable to the Soviets if the death penalty were on the table for the trial, Molotov smiled and replied, “Either you’re going to do it or we will”.

It was agreed that neither side would pay reparations to the other, prisoners would be transferred and that no side would take guilt. These were fairly standard clauses, but the Soviets wanted one in particular: they wanted to re-enter diplomatic relations with the West. This meant a re-opening of the Washington embassy. Patton replied, “I’d sooner let Jack the Goddamned Ripper into this country than a Soviet Diplomat”. Ultimately, the Soviets knew that this was coming. Discussing over the phone with Khrushchev, Molotov asked what carrot he could dangle to get the Americans to accept such a pledge. Khrushchev, however, had a plan. On December 23rd 1952, Molotov told UN negotiators, explicitly making sure there were Israeli, Polish and German representatives in the room, that not only would the Soviets return all World War 2 prisoners of war, but that they would offer unrestricted right of emigration to the Jewish population, as well as ending martial law in Poland. The reason this policy was chosen was that while all three of the Troika agreed the persecution of Jews had to end, no one was sure how they could be re-integrated into society. Their homes had been given to others, their jobs to others and society had been taught to harbor an intense hatred of them. Fearing social unrest if the Jews returned to the general population, it was reluctantly agreed that the best course of option would be to try and barter the population off in return for a desirable political end, in this case the reestablishment of diplomatic relations with America. The other clauses further excited interest. President Einstein of Israel would plead with Patton to accept the deal, offering political cover by loudly proclaiming the merit of the proposal. Gaitskell, De Gaulle and Adenauer would accept, but Patton and Mussolini were still reluctant. It would ultimately take a telephone conversation with Władysław Szpilman to convince Patton to accept the offer, at which Mussolini also relented.

The Treaty of Budapest would be signed on January 1st 1953. In the West, the massively favourable change of border northward convinced the populations that the war had been ‘won’. The capture of Mao also soothed much of the blood lust that had been whipped up against Communism, with everyone looking forward to the imminent justice the West’s greatest hate figure short of Stalin would receive. Most people, though it was controversial to extreme Anti-Communists like the John Birch Society, ultimately ignored the Soviet delegation clause. The new Soviet delegation was confined to a small cottage far away from Washington, under constant American military guard – both to protect the diplomats from attack and scare them into submission. As one Soviet diplomat recalled about his time at the new embassy, “It was once a statement of your capability to get a diplomatic assignment to America – now it was a punishment’. The Soviets did not push their luck and ask to take their UN seat back, thus ensuring the UN would remain a pristinely Anti-Communist organisation. Mussolini would crow about Italy’s role in the successful operation, while silently realising how much it had cost. Mussolini would further liberalize the economy in the coming years while cutting military spending – this would give Aflaq the time he needed to build up his army. In China, Chiang proclaimed from the ROC’s new capital of Nanking (South Beijing being too exposed) that he was the only ‘relevant’ voice in China. He was left with a country that, though in tatters, not only was resolutely in his hands following the destruction of the warlords, but saw him as by far the lesser evil compared to the Soviet sock-puppet up north. Jiang was hurt by the extent of the concessions she had been forced to make and would find the role of administering ‘this godforsaken state’ to be a tiring and depressing one. It would lead to her many ‘eccentricities’ that would make her infamous across the world.

On February 27th, symbolically five years to the day when Mao began his ill-fated adventure, the first day of the Dictator’s trial began. Free of any constraints imposed by the Western democracies, Chiang structured the trial more for his own gratification than any sense of finding the truth of Mao’s misdeeds, which were indeed many and unforgivable. Mao was torn to shreds by the endless line of witnesses from Chinese society, from mothers who had lost their sons on both sides of the conflict, to farmers who had lost their whole family in the agony of famine after collectivization, to those who lost everyone they ever loved due to Red Guard massacres. Witnesses and victims likewise listed Mao’s sexual misdeeds. The victims were often forced to pause when members of the court interrupted in their fury to demand Mao’s immediate execution. The prison guards, who had lost loved ones in the war, regularly abused Mao, and his spirit slowly faded as the trial continued. Ultimately, of course, there was no doubt. On August 12th, the verdict came in: guilty, with sentence of death. On September 11th 1953, Mao was publicly hanged in Nanking to a crowd of 500,000 gathering to attempt to get a look. Chiang himself was the most prominent spectator. While many in the West felt the display was somewhat primitive, the Roman Alliance applauded Chiang’s ‘superb rebuke of the Red Bandit, brought to justice before the millions whom he dreamed of enslaving’, to quote Ciano’s press-release on behalf of the bloc. Mao’s last confirmed words were spoken three days before, his spirit having been so thoroughly worn out that he was effectively mute thereafter. His last words were, “I should have invaded Russia”.

Extract from ‘Miracle: The History of Israel’ by Joel Hagee

“One week we were slaves, the next we were free, the next we were off to the Promised Land.” So recalled acclaimed Israeli writer Boris Pasternak upon arrival in Israel shortly after the signing of the Treaty of Budapest. Fellow Israeli writer Vasily Grossman would call the news ‘Our Rapture’. The news of their deliverance was met more with shock and bewilderment than any wild outpourings of joy, but one thing was for sure: few wished to stay in the brutal confines of the Communist Bloc. The Israeli government and Zionist organisations across the world contributed everything they could get to help fund the transfer of Jews out of the Soviet Union. A period of harsh austerity would define the Israel of the 1950s, as the government was forced to spend inordinate amounts of funds on not only the transfer of the Jewish population but their accommodation in Israel, where some 1.5 million Soviet Jewish refugees would settle, almost doubling Israel’s population in the space of two years (America would be the next highest at 300,000). The refugees, though sometimes given resources barely more than what they endured in Siberia, were more than content with their escape from the Soviet jailhouse, a fate millions of their fellow citizens remained condemned to. Israel’s incredible victories in what was then simply called ‘The Arabian War’, culminating in the total recapture of the Holy Land down to the Temple Mount after nearly 2000 years of Jewish helplessness, had inspired Jews to believe anything was possible in the new Jewish state. They wanted to be part of the Israeli project, and gladly did what they could to help. Foreign journalists would note that while these ‘DIY Ghettoes’ as some Jewish comedians called them were almost invariably poor and struggling to get by, the mood was never glum. Crime was near non-existent and, ironically, a form of Socialism seemed to exist among the inhabitants, with everyone looking after their neighbor. Children with holes in their shoes would play in traditional Yiddish theatre; musicians with instruments literally kept together with tape and strings would give free orchestral performances to keep the morale of the settlements up. Some would last until 1958, but they would remain indelibly steeped into the Jewish collective memory.

The refugee camps (which eventually grew into their own metropolis-like settlements) were primarily located in and around major Jordanian cities, like Amman. Amman would quickly develop a reputation as a distinctly Russian city, in comparison to the more Western European Tel Aviv and Mizrahi-dominated Jerusalem (this division was usually encouraged by Israeli leaders to give each group ‘their own space’). Amman had been semi-abandoned following the flight and expulsions that accompanied the war, and the more urban Soviet diaspora quickly took advantage of the opportunity to construct their own society from the ground up. Even today, Amman’s streets often seem to have more Russian signage than Hebrew. Nevertheless, the Soviet refugee population would quickly occupy an important part of Israeli society in general. By 1970, the Soviet Jewish population would make up some 70% of Israeli University students. Russian was given the same legal prominence as Arabic and Hebrew, ahead of English. Thankfully for stability’s sake, the new influx proved diverse in their political leanings, as the Israeli Left had long since shed any sympathy for Communism. Though times were unquestionably tough in Israel, there was little organised resistance to the influx Thus, by the time of the Second Arab War, some 90% of Israel was Jewish, even with their expansion into Jordan. The Russian influx would prove to be of immense economic, military and demographic advantage to the fledgling Jewish state.

This miracle has one unlikely person to thank: Michel Alfaq. During the Budapest negotiations, the question of what to do with the Jewish population had arisen. Khrushchev’s policy of encouraging Jewish emigration, which he called ‘the Friendly Kick Policy’, was interesting to Molotov and Malenkov, but all agreed Aflaq would have to be consulted given that it could radically affect his security situation. Molotov called Aflaq and told him the plan. Molotov recalled, ‘When I said what we were considering, I couldn’t see it, but I could feel a grin on the other side of the phone’. Aflaq informed Molotov that he would have no objection to the policy, the Soviet Foreign Minister was relieved but confused. Eventually, upon a state visit by Aflaq to Moscow in 1955, the UAR’s Dictator was asked why he had agreed to millions of Jews pouring into Israel when it would swell the army of his chief enemy. Aflaq smiled and replied, ‘It’ll be much easier to wipe them out if they’re all in one place, right?’

However, if Khrushchev thought that the liberation of so many Jews would result in good PR for the Soviets, he was dead wrong. Now millions of witnesses stood ready to testify to the dark days of their confinement in the Russian gulag system, a system that everyone knew still existed. No one attributed their freedom to the benevolence of the Soviets, since it was blatantly obvious that the country was already falling to pieces and needed a way to climb out of the hole. After winning the 1954 World Chess Championship for Israel after he had originally won the title for the USSR, Mikhail Botvinik would call the Soviet Union, ‘A monster in human clothes, only it’s so poor and ragged now few can fail to spot the monster anymore’. Though both ITO and the Roman Alliance would gradually readmit Soviet diplomats into their country following the Chinese War, the Soviets refused to recognise Israel right to exist right until the former’s abolition.

Extract from ‘The Death Spiral: Stalin 1941-1953’ by Alexi Ivanovitch

The mood in the Kremlin on January 3rd 1953 was not a pleasant one, not that it had been anything else in recent months. The Troika was exhausted after they had desperately clawed the Soviet Union back from the brink. Stalin’s foolish waste of money and lives in the pointless struggles of Asia were brought to a merciful end. North China was dealing with the fact their former Demigod leader was being handed over on a silver-platter to their eternal enemy while every other Stalingrad Pact was now terrified the same fate would befall them. The relaxation of martial law in Poland and release of the German and Jewish population from their prison camps meant that the labour camp population would fall down to 3% from a height of 10% - still terrible but certainly an improvement. Their only non-Communist ally was Aflaq and they knew that wasn’t going to change anytime soon. The Soviet Union was despised like no other nation in peacetime had ever been. There was only one thing that seemed to be a source of pride: the West had not discovered Stalin’s comatose condition, at least as far as they knew. And yet soon, even that calm tranquility was about to change. It was a cold morning, cold even for winter.

The Troika was discussing what the Soviet’s official response to the Mao Trial would be. At that moment, they were startled when an adjutant burst through the door. Molotov recalled, “His face was in bliss but his eyes were in terror”. Though the Troika was not as cruel as their predecessor, they were angry at the young man’s entrance and demanded to know why he had burst in like that.

The young man stuttered. “C-comrades! I give you the greatest news possible! A miracle! Our brave leader, Comrade Stalin, he … he’s woken up!”

The New Administration

Extract from 'False Hope: The USSR 1953-1957'

Doctors (and the Troika) were astonished that Stalin had recovered from his coma, but his condition could barely be described as ‘recovery’. He was racked with pain and in too much agony to attend to issues of state. This gave the Troika brief breathing space to plan what to do, as they sealed themselves shut in the Kremlin. None of them held any illusion about what would happen if Stalin fully recovered. After a humiliating peace, total reversal of some of his most recently enacted policies and outright dealing with the Western powers, they would be labeled traitors who attempted to seize power for themselves. They would be lucky to even survive the first night. In Molotov’s account of the proceedings, both he and Malenkov tried to come up with ways to explain to Stalin the necessity of their actions, until it was finally Khrushchev who stood up.

“Comrades,” he said in a grave voice, “we’re more likely to convince Patton to spy for us than get our General Secretary to see the wisdom of our actions. No, if we stay, we die. Run? Where? Stalin will find us if we’re in the USSR. If we go to an ally, we’ll be handed over. If we go to the West, they’ll kill us themselves. No comrades, we have to face facts … Our General Secretary is currently suffering in extreme pain. He’s worked extremely hard to ensure that the Soviet Union became a great power, and it has. He worked to defend us from the German invader, and he did. He has accomplished more than any leader in the history of Russia … and it would be such a shame if he were continue to harm his great legacy …”

Supposedly, Malenkov and Molotov were startled before being cowed by Khrushchev’s deadly seriousness.

“It will be an act of love. An act of loyalty. An act of ensuring that Comrade Stalin will be praised until the end of time, before he could do anything that would permanently harm his name. Do you want to be known as the men who allowed our suffering, honorable leader to perish so painfully at the cost of the lives of so many of the citizens he loved dearly?”

At this, Molotov and Malenkov supposedly meekly agreed to the suggestion that ‘if we didn’t go along with it, Khrushchev would kill us just as quickly’. However, many historians doubt this version of events and believe Molotov invented this story to minimize his role in the seedier aspects of the Soviet state. Notably, he had received word on December 27th that his Jewish wife had been killed in the Gulag under explicit order of Stalin as a test of his loyalty. Stalin’s medical episode had ensured Molotov didn’t get the message until much later when investigations were begun by Molotov as the Troika assumed power. For this reason, many historians suspect that the blame would be passed off on Khrushchev exclusively. Regardless, it’s doubtless that Khrushchev was supportive of the move. He still held resentment to Stalin over the Holodomor in Ukraine and was considered the most bull-headed and determined of the Troika. It’s unlikely anything could have been passed without his approval. If Malenkov didn’t agree, he certainly didn’t stop what happened.

On the night of January 3rd 1953, Stalin had somewhat recovered from his initial pains from his hospital bed (located inside the Kremlin to minimize the risk of discovery). He couldn’t breathe by himself and was on life-support, but had a sense of his surroundings. According to one of the medical staff present, Stalin asked for a newspaper to see what was going on in the world. The moment the staffer left to get one, three armed guards and Khrushchev walked into the room. Khrushchev thanked the doctors for their service before quietly but threateningly demanding that all medical staff leave the room immediately. At that, the doors were sealed from within. History does not record what precisely happened in the room, whether Stalin and Khrushchev talked, whether Stalin realised what was going on or whether any of the four intruders hesitated. All that is known for sure is that when the four exited the room, Stalin was dead. Historians believe the dictator was disconnected from his life support apparatus and slowly suffocated. The medical staff were soon gathered and told that if there were any ‘malicious rumours spread about Khrushchev’s ‘coincidental visit’ then they could expect reprisal.

On January 4th 1953, Stalin’s death was announced to the world with no mention of the dictator’s condition other than he had ‘a long battle with illness’. In truth, Western leaders had long suspected something was wrong in the Soviet Union and with Stalin specifically. It’s likely that the deception would have been announced soon, making it a serendipitous event for the Troika. Of course, Stalin got glowing adulation and a state funeral (while Israel declared a state holiday). Khrushchev gave a well-acclaimed speech at Stalin’s funeral, ensuring that while he never became the new Totalitarian figure of the 1950s, he would become the first among equals in the Troika, whose word was final. Stalin’s death met little outpouring of grief around the globe, his name (and Communism itself) having long since been cursed by millions.

Extract from ‘The Home of the Holy: The Miraculous Story of Lebanon’ by Jerry Robertson

The 1953 Lebanese elections would confirm the worst fears of Western leaders. The Baath Party won in a landslide, their electorate buoyed by the astonishing economic revival across the border in Syria and the electrifying speeches Aflaq regularly broadcasted over the border. He made no secret of his desire to incorporate Lebanon into his new UAR, and it seemed like the Lebanese people were fine with that. The West was too exhausted to fight the Baathists after having spent so much blood and treasure in China. Furthermore, Gaitskell and DeGaulle refused to let Aflaq be a ‘Democratic Martyr’ in a war to stop the sovereign will of the Lebanese people being realised. Thus, the world could only watch in revulsion as the Lebanese Parliament on September 4th 1953 announced a snap referendum on September 30th to allow the electorate to vote on whether to join the UAR or not. Though it would likely have won even without voter intimidation, Baath attacks on the Pro-Independence campaign ensured it was never a fair contest. The result was a conclusive 82% voting for union with the UAR. On October 1st, a procession of tanks crossed the former Lebanese border with Aflaq standing on the foremost vehicle in a display of astonishing ostentatiousness. It was announced that he would give a speech in the Lebanese Parliament building on October 10th. Most thought it was going to be a normal speech; they were very wrong.

After the enthusiastic clapping of the Baath representatives died down (along with the more muted but still decent applause from Non-Baathists), Aflaq smiled and waved them to rest. He began with a glowing endorsement of Lebanon as a state where religious differences had been put aside in the name of the Arab race. He extolled Christian and Muslim relations in the country and said that all Arabs had to unite to face the Zionist threat. Then his expression turned sour. With film crews recording the scene, he announced that there was urgent news that needed to be announced. At that, Lebanon’s President until the annexation, Camille Chamoun, was ushered in and he shuffled to the podium with Aflaq taking a step back and watching with razor-sharp intensity at the man before him. Troops filled the chamber and sealed all but the main door. Chamoun stuttered, obviously under extreme duress and having received torture. He announced that he was a member of a conspiracy orchestrated by the Mossad to assassinate Aflaq and pave the way for total annexation of Arabia up to the Euphrates for Israel. Of course, no such thing had happened and it could easily have been a fictitious Italian, French or British conspiracy, but Chamoun’s Pro-West and Anti-Pan-Arabism beliefs had made him an unacceptable figure in the new Lebanon. After announcing his fictitious allegiance, he pulled out a paper from his pocket, saying “My conspirators are in the room with me right now, and these are their names …” The names of several prominent opponents of the Baathists were read out. With each name, Baath guards grabbed the doomed man from their seats and dragged them out the door. Then members of the Baath Party themselves were dragged out (ones identified by Aflaq as ‘unreliable’). After the seventh name was called out, blind panic filled the room. No one knew if they were next. Some MPs leaped out of their chairs, screaming countless praises. “GLORY TO MICHEL AFLAQ! SAVIOUR OF THE ARABS! CHOSEN BY GOD! SON OF HEAVEN! BRIGHTER THAN THE SUN AND MOON! WE SWEAR ON THE LIVES OF OUR CHILDREN TO DIE FOR YOU! DEATH TO ALL WHO OPPOSE YOU!” It made no difference. The list continued to be read, names pulled seemingly at random. Aflaq coldly watched the proceedings from behind the podium. Finally, after nearly thirty names had been called, Chamoun announced he had completed his reading. The remaining MPs collapsed back into their chairs, some crying, some vomiting and some ultimately needing medical attention. Aflaq ended his speech by praising the loyalty and determination of the remaining parliamentarians. At his conclusion, parliamentarians gave an hour-long standing ovation reminiscent of Stalin. That evening, the arrested ministers were divided into two groups. The first, including Chamoun, were lined up against a wall. The second group were given guns and ordered to gun down their colleagues, after being told that if even one of the ministers failed to shoot, all their families would be considered targets. With no choice, the entire second group fired every bullet into the first, often into their own best friends. Now accomplices to the Baath Party’s monstrosities, many would stay with the Party until the bitter end while others would commit suicide after failing to get over what they had been forced to do. [1]

What would become known in modern Lebanon as ‘Black Saturday’ may have started in Parliament, but would include the whole country. That night, Baathists attacked any and all supporters of Lebanese Independence, leading to rioting fully encouraged and tolerated by the army. Many former ministers made a desperate escape to one of the foreign embassies. Indeed, the situation was so bad that some made an outright break for the Israeli and Turkish borders, since even the ‘Zionists’ and Fascists seemed a friendlier group. Other officials weren’t so lucky and were outright strung up on lampposts in Centre Ville for days in what was once called the ‘Paris of the East’. It is estimated that some 1400 people were killed in the cull. Foreign observers were mortified and began leaving in droves, feeling that whatever life and vibrancy Lebanon once enjoyed were destined to be extinguished under the Baath’s Totalitarian insanity. However, the Baath had made a crucial mistake. Their leadership had grown increasingly arrogant and felt they could get away with anything. In Iraq, they had been somewhat conciliatory to the old regime, but no such kindness was allowed here. This created what could be described as the only significant ‘Arab’ resistance to the UAR (the Kurds being their own group). They became known as the ‘Cedarists’, after the cedar tree on Lebanon’s flag. They were a group of Maronite Christians who did not identify as Arabs and felt closer union to the ancient Pheocenians than to Iraqis. They may have been a small and mercilessly persecuted group whose ultimate goal of freeing Lebanon single-handedly never came close to achievement, but their efforts would be more profound than they could imagine. Indeed, it’s likely their efforts were what spared Beirut from what befell so much of the Middle East in 1956.

Extract from ‘The Arab Tragedy: 1944–1956’ by Abdul Nazim

The annexation of Lebanon was a watershed moment for Aflaq. While having managed to regain access to the Mediterranean for his native Syrians (going as far as to allow the Soviet Navy to dock in Beirut), he was by now convinced the time for the final conflict with Israel, Fascism and Colonialism was rapidly approaching. With the death of Ibn Saud in 1953 and the rise to power of the less respected King Saud, Saudi Arabia too became increasingly influenced by the UAR, even though it kept its nominal independence. Aflaq was not ready to start an outright conflict with the West, but believed that he could begin using proxies to combat Western influence in the Middle East, particularly Britain. Aflaq was particularly unconcerned with Britain, believing that Gaitskell’s Anti-Colonialist stance restrained their involvement. In 1954, war returned to the Middle East in the quiet backwater of Oman.

The Jebel Akhdar War began when Omanis in the nation’s interior, under command of elected Imam Ghalib Alhianai, fought against Sultan Said bin Taimur, who was backed by the British. Taimur wanted to access Oman’s internal oil fields and received payment from BP, Royal Dutch Shell and ExxonMobil to bring the interior under his control and allow drilling. Inspired with greed, the Sultan quickly accepted. In December 1954, the Sultan’s forces marched to Adam in an attempt to occupy the city. They were shocked to discover that their adversaries were well armed with Soviet weapons that the UAR had sent. Almost as quickly as this news reached the Sultan, word was received that Pro-UAR riots were breaking out in Muscat The Sultan was totally unprepared for the level of conflict that was about to break out, with his mercenary army soon abandoning him at the first hint of trouble. British oil companies pleaded with Gaitskell to intervene to save the Sultan. Gaitskell dithered, disgusted by the actions of the oil companies and of their neo-colonial enterprise, but also deeply concerned about Aflaq. Before anything could be done, it was announced on March 5th 1955 that Muscat had fallen to Alhianai’s army. To stop foreign intervention, Alhianai petitioned to join the UAR, which was gratefully accepted by Aflaq. Like Nasser, Alhianai would become the de facto dictator of Oman while Aflaq remained the De jure sovereign leader.

Word of the fall of Oman led to Gaitskell being savaged by both the British press and Tory Party (not to mention Mosley’s Fascists). Anthony Eden blasted Gaitskell as ‘the new Chamberlain’ (“I would ask the Right Honorable Gentleman what Party did Mister Chamberlain lead?” retorted Gaitskell). Nevertheless, the resulting political turmoil led to an election on May 26th 1955. Gaitskell was popular for his social reforms while many felt his Anti-Colonial beliefs had been discredited and emboldened the dark forces of the world. At the same time, while the Tories were more trusted on foreign policy, many feared they would hurt the welfare state. Ultimately, the result of the election was that Labour was the largest party, but it did not have a majority. Oswald Mosley cheered over reaching 50 seats on being economically interventionist while being tough in foreign policy. The only way Gaitskell could get a majority was for Mosley to give ‘supply and confidence’, which wouldn’t be a full coalition. Gaitskell replied to Mosley’s offer by saying, “Churchill may have willing to speak highly of the Devil, but I wouldn’t so much breathe the same air you desecrate with your presence.” Outraged, Mosley turned to the Conservatives. Eden, though not liking Mosley, accepted the BUF’s proposal of Supply and Confidence in return for not reversing Gaitskell’s social reforms. Outside of Downing Street, as the new Prime Minister took his office, he smiled and said, “The era of retreat is over. Britain will never back down again!” He wouldn’t have to wait long to put that claim to the test.

[1] This event is almost exactly how Saddam’s own purge of the Baath Party went down. Yes, it was also recorded.

The War At Home

Extract from ‘Amazing Grace: The Story of Civil Rights in America’ by Judith Moore

“We are as determined to defeat the enemy at home as we are the enemy abroad.” So said President Patton at his second inaugural address. No one was in any doubt what he meant: the total destruction of the Ku Klux Klan. Thankfully for Patton, the Klan had made it surprisingly easy for him. In 1944, the Klan seemed to be on its deathbed due to a series of back taxes the IRS pushed on it. However, at the last moment, an anonymous donor or donators gave enough money for the organisation to (barely) survive. It is believed that the ascension of Civil Rights-supporting Wallace to the Presidency scared someone enough to convince them that there needed to be a counterbalance. Regardless, saved from the death, the Klan hobbled on in the South. Then the word of Dickstein’s deeds became public knowledge, sparking a renaissance of Anti-Semitism and Anti-Communism in the American sphere. Then, when the Wallace Affair grew into a national sensation, the Klan’s membership and influence returned to their 1920s heyday, at least in the South.

But there were a series of problems that emerged from their growth. Firstly, the America of the post-WW2 era had grown far less Anti-Catholic (and indeed far more Catholic) than the 1920s. Many potential Klan members would have served with Irish, Poles and Italians in the war and had no interest in turning on their friends. Secondly, while a brief burst of Anti-Semitism did appear after the Dickstein case, the Klan was left totally exposed when word of the Soviet Holocaust emerged. Not only did their Anti-Semitism appear even crazier, but even fouler. Lastly, and most importantly for the organisation, many of its membership had taken the Impeachment of Wallace as ‘their win’. They believed that Wallace had been kicked out due to fears of a Klan uprising if he stayed on. With this delusion, the Klan thought themselves invincible, the result of which was the case of Jackie Robinson. With the loathed Northern Democrats no longer a serious force in government (unable to be cajoled by the likewise near-extinct Southern Democrats), the Republicans stepped up to the plate to do the job that some of their fellow party members set out to do nearly 100 years ago.

Thankfully for the Republicans, the Klan had made their job exceptionally easy by continuing to be one united organisation, rather than a hodgepodge of lone-wolves who would be harder to track. In one group, the Klan would have membership lists that could help in hunting the organisation down. Two days after Patton’s inauguration, Republican Senator Joseph Kennedy Jr. introduced a bill to declare the Ku Klux Klan a terrorist organisation. The Freedom Party was caught in a desperate spot, since while very few of their actual politicians were Klan members (with any of influence quickly exiting the organisation when news of Robinson’s murder came out), a large amount of their supporters and backstaffers were indeed Klansmen. Thurmond made the reluctant decision to vote for the act on the basis that ‘the Klan is threatening to end the institutions (Segregation) of the South’. Roughly a third of the party voted for the bill (overwhelmingly the ones with higher office in mind), a third abstained and a third voted against it supposedly due to the gross overreach of Federal power. Many observers asked if the infighting that enveloped the Freedom Party as a result of this measure would ultimately overwhelm the party – however, no such result was achieved.

One Addison Roswell Thompson would be on of the more prominent politicians protesting the bill. He was elected in Louisiana and went to Washington representing a self-created, one-man Ku Klux Klan that he proclaimed himself Wizard of. He most infamously stated, “I’d rather see a hundred dead Jackie Robinsons than serve one ape in my taxi.” He was so bigoted that the Freedom Party themselves frequently had to condemn him. Senator Al Gore would privately muse, “If Addisson doesn’t say ‘Nigger’ at least a hundred times a day, I think he’ll explode.” Thompson, disgusted at the Freedom Party’s lack of defence of the Klan, quit the organisation and created the ‘State’s Rights Party’, an avowedly racist organisation that called itself, ‘The Political wing of the Ku Klux Klan’. It advocated a system more akin to Apartheid than to the normal Jim Crow segregation of the time, with the Klan not only enduring but also becoming a ‘national militia to guard against domestic threats’. If that wasn’t enough, they advocated extending the segregation northward and imposing it, in total opposition to their own name. They were shunned by most of society, but in the South there was a radical enough element of the population for them to become relevant. Thurmond, who had always been considered one of the more moderate Southern segregationists, held a party for his staffers upon news of Addisons’s departure. He had, correctly, guessed that he could be able to transplant much of the heat that had fallen on the Freedom Party due to Robinson’s death to the State’s Rights Party.

After speeding through both Senate and House, President Patton signed the bill with T.R.M. Howard standing alongside him. Howard had become the unofficial face of the Civil Rights movement because he was a Republican and business leader, while many of the NAACP and other long-standing Civil Rights organisations were traditionally from the Left. Howard, highly influenced by Booker T. Washington, believed the future of Black America lay in cultivating entrepreneurialism and independent initiative rather than through social programs. This allowed him to more strongly influence members of the Republican Party, who remained suspicious of DuBois and other Leftist Civil Rights Leaders for their support of Wallace, some even after the Impeachment. However, Howard’s finest hour was in spearheading a personal investigation into the Jackie Robinson case, helping the FBI locate, interview and protect multiple witnesses while local law enforcement shrugged and did nothing. For that, he would later become the first recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1963.

The bill was signed on May 3rd 1953. That night in Birmingham, a congregation at the 16th Street Baptist Church was celebrating the illegalization of a group that caused so much misery and death. Unfortunately, that night, in response to their newfound illegalization, the Klan intended to send a message. J. B. Stoner, a prominent local Klansman, threw a grenade through the church window, killing four and injuring far more. Other incidents would spring up all over the South that night, but none so prominent. It was beginning of ‘The Troubles’ (known as ‘the American Troubles’ outside of the US to differentiate from the ‘Irish Troubles’). The next day, the Klan released a statement to the press, taking full responsibility for the attack saying, “It is unfortunate that such measures are being used, but as long as the Negro communities of America support the disempowerment of White Southerners, these measures must continue. For the sacred rights our forefathers passed down generation after generation for us, we are not simply prepared to die, but to kill as well.” As Americans geared up for more carnage, T.R.M. Howard would cement his legacy by giving declaring to the press, “Our victory will be the laughter of our children”. The saying would go on to be one of the main phrases of the Civil Rights movement.

Extract from the Ku Klux Klan’s press release following the Baptist Church Bombing

“This is not the end. This is not even the beginning. King George may coo in triumph that he has avenged his pet, but he faces an enemy far fiercer than any he’s ever met. He faces the will of God and Jesus Christ himself, he who ordained the superiority of the Anglo-Saxon race and cast the descendants of Ham to the roasting sun of Africa. Though Papists and Christ-killers line King George’s army, the fiery cross from old Scotland’s hills shall devour any number of those who try to defile us. Defile our society with extinction, defile our sons with enslavement and defile our daughters with Negro lust. To those who would pollute our land, our faith and our daughters, the men of the South have this answer: K. K. K.”

Extract from ‘“At Least Wallace Is Gone …” : America in the 50s’ by Samantha Kelly

Despite their illegalization, the Klan’s membership held remarkably steady, though not necessarily from the same people. More middle class types who saw the Klan as a networking method leaped out of the organisation as quick as a flash and pretended they were never in it in the first place. By contrast, many of the White South’s lower elements, from the chronically angry to deadbeats looking for purpose came in, seeking protection and friendship. Furthermore, despite their lofty statements harkening back to the Confederacy (which for all its evils primarily concentrated its firepower on the men of the Union army) some 65% of the Klan’s killing would be done to black civilians, with a further 20% to white citizens who were either ‘collaborators’, ‘race traitors’ or some ethnic or religious group the Klan didn’t like (which they were hardly short on). Infamously, even politicians were considered fair game.

Lyndon Baines Johnson was one such man. He thought he was a shoe-in to win in his Texas constituency in 1946 under the Democrat ticket, but then Wallace’s many scandals unfurled. However, the Freedom Party was impressed by his obvious skill in rhetoric and making deals in Congress and wanted to recruit him. Yet when offered the role of the Freedom Party’s candidate for his constituency, he refused due to the Party’s avowed support of segregation. In his youth, Johnson remembered and was disgusted by the bigotry that infected his community and swore he would never embolden it. This would doom Johnson, who narrowly lost his constituency to the Freedom Party. As the party of Thurmond increased its hold over the South, they approached Johnson on multiple occasions to join forces and set him up in another seat. Finally, at one such meeting with a young recruiter who quickly got on the Texan’s nerves, Johnson pulled down his pants and exposed his genitals to the recruiter and said “Do you think a man of my size is just going to break down because some peckerwood pipsqueak keeps asking me?!” This stopped the Freedom Party’s recruiting attempts. However, Johnson grew disillusioned by the Democrat Party’s troubles and his own disgust of Wallace. Finally, to his total reluctance, he joined the Republican Party. When asked by one paper why he’d switched to the Republicans, he replied, ‘Someone’s got to put in a good word for the South to George [Patton].” Johnson won the Republican nomination for Texas’s Senate seat in 1948. In a dirty contest with a lot of back and forth and multiple charges of voting fraud, Patton’s popularity was enough to narrowly push Johnson into office, making him a minor celebrity among Republicans for cracking ‘the Solid South’.

As the Civil Rights era dawned, Johnson supported the push for equality. This cratered his popularity in Texas, but as he told Patton, “This something worth getting voted out of office for”. Johnson’s condemnations of the Klan before and after their illegalization were unrelenting and merciless. Unfortunately, the Klan decided to take action. While the Klan hated Kennedy and McCarthy for being ‘Papists’, they reserved special hatred for both Johnson and Patton for being ‘Race-traitors’, i.e. White Southern men who opposed their bigotry. Johnson received death threats on a near hourly basis, warning him to ‘stay in Washington if you value your worthless life’. Johnson refused to adhere to their demands, saying, “I didn’t fight the Japs to run away from my own home.” On July 8th 1953, Johnson attended a campaign event in Dallas Texas to speak on the subject of bringing jobs to Texas. However, he would be shot three times in the back by a sniper, a Klansman sniper by the name of James ‘Catfish’ Cole. Multiple conspiracy theories were created due to the shockingly lax security of the event that allowed the assassination to happen, many alleging that members of Johnson’s security forces were in on the plan due to their disgust of Johnson’s race policies. Yet if the Klan thought that their murder of an American Senator would lead to the government backing off, they did not know George Patton.

Patton nationalized the Texan National Guard and ordered Dallas to go on lockdown. Southern Law enforcement were not trusted to handle the operation, which was quickly taken over by the FBI with the National Guard as muscle. With a ruthless efficiency that outraged many members of the public for its stern handling of the matter (notably beatings during the interrogations of prominent Texas Klansmen), Cole was finally found … dead. His body was found lying in a ditch just outside of Dallas. Most incredibly, this lead was discovered by accident by a local boy passing through at the time. As no one missed Cole, it was chalked up to a tiff between Klansmen and ignored. Years later, it would emerge that Dallas strip club operator Jack Rubenstein (also known as ‘Jack Ruby’), had ordered the hit on Cole. Cole had entered one of the establishments, attempting to hide. Cole got drunk and struck up a conversation with Ruby, the former not realising the latter was a Jew and going on an Anti-Semitic rant about how the Jews controlled Patton. Feigning support, Ruby continued the conversation, before realising that Cole matched the description of Johnson’s murderer. Ruby contacted his bouncers and detained Cole, before contacting certain Mafia ‘fixers’. The Mafia men were naturally no friends of a Klansman, and made sure Cole suffered a hundred times over for what he did. Not wanting to be connected to the event, Cole’s body was dumped outside of town.

The Klan would often try to assassinate political leaders, including members of the Freedom Party. Estes Kefauver, the Freedom Party Senator from Tennessee, was wounded after being shot at the front door of in his house in December 1953 due to his strong condemnation of the Klan. TRM Howard was another such target, but that turned out less well than expected. On September 9th 1953, three Klansmen broke into Howard’s house with the intention of grabbing and lynching the Civil Rights leader. They were sorely mistaken when they opened the door to his bedroom, found the bed empty, and then turned around. A Thompson submachine gun wielded by Howard soon sprayed and killed them [1]. Despite the obvious nature of the Klan’s plan – down to one holding a noose in their hand at the time – Howard was ordered arrested by Mississippi Governor Hugh White for defying both gun laws and for murder. In an extraordinary intervention, Patton threatened to arrest White if the arrest occured, and Howard moved to safety in Canada at the expense of fellow Black Republican (a multi-millionaire) Sam Fuller - the charges being dropped several months later. Fuller had likewise become a Civil Rights legend by buying out National City Lines, which ran the bus services in Montgomery, Alabama, and his attempts to desegregate the bus service ran afoul of Jim Crow in a battle destined for the Supreme Court. Together, the two would become a team working together to end segregation. The reaction to Howard’s attempted murder and retaliation divided America. While the North almost unanimously defended Howard, many in the South were terrified at the thought of armed black groups. Unfortunately for them, that’s just what the Klan’s terrorism was soon to create.

[1] – Yes, Howard literally slept with a sub-machine gun.

“We Are Not Your Slaves Anymore”

Extract from ‘Amazing Grace: The Story of Civil Rights in America’ by Judith Moore

Like other places in the South, the Montgomery bus line was forced under law to segregate by race due to the Jim Crow laws. As any bus service was kept in line by social restrictions as well as legal, none dared challenge the rule despite the impracticality. National City Lines ran the service for Montgomery, but the economic turmoil of the Wallace era had put the company into a bad place. It hobbled along until early 1953, when a man claiming to represent a company called ‘Testa’ offered an astonishingly large amount of money to the owners of National City Lines. They were quite astonished by the money they got and gladly agreed to the deal – that was when the ruse was discovered. ‘Testa’ (‘Shell’ in Latin) was a front company created by Samuel Fuller, the richest black man in America and supporter of the Republican Party. Since the fall of Wallace, more and more Civil Rights supporters had settled reluctantly in the GOP. Given Fuller’s status, he quickly became inundated by Civil Rights groups begging for support. Fuller initially conceived of the desegregation plan, but others convinced him to add the element of deception to ensure the White Citizen’s Council wouldn’t fight back.

Fuller immediately ordered the bus service to desegregate, leading to Governor Bull Connor ordering the arrest of any employee who attempted to run a desegregated bus service. The Klan warned that any de-segregated bus would be ‘bombed before it left the station’. Fuller sued the State of Alabama on the basis that its rules on segregation violated the 14th Amendment. Due to intense pressure by the Patton Administration to challenge Jim Crow in court, it quickly rose through the ranks. In July 1954, Fuller Vs The State of Alabama ended with a 9-0 decision that not only was Southern segregation ‘unequal’, but that separation was inherently unequal. It was a total deathblow to the legal protection the Jim Crow laws had enjoyed, though it did not mean the South would meekly go into the night. Running the Montgomery bus service quickly became one of the most dangerous jobs in America. Buses were vandalized and attacked endlessly. Many White citizens outright boycotted the bus service, taking taxis and car-pooling, meaning the bus service was mostly used by blacks, making them an even more frequent target of Klan terrorism. In October 1954, the Klan bombing of one bus killed 15 people, which was the single greatest, lost of life in any one incident thus far in the Troubles. Yet the Klan were shocked to find that blacks continued getting on the buses regardless of how many terror attacks occurred, as if to say that they would not meekly adhere to racist oppression anymore. Fuller gladly paid for any of the losses the company made year on year, seeing it as a duty to keep the buses running.

Despite this, Patton continued to push ahead with what he considered his final work: a full Civil Rights Act. Many Anti-lynching laws had been passed in the past, but had often been watered down so thoroughly through the Congressional system that they had little impact. Patton, however, was religiously determined to pass the legislation he needed past Congress. He knew that this time the whole Freedom Party would be solidly united against him. Thus, he began the process of convincing various senators and congressmen to back his proposals. Dewey, who had what could best be described as a fractious relationship with Patton, would tell his friends, “He’s five years late, but the General has become a President.” Dewey had traditionally been obsessed with creating a Republican monopoly on power, but now ready to fight Jim Crow and complete Lincoln’s vision, he had decided there were more important things in life worth fighting for. However, the speed of the change had overwhelmed even racial moderates in the South. They had gone from a position where the KKK were omnipresent and acceptable to underground and reviled, where the entire social order was declared illegal and from where Civil Rights were a non-issue to a desperate necessity. The Freedom Party’s popularity skyrocketed as a result, and not just in the South. By now, the Freedom Party was beginning to gain support in the central regions of America, such as Kansas and Nebraska. Even the Midwest was starting to become more receptive. At the same time, the Republican political machine was more than willing to play dirty.

Joseph McCarthy had his profile diminished in recent years, as his notorious (and successful) toxification of the Democrat brand had run its course. The Democrat Party had as much chance of being elected in 1956 as the Whigs. Yet he felt that he needed to do something to get back into the limelight. Of course, he chose a course broadly similar to the one that destroyed the Democrat Party: his plan was to drag members of the Freedom Party before Congressional hearings to smear them as Klan collaborators. While this sounded great in theory, in practice the Freedomites were more than up to the task. They had learned from the sad spectacle of the Democrat show-trials and prepared accordingly. While the Democrats primarily were quiet and docile during the proceedings (to not arouse suspicion), Freedom Party representatives were loud and angry. They accused McCarthy of being ‘Patton’s Poodle’, and deliberately made a racket for attention. Other stunts played out with a dramatic flare that humiliated McCarthy: Storm Thurmond infamously read out his death threats from the Klan before showing a drawing that had been sent to him of his being hanged (in fact, it was later proven the picture was fake but it had the desired effect at the time). Estes Kefauver pulled up his shirt to expose the wounds he had received from the Klan and asked McCarthy, “How many Klan bullets have you taken, Mr. McCarthy?” Furthermore, the fact that the State’s Rights Party’s representatives were not dragged through the hearings seemed to confirm the declarations of Freedomites that the whole thing was a witch-hunt to discredit the Freedom Party. Thus, McCarthy’s stunt completely backfired: rather than connect the Klan with the Freedom Party (a connection vastly more plausible and documented than any link between Communism and the Northern Democrats), he had actually managed to push them further apart. Still, he had burnished his credentials with Civil Rights organisations. Indeed, many historians suspect that the whole thing was set up by McCarthy not to do damage to the Klan or Freedom Party, but to put himself back on the map before the 1956 Republican Primary. If that was his plan, he certainly succeeded.

Extract from ‘“At Least Wallace is Gone …” : America in the 50s’ by Samantha Kelly

The Klan’s greatest accomplishment was in uniting various disparate groups behind a cause that many only half-heartedly endorsed. Northerners of all stripes were appalled by the Klan and wholeheartedly endorsed their destruction. Over time, the Klan grew bolder in its attacks. Initially only attacking FBI agents and blacks in the South, the group began to operate even outside the South, launching attacks in the North. In particular, they targeted prominent Republican politicians. Joseph Kennedy Jr. narrowly avoided assassination when the car bomb placed beneath his vehicle failed to go off. President Patton was so frequently targeted by assassination attempts that he never went farther south than Washington – much as Wallace had been forced to do. But among the most consequential of the Klan’s attacks, the Columbus Day Massacre was certainly among them. Indeed, Columbus Day has gone from a commemoration of Columbus to a day commemorating the struggle of Italian-Americans through history - this was mostly in response to the Klan's actions in 1952.

The League Of Columbus had been neutral on Civil Rights, as many working class Italians feared for their jobs if black labour was suddenly opened. They were, however, steadfastly in favour of the banning of the Klan for the organisation’s long history of hatred towards Catholics and Italians. For that reason, the League actually arranged joint marches with Irish, Polish and Jewish groups in America to present a united front against the Klan. On St. Patrick’s Day in 1953, all four groups marched together in New York to demand the destruction of the Ku Klux Klan (black groups being uninvited). The Italian-American community in New Orleans formed a strong alliance with local blacks to fight back against the Klan – despite long-standing distrust. The Klan, still heady in the first days of their newfound terrorist status, decided that the actions of the League of Columbus could not go on. On October 12th, Columbus Day, the Italian American march through New Orleans was attacked by a machine gun wielding Klansman, killing fourteen people, five of them under the age of ten as the local Catholic school had been passing by the moment Edgar Killen leapt out of the crowd. The murders were met with uproar around the United States, and indeed Italy. Mussolini urged all Italian-Americans to ‘Fight until every white hood is stained red”. It seems that many in the League of Columbus took this quite seriously. In November 1953, a meeting was held between senior leaders of the League and the Mafia, notably ‘Lucky’ Luciano. Frank Sinatra supposedly arranged the meeting, though he always denied it. Though nominally at odds with each other, the two agreed to combine forces as ‘A common blood to avenge blood.’ In return for being more lenient on Mob activities in New York and elsewhere, the Mob promised to shelve all conflicts between the Five Families and go to war with the Klan. Thus, the 1950s are generally considered the Golden Era of the Mafia, with the FBI totally distracted in dealing with the Klan, ludicrous profits being made in the vacuum and the pleasant moral boost of knowing they were engaged in a holy struggle for their nation, even though it rejected them.

Freed from any of the rules that restrained the FBI, the Mafia went after the Klan with a vengeance. In New Orleans, the Klan’s presence was almost entirely obliterated by the end of 1953. Targeted assassinations of Grand Wizards happened on a near weekly basis. Of course, the Klan tried to fight back. A Richmond detachment of the Klan sent a squad of four to New York with the intention of killing prominent Mafiosi. Instead, a letter was sent back to the Wizard in Richmond, mocking the Klan and explaining in explicit detail the multiple operational failures they’d performed as assassins. Inside the letter were the four severed tongues - one for each of the Klansmen killed – and the addendum, “They talk real easy too – not anymore though”. This was the last time a Klan detachment was sent to New York. The experience gap was telling. The Klan were used to attacking unarmed blacks and unsuspecting authority figures constrained by law. As Luciano joked to his associates, “These assholes are reading the book we wrote – but they’re too stupid to read.” At the same time, it wasn’t all killing. Southerners of authority that were sympathetic to the Klan were blackmailed after alternatively being caught in adulterous situations or being placed into them after a copious amount of booze. Even more amusingly, the Mafia co-operated with black organisations to set up the politicians, sherriffs and others with black prostitutes, having what one Mob historian called ‘A Harem Army’. The Klan reeled under the new hammer blows of stricter enforcement from the law and brutal retaliation from the Mob. By mid-1954, the Mob had so affected the operational ability of the Klan that the strict command was to avoid targeting Catholic and Italian groups. But if the Klan thought a reprieve from Italian-American retaliation meant peace, they were dead wrong.

Extract from ‘A History of Black Fascism’ by Desmond Kingston

In his later days, the leader of the ‘Back to Africa’ movement, Marcus Garvey, had spoken positively of Fascism in a manner that alarmed and repulsed many leading black intellectuals. At the time black leaders generally identified with the Left, albeit few going as far as Marxism. After the Cold War and Wallace’s disgrace, the mood for any sort of Leftist government had vanished in America. Black America was thus left without any effective leader or voice. When Jackie Robinson tried to fill that role, he ironically only succeeded after his murder, becoming a great Civil Rights icon that united the nation against the horror of Jim Crow. From there, the leadership of the new Civil Rights movement was primarily of millionaires, business owners and other prominent Republicans in the mold of Booker T. Washington. Though all were respected, many poorer blacks still felt as if the leadership didn’t go far enough, or address the economic concerns they had. They wanted a new ideology - not 'play-by-the rules' Capitalism, nor discredited Marxism, and certainly not 'White Fascism' - so what was the solution?

Malcolm Little, who had grown up the child of Garvey enthusiasts, had felt low and despondent during his life due to his constant experience of discrimination. After being put in prison for larceny, he was astonished to hear of Jackie Robinson’s murder. Snapped to attention, he became political, though he wasn’t sure of the best direction to go. Finally, informed by Garvey’s belief and his own interpretation of the world, Little decided he would form his own political party: the ‘Black Fascist Party’. To Little, Fascism could provide the economic reforms that blacks needed which the Republican leaders of the Civil Rights didn't provide while disposing of what he called the “Internationalist-Reconciliation crap” of Communism and other beliefs related to class which ignored racial disparity. Little stated that he ‘respected Mussolini – not because of what he does but because he has the guts to say he’s doing it’. While he affirmed his opposition to 'White Fascism' in that it supported the colonization of Africa, he felt that having blacks adopt Fascist principles was 'the only way to even the score'. Black Fascism would be rooted in the principles of ‘Self-reliance, Self-sufficiency, and Self-defence’. These goals would be achieved by ‘Any means necessary’. As Little got out of jail and founded the party, he couldn’t have done so at a better time. After T.R.M. Howard’s infamous incident of self-defense, gun control laws came into question across the United States, specifically how blacks were denied the equal practice of whites to defend themselves. Harkening on the frontier legacy, Howard and others demanded that restrictions on black ownership of firearms be suspended so that blacks could defend themselves. After another series of anti-black attacks, Republicans reluctantly agreed to vote for ensuring fairness in arms sales, much to the fury of the Freedom Party. Black militias quickly formed in the South, mostly from weapons bought elsewhere and moved in.

Little’s small party saw rapid growth once his oratorical skill was brought to use on the new militia members. Moving south, he began to set up ‘Fascist enclaves’ to defend blacks against Klan incursions. His first HQ was set up in Money, Mississippi, in December 1953. He trained only about two dozen or so members, many of whom had come from the Nation of Islam in Chicago, a bizarre religious cult. Despite this, they knew precisely why they came to the region – it was a notorious Klan hotspot, with the Klan attacking frequently and without retaliation from law enforcement. It was so far south the FBI didn’t dare venture, but Little did. On December 28th 1953, a Klansman by the name of Roy Bryant [1] attacked an unnamed black woman with the intention of rape. However, before anything could be done, he was apprehended by the Black Fascists and quickly executed. In an astonishing act of boldness, Bryant’s body was found hanging from a tree in front of the Klan’s local HQ the next day with the message, “We aren’t your slaves anymore.” Terrified and enraged, multiple local Klan militias gathered, giving a total of eighty men who were determined to attack the black settlement in Money. That night, they marched into the town to find that no one was in the black area – it was empty. Baffled, some laughed that they’d scared the blacks out of the town for good. Instead, a flare burst in the sky and an armored truck barged down the street. Once it got close, the driver jumped out and the truck exploded, decimating the Klan’s forces. From there, the Fascists (some of whom were veterans of the Chinese War) counterattacked with a no-prisoners policy. Of the eighty Klansmen who entered Money, only seven left alive. The event terrified the White South, excited blacks and was met with cautious approval in the North, as no civilians had been killed despite the questionable policies of the man behind it. Little was an outlaw, but remained a hero to most blacks, including Howard – though Little and Howard agreed on little outside of Civil Rights, they mutually respected each other. It was the first major operational success of the Black Fascists – but their story had just begun.

[1] One of Emmet Till's murderers
'That Crazy General'

Extract from ‘A History of Black Fascism’ by Desmond Kingston

The 1954 mid-term elections were a wake-up call for the GOP. They had lost their supermajority in both House and Senate - though still with commanding majorities in both, which only ten years ago would have been unthinkable – and were now faced with a new challenge: the Freedom Party had begun to break out of the ‘Southern Ghetto’ as one historian put it. The Freedom Party had won its first elections in the non-Confederate states of Kansas, Arizona and Pennsylvania - more than making up for minor gains to the States' Rights Party. While still dominated by Republicans, it was proof of what many on the Right of the Republicans feared – that the party was seen as too gung-ho on Civil Rights which was leading to violence that was, ironically, primarily hurting blacks. Of course, few blacks could vote in America, the vast majority being in the South. Patton had been distracted from further advances on Civil Rights at the same time due to his focus on combatting the Klan and implementing Fuller Vs. Alabama.

In 1954, after Arkansas Governor Cherry used state troopers to block a Little Rock high school from admitting black students, Patton nationalized the guard and told Cherry, “If you ever do something like that again, I’ll send in the tanks.” The anger that greeted this comment in the South rallied support around Cherry, and for segregation in general. The school was under day and night guard to prevent Klan attacks, of which several were averted. By now, the more open Klan of the early fifties was a distant memory, and the Klan had begun to take more improvised methods. Popular among them was the use of the car-bomb - of leaving a car beside a target, exiting, and having the bomb do the work once they were safe out of harms way. Unlike other terrorist organisations like the Irish Republicans, the Klan didn’t call in a bomb threat – the entire purpose was to maximise casualties. Thousands died in these actions. By the end of 1953, some four-thousand deaths could be chalked up to the American Troubles. The effect on society was that, starved of investment, the South remained mired in poverty, white and black. The Freedom Party had successfully burnished their credentials as defenders of the South, keeping the State’s Rights Party a mercifully small fringe. The Freedomites played themselves as the moderates between out of touch northerners like the Republicans and wild bigots like the States’ Rights Party. Despite wildly disproportionate numbers of killings by both number and ratio of fighter-to-civilian casualties, they ran on ‘equally’ opposing the Klan and Black Fascists, who had become the stuff of folk legend among American blacks, the Boogieman of Southern Whites and the increasing concern of Northern Whites.

By 1954, the Black Fascists still had not deviated from their policy of ‘camping’ within black communities to defend against race riots and attacks. But at the same time, it was becoming obvious that the line was increasingly blurred. What if a Klansman was also a sheriff (as was sometimes the case)? What if they knew where the Klan was meeting and didn’t attack them there? Were States’ Rights Party officials targets because they co-operated with the Klan even if they weren’t attacking? Were Pro-Segregation politicians in the Freedom Party off-limits too? What about Northern bigots? Should they come under fire? As such, it was almost miraculous the Black Fascists held out as long as they did from controversial attacks. Finally, Little made the decision to take the fight to the next level – targeted assassination. After co-operating with the Mafia (an arrangement both were uncomfortable with), he discovered that the perpetrator of the Birmingham Church Bombing, J. B. Stoner, was still around in Alabama. The Mafia offered to do the hit for him, but Little insisted that this was between blacks and the Klan alone. As a result, Stoner was abducted from his house on June 4th 1954 and tortured to death. His corpse was left hanging from a tree in the centre of Birmingham – a deliberate motif used by the Black Fascists to evoke lynching – with a placard around his neck reading, “Our hands will avenge our blood”. The saying would be a common calling card of involvement by the Black Fascists, and would strike terror into local whites, interpreting the placard as an incitement to the mass murder of all Southern whites. During a campaign rally in Georgia for the States’ Rights Party, a member of the Black Fascists attempted to assassinate John Kasper, who was a party candidate. It would only wound Kasper, and the attempted assassin bit his cyanide capsule before the mob could fully unleash their violence on him – though they burned his body anyway. Once word came out that an ‘innocent, non-Klansman white’ was attacked, Southern whites had felt there was no line left for the Fascists to cross. This would result in the rumblings of a gigantic race riot in Atlanta on August 6th, but given the increasing militarization of the South, it was stomped on quickly by the US army and declared subdued by August 8th.

The US military, far from being dormant following the Chinese War, was now actively engaged in policing the South as multiple congressional reports proved that Southern Law enforcement was hopelessly compromised by direct Klan infiltration, let alone racial bigotry. The US military was quickly showered with revulsion by Southern whites, who considered them occupiers. Blacks rarely treated them with outright scorn, but as the army increasingly attempted to stomp on the Black Fascists, even blacks began resisting. Thus, the cycle of hatred in the South continued to spin out of control.

The more active role of the Black Fascists, however, was by now seriously worrying Northerners, including the Civil Rights Movement as a whole. Howard would berate Little, writing, “Now, when the whites of America have never been more sympathetic to us, never kinder and never more willing to help end our oppression at the hands of the Freedomites, here comes Malcolm Little shooting up the place like he thinks he’s Nat Turner. He is committing a crime against the Negro race by throwing away the greatest opportunity its children have ever had to a world where their race would not be held against them. And for what? The emotional satisfaction of degrading ourselves to vigilantes? Of being the mirror image of Totalitarian Fascism? Let there be no doubt that if Malcolm Little has no problem killing whites, he’ll have no problem killing blacks either.”

In response, Little fought back saying to his followers, “The man who shot up three Klansmen now berates me because I didn’t kill Klansmen to protect myself - I killed Klansmen to protect my people. See, the so called ‘Civil Rights Movement’ doesn’t want to fight segregation because they want to help black people. Look at them! Howard’s a money-grubbing businessman! Fuller’s a money-grubbing businessman! They don’t want to help you! They want to help themselves! They’re out to make as much money as they can, and what they’re trying to do is be like the white man! And once they do? Do you think they’re going to help your poor asses? White businessmen don’t give a shit about white workers, and they sure as hell don’t care about blacks. What makes you think a black businessman gives a fraction’s worth of a damn about black workers either? That’s why they hate us! Because the Black Fascists fight for all blacks, not just the ones trying to make money! We don’t fight so we can hold hands with the white man and pretend we’re all friends! We don’t fight so we can make a pile of money while black children starve here and in Africa. We fight to save our people from White terrorism!”

The schism between the Black Fascists and Civil Rights Movement (despite each leader privately respecting the other) almost perfectly mirrored the split at the beginning of the 20th Century between DuBois’s more Leftist, political-oriented road to black advancement and Booker T. Washington’s Conservative, economically focussed road to black emancipation. Just as before, Washington’s school gained the favour of the elite and White America in general, while Little’s Fascist movement was met with fear and revulsion amongst most of white society. Class division was the main division between the mainstream Civil Rights Movement and the Fascists, the former dominated by Civil Servants, businessmen and preachers, the latter dominated by the dispossessed and working class. Though their influence would be minimal on the 1956 election except for political points for the Freedomites, their influence would be greater than Little could imagine.

Extract from ‘Amazing Grace: The Story of Civil Rights in America’ by Judith Moore

In the aftermath of the 1954 elections, many Republicans felt that Patton had pointlessly exacerbated the conflict. There were now more representatives of the States’ Rights Party in the House than the Democrats (6 to 5, though that was more a statement of Democrat loss than the former’s gains, especially given defections). Yet Patton felt he still had one last, great accomplishment left in him. With that, he went to the drawing board and decided on the 1955 Civil Rights Act. It would outlaw discrimination not just on the basis of race, but of religion and sex too. It would legislate the end of all the various ways the South kept the black vote suppressed and end segregation at any level of government. While it was a landmark decision, some blacks were disappointed that the decision was only restricted to the government sphere, as private businesses were allowed to segregate on the condition they forsook subsidies or other government support. However, due to the losses the Republicans experienced in November, Patton couldn’t afford to lose the votes of Republicans like Barry Goldwater, who said the business provision was the difference between, “My fighting to the last bullet and walking off the battlefield.” With a massive lobbying campaign, Patton was able to convince most Republicans to unite behind the Civil Rights Act. However, the handful of Republicans in Southern states made the difference. They could not risk voting for the bill, sometimes literally for the sake of their lives. The Republicans were tantalysingly close to passing the act, but it was just out of reach.

Thurmond laughed off Patton’s attempts as January 1955 dawned, since he knew he would soon hold enough sway in Congress to filibuster any act he wanted. Many Republicans also signed themselves up to the bill, expecting it to be a heroic failure when Thurmond would inevitably call the filibuster and end the whole game. But what they did not bet on was the temerity and insanity of General Patton, most of all his overwhelming desire to accomplish the impossible. Thus, when Republicans informed were informed of the plan, many were shocked and tried to talk Patton out of it – but the General would not budge, and in the end, hatred of the Klan and the institution of Jim Crow would keep the Republicans united. Thus, Senator Thurmond was mortified to hear the news. While the dead-duck Republicans of the South could not bring themselves to back a Civil Rights Act, the Republicans DID vote to change the filibuster. Patton initially wanted to end the filibuster entirely, but frantic negotiations with Senate leaders managed to convince the Republicans to change the filibuster to a 3/5ths rule instead of a 2/3rd rule. This meant enough dead-duck Republicans could vote to change the filibuster, and then their reduced compatriots could finish their work for them when the new Congress convened. That ‘that Crazy General’ as Thurmond had taken to calling Patton’ had decided to upend centuries of Congressional practice was both an outrage to him and one he felt he should have expected. After outrage from the Freedomites, to say nothing of the States’ Rights Party, the change was signed off by the dead-duck congress and the groundwork for the Civil Rights Act was laid. The Southern states threw everything they had at the act, including calling a General Strike across the entire South, which failed due to blacks continuing to work sometimes in twenty four hour shifts to keep the Southern economy going and ensure the segregationists would not succeed. Finally on October 29th, the Civil Rights Act of 1955 was passed. Jackie Robinson’s family stood watching in the overlooking section of the chamber, his wife in tears. T.R.M. Howard and Sam Fuller were there as well, as astonished with the speed of their success as foreign observers were. In the North, black communities rejoiced. In Harlem, public celebrations reminiscent of V.E. Day filled the streets.

But in the South, there was no time for celebration. Riots had exploded in almost every Jim Crow state, and blacks knew that the end of legal government segregation would not be the end of their fight. In Montgomery alone, two hundred and twenty people died (one hundred and two blacks, ninety-nine whites and nineteen state troppers) in the ‘Wave of Rage’, as the post-legislation rioting was described as. Overall, in the week that followed the vote, one and a half thousand people were killed in the violence. It was in the midst of all this carnage that the 1956 election was set to take place. Whoever won the Republican nomination was effectively set to be President, but with such a poisoned chalice, some political observers wondered if what they were running for was worth having.

Extract from ‘“At Least Wallace is Gone …” : America in the 50s’ by Samantha Kelly

The political world was shocked in August 1955 when Vice-President Dewey publicly stated he would not be running for President in 1956. Publicly, he stated it was for his family, and that was in part true. But as he privately joked to friends, “Eight years as President is enough”. He had been doing much of the dirty wheeling and dealing in Congress and the Senate, especially to pass the Civil Rights Act. Patton, obsessed with the big picture and foreign policy, had left much of the ‘dirty’ work to Dewey. On a day-to-day basis in America, Dewey exerted more influence than even Patton, making him perhaps the most powerful Vice-President in history. Thus, after eight years, he felt as though he had already burned through his stamina to a degree that made him wary of going anywhere near the Oval Office. What he had done was open a wide field of contenders, all of whom had their own constituency.

First was the favourite of the Right, Joseph McCarthy. His cult like following in the forties had grown dormant but was not extinct. He had improved his reputation with the Republican Establishment in the mutual fight for Civil Rights, but was still considered by them as unfit for such lofty office. Then was Richard Nixon, who was the darling of the Republican establishment. Nixon was seen as perfectly straddling the line between being acceptable for the Right while being ‘electable’ enough to be a two-term president. His mind-games in getting Patton to join the Republican Party were also looked favorably upon. Lastly was the favourite of more moderate Republicans: Joseph Kennedy Jr. Kennedy was a Democrat until 1946, even attending the 1940 Democrat Convention. However, his disgust at Wallace moved him to the Republicans. In 1948, he won election to the Senate for Massachusetts. He quickly proved popular to the Patton Democrats, Democrats who had left the party to join Patton’s Republicans, and burnished his credentials among moderates with his strong support of Civil Rights, though he was conciliatory to the South and tried to make friends among the Freedomites. However, there were fears among major Republicans that Kennedy’s Catholicism would damage the campaign – while McCarthy was also Catholic, it was felt that he was too obnoxiously patriotic to be outflanked on a question to do with Papal power.

The campaign kicked off, but it was clear this would be a nastier primary than normal. McCarthy savaged Nixon in particular, seeing him as his biggest rival, especially over the turf of the Republican Right. McCarthy made use of every piece of demagoguery in his arsenal to accuse Nixon of being weak on Civil Rights, weak on Communism and weak on everything else. While Kennedy focussed on ‘positive campaigning’ McCarthy lived and died by brutal attack campaigns. When McCarthy accused Nixon of having opposed Wallace’s impeachment (which he did before the nuking of Warsaw) and was thus a Communist-sympathizer, Nixon privately told his aid, “If God dangled me over Hell and told me the only way out was to forgive that bastard, I’d tell him to make the flames hotter”. By March, Nixon’s support had been so badly weakened by allegations that he was the puppet of a spineless Republican establishment that he announced the end of his campaign. McCarthy’s lead now looked unassailable. He spun his attacks on Kennedy, accusing Kennedy of being a sympathizer as well for his membership of the Democrat Party. By now, the Republican establishment had determined McCarthy was an extreme threat to the sanctity of the Republican Party and demanded he be stopped. Yet no one was sure what to do.

Then, on May 2nd 1956, Nixon met with Kennedy. Kennedy had grown increasingly depressed with the severity of McCarthy’s crusade and had considered surrendering. Instead, Nixon dropped the bombshell – he had hired private investigators to investigate the demagogue. What they found was incriminating – not only had he lied about his service in World War 2 to exaggerate his valor, he had a significant drinking problem that he had taken great pains to hide from the press – threatening anyone who reported on it. Such information was sure to sink his campaign – but Nixon had a price: he wanted to be the Vice-President. Kennedy smiled and said, “Dick, you already were my Vice-President”. The information was given to Edward R. Murrow, the newsman, due to the general trust Americans had in him. Murrow was assured he would have the full backing of the press and Republican party, who had by now united to stop his ascendency. Murrow’s report was damning and uncharacteristically brutal, concluding with the statement, “If Joseph McCarthy becomes President then perhaps many of you watching right now, even if you’ve never had a political thought for a day in your life, will be dragged like a common criminal to be mocked and degraded as if the freedom our ancestors fought for had never existed”. The next day, every newspaper in America was reporting on McCarthy. Many were historically terrified of coming out against him, but Murrow’s stand had emboldened his enemies – especially the Freedom Party. McCarthy was badly damaged by the revelations but vowed to fight till the end. He counterattacked by accusing the Republican Establishment of being infested with Freedomite and Communist sympathizers trying to take him down. His drinking problem grew manifestly worse as a result, leading to an infamous occasion on June 6th where he made a podium speech visibly intoxicated, slurring his words and referring to Kennedy as, “that Commie son of a bitch”. The backlash was intense. McCarthy was censured from the Senate (with the enthusiastic support of the Freedomites) and then in August, the Republicans took the unprecedented step of expelling him from the Party altogether (something only achievable due to the complete collapse of his prior support). Broken by his change in fortune, McCarthy resigned from the Senate and faded into obscurity. He died on May 2nd 1957 due to alcohol poisoning.

McCarthy’s ignominious fate was contrasted with the triumphant pomp of the Kennedy/Nixon ticket. Kennedy, the first Catholic to lead on the Republican ticket, would face Thurmond himself for the 1956 election. Thurmond, having calculated that he would get a great turnout compared to Connor due to the backlash against Civil Rights in the South, knew that he would appear a strong finisher no matter what happened. The sight of a former Democrat leading the Republicans further stripped the moribund Democrats of any legitimacy they once enjoyed. But the 1956 election, when combined with events going on the Middle East, would be the start of a new direction in American politics that would fundamentally reshape the global order.

The Blood Libel

Extract from 'False Hope: The USSR 1953-1957' by Alexander Solzhenitsyn

As time progressed, it was clear Khrushchev had gained the most from Stalin’s ultimate demise. Malenkov and Molotov were both relatively unpopular within the Politburo at the time, at least compared to the Ukrainian. Khrushchev certainly excelled in charisma, which made him the more public member of the Troika. In 1953, he became the First Secretary of the Communist Party, although he would never become Premier, which likely was ultimately his plan. Perhaps due to the aura of fear he created around himself due to Stalin’s mysterious death, Molotov and Malenkov were initially somewhat timid of opposing Khrushchev, giving him time to implement a program that was, compared to Stalin, a breath of fresh air.

Of course, the situation Khrushchev faced in 1953 was a total disaster on every front. Internationally, not only was the USSR as big a pariah as it was in 1920, Communism itself had become a near-universally loathed ideology. Khrushchev wanted to fund Anti-Colonial resistance movements, feeling they would be good places for growth. However, he was stunned to find that with few exceptions (like Che Guevara in Cuba) many movements outright turned down Communist assistance, fearing not only Western intervention but popular backlash as well. Communist electoral parties, once on the verge of popular victories as late as the 1940s, had been electorally annihilated from Mexico to Manilla. Sympathetic Left-wing politicians had likewise all but vanished. For example, the Labour Party in England had gone from being sceptical but cooperative with Soviet representatives to being as hostile to them now as the Tories were a generation before. The Tories now hated the Communists as much as the Fascists used to, and the less said about the Fascists the better. With the knowledge of the Second Holocaust, Jewish Communists, a minority in membership but certainly an influential one, had abandoned the movement (many becoming Fascists). Gentiles who still cared deeply about combatting racism had likewise forsaken the party. By now, only a handful of extremists and delusional believers remained on the side of the party. Their only ally whom they were not occupying or controlling, the UAR, had improved relations following Stalin’s death.

That was only abroad. At home, the Soviet economy, though relieved from the brutal pressures of the Chinese War, still faced low-level conflict in North Iran and Poland. The Soviets had significantly lower amounts of trade than before due to many nations now out and out refusing to recognise them, and the ones who did so due to the terms of the Chinese War armistice still did everything they could to avoid economic interaction. The economic system itself was shambolic with production figures so ludicrously fictional that they had become a running joke in the working classes. The resentment was growing in Russia, but in the slave states it was outright boiling. In May 1953, strikes struck Bratislava due to unreasonable work quotas that were ruthlessly crushed though the quotas were eventually relaxed. The sudden loss of Jewish intellectuals, technicians and bureaucrats had likewise been devastating for Soviet science, which already lagged behind the West. All in all, the Soviet Union was forced, as Khrushchev told the party faithful in early 1956, “To save the future of mankind,” by which he meant ‘the popularity of Communism’.

Khrushchev eased the Terror State, which instantly boosted the economy since less people were doing nothing in the wilds of Siberia. Certain liberalizing economic reforms were initiated to get the economy moving again. He began an international publicity campaign to improve the Soviet image in the Third World, emphasizing the rights of the Third World against colonialism. Knowing that any good relations with Israel were now out the window, he continued condemning ‘Zionism’, which increased his popularity in the Third World while further sinking it in the First. Arms sales proved a crucial method of reviving the Soviet economy, as the UAR was purchasing almost everything the USSR could give. In an alliance as perverted as the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, Saudi Arabia and the USSR even had low-level arms trading. The Saudis had economically distanced themselves from the United States after the First Arabian War owing to their support of Israel, though the State Department hadn’t cared since no one thought Stalin and the Saudis would move closer – but Khrushchev did. They also funded Kurdish resistance fighters in Turkey to try and fight the Fascist regime there, in a move that was soon to backfire spectacularly. While there were improvements to the Soviet position in Africa and Latin America, the Middle East was the only location outside their immediate control where they exerted strong influence. This helps explain the events of 1957, in light of what would happen the year before.

In 1956, Khrushchev would deliver his ‘Secret Speech’, wherein he condemned Stalin for having ‘nearly destroyed Communism both here and abroad’. Notably, his Anti-Semitism was not condemned in the speech. In fact, the persecution and expulsion of the Jews was outright used as positive state propaganda under Khrushchev, with the party press in Ukraine in December 1955 praising him for, “Finally resolving the Jewish problem in our lands.” Regardless, as Jews had effectively been expelled from the Eastern bloc, there was nothing to stop Khrushchev from easing daily restrictions. He would become quite popular with Soviet citizens, who had suffered so immensely during World War 2 and continued to suffer deprivation to cover Mao in China. With Khrushchev looking increasingly secure, Molotov and Malenkov were sidelined, though the Ukrainian was desperate not to repeat the follies of the Stalin years and did not have them executed, the consequences being immeasurable. One other thing of consequence far beyond what Khrushchev (or indeed anyone) would have anticipated was Khrushchev’s massive support for the Space Program. Khrushchev believed that the Soviets needed something to beat the West in to recover confidence after the international pounding it had received in recent years. He therefore threw everything he could into the Sputnik program to try and regain Soviet prestige. While his successors naturally took the credit, Khrushchev was the main architect of the program. It’s unclear what Khrushchev would have done if given another five or ten years. The USSR might have reformed and hobbled on until today, it could have started a nuclear World War 3 with the Democracies and Fascists, but Khrushchev didn’t last five more years or even five years at all. Just as a spark in the Balkans began the nightmare of World War One and the destruction of the international order, so did a spark in Arabia began one of the most consequential wars in human history.

Extract from ‘Miracle: The History of Israel’ by Joel Hagee

By early 1956, it was obvious to everyone that another war was going to hit the Arabian Peninsula. That was what UAR propaganda had indeed promised: a final Apocalyptic war that would “Throw Colonialism [in which he included the Jews] into the Sea”. The UAR’s astonishing rise had also caused a surge of Pan-Arabian nationalism that outpaced the Ba’ath Party. Aflaq was by now, “More popular than The Prophet himself” according to one dispatch from British administrator in Kuwait in February 1956. Aflaq had taken a divided and scattered people, who had felt betrayed and tossed around by the colonial powers ever since the Balfour Declaration, and turned them into a (supposedly) united, powerful state that could influence the direction of history. Syria, where the Ba’ath Party had arisen, had in particular seen the benefits. The streets were orderly, everyone was in work, the Refugees were at one with the population, access had returned to the Sea and Iraqi oil money had began to help people in both Syria and Iraq. A primitive welfare state was constructed, which though almost primordial was unprecedented in the Arab world. While dissent was ruthlessly snuffed out, the average poor Arab was untouched by the regime. Soviet economic aid was likewise greatly appreciated and helped kick-start countless projects from Cairo to Basra. And of course, the animating life and essence of the state was the promise of vengeance against the Jews. The UAR was more Anti-Semitic that even Nazi Germany was in the 1930s, including on the street level. The Protocols of the Elders of Zion was mandatory reading in school, trade with Israel was a capital offence and by the outbreak of the war, the Jewish population of the UAR (including Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Oman and Lebanon) was 1,000, of which five-hundred were Omani due to the recent nature of the Ba’ath Party’s ascendance. Owing to laws forcing Jews into ghettoes, they all lived in a small area inside Muscat. This was exactly why Aflaq chose the small backwater for his purposes.

On top of that, while it is incomprehensible from a modern perspective, Aflaq had many defenders on the international scene. The Communist world (minus the suspicious North Iran) and his Arab partners not withstanding, he had some support among European Leftists, even among those who did not align with Communism. He also had strong support in Africa, leading to his sometimes being considered a martyr among Pan-African groups (the obvious conflicts over the dividing line between the Arab and African worlds being avoided due to the events of the War). This was because he was seen as an Anti-colonial hero, who had given a community to displaced Arabs (the Trans-Jordan refugees, who were his biggest supporters). This was a major reason why many European countries did not join the crusade, such as Sweden, which had no interest in fighting what was widely seen at the time as a colonial war. Yet while these initially gave strength to Aflaq, it was exactly this overreliance on foreign support that would cause him to make his most fateful mistake (indeed, perhaps the greatest mistake in the history of the Arab world).

On March 20th, the 12 year old son of prominent Ba’athist Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr disappeared while the family was in Muscat. This was initially shrugged off by the international community as a meaningless side story that didn’t concern them. That was until a badly mutilated corpse was unearthed a week later, which al-Bakr insisted was his son. The corpse was badly burned, as if an attempt was made to destroy the body, but it was clear something else had happened. Investigation revealed that the boy (and it was a boy) had been drained of blood, been pierced through the wrists and feet as if crucified and had serious cuts on his forehead and skull as if wearing a ‘crown of thorns’. When the news got out, it ignited an unprecedented firestorm through the whole Middle East. The affair, at first a local story in the UAR alone, now became an international event. In something entirely predictable, Aflaq said that the Jews of Muscat had murdered the child in a blood ritual for Passover – the infamous Blood Libel. The Blood Libel stated that Jews, every year around Passover murdered a Christian/Gentile child and used their blood to add to their bread. It had instigated countless pogroms throughout history and this was no exception. While there had been countless instances of the Blood Libel in history, the Muscat Blood Libel was without doubt the most infamous and the most diabolical. Diabolical, in that while many Blood Libels were cases where a legitimate crime (or even misunderstanding) was falsely blamed on the Jewish community, the Muscat Blood Libel was so wicked precisely because the whole story was a total forgery.

Aflaq had kept tabs on all prominent politicians in the UAR, with al-Bitar leading the security apparatus of the state in a fashion similar to Beria in the USSR. In December 1955, a KGB-made recording device hidden in his house recorded al-Bakr complaining about favoritism to Syria over Iraq in the UAR. Al-Bitar had him discreetly arrested. Al-Bakr was played the recording and began to weep, knowing he had invited certain death upon himself and perhaps his family … but he was given an offer. Al-Bitar gave him two options: he could accept separation from his child by having him participate as a pawn in what would become the Muscat Blood Libel and have the child raised at a distance under a pseudonym … or he could have himself and his family all killed. While the thought of being separated from his son was terrible to him, al-Bakr knew it wasn’t a choice. Amazingly, his son was quite happy with the role, having been taught in school that it was the greatest glory to sacrifice oneself for the sake of the Arab race. It took some time for al-Bakr to convince his wife, but a visit from the security service soon straightened her out too. Thus, a staged trip to Muscat went underway and security service agents ushered off the boy to rural Oman just beside the Yemen border, where he would spend the rest of the year in relative isolation. An already dead street boy in Muscat was taken from the gutter by three Ba’ath party agents and mutilated to resemble the Anti-Semitic legend of the Blood Libel. The boy’s parents claimed that the child was there’s and promptly blamed Muscat’s Jewish community, which Aflaq soon did as well. Riots spread across the Arab world from Casablanca to Kuwait – almost all of them headed by the Ba’athists. The worst effected was Tunisia, with a substantial settler and Jewish population that bore that brunt of the popular anger. Riots shut down Tunis for the whole of March, which continued to grow as policemen often joined the rioters to demand the expulsion of Tunisia’s Jewish population – others not even being as ‘merciful’ as to believe in expulsions. The only place where Arabs did not by and large believe the blood libel was in Libya, where the population had known Jews and did not identify with mainstream Arabism. They preferred the Italian definition that they were Pheocenian descendants of Rome and were treated equally in both name and practice even more so than the French and British colonies. However, they were the only Arab nation in the region not to be rocked with demonstrations and riots.

There were other responses too. On March 24th, Nasser (whom historians still debate as to whether he was aware of the fraudulent nature of the claim) nationalized the Suez Canal Company and swore “We will never let the partners of child-killers cross through our sacred Egypt.” The use of ‘Egypt’ was telling but ignored for the time. Eden would convene an emergency session of Parliament to find that even the Labour Party was broadly in favour of intervening against Aflaq. In France, the parties were generally behind fighting Aflaq as well. The United States promised material and political support but warned its army was too occupied fighting her own battles at home to throw away men in Arabia, especially in an election year. Third World Brazil kept quiet, despite her UN veto, as she did not want to seem Pro-colonial to win over the people of the continent.

On March 27th, the first day of Passover, the some five-hundred Jews of Muscat were crowded together in their ghetto, knowing it was certain death to go outside and face mob violence. That night, the army broke into the ghetto and arrested the entirety of the inhabitants. According to state propaganda, they were going to be sent to prison as a group to answer for their ‘crime’. In reality, they were all sent outside the city, forced to dig a grave for themselves and their children and were shot. Oman’s long-established Jewish community went extinct on that one fateful night. Across the UAR over the next few days, all known Jews were arrested and thrown in jail (slim though it was). Only two are known to have outlasted the Second Arabian War. Aflaq made no secret to his colleagues that, “If the Jews can’t stop talking about Holocausts, I say we should give them one.” He also made a flurry of claims that baffled the Soviet ambassador – saying within an hour that the Nazi Holocaust had never happened, that the Jews had collaborated with the Nazis to pull the Holocaust off, and that there had been a Holocaust but that Jews deserved it. Whichever Aflaq believed, nothing could remove his Hitler-like contempt. Christian leaders preached from the pulpit that the Jews were to blame for the death of Christ and the Imams preached the Jews were to blame for the death of Muhammad. As historian Paul Johnson stated, “It was the spirit of the Islamic and Christian religious Anti-Semitism, mixed with the racial Anti-Semitism of the 19th and 20th Century along with the new Communist-line of Anti-Semitism, merged into one final, ultimate form – the end result of 4000 years of Jew-hating, into one unspeakable monster.”

But the deed, as abominable as it was, accomplished its chief purpose. On the morning of March 28th Israeli Prime Minister Ben-Gurion, enraged by the actions of the UAR gave Aflaq three days to hand over the captive Omani Jewish population while promising to hand over anyone who knew anything about the ‘disgraceful murder of Mr. al-Bakr’s child’, without realising that they had already been killed. That Israel could be so enraged to invoke a risky invasion even before he knew about the level of falsehood surrounding the Blood Libel and the ultimate fate of the city’s Jews was a sign of what would happen after the war. Yet the Israeli army, overconfident after their successes a decade ago and still struggling to integrate the Lehi after they were forcefully combined with the IDF, was caught flat-footed that afternoon. MIG-fighters bought from the Soviet Union hit the Israelis over a wide area, destroying much of the Israeli air force on the ground. Simultaneously, a ground attack began on all fronts – in Saudi Arabia, the Sinai, from the Golan Heights, Lebanon and from Iraq. At the same time, UAR forces from Syria broke through the Turkish borders in Latakia and marched to the Mediterranean. Nasser sent his armies into Libya, promising to unite with Tunisia. That afternoon, the Bey of Tunisia (Muhammad VIII al-Amin) found himself assassinated by his bodyguards. They seized the airwaves and declared allegiance to the UAR, demanding the country ‘rise against and slay your occupiers’ (by which they meant the settlers and Jews). Realising what was happening, France and Britain declared war on the UAR and her allies, but they too were stunned at the course of events. Yemen sent her troops to Aden while the UAR, from Oman, was able to march into the Arab Emirates. Bahrain and Qatar were seized before nightfall by the Saudis due to domestic sabotage by Ba’athist groups in the country (Kuwait, the UAE and Aden all fell within two weeks). In Algeria, bombs rang out across the major cities as the National Liberation Front (FLN), who had been co-opted by the Ba’ath Party, announced that they were creating an uprising against the French. Eighty people died in the first round of bombing, and the numbers only increased as the once shadowy FLN came out of the shadows to openly battle the police and army. Lastly, in Morocco, the Sultan began his long awaited attack on Ifni, with the intention of throwing the Spanish out of the country. Aflaq had fulfilled his promise: a fire had been lit from the Gulf to Gibraltar. Few could have imagined how many lives it would take to snuff it out. If Aflaq thought the West would crumple in fear, he was very wrong about that. And if he thought the Jews were helpless, then he was very wrong about that. [1]

[1] - General mood in Israel:

Corpses and Glory

Extract from ‘The War that Ended a World’, by Francis Gautman

Internationally, few placed their heads above the parapets in support for Aflaq, but that wasn’t to say the planet united against him. A UN intervention was vetoed by Brazil, who while sympathizing with Israel did not support the more pro-colonial aspects of the Anglo-French movements to restore their ownership of the Suez. India and other Third-world nations generally agreed, expressing support for Israel but keeping quiet on the rest of the Roman Alliance and colonial powers’ ambitions. In Europe, the newly formed EDC was specifically not used as France knew using Swedish or Dutch troops to die in Algeria to maintain land there was monstrously unpopular and could sabotage the entire project. However, Adenauer was able (with endorsement by Rommel) to successfully convince the German Parliament to approve a small detachment of German troops to fight in Turkey, attempting to further make up for the Holocaust as well as proving to Germans that they had become a significant military power again. They would serve alongside the Austrian army, which had been fiercely built up by the Fascists in the years since the war. The Roman Alliance made a collective declaration of war upon the Arab powers, though far-flung members like Thailand would see little to no actual fighting. Cuban and Argentine soldiers saw conflict in Morocco, fighting alongside the Spanish. Greece made an agreement with the Roman Alliance that they would join the war with a significant amount of troops in return for full membership of the Roman Alliance and the evacuation of Crete by Turkey with the exception of a few military bases. This was hailed by the Greek government as final proof of collaboration’s wisdom, though the threat of invasion should their troops turn out less than loyal was obvious. Chiang’s China likewise declared war on the UAR and her allies, but this meant little to anyone since South China was struggling to stand upright at the time. A small detachment was sent to Libya to help guard the border against the UAR, but it never even saw action apart from the scattered remnants that remained of the UAR at the fall. America gave moral, economic and political support but refused to outright join the war due to war fatigue among the population and the need to monitor the situation in the South. This led to some protests among Jewish and Italian groups, who both formed a mass protest in the weeks after the war began to demand intervention. Life stopped for more than a third of New York, as they devoured the news from abroad as readily as if the fighting was on 42nd Street. A young Meir Kahane addressed the 200,000 strong gathering in Times Square to declare, “Love has its place, as does hate! Peace has its place, as does war! Mercy has its place, as does revenge!” The speech was widely publicized and made the young Kahane a celebrity in New York. Jewish and Italian volunteer brigades were formed, of which Kahane was a member. Kahane reputation would be among those who were offered and accepted to volunteer for Operation Cyrus. He would successfully apply for full Israeli citizenship after the war, becoming the leader of the Lehi Party in the 1970s during a time of great flux in Israeli politics.

The Soviet bloc gave Aflaq all the material and moral support they could want. Aflaq was never in want of supplies or anything else of the sort, with jet fighters equal to anything the West could throw at them. The material ran across North Iran (frequently targeted for sabotage by Mujahedeen fighters) into the UAR. North Iran was angered that so many resources that could help them defeat their rebel forces were being sent to prop up someone they were certain would turn on them. The Soviets made a lot of money off the trade, which Khrushchev used to help modernize the Soviet economy and strengthen his claim on power. The harsh austerity of the latter years of Stalin were finally being relieved and Soviet citizens dared to be hopeful of better days. However, no one in power was so foolish as to think the UAR would win. They knew the Arabs were totally outgunned against most of Europe and Israel. Their hope was that there would be a long and brutal war that bled the West dry and made the UAR a dependent satellite. It had been agreed by the Central Committee that when the UAR asked for peace (which they assumed would happen by the end of the year), they would step in and threaten nuclear war to demand the conflict stop. After a white peace or something close to it, things would settle down into an uneasy calm that would give the Soviets even more time to rebuild and spread their influence in the Middle East and Africa. In the meantime, they merely threatened that ‘Any use of Weapons of Mass Destruction by the West on a people without them will be answered by a nation that does.” This seemingly guaranteed that WMDs would not end the conflict before it began. In theory, this was a good plan, and both Malenkov and Molotov agreed with it. It recognized Soviet weakness while ensuring it played a major part on the world stage behind a nuclear paper tiger. What they had failed to take into account was Aflaq’s own plans and the spot they’d find themselves in.

While the Arabs were generally united, the same could not be said of the West. Israel was trapped fighting for their lives in the Middle East while Mussolini’s main attention was on protecting Italian (and French and Jewish) settlers in Tunisia while halting the advance of Nasser in Egypt. Eden’s proposed build-up in the Middle East hadn’t come soon enough and now the Gulf protectorates were sitting ducks to Arab onslaught – leaving confusion in the ranks about where to send the British army. De Gaulle stated that Algeria and Tunisia were his main priorities, but he found combatting the shadowy FLN in Algeria to be a nightmare. Franco, eternally suspicious of Jews and indifferent to the fate of Israel, would devote the entirety of his forces to Morocco, with Salazar and the Latin American Fascists fighting alongside due to distance constraints. Turkey’s wide frontier with the UAR would ensure that they would be the meeting point for many of the Roman Alliance armies without an obvious stopover in Africa or the Middle East. Thus, German, Austrian, Croatian, Bulgarian and Turkish soldiers - the Turks having refused Greek troops on their soil under any circumstance – would move towards the once Syrian border with the intention of marching all the way down the Mediterranean Coast and linking up with Israel, which would immeasurably help the logistics of the notorious region.

This was the birds-eye view of the situation at the beginning of the war, but it doesn’t take into account the internal divisions many of these countries faced. Britain, for example, was divided on the level of cooperation that should be undertaken with the Roman Alliance. Eden, in his speeches, would harken to war-time nostalgia of aligning with ‘The might of Rome’ and spoke favorably of Mussolini in his speeches. Moseley would go as far as to call Mussolini, “The greatest friend Britain has ever had”. For them, the war was an attempt to reassert the might of the British Empire, which had been questioned since the rise of the Americans, Soviets and Italians after the War. By contrast, Gaitskell was adamant that Britain should use the war to promote democracy in the Arab world and not to re-impose the old colonial order, which he considered a busted system. He wanted the Ba’athists removed, but wasn’t averse even to keeping the UAR together, as long as the resulting state was tolerant and democratic. In the UAR, Nasser dreamed of Egypt and not the Syria-Iraq conglomeration being the chief power of the Arab world. He would tell his subordinate Anwar Sadat that, “A united Arabia without Egypt at her head is like a man without a head – and a man without a head is running the country now!” Nasser’s desperation to prove Egypt’s individual prowess (and hopefully get himself at the top of the Arab pecking order) led him to launch a massed invasion of Libya, rather than follow Aflaq’s orders to devote the vast majority of his forces to steam-rolling Israel.

Extract from ‘The Fourth Shore: How Italy Changed Libya and Libya Changed Italy’ by Angelina Prima

What was telling about Egypt’s invasion of Libya was that it was significantly bigger than what Italians were expecting. By contrast, it was significantly less than what Israelis were expecting on their own border – being able to reassert the old frontier in about three weeks with barely any fighting anywhere but Gaza. Most historians now believe Nasser did not want to take out Israel at first, as he knew Aflaq would get most of the reputational benefit since it was the primary location where his armies were fighting. Nasser would be at best a supporting player. But if he successfully seized Libya and marched into Tunisia and Algeria, perhaps even taking the Sudan, he would be the only person who could take the glory. With that, regardless of whatever else happened in the war, he could claim to have been a great hero of the Arab world. To this day, Nasser is loathed by the remaining, fringe Pan-Arabist movement who feel that if he had put his ego second, he could have helped wipe out Israel right at the start of the war. To say the least, this analysis is ignorant of countless realities, many of which were devastatingly proven later in the war.

Thankfully for the Italians, their communities were primarily in the west of Libya and were thus safe for most of the war. Unfortunately, the areas the UAR did take were not all vacant. Furthermore, their violence was not equal to all members of the population. Egyptian troops had expected to be greeted by local Arabs as liberators, and were promised as such by their commanders. Instead, they faced resistance equally intense as the settlers. Gradually, they began to hate these ‘fake Arabs’ and treated them as occupied enemies. The treatment of Libyan Arabs helped bury any lingering sense of connection in the community to their neighbouring kin. Still, they were afforded better treatment than the remaining settlers. European settlers, be they Italian, Albanian, Slovenian or elsewise were placed into concentration camps. The intention was to hold the settlers hostage and exchange them for payment at the end of the war. The settlers and their children would be exiled back to Europe (even if they were born in Libya) and from there on relations would go smoothly. By contrast, there was one sole exception to this rule: Jews. As the destruction of Israel was non-negotiable, it was believed that the destruction of Jews was almost an essential co-condition to ensure it could never arise again. This despite the fact that many of the Jews who were killed were Haredi who did not recognize the Israeli state – but it was believed that their children may become Zionist and that was reason enough. Most Jews in Libya (who made up nearly 7% of the population) were likewise in the more developed urban centres out west, but many were still out there in the east. This was, tragically, one of the few things Nasser generally agreed with Aflaq on. In the opening days of the war, the ‘Anti-Zionist Decree’ as it became known was sent to commanders straight from Baghdad. It demanded that ‘Arabia be permanently purged of Zionist influence’. To all observers, it meant only one thing: the green light for a third Holocaust.

Things would most infamously come to a head in Tobruk. Despite stern resistance, the town fell to the Egyptians on April 20th. Most of the civilian population had already been evacuated, but 976 Italian soldiers of all races had surrendered after running out of ammunition. An Italian speaking Egyptian approached the men and assured them that, ‘We have no hatred for Italy or Libya, only for the Zionists that manipulate them’. With that the man asked that the Jewish soldiers (of which records show there were roughly fifteen) identify themselves. Instead, to the commander’s astonishment, all 976 soldiers, even those who were obviously Arab or Italian stood up and declared one after another ‘I’m a Jew!’ They knew the fate that awaited them. That evening, all soldiers were shot for ‘fermenting Zionist propaganda’. The story was reported secretly back to the Italians from sympathetic Libyan inhabitants. The legendary declaration would earn Tobruk its status as a ‘Hero City’ alongside Trieste. The story would be used to help whitewash racism claims against Italy by empathizing a near mythic unity across races in the Italian state. Nasser cooed over his victory, saying that Benghazi was next on his list. Of course, he would never reach that far.

Extract from ‘The Arab Tragedy: 1944–1956’ by Abdul Nazim

Despite its relative distance from the decisive fighting in Israel, Tunisia would prove a particularly bloody stand-off during the Second Arabian War. The main problem was that Italian, French and Jewish settlements (who made up roughly ten percent of the population) were dispersed so widely and in such an uncoordinated fashion that attempts to rescue them by French and Italian intervention were not an easy mission. They required large-scale sweeping operations over areas that weren’t always obvious. Sometimes locations of Italian and French settlers had to be taken from the word of locals passing refugees. Air support was sent in where possible, but requirements were in place all over the country and could not easily be spared. In the vacuum following the assassination of the Bey, law and order in the country completely broke down. Tunisia would host some of the most appalling atrocities committed in the entire Second Arabian War due to the lack of any coherent command structure on both sides. In the rural areas, Ba’athist mobs banded together to try and obliterate any Non-Arab presence in the land. Isolated settler and Jewish houses in the desert were attacked and burned down with the families still inside (age and sex being no protection into what had rapidly fallen into a race war). Other small settlements were the victims of mass shootings and rapes by Ba’athists. Settlers were generally less likely to attack Arab villages as they were numerically inferior – they mainly planned to hold out until rescue by one of the European powers. This wasn’t to say they were innocent, of course. Where settlers outnumbered a nearby Arab village, that village was typically burned to the ground as a ‘defensive measure’. Many Arabs who had worked for the Bey and came to the Europeans for protection were lynched as well – sometimes even if they produced proof. All in all, it’s estimated that some 10,000 ethnic Europeans who lived in Tunisia would be killed by the conflict. Another 800 or so Jews would die as well (many evacuating to Djerba Island which found itself rapidly overcrowded). It would leave Tunisia bitterly scarred and divided in the coming years.

A significant proportion of that came in Tunis, which had descended into a gigantic firefight. The Europeans, Jews and Bey loyalist Arabs had been held up in roughly half of Tunis with the help of the French and Italian air forces. In scenes reminiscent of the Boxer Rebellion, the group held up in the old city of Tunis and the port, waiting for help. Street to street, merciless combat tore the Tunisian capital apart. The sheer numbers of the Ba’athists was slowly overwhelming the settlers, but salvation would soon arrive. On April 9th, French and Italian battleships swarmed into the harbor, with troops quickly deployed to give the beleaguered population some support. Most of Tunis would be flattened by the bombardment, ironically leaving the recently threatened port-side of the city as the most well-preserved remnant. On April 15th, the French, Italian and Israeli flags (despite the Israelis not having been involved) were flown over the Medina to show that the capital had been cleared. It’s estimated that some twenty thousand Arabs (both civilian and Ba’athists) were killed in Tunis alone, with many more rendered homeless and at the mercy of Italian soldiers (who treated the natives with Fascist savagery).

Planes continued to roam the country to detect outposts of settlers, but they were growing scarce, either as a result of multiple villages banding together or the former residents having been killed. Italian and French troops would continue pouring into the country from the west and south, until the entire country was declared secure on May 27th. More accurately, it began a series of retaliations against ‘Ba’athists’ by both the settlers and soldiers. Ruthless bombing raids by both the French and Italians (though particularly the latter) sent the death toll of Arabs in Tunisia up to 70,000. Victor’s justice would soon be in effect, and the bitterness of the racial slaughter that came beforehand would ensure stern reprisals from French troops who came in (the Italians maintaining a small but noticeable presence for no other reason than twists De Gaulle’s arm in negotiations), with Arabs who couldn’t prove loyalty to the Bey being treated like criminals. One other important factor in the quelling of the Tunisia situation was that it freed up more men for both Italy and France. This would be particularly useful in the coming battles in Egypt and Algeria.

Extract from ‘Tears of the Pharaohs: The Tale of Egypt’s Tragic Twentieth Century’ by Talal Hussein

Nasser had been confident after the seizure of Tobruk that a successful conquest of Libya was imminent. His subordinate, Anwar Sadat, was much more subdued. He was confused why there seemed to be so little activity from the Italians, even taking Tunisia into account. Nasser dismissed Sadat’s concerns and continued to pour men and supplies into Libya. Yet as Nasser’s men readied for a march on Benghazi, the news reached Cairo that something strange was happening in the Mediterranean. The Royal Navy and Regia Marina were sailing eastwards … directly to Egypt herself. The British had been thrown into disarray with the quick collapse of their forces in the Gulf, and were forced to co-ordinate with the Italians (also seriously distracted in Tunisia and Libya) to prepare a counterattack. Both Eden and Mussolini could agree that it would be foolish to waste the immense naval advantage the West had. Mussolini, though friendly to Israel, would always put Italian interests and territory first, hence his focus on the North African theatre. Eden likewise was adamant about restoring control over the Canal to split the UAR firmly into two, separate camps. The emergency coalition government of Israeli (what could be described as a triumvirate of Ben-Gurion, Begin and Shamir) consulted with Defence Minister Dayan, who concluded that they could spare some troops from the Syrian theatre to support the anti-Nasser operation. Plans by the British to launch an invasion from Sudan were shelved when Pro-UAR riots broke out in Khartoum in early April. The country had remained a colony due to hostility between Egypt and Britain which led to growing resentment especially in the Arab segment of the country that the British had to be thrown out. Black Sudanese soldiers - who were mostly Christian and southern - were recruited by the British to take some of the load since so many British troops were needed for the operation. Unfortunately, sectarian and ethnic tensions proved immense, and many Arabs in the north thought that the British were planning to eliminate Arab influence in Sudan. Thus, even Nasser’s small invasion on April 28th from Egypt into Northern Sudan would prove to cut deep into the country, taking Abri by the end of the week. Yet even this great victory would prove illusory when the Italians and British prepared their next big move.

On April 30th, Operation Augustus began with the Regia Marina sailing right into the heart of Alexandria and pummeling the shore. Thousands upon thousands of Italian and Greek troops poured out of transports while paratroopers landed behind the Egyptian lines and caused chaos. Meanwhile, the British smashed Port Said with their own battleship turrets while paratroopers landed over the length of the Suez Canal. As their retreat was cut off in the Sinai, Israel unleashed her reserves in a lightning attack that flooded into the Sinai desert. The Egyptians were quickly expelled from Gaza and were soon forced to flee to Sharm al-Sheikh at the south-most tip. Fifty-thousand troops were trapped with no way out and would eventually surrender at the end of June. It was only the end of April, but the Suez Canal had already been wrested from the control of Nasser. Yet Nasser didn’t care – like Aflaq, he believed that as long as the Arabs were ready to bleed, they could outlast any conflict. What he cared about far more was pulling his troops out of Libya as urgently as he had sent them in, fearing that they were about to be cut off. By mid-May, the last of Egypt’s holdouts in Libya had been destroyed or fled. Alexandria was taken after many bitter days. Mussolini knew full well how bloody a full invasion of Egypt would be, but as Ciano recorded, he seemed almost excited by the idea as he felt there was a linear correlation between corpses and glory. He certainly found blood in Alexandria. He had likewise made an agreement with the British that only Italian troops would seize Cairo – a move Eden accepted readily to spare the inevitable loss of men. Over complaints from his generals that a safer landing could be found elsewhere than trying to storm Egypt’s second-largest city directly, Mussolini said that they, “Should not so much think of the situation now, but the Italian schoolboy a hundred years in the future, who wants to know the mighty deeds his ancestors accomplished”. The Italians faced universal rejection and had to fight for every street. They responded by launching a devastating naval and aerial campaign that leveled the residential area. The UAR was certainly not squeamish about recruiting child or women soldiers, seeing it as a war of racial-existence where a loss would mean the end of the Arab race as a whole. It was hoped that the killing of women and children would demoralize the Italians. Unfortunately for Nasser, the Italians had no qualms about shooting back. The experience was, however, emotionally crippling for the Greek conscripts to the conflict who had no love for Italy, but were forced to kill women and children they did not know for a country they did not like. Suicide and drug-usage rates among Greek soldiers were miles higher than any other nation in the fighting, which would cause a series of social problems in the country when they returned home. In some ways, the Second Arabian War was as damaging for many Greeks as it was for the Arab world. It would become the latest chapter in the unfolding Greek tragedy that even their ‘liberation’ would result in their agony. In the suicide note of one Greek soldier by the name of Tzannis Tzannetakis, he bitterly wrote, "The Fascists have committed the ultimate sin against us: they have made us like them." Mussolini boasted that soon he would march through Cairo. Unfortunately for the dictator, he had many more corpses to go before his men would reach the Pyramids.

Retaking the Suez Canal, the British proceeded to open the waterways once again – an Egyptian sabotage campaign to block the route was cleared by the end of May. Thus, Italian and British transports made their way through the narrow strip. The British supplied men to Sudan to attempt to hold back the Egyptian advance while the Italians continued to build up men and ships in Eritrea (overwhelmingly Libyans). If Eden knew what the true purpose of this build-up was, one can only wonder what he would have done. Eden hoped that taking the Canal alone would be enough to make Egypt quit, but he did not understand Nasser, who was ready to fight to the last man. The Egyptian was certain that the political will did not exist in the West for a full victory, especially after the emotionally and materially devastating Chinese War. While this may have been true if the war continued on the same trajectory it had before, as was horrifyingly demonstrated, it would not remain on the same trajectory for long.

The Dark Halls of Power

Extract from ‘Miracle: The History of Israel’ by Joel Hagee

From the trendy Ashkenazi in Tel Aviv to the pious Mizraim in Jerusalem, from the Nazi Holocaust survivors in Haifa to the Soviet Holocaust survivors in Amman, the whole of Israel was united to battle the UAR. There was no doubt amongst any of the population that to lose the war would result in national extinction. At the same time, the Israelis had been shocked by the suddenness and scale of the UAR’s attack. After the relatively easy win of the First Arabian War, many Israelis had expected any attack to be easily counteracted. What many failed to realize was that the Arabs of 1948 were not the Arabs of 1956. Not only were their weapons more up to scratch, but they had a unified command structure, standardized equipment and no fear of offending the West. Perhaps most noticeable of all was the difference in the fighters themselves. The Arabs of 48 were the subject of much mockery in Israel for being incompetent and cowardly who broke and scattered at the first sign of trouble. However, the Arabs of 56 consisted primarily of refugees from the Trans-Jordan mandate. Thus, they were vastly more desperate and tenacious than the Arabs of 48, not to mention having been given a more structured command system which helped troops have more autonomy on the field. Not to mention, while Anti-Semitism had always had a hold in the Arab world (like it had in Europe), the Ba’athists had created a pervading, exterminationist culture against Jews throughout their empire. While Kristallnacht was too much for the sensibilities of the Nazi German public, the poorer UAR, whose population had a far more visible and tangible conflict against Jews than the conspiratorial fantasies of the Dolchstoss, was more than willing to entertain public declarations that, “We will drive the Jews to the sea,” and “When this War is over, the only place where you will hear Hebrew is in Hell”. While this fanaticism was less common among Egyptian troops, the troops from the Syria-Iraq area were notorious for never surrendering, suicide attacks with grenades inspired by Japanese Banzai charges in WW2 and their willingness to march in the worst of conditions, all for the sacred purpose of Israel’s annihilation. This would make Arab troops vastly more terrifying to the Israelis than they were in the last war, which would greatly influence the final peace settlement. Many of Israel’s planes were caught on the ground in the first salvo and the modern Soviet jets were certainly no easy targets.

The first action the Israelis took was to pull troops and civilians out of the narrow stretch at the east of her borders where the Saudi and UAR border were only a few dozen miles apart (from Al Qurayat in Saudi Araba to Milh in Syria). This was due to it being at risk of getting encircled easily with Saudi attacks in the south and UAR movements in the north (as the risk was obvious, there were few people there to begin with). Across the country, children were evacuated in the style of British children in WW2, taken to Kibbutzim in the safer centres of the country, such as Jerusalem and Tel Aviv (which is often seen as the catalyst of the resurrection of the Israeli Left in the late 70s). A new defensive line was set up at Azraq Ash Shishan to give the Israelis time to set up a strong defensive front. At the same time, the Egyptians proved much weaker than expected and were easily held in the outskirts of Gaza, allowing more resources to be used elsewhere. The Saudis, after an easy series of conquests in the Gulf, turned their full force against Israel roughly a month into the war, trying to seize Aqaba. However, the Saudis lacked the fanaticism and ferocity needed to quickly win the battle, giving time for the population to cross the Red Sea to Elat. On May 25th, Aqaba was captured and the Saudis moved to try and seize Elat. This time, however, they faced an army that was more than ready for them. Saudi forces were battered as they attempted a land invasion, and were utterly slaughtered when they attempted to invade by the sea a week later. Of course, this was one of the main handicaps of the Israeli states. They were forced to take their whole populations with them as the Arabs advanced, as they knew that their future under either King Saud or Aflaq was non-existent. This severely hampered their ability to quickly respond to the strategic situation and forced the war to extend to its final, destructive conclusion.

Finally, there was the main theatre, which was centered in the northwest, from the Mediterranean to the Golan Heights. This was where the bulk of both the Israeli and UAR forces would meet. From Lebanon, the UAR tried to march around the Sea of Galilee, with another strike to Irbid to flank the Israelis. The Golan Heights were considered too challenging to the UAR, so they endeavored to get around them from both sides. Irbid would prove a particularly savage battleground, with many of the city’s former Arab residents returning under the UAR flag to take what they considered righteous revenge. Despite lopsided casualties, the numbers and fanaticism of the UAR proved decisive, thus leading to the city being seized on June 13th. Ba’athist forces continued to bitterly fight for every village, ultimately reaching the old border between the Jordanian and Palestinian mandate on July 1st, where intense resistance finally brought their forces to a halt. The Lebanese wing had likewise made great advances, putting great fear into the Israelis that their pincer movement would prove successful. However, the UAR was brought to a halt at Tzfat on July 4th, thus keeping the lifeline to the Golan Heights open.

Though they had survived Aflaq’s initial attack, the losses were considered devastating to the Israeli government. Shamir demanded that the government request the Italians to launch chemical weapon attacks on the Arabs, assuming the UAR didn’t have such a program. Ben-Gurion indignantly refused, while Begin secured a compromise that the Israelis would ask the West to increase its bombing campaign over Arabia. To this, the West accepted, likewise alarmed at the extent of the UAR’s conquests in Israel. From Cyprus, the RAF would batter Damascus, Beirut, Homs, Aleppo, Baghdad and Mosul (attacks from South Iran were considered too incendiary to the Cold War). The oilfields would likewise prove a tempting target, but this was naturally where the bulk of Arab air defenses lay. Italy unleashed a devastating campaign across Egypt, bombing Cairo almost nightly. It grew so fierce that Nasser ordered the contents of the national museum to be taken and hidden in a secure space in the desert. Every night, from the quiet of the Pyramids, one could see the fires leap and hear the sirens wail across the capital of Egypt. Far from being scared, however, Nasser was jubilant, expecting that the bombing would help with creating an impenetrable guerilla haven where the Italians could be bled out. He confidently boasted that ‘Cairo shall be our Stalingrad’, which would likely still be a better fate than which she ultimately received.

Extract from ‘The Arab Tragedy: 1944–1956’ by Abdul Nazim

Aflaq’s lightning strike across Latakia and Tartus caught the Turks totally off-guard. Much like the Israelis, they underestimated the cohesion and discipline of the Arabs, paying for it in spades. However, the Turkish population itself had been roused by this humiliation and was eager to ‘put the savages back in their cages’ as one regime newspaper so chillingly put it. The Turks would soon find themselves bolstered by fellow Roman Alliance members and even a German contingent. The Turks tolerated them and didn’t feel like using them extensively. Instead, the expeditionary groups were mainly used to police the border, especially in the more Kurdish-oriented areas to keep the local Kurdish groups quiet. The main fighting was primarily closer to the coast. A successful attack on Ezrin pushed the Turks almost entirely out of the Levant, leading to the evacuation of Antakya, much to the regime’s embarrassment.

At the start of June, the Turkish front soon began to resemble something closer to trench warfare. The UAR’s leadership had no interest in taking Turkish territory outside of retaking Syria’s old borders and wanted to focus their attention on the Israeli front. To that end, it was decided that the best policy was to make the war undesirable for the Turks to continue. This led to the defensive strategy the UAR deployed in the north, forcing the Turks to pay for every bloody mile as they advanced back down their old territory. The front quickly ground to a halt, with attacks in the eastern portion of Turkey held up by the brutal terrain, which slowed the Allies long enough for the UAR to launch counterattacks. It was in this environment that, over the heads of the Turks, secret negotiations began with Kurdish leaders on both sides of the Turkish border. The Ba’athists, after spending years persecuting Kurds, considered announcing their support of a Kurdish state composed of the Kurdish majority sections of southeastern Turkey. Of course, the Kurds knew they would be left out to dry if the war ended in a stalemate, and left to rot if the Allies outright won. That meant the negotiations with the West were more important. Thankfully for Western planners, they had the advantage of having negotiations with the Kurds that had been going on for a while … not that Turkey was aware of them.

Extract from ‘The War that Ended a World’, by Francis Gautman

The first official contact between Kurdish and Israeli intelligence groups was in 1952. To say the least, it was a tough meeting to arrange, given the Totalitarian nature of the Ba’athist state and the fact Turkey would be outraged over any such meeting. Little was agreed except to acknowledge that both sides had a common enemy in the Ba’athists. Aflaq’s Arabisation programs had bulldozed Kurdish culture and left much bitterness among the population. Begin would cautiously let Mussolini know of the move. The Italian was fine with it, given that he was eager for friends to fight the Arabs, his opinion of the British having fallen substantially under the Gaitskell administration. Bizarrely, the Kurds had another partner interested in taking out Aflaq … North Iran. Reza Radmanesh, the head of the Tudeh Party and dictator of North Iran, was mortified of Aflaq and was disgusted at Khrushchev’s reforms away from Stalinism and support of the UAR. He knew that the Kurdish movement in the UAR was primarily Socialistic and used that to his advantage. He gave sanctuary to Kurdish Communists and Socialists, supposedly to stop any ‘embarrassment’ of a Soviet-aligned power arresting Communists (the UAR, after all, being a one-party state). In reality, he was recruiting them for a grand design – to bring down Aflaq. The Mujahedeen of North Iran had been mostly routed by Stalin’s death by a combination of ruthless suppression and divisions in the Jihadi movement following the Israeli seizure of Jerusalem. This allowed North Iran to focus on the new, Arab menace, hopefully creating a Kurdish buffer to stand in the way against Arab incursion, even better a Communist one under partial Iranian influence. Thus, the Kurds were in the unique position of getting aid from both the Democratic/Fascist blocs and a rogue Communist government in North Iran. Khrushchev, distracted by his reforms and picking up the pieces in China, knew nothing of this and was simply happy that the fighting in North Iran had mostly stopped. Soviet money sent off to aid the reconstruction of North Iran was redirected to Kurdish officials hunkering in the Communist satellite, who subsequently used it to plan their return.

The Kurds also made friends with the ‘Cedar Movement’ in Lebanon. Despite their claims to represent all of Lebanon, it was always little more than a front for the Maronite Phalanges Party. The leadership lived in exile in Italy, under the control of Pierre Gemayel, and managed to keep the organization alive through smuggling supplies into Beirut that had been negotiated for with the Roman Alliance. The Cedarists could rely on a significant diaspora of Middle-Class Lebanese who fled when the Ba’athists took power sending in donations, not to mention the strings-firmly-attached charity of the Fascists. For instance, Gemayel had to agree that any Lebanon run by his party would join the Roman Alliance and recognize Israel. He would, of course, ‘govern internal matters with a free hand’, which was the Roman Alliance’s euphemism for state repression and discrimination, their tempting clause that ran in the face of Soviet domination of the Stalingrad Pact and the strict, democratic standards of ITO. As Aflaq was Christian, a sectarian campaign against the Maronites was deemed impossible and the Maronite community itself was preserved from widespread persecution. Of course, in the Post-War environment, Maronite leaders would claim they were the victim of vast political repression to give the new Lebanese state the off-ramp that could disconnect them from the fate many of their neighboring Arab states fell to.

These complicated webs of alliances in the Middle East bisected the major dividing lines of the Cold War and brought an element of greyness to the decision-making process amongst ITO, the Roman Alliance and the Stalingrad Pact. The repercussions of the Second Arabian War, beyond the obvious ones to the map of the Middle East, would be the end of the story taught across the West from at least 1948 onwards: the story of the alliance between Democracy and Fascism to defeat Communism. As the guns rumbled across the Middle East, the foundations of a New World Order were being laid in the dark halls of power from Madrid to Tehran.
Eerie Quiet

Extract from ‘The Arab Tragedy: 1944–1956’ by Abdul Nazim

With the total occupation of Tunisia, the French now faced the thorny problem of their own Metropolitan in Algeria. While there was a massive terror threat within her major Algerian cities, deep within the country her presence was simply non-existent. In the vast deserts in the far south of Algeria, the FLN created their own camps, ran the towns and villages and went about their lives as if France had never existed. France had extracted most of the Colon [1] that resided deep within the country (fearing a repeat of the Tunisian slaughters) and transferred them around Oran and Algiers. Tensions in the two towns were, as one BBC journalist described, “So pervading that one can almost feel a knife hovering over their back at any moment”. The cities were under martial law, with the Arab population being searched and detained arbitrarily in a manner that only served to increase resentment. Hate crimes by Colons (including murder) often went unpunished, while bombings by the FLN saw the whole Casbah put on lockdown. Riots pervaded the cities near-nightly, as Algerians clashed with the army. It was considered miraculous if no one was killed in a town on any one day. French troops, not used to police work, regularly committed acts that outraged the Arab population and were hated just as much as the Colons and Jews. Taking inspiration from the Klan in America, car bombings became a regular occurrence in Algiers and Oran. It’s estimated that in the course of the conflict, nearly a thousand people were killed in Oran and nearly one and a half thousand were killed in Algiers. However, the FLN had done what they wanted. They had forced the French to spend so much time defending the cities that they created a vast desert network to continue the conflict, as they saw it, forever.

Just across the border in Morocco, Franco had taken his time in building his forces, not wanting to encounter an embarrassing loss. Ifni was holding strong, supplied unceasingly by Spanish and British naval aid. In the Spanish Sahara and northern territories, Spanish, Portuguese, Argentine and Cuban troops made ready. Of course, Franco was desperate for his troops to get the glory, relegating his allies mainly to occupational duties. Finally, on June 19th, Franco began his assault on Morocco. In the south, troops marched to lift the siege on Ifni, succeeding on July 2nd. The new aim was to meet the troops moving southward and eastward from the Tangier region. On July 10th, Spanish troops met French troops on the Morocco-Algerian border before marching south to Oujda and taking it on August 3rd. More notably, Rabat was taken on July 27th, leading to the largest battle in the Moroccan theatre: the Battle of Casablanca. The city of Bogart and Bergman was a victim of the cruelties of war, specifically Fascist warfare. Of particular note, the Army of Africa (a Spanish contingent recruited from local Moors) was renowned for being just as cruel as any native-Spanish division. Summary executions and rapes were so common in the fall of the city that one British naval officer complained to London that, “The conduct of Spain in Casablanca would disgrace the Devil.” The incident was covered up in British media and received only scant coverage in the American press, wary of offending the many ethnic communities of America who actively supported the West in the Second Arabian War. On August 19th, Casablanca would fall, simultaneously linking the northern and southern wings of the advance and connecting Spanish Sahara to the Tangier region along the coast. The Moroccans retreated to Marrakesh where they hoped (like the Algerians) to drag the Spaniards into the merciless abyss of the desert to bleed them dry and obliterate their moral. This was also a concern of Franco, who told his generals that once Marrakesh fell he considered everything else to be a question of ‘Turning every village that rises against us into a new Guernica”. Franco’s troops reached the outskirts of Marrakesh on September 12th. However, the horrifying events of the coming days would throw all the plans of Western leaders out the window.

Extract from ‘Tears of the Pharaoh: The Story of Egypt’s Tragic Twentieth Century’ by Talal Hussein

For Mussolini, there was no doubt about his path through Egypt: it began in Alexandria and marched straight to Cairo. To get to Cairo, he needed to pass through another three major defensive lines: Damanhour, Tanta, and Banha. While it was certainly direct, it was certainly defended too. Egyptian society had united to face the Italians and was in no mood to surrender. Of course, the Italians didn’t care either way. The three cities fell one by one with a similar pattern: the Egyptians fighting without uniforms regardless of sex with any weapon they could get from a gun to a kitchen-knife, the Italians shooting almost every military-age man that could be found with a shrug and the Greek conscripts being witness to the horror while desperately trying to stay alive. ‘Anti-Partisan Operations’ by Blackshirt regiments only added to the nightmare, with reprisals being swift and brutal. The three cities fell one by one: June 30th, July 19th and September 2nd respectively. By now, Cairo was visible in the distance, and the Italians settled down to prepare for the final operation against the capital. They knew they needed more men and resources for the final attack, so they simply bombed the city relentlessly. Little did they know of what was in store.

After seizing the Suez Canal, the British spent most of the following days forming a solid defensive line around the area to ensure the Egyptians would not take it back. However, due to the immensity and destruction of the Italian march to Cairo, no such assault was forthcoming. The only thing that was forthcoming were thousands of refugees desperate to escape the Italians by making a flight to British lines. The British had never expected anything of the sort and were thus forced to make some accommodation for the escapees, all the while trying to find any spies and saboteurs among the number. In continuance with their mission, British forces cleared the Red Sea of ‘every Egyptian vessel down to a pair of wooden planks tied together with a piece of string’ as Lord Mountbatten put it. This was solidified on July 28th, when the British sent a military force to land at Hurghada. After relatively light resistance, Egypt’s largest Red Sea port fell. This massively helped the supply situation, not to mention massively exposing the Egyptian flank. With that, the British felt comfortable reinforcing their own Empire. Sudan was dealing with an Egyptian incursion, which would finally be successfully stopped at Dongola. After recruiting significant amounts of black soldiers from the south to increase its dependence, the Sudanese army began the slow crawl up the Nile. Suggestions by Mussolini to dam off the Nile to starve the Egyptians were turned down by Eden as ‘counter-productive’, though he privately denounced the idea as being of part of ‘the casual barbarity of that man’. On August 9th, the Egyptians were fully expelled from Sudan. On August 18th, Abu Simbel fell to the British/Sudanese forces, providing a devastating morale blow to the Egyptian forces and Egyptian people in general. The population reluctantly readied themselves for the imminent attack on Cairo.

Extract from ‘The War that Ended a World’, by Francis Gautman

The Israelis, after recovering from the initial shock of war, were able to gather themselves and create a strong defensive line. While the initial assault had been sudden and overwhelming, the UAR plans for their armies encircling the Golan and of the Egyptians and Jordanians meeting at Eilat had been rebuffed. Slowly but surely, air superiority had been achieved over Israel’s skies, and the fall of the Sinai had freed up countless resources to fend off the far more serious northern front. From Acre on July 20th, the Israelis slammed into Arab flank with the full intention of marching into Lebanon itself. The Arabs fought often to the very last, and there was no easy victory for any Israeli mission in the campaign. Nevertheless, with dogged determination, the UAR was forced to send its troops back into Lebanon to make a final stand, the last Israeli town being liberated on September 4th. The plan was then to move along the Golan Heights along the Litani River, thus cutting off the vanguard of the UAR. From there, it was theorized the Phalangists would lend a helping hand in clearing out the rest of Lebanon, leading to a reunion with the Turks sometime close to Christmas. It was estimated by Israeli planners that the war, if it became a fight to the last like in WW2, would probably last another year. Of course, circumstances radically disproved that assessment. The Irbid salient was a gnawing sore, but there was no way they could realistically cross the Jordan River and logistics were so poor in the region that a mass Israeli assault would be hard to pull off. For that reason, and uneasy stalemate graced the region, as the main fighting occurred in the Palestinian region of Israel. On August 17th, the Israelis recaptured Aqaba from the Saudis, beginning their march down the Red Sea coast, where they were well-supplied by the Royal Navy and Regia Marina. By the end of the month, the entirety of the Tiran Straight was in Israeli hands.

While a mood of optimism began to creep into the Israeli populace in light of all these victories, in contrast to the agitated confusion of the first few weeks of the war, few Israelis were aware of the tension within the army. A few years ago, in accordance with Ben-Gurion’s ‘One State, One Army’ decree, the Lehi were merged into the Haganah. The Irgun had already voluntarily done so during WW2 due to the requests of the Allies (in return for a more avowedly Pro-Jewish policy in Palestine) and the surge of Right-Wing, Revisionist Zionism among European Jews which blurred the lines between the traditionally socialist Hagannah and Right-Wing Irgun. Yet the Lehi dragged their feet, desiring their independence. The Lehi (under the name of the ‘Homeland Party’ – though supporters and opponents would often interchange the terms) went into a coalition with Begin’s Herut to form the first Israeli government. Begin was sympathetic to the Lehi and their leader Yitzhak Shamir, and so allowed the Lehi to continue being an independent paramilitary group. It was mainly seen along the borders, warding off Fedayeen incursions and terrorizing border Arab provinces. Begin was pleased with the Lehi’s actions, seeing them as a way of giving the Israeli government plausible deniability for the things Begin believed helped preserve the Israeli state. However, a serious of disastrous PR moves by Shamir and the Lehi (culminating in an Anti-Polish screed after Begin attended a memorial for the nuclear bombing of Warsaw) ended the coalition and put Socialist Ben-Gurion in charge. Ben-Gurion had nothing but utter contempt for Shamir and the Lehi, telling his then secretary and Mapai Party organizer Anne Frank [2] that, “If I could, I’d ban the bastards like poison.” While he couldn’t illegalize the Homeland Party itself, he could ban the Lehi. The problem was that an outright ban would likely lead to severe insurrection that would be an invitation for the UAR to take advantage. The solution was proposed by Moshe Dayan that the Lehi would be merged into the army, which was ultimately accepted. It was passed with the support of the left-wing parties, the blistering dissent of the Homeland Party and the stony abstaining of most of Herut, including Begin – needless to say, Begin and Shamir were no longer on great terms, with the former believing the latter had taken advantage of and humiliated him. It was fate, therefore, that the three should have been forced together in the coalition government Israel would create in the midst of the Second Arabian War. Yet just as Shamir had a say in the cabinet, the Lehi soldiers had not dissipated in the way Ben-Gurion expected. One senior military official, Yitzhak Rabin, went as far as to argue, “The army has integrated more with the Lehi than the other way around.” Due to a contingent of factors, Israeli soldiers had hardened their hearts to the Arabs. Israeli soldiers would often refuse to take surrenders from Arab troops and shoot them out of hand, even in the face of reprimand from their superiors. As Rabin would tell the Post-war committee set up to investigate the quality of Israel’s performance in the war, “If I told my men to take prisoners, they’d turn and look at me like they would shoot me in the back at the first chance.” This mood was heightened by Shamir’s merciless declarations through the party papers and radio, including, “The only innocent Arabs are unborn”. One reason for the significant delay in moving troops into Lebanon was that Ben-Gurion was terrified that Lehi troops in the army would create a series of massacres, thus permanently blackening the name of the IDF. The question remained, ‘how this could be accomplished without letting the UAR have breathing room?’

Further north still, the Turks had realized that a slow crawl down Latakia was a waste, with Orbay angrily demanding ‘Why are we playing a Gallipoli except where we lose?” Instead, finally working up the courage to accept foreign troops being used in the main assaults, the coalition forces smashed southwards towards Aleppo, the second city of Syria. Getting close to the city proved easier than anticipated due to the number of resources being sent to the Israeli front. Turkish assaults along the coast also kept a large contingent of Arab forces busy. By September 9th, the Turks made it to the suburbs of Aleppo. It was no small city, with its gigantic metropolis holding several hundred thousand people all dedicated to stopping the Turks from reasserting their Ottoman desires. The Turkish, Bulgarian, Croatian, Austrian and German troops of the coalition went to work encircling the city, completing the job on the morning of Friday, September 14th, the first day of Yom Kippur.On the annointed day, the Turkish leadership decided to camp down for the night and prepare to bomb the city into surrender - which they assumed would be a tiring and long process.

Across the world, Jews began the ancient service, commemorating God on the holiest day of their year. While perhaps they prayed harder that year, hoping that their enemy would be vanquished, hoping that their family was safe, the front was eerily silent. It was almost as if the Arabs had decided to leave them alone for once. It was seen as a reprieve to both the soldiers and to the population at large. When Israelis are asked to remember Yom Kippur 1956, the first thing they will always tell you is how eerily peaceful it was … right before it happened. Close to midnight, Tel Aviv was awakened by the blare of ear-splitting explosions and the sight of fireballs rising to the heavens, all while every ambulance in the city shrieked their sirens as loud as they could. Civilians ran in terror, but that wasn’t the main payload. That was seen when people started dropping to the ground for seemingly no reason, riving and foaming at the mouth. The more perceptive could work out what had happened immediately: gas. Yet even those in the masks seemed helpless, and that’s when the awful truth began to dawn on the emergency services: this was nerve gas. For thirty minutes, with seemingly no pattern, black lightning bolts seemed to fall from heaven with a sickening thud. Many swam out to sea, trying to escape the carnage. Fires raged across the city as firefighters died fighting the flames mixed with nerve agents. Buildings tumbled to the ground from the damage they took from the missiles. Blind terror seized almost the entire citizenry. By the time the final missile had landed, and the last of the gas had dissipated, it was estimated that roughly 3000 people had died, of which 1200 were Nazi or Soviet Holocaust survivors. Due to the child evacuation program, only 50 of the dead were under the age of 13.

The news hit Jerusalem like a thunderbolt, as it soon did to Rome, Ankara, Paris, London and even Moscow. Of course, there was no place in the world so emotionally impacted as Israel itself. As the news filtered in about what had happened, any questions of the UAR's intention to begin a Third and final Holocaust had vanished. But there was no time for grief or tears. There was no time for eulogies or prayer. There was time for only thing: to teach the Arabs that ‘Never Again’ meant ‘Never Again.

[1] The term ‘Pied Noir’ doesn’t exist ITTL, using the old word ‘Colon’ (Colonists and their descendents) instead

[2] Einstein is dead by now, so her services have switched to the new PM on Einstein's recomendation. The two got along in being German speakers.

Never Again

Transcript of Interrogation of Egyptian Army Chief of Staff, Abdel Amer

Interrogator 1: Now tell us straight: did you know Aflaq was going to hit Tel Aviv with nerve gas?

Amer: (*Sound of spitting out blood*) Can you tell this bastard to stop hitting me if you want an answer?

Interrogator 1 (in Italian): Hey, he called you a ‘bastard’. Are you going to take that?

Interrogator 2: So he still thinks he’s somebody, eh?

*(Sounds of punching and groans)*

Interrogator 1 (in Egyptian Arabic): I’m sorry, but my colleague politely turned down your request. You can try telling him yourself, but I’m afraid he doesn’t speak Arab. Therefore, like we keep telling you, your best option is to cooperate. Now, why did Aflaq hit Tel Aviv? What did you know about it?

Amer: That damned Christian

Interrogator 1: Excuse me?

Amer: That damned Christian shat his panties when the Jews were knocking at his border. He didn’t give a shit when Alexandria was raped, when the Suez Canal was stolen or when you sons of whores were standing outside Cairo. But when some kike could see Mount Hermon, it was too much for him!

Interrogator 1: Why?

Amer: Because the faggot hadn’t gotten into a real fight in his life! Syria fell into his lap the fucking whore of a country she is, and the Iraqis fell to their knees so fast they broke their legs hitting the ground! Because the peasants here were delirious with excitement in Egypt, they forced Nasser to join with that useless cunt. Then Lebanon let him in, because she’s the son of sixty thousand whores, and Oman was able to kick out the British, who were too busy drinking tea and wearing women’s underwear to care about some godforsaken desert halfway across the world. By the time the war turned against him, he was shitting himself because half of the fucking morons he had beneath thought he was Allah himself. When he didn’t beat Israel after saying up and down he would, he sure as hell didn’t look like a God then. He was shitting himself that our brave leader, General Nasser - God rest his soul – would be the new hero to the Arabs after his heroic resistance in Egypt.

Interrogator 1: So there was trouble in paradise. What does this have to do with the nerve gas?

Amer: The Christian finally decided that the war needed to end, but since he couldn’t come begging to the Israelis, he thought the only way he could get a decent deal was to get the Russians involved. The Russians were sitting on their fat, vodka-drinking asses making money off Arab blood. They didn’t want the war to end any earlier than it had to. So they kept doing these half-assed ‘please stop’ speeches, when what we needed them to do was tell the Colonialists and Jews to stop right there or they would use nukes. Finally, Aflaq decided that the only way to get those fuckers off the sofa was to break out chemical weapons. The idea was that at worst, the Imperialists would reply with another chemical weapon attack, which we could live with. He told us about it and we said ‘fine, use them on the Italians outside Cairo’. The bastard refused, and said that if we used it on the Italians then we’d get nuked – ha! He said that if we only used them on Israeli soldiers, no one would give half a shit and we’d just be stuck hurling gas at each other like a bunch of idiots, so we had to hit Tel Aviv to change the colour of their underwear enough. We told him to fuck off, that our capital was at stake and needed all the help it could get. This pissed the Christian off, and he started telling us how Egypt was just one small province in the Arab World, and that losing Cairo was no more serious than losing Muscat. After we both screamed at each other over the phone, he finally said he’d split the missiles 50:50, half on Tel Aviv since we couldn’t risk hitting Al-Aqsa, and the other half on Italian troops. Instead, that Christian, shoe-eating, son of a planet of whores bastard blew the whole thing on Tel Aviv!

Interrogator 1: Why?

Amer: How the fuck should I know? Maybe he wanted to piss us off. Maybe he was screwing some Italian chick. Or maybe, heh, maybe he couldn’t resist making the kikes squeal a little bit. He was good at making the Israelis shit themselves. If only he was as good at predictions as that. He that if we only hit the Israelis that we’d expect gas. We got fucking nukes. He told us that nukes were too dangerous because it would mean the Russians would have to use military force, but the chemical weapons would give them some space to threaten.

Interrogator 1: Well that turned out great, didn’t it?

Amer: Fuck you!

*(Sounds of punching and groans)*

Extract from ‘Memoirs of a Young Girl’ by Anne Frank

It was three in the morning but we were all wide-awake. But amidst the chaos of reports coming in, the main actors in this nightmare play stood out like they were a world unto themselves. Golda [Meir] and Moshe [Dayan] sat beside each other at the table, heartbroken. Elie [Wiesel] and Yitzhak [Rabin] were standing by the door, looking down in melancholy. Shamir was pacing across the room in fury, cursing and damning everyone and everything. Begin was sitting down but he was almost as angry as Shamir. Then there was David [Ben-Gurion], at the head of the table. He sat looking down, the weight of a hundred worlds on his shoulder. He looked like a man who had lost everything he had loved. I never knew that a man could bear such despair. Yet his pain was not enough for Begin and Shamir, who looked at him as if he had ordered the rockets himself.

“If we’d told the Italians to nuke the Arabs back at the start of the war, this would never have happened!” Shamir screeched.

Begin leaned towards David with such venom that I worried he was going to physically attack him. “What are we waiting for?! Rockets to fall on the fucking Temple Mount?! Your beloved English aren’t going to lift a finger! Call the Italians! Now!”

As if to take the attention off David, Moshe sighed. “I don’t know how the intelligence network didn’t pick it up. We were tracking almost every Soviet shipment. There never looked like there could be nerve gas among them.” He stood up, “I take full responsibility for -”

Shamir violently cut him off. “Don’t you excuse this old fool! He spent the last three years trying to attack Jewish patriots, trying to destroy the Lehi and telling the one man in the world who cared about us during the Nazi Holocaust to go to hell! Now we’re paying the price!”

Yitzhak looked at Shamir with all the disgust he had for anything resembling the Lehi. “That man’s done more than anything to create Israel, and more than anything to defend it! If you think your goose-stepping, pub-brawlers would have done a better job, you can send your best division against our best! Then we’ll separate the men from the boys …”

It was at that moment I was given a note. I quickly read it – my face was already white from the conflict in the War-Room but it went whiter still. I ran up to the table, almost crashing in to it. Everyone turned to me in confusion. I was scared to be the centre of attention but I was so glad that everyone had stopped yelling at each other.

“Um,” I began. I needed to hold the note with both hands because I was trembling so much. “A message has come through from Rome from Foreign Minister Ciano. He said that Italy denounces this act of Arab barbarism, and assures the Israeli government that …” I paused. “… That each every weapon in our inventory is now considered appropriate to use. We can now confirm that President Orbay has given approval for Turkish participation in Operation Samson. Our Prime Minister, and leader, requests that the Israeli government also confirm their willingness to initiate Operation Samson.”

I didn’t know what Operation Samson was at the time, but I could tell from how suddenly the listeners went quiet and pale that they knew full well what it was.

Shamir was the first to recover, marching up to David. “Mr. Prime Minister … if you don’t give the order right this minute, I will order every man of the Lehi to rise up against your Arab-Collaborationist government.”

“You’ve got some chutzpah saying that in front of an army man …” Yitzhak growled.

Shamir didn’t turn his gaze. “This is our chance to exact revenge for what they’ve done! Are we going to let Aflaq and Nasser get away with what they did to Tel Aviv?! They hit us with nerve gas! Are you going to let the blood of our people go unavenged?!”

“In case you forgot, Shamir,” spat Yitzhak, “the Soviets swore they’d intervene if there were nukes used in the war! Are you going to take the blame if the Russians commit the Third Holocaust? And take down the whole of mankind with them?!”

Begin stood up now. “Khrushchev doesn’t have the balls. He’s been trying to play the Good Goy after we all found out what the Communists were up to because he knows the USSR’s popularity is in the fucking toilet. Aflaq has reserved a place alongside Himmler in the minds of the world, and no one’s going to side with that. The bald oaf is in no position for a war and he knows it. The North Iranians would probably start a war with the Russians anyway if he tried to support Aflaq. He’s been playing about with reforms like a teenage boy plays around with his dick – he’s not going to throw it all away for some camel-seller who isn’t even a Red. But what we have to do is strike back before the Soviets are forced to make statements about it. If we hit quickly, we can end the war before Khrushchev takes his morning shit.”

“It’s not that simple,” said Elie.

Shamir and Begin turned to him in shock. “What did you say?” asked Begin.

Elie shrugged as if he’d already regretted speaking out. “I don’t want Israel to go down in history having …”

Begin slammed his fist on the table. “IF WE DON’T ACT, THERE WON’T BE A FUCKING ISRAEL! For two thousand years, goyim have been murdering us in the millions. They destroyed the Temple, they burned down the synagogues, they burned us, they robbed us, they stuffed us in ghettoes, and then they threw us into death camps. And every time, we cowered. We let them walk over us. We walked into our graves. Until now. When we finally stood like Moses and killed our overseer. We fought for this land and we came back to Jerusalem after 2000 years. If we let Aflaq fire nerve gas again, we’ll lose the war. If we lose the war, there’ll be no more Israel. If we lose Israel … we’ll never get a second chance. You worry about how we go down in history?! I’d rather be part of a Jewish state cursed by every tongue in the world than allow an Auschwitz loved by one and all!”

Begin sat back down, exhausted from his outburst. It was at that point, having the lost the energy to hide his emotion, that a look of supreme sadness entered his eyes. His voice, laced with all the pain of having seen so much hatred and death in his life, was breaking. “I’d rather be judged by our children than have to bury them.”

“That’s enough.”

We all turned around to David, surprised that he finally spoke.

“All of you – that’s enough,” he said, as he finally straightened his head a little. “I never thought that it would come to this. You know, it’s so strange looking back. We thought we could leave together in peace. We thought that the Jews and the Arabs could get along together. That we could share this land, trade and prosper as neighbors. The brotherhood of man … Then the pogroms happened, but I didn’t lose faith. I was sure it would all be resolved soon enough. Then they turned down the Peel Commission. I thought, alright, we can improve our position in the future and change their minds. Then they tried to destroy us in the first war. But we won so I thought, now, finally, they would see reason. Then they started a second war. Alright, maybe they just need one final push to finally make them realize… and then they did this. They don’t hate us for taking their land, or for having land or anything to do with land … they hate us because we are ‘us’. I tried to keep the hope alive after what the Nazis did, that it could never happen again. And then Stalin did the same thing. I couldn’t believe it could happen twice, let alone in less than a decade afterward. And now Aflaq wants to try a third time.”

David raised his head, and all of us, even Shamir and Begin, were terrified by the blazing fury in his eyes. “I don’t care if it’s right or wrong. We’ve tried everything to avoid being killed – fleeing, converting, enlisting … and now we’re going to do the one thing we haven’t done: we’re going to wipe our killers off the face of the Earth. I didn’t come to this country to hurt anyone … I came here that we could live in peace … so we could be a shining light to the world. But it seems the only peace we’ll ever get is through victory. Golda?”

Golda straightened. “Yes, Prime Minister?”

“Have the Soviets made any diplomatic movements?”

“N-no. There’s a lot of chatter, but no announcements. Their army wasn’t on any sort of footing, but now it seems to be chaotically attempting to organize. It seems that they were as shocked as we were.”

“And the British?”

“They’re telling us to use restraint. They’re afraid of dragging the Soviets into the conflict.”

“The French?”

“De Gaulle says he will support any action Israel takes.”

David clenched his fists and said nothing. It must have been only ten seconds at most, five seconds perhaps. But so much ran through my mind that I thought I lived a lifetime in those few seconds. I thought of this kind man, who had always cared more about helping the poor and reading the Torah than he ever did about death and war. Of all the people, why was he the one who had to make the call?

He finally looked back to Golda. “Tell Ciano that Israel will participate in Operation Samson.”


Many years later, just after I’d been elected to the Knesset, I visited David at his home. His wife smiled when she saw me and ushered me in. She knew we were friends, and she told me about how proud David was that I was an MK now. Even then, I still knew what to expect. I saw him sitting in his chair, looking away. The Torah sat on his lap, and the Jerusalem sunlight floated through the window.

“Hello, David!” I said, “I guess you can’t call me ‘Anne’ anymore, I’m Anne Frank, MK!” I laughed.

David didn’t laugh. He had fallen into a deep depression since that Yom Kippur so long ago, and the memory of that night still haunted him. He turned towards me, though he still failed to look me in the eye.

“That’s great, Anne.” His voice didn’t match his words. Though pained I persisted.

“Don’t worry, David,” I smiled despite being so nervous I wanted to run away, “we’ll get the party back on its feet in no time! Herut can’t run the country forever!”

He said nothing. I began to turn around, hoping for some conversation with his wife to save us from the tedium.

“Anne?” said David, just as I was about to leave.

I turned around and almost ran to his side, as if I was still his secretary from all those years ago. “Yes, Prime Mini – I mean, David?”

“… I did the right thing, didn’t I?”

I didn’t need to clarify what he was talking about. The pain and anguish I felt for him all those days ago came back to me as fresh as ever. I saw how aged he had gotten, how tired his joints, how thick his wrinkles. He was doomed to go every waking moment of his life thinking about that night, whether anger had clouded his judgement, whether there could have been another way, whether he could have done something before the war, something. Every day and every night, he tortured himself with the thoughts of all the souls who had perished that day. If any Arab wished revenge on him for what happened, they had surely gotten their wish. I walked up to him, putting my hand on his tired shoulders.

“You had no choice,” I said.

David said nothing. Perhaps, deep down, he agreed with me. But perhaps, deep down, he felt it made no difference either way.

Extract from ‘False Hope: The USSR 1953-1957’ by Alexander Solzhenitsyn

In all the capitals in all the world, including Jerusalem, none were as blind with panic and shock as Moscow. Khrushchev’s moneymaking racket had in one night gone from a source of relief to a source of existential crisis. None of the Soviet hierarchy expected Aflaq to do something so incendiary, and only partially because they were unaware of how advanced the chemical weapon programs of the UAR had gotten. The Politburo talked like men minutes from death, as they analysed their woeful options. The Soviets had made repeated declarations that they would protect Aflaq from chemical weapon and nuclear strikes, but they were made before they knew about his inventory and certainly before he started using them. At the same time, to throw Aflaq to the wolves would be an utter geopolitical calamity, perhaps closing off the Middle East to the Soviets forever and making their other declarations of support as useful as the paper they were written on. Not to mention, giving the historical Anti-Semitism of the Soviet Union, there was a serious fear that Moscow could be identified as the mastermind behind the attack on Tel Aviv. Mikhail Suslov, whose relative youth and rapid ascendency had made him bold, said that the best of the bad options was to step in and swear that a nuclear attack on the UAR would be considered an act of war against the Soviet Union in an act of brinksmanship. Aflaq was the only real major ally the Soviets had outside their occupation and he was considered too important to lose. But Khrushchev would not so easily consent to defending the UAR, even as he agreed with Suvlov’s arguments, paralyzed in horror at the dilemma before him.

Yet there was one thing Khrushchev was adamant about: calling Baghdad. The phone was brought in, the call was made and with a speed that implied he had been in anxious wait, Aflaq was on the line. Khrushchev’s first words were ‘What the fuck have you done?’ For the following hour, the two traded barbs back and forth. Khrushchev accused Aflaq of having betrayed his trust, threatening the security of the Soviet Union and risking dragging even the US into the conflict. Aflaq shot back that Khrushchev was acting like America and Britain in WW2 in depending on a foreign nation’s youth to do their bidding, with the UAR as the new Soviet Union fighting the Nazis. He argued that the Soviets had to bear their share of the Anti-Imperialist struggle, unless he would like to see the whole Middle East become a Fascist-Zionist base that could attack the already stretched Soviets. On and on the two went, even as events elsewhere overtook them. Finally, after a final declaration from Khrushchev that he would ‘Do everything I can to fix your fuck-up!’, he slammed the phone down and wiped his brow.

Khrushchev must have had many competing arguments in his head, but chief among them was the one thing he knew for sure: war was certain defeat for the Soviet Union. After Stalin’s purges and the countless resources squandered in China, the Soviet Union could not hope to steamroll even the Fascist Bloc in isolation anymore, as she could once have done effortlessly. And now, with war certain to bring in the Western powers - including the still neutral US – there was only obliteration in store if the Soviets attempted to save Aflaq. It was as hopeless a task as Canute turning back the waves. The only way out was for Khrushchev to risk a gamble. If he could make enough threats and bombast that a massive escalation would invite nuclear destruction, it could make the Democracies and Fascist leaders think twice about being too hasty. Finally, after further delay and much debate in Moscow, Khrushchev and the Politburo reluctantly agreed to send out an international ultimatum. It would be addressed not just to the West, but the UAR as well. It went as far as to criticize the UAR’s strike (half as a way to convince the West and half as a cold rebuke to Aflaq’s monstrosity) as ‘Reckless endangerment that threatens the survival of the very human species’. The most important segment was that, ‘The Soviet Union will use all weapons in its arsenal in response to any further escalation in the Middle Eastern region.” With that, the ultimatum was sent. Yet as though the Soviets were cursed by fate, by the time the letter was sent, it was already far too late to stop what was coming. Four minutes later, the first nuclear explosion sounded over the Middle East.

Extract from ‘The War that Ended a World’, by Francis Gautman

Operation Samson was conceived in the years preceding the Second Arabian War, though only definitely finalized in April 1956. Italy was the only member of the Roman Alliance who had nuclear weapons, but there was still a certain moral taboo about their usage. Nukes had been completely ignored in China owing to the threat of retaliation. Yet at the same time, were seen as instant game-enders due to their being instrumental in ending WW2 and the Second Polish-Soviet War. For this reason, it was considered prudent to at least be prepared for the possibility, even though it was considered unlikely the Soviets would allow it. The main problem of using nuclear weapons on the UAR was Israel and Turkey, who were right beside the UAR, were critical allies, and may be affected by any radioactive fallout and damage as a result of a mass nuclear bombing. For that reason, leading Israeli and Turkish were both invited to planning sessions.

Though it changed as time went on, the basic plan was the same: a decapitation strike would hit the administrative headquarters of every region of the UAR, followed by further nuclear strikes on the UAR’s now leaderless, directionless armies. After that, chemical weapons would then be used on whatever organized resistance was left, and a broad, general offensive would begin. The cities that would be struck were: Cairo, Damascus, Baghdad, Deir Ez-Zur, Muscat, Riyadh, and Tripoli in Lebanon. The original plan was to nuke Beirut, but the Phalangist Party’s strength in the city convinced the Fascists to attack Lebanon’s second-largest city, which had almost no Phalangist presence. Yemen was likewise spared owing to Mussolini’s gratitude to Imam Yahya, as well as Mussolini’s own long-term ambitions. Deir Ez-Zur was condemned owing to its massive growth in recent years as the bridge between Syria and Iraq. The town had grown rapidly due to the massive levels of transit between the newly joined countries. If that was severed, the UAR would effectively be split in two. Cairo was only chosen after Mussolini was repeatedly reassured that the Sphinx and Pyramids were too far away from the blast radius to be affected. A further ten nukes were earmarked for military use, their targets to be agreed on at the time, depending on the circumstance by Italian, Israeli and Turkish commanders. The British and French were specifically not invited to the meetings, or even aware of them. Britain and France’s dithering during the rise of the UAR had left even Ben-Gurion reluctantly confessing that he preferred the ‘insurance’ of Italy.

The plan was named after the Old Testament’s Samson’s pulling down the pillars of the temple where he was chained and derided, killing both himself and his tormentors. Ben-Gurion was deeply uncomfortable about how destructive the plan was, and suggested the name precisely because it was such an unthinkable option. To Ben-Gurion, the option could only be used in an extreme scenario where Israel was at extreme threat of total extinction. Italy did not want to risk damaging relations with Israel by setting off nuclear weapons near their territory, and so a solution was made. The three powers agreed that the operation could only be enacted if all three agreed to implement it. Ben-Gurion had told the Cabinet early of the plan and faced demands to execute it immediately by Shamir, who was rebuffed sharply. By September, with Israel having mostly expelled the UAR from her borders, Ben-Gurion was relieved that he never had to implement the proposal. He was convinced that there was now no scenario where it would be morally, politically or even pragmatically acceptable to do such a thing. Then came the Yom Kippur Rocket Attacks, and the entire animus of the war changed. Israel now had to choose between restraint in the face of a Third Holocaust, or to unleash a nuclear rampage that would result in the death of countless thousands. Ultimately, knowing that he faced with the prospect of an outright coup if he held back, Ben-Gurion gave his reluctant assent to the attack. He would be haunted by the move to his dying day.

That morning, from the Aircraft Carrier Sparviero in the Mediterranean, the pilots were given the words they’d been at once excited to and frightened to receive: Arabia Delanda Est. Named after the razing of Carthage, Balbo had chosen the codewords to impress Mussolini by finding a connection to Rome’s own incursions to the shores beyond Italy. Balbo would be the man personally in charge of the operation, co-operating closely with the Turks and Israelis to ensure that the UAR was ‘wiped off the face of the Earth and the pages of history’. As the first planes left, and Cairo approached its doom, he received news of the Soviet ultimatum. It said that a nuclear strike by Italy would mean nuclear strike by the Soviets After hearing it, he fell silent, before turning to the staff in the room. “Gentlemen,” he said, “I’ll be damned if Communists ever tell Italians what they can do!” If there was any fear of Soviet attack, the staffers certainly didn’t show it, letting out cries of ‘Long live Italy! Love live the Leader!’ The cries continued until the first flash of light lit up Cairo.

Detonating just east of Tahrir Square, the ancient city was decimated in an instant. Rubble and steel were flung like pebbles across the streets, filled with war pilgrims, desperate to have taken part in what was meant to be the glorious final resistance of Cairo, and filled with refugees who had fled from the north. The Nile burned in nuclear fire, strewn with corpses of thousands, and of further thousands unlucky enough to have lived, literally melting alive. In his command bunker south of the city, General Nasser was unlucky enough to have looked at the city the moment the bomb dropped. He fell in agony, demanding to know why he couldn’t see anymore and what had happened. Then the terrifying truth struck him along with the sound of a demonic thunder – Cairo was no more. His subordinates raced to collect him from the carnage to save him, Nasser’s only consolation being he would never see what had befallen Cairo. All the developments he worked on had been flattened, the working-class districts where thousands cheered his name had been incinerated along with the people who lived there. The old palaces, mosques and churches of central Cairo may as well have never existed. As the cries of millions deafened all around, the Sphinx starred as coldly and heartlessly as it had all those thousands of years she had stood. Old Egypt stood motionless, even as the new one burned.

Yet that was only the first strike of the carnage that was to unfold. Soon afterward, Tripoli was blasted off the Mediterranean, taking out the still-under-construction Soviet naval base that had been planned to reside there. The strike on Damascus would be more important because it would mean the death of Salah al-Din al-Bitar, the de jure second most powerful man in the UAR. Al-Bitar had always been more moderate than Aflaq and it is likely he would have felt uncomfortable about the Yom Kippur Rocket Attack, but he would never have the chance to tell Aflaq himself. The City of Jasmine became The City that Never Was. Once considered the oldest continuously lived in city on Earth, central Damascus was flattened. The Tomb of Saladin and the Umayyad Mosque were obliterated, robbing Syria of some of its most precious cultural heritage (though since little of it was considered Pre-Arab culture, Mussolini was mostly indifferent). Israeli troops from the Golan could see the explosion from a safe distance, and it wasn’t over yet. Deir Ez-Zur was struck just as intended, obliterating the central connection between Syria and Iraq, leaving the two states effectively re-separated. Then came Baghdad, facing a cataclysm not seen since the Mongol invasion. The abode of Aflaq, the Italians struck with devastating force turning the heart of the Levant into an empty husk. In the hours following the Baghdad strike, countless radio operators all over the UAR tried to contact Aflaq … only to be met with silence. On the carnage went, with a bombing of Riyadh that killed not only King Saud, but the next three of his successors. Scholars debate to what extent King Saud was culpable for what happened in Tel Aviv, but there is no doubt as to what the Italian position was. Lastly came the nuclear strike at Muscat, a symbolic strike to remind the world of why the war was being fought. As the official UAR story was that the Jews of Muscat had been relocated to desert camps, the Italians and Israelis had no qualms about the judgment of the city that betrayed them. The largest city in Oman was obliterated, and its regional leader, Alhianai, along with it.

The initial strike had largely accomplished its goal, leaving the UAR effectively leaderless and bewildered. But this was only the start, as the Israelis and Turks now took a larger role in identifying the locations for tactical nuclear bombing. Two further nukes would be detonated in Egypt, just east and south of the city to destroy the Egyptian reserves (with Nasser barely escaping the blast range of the second due to the quick evacuation of his staff). Two were used in the north of Saudi Arabia, obliterating the cream of the Saudi army and making the Israelis the masters of the field. Three were deployed along the Syrian border, with a further nuke used in southern Lebanon. The final two were deployed on UAR troops advancing from the west to try and liberate Aleppo from the Turks, who quickly ensured that would never happen. By the end of the nuclear strikes, the UAR’s once-imposing army was leaderless, directionless and ultimately hopeless.

The time had come for the general offensive, which started with the launch of countless chemical weapons. Aleppo would be known for this act most infamously, with the Turks pounding the city into submission through artillery and aerial chemical bombing. Italy went one further and dropped chemical weapons on the fleeing survivors of the Cairo strike. Israel, exercising more restraint than her peers despite the provocation, avoided using chemical weapons on civilians and used them to obliterate what little was left of what had the prior day been seen as an existential menace. Israeli soldiers, already riled in outrage by what had befallen Tel Aviv, were agitated yet further by the uncharacteristically harsh tone of the state radio service, which said things like ‘our blood shall be avenged with theirs’. Shamir would go as far as to say to his followers that, “The only ‘innocent Arabs’ are the ones yet to be born”. The general offensive against Lebanon began, with the Israelis slicing through the terrified, cowed UAR defense like a hot knife through butter. Most UAR soldiers, once seen as unbendingly committed to the cause, had fled in terror when the news reached them, if the flash hadn’t, that nuclear Armageddon had begun. Those who didn’t successfully cross over the Litani River, be they military or civilian, were typically captured and thrown into the old Trans-Jordan refugee camps, cramped to bursting. The camps had been ‘liberated’ by Aflaq in ushering the Arab refugees into society. Now the refugees were back in the dirty, squalid camps, with the rest of the Lebanese too. The Israelis arrived on the Mediterranean before the night was through, so devastated was the UAR defense.

Yet the world was not silent. While 10 Downing Street was in an uproar over the escalation, which absolutely no one wanted, De Gaulle decided that if the Italians were striking then so would he. Two nuclear weapons were deployed in the heart of the Algerian desert, for the most part destroying Tamanghasset, which had become something of a provisional capital for the FLN. The strike had the desired effect and took out much of the FLN’s leadership. Like Israel, France announced a general assault on the FLN, sending in paratroopers to the major sites in Algeria to overwhelm the enemy. Franco, out of the loop but smart enough to recognize an opportunity, began his own assault into the heart of Morocco. Britain pleaded with all parties to minimize the chaos, but it was much too late – the horse had left the barn, the farm and the whole town. The only voice that mattered now was Khrushchev, faced with the nightmare of having to uphold a pledge he never intended to honour. Ultimately, faced with the already untold destruction that had befallen Arabia (with over 1.7 million people having died on a single day, making September 15th, 1956 the deadliest day in human history), the Soviet leader folded. He told the Politburo the Soviet Union could not uphold its pledge to defend Aflaq. But if Khrushchev thought that was an end to his headaches in the war, he was very wrong. The Great Middle Eastern Crisis was only about to escalate.

The Pieces

Extract from ‘Tears of the Pharaoh: The Story of Egypt’s Tragic Twentieth Century’ by Talal Hussein

That evening, after the worst of the radiation had died down, the Greeks and Italians marched (or ‘strolled’ as most observers remembered) and peered into the ruins of what had once been the beating heart of Arabia. Cairo - the bright lights and cosmopolitan delights, the Muslim Mosque and the Christian Church, the old and the new of Arabia formed fresh. Now, it was only a legend – a second Atlantis of the Sands. The voices of millions, young and old, man and woman, were gone, replaced only by the quiet but unending wails of agony of those unlucky enough to have lived. Barely a shot rang out, despite their being countless men and women ready to die there just hours ago. Refugees swamped the Western shores of the Nile, some already dead, almost all dying. The Italians had hollered with triumph when they saw the mushroom clouds flatten their enemy and the Greeks had gawked in astonished horror. Now, both watched with morbid fascination, as charred corpses and their outlines littered the flattened streets. Graziani, in his final operation before his death by heart failure in 1959, would recall his satisfaction that, “I had lived to see how efficiently we could get in killing people”. By the night of September 15th, the Blackshirts sat on the steps of the Pyramids, frolicking like schoolboys on vacation. The picture was sent around the world and fluttered proudly in the newspapers of Rome the following day. What they didn’t see was the unending firestorm just behind the camera that stretched above the heavens and across the plains, in the direction the Blackshirts smiled. Mussolini bragged in the newspaper that the fall of Cairo was proof that modern Italy was the successor state of the Roman Empire. No foreign journalist who saw the abomination of a sight would ever have considered it something to take a morsel of pride in.

Nasser found haven in the town of Minya by his officials after their escape from the nuking of Cairo. It had been discussed to set-up a provisional capital in Luxor, but it was feared that the priceless city’s archeological wonders would vanish in atomic flame. Blinded both literally by atomic flash and figuratively with fury, he cursed the Italians, Jews, Aflaq, and every other player on the world stage who wasn’t him. As Anwar Sadat would recall, “He had lost his eyes and he had lost his mind.” Nasser ordered that all future resistance to Italy would now have to be entirely guerilla in structure, as the nuclear dimension ended the fixed nature of battle. Of course, it was militarily hopeless. Almost the entirety of the Egyptian army had been obliterated in and around Cairo, along with almost all of its remaining economy. The Nile was only running at the charity of the British refusing to block it off (which would end Egyptian society, let alone its war-making effort), and despite that the British were advancing from the Sudan at a disturbing pace. The seaports had been totally blockaded, and Egypt found itself hopelessly disconnected from all its friends and allies. In short, things couldn’t have been more hopeless.

But Nasser soon became buoyant at the most unlikely news. The nuking of Damascus and Baghdad had bizarrely pleased him, and he took immense pleasure at the news that both Aflaq and al-Bitar were considered dead owing to their lack of communication upon attempts to reach them. It was this moment, Sadat said, “When I felt a sting worse than all the hunger, hopelessness and hell that had befallen our beloved Egypt – it was realising that not even the leaders of the Pan-Arabist movement believed in Pan-Arabism. Here was our leader, smiling and gloating about the deaths of our fellow Arabs – why? Because he wanted the crown for himself. The Jews began their miserable two thousand year exile because of the Italians, yet they fought as brothers. Here were we, of the same flesh, the same blood, and we smiled as we saw our brothers die. There could be no unity in this sad land. I knew that Pan-Arabism was the dream of a fool, like myself.” Sadat recalled that it was these moments that would finally force his hand into the turmoil of the UAR’s surviving war effort from the mere background observance he had engaged in before.

Nasser seized the opportunity to take to the airwaves that night, reaching at most 45% of the UAR due to the destruction of phone lines across the region. Making no mention of his own blindness, Nasser said, “It is with heavy heart that I inform you, my fellow Arabs, that our Dear Leader, Michel Aflaq, was martyred in the war against the Zionist foe. He died gloriously in the fires of Baghdad, leading the Arab people to a brighter destiny. Likewise, Salah al-Bitar was martyred in the bombing of Damascus. The Zionists have exploded many nuclear devices over our land, killing millions of innocent men, women and children. If we lose this war against the Zionists, it will mean the end of the Arab world, the Arab culture, the very Arab race. We have seen what the Imperialist-Zionist Coalition will do to preserve their parasitism. But fear not, my fellow Arabs! I am unhurt, I am unbowed and I will lead the Arab people to stand on the shores of Tel-Aviv, red with the blood of the Zionist invaders!” As Nasser was the only surviving, prominent UAR government member with an element of following, it was a barely disguised coup, and was noted as such in British, Italian and Israeli military conversations.

Then, something completely unexpected happened. On September 19th came the news that many had wanted and many wished never to happen, but all agreed was a shock: the voice of Michel Aflaq. The voice that wanted to hear it least was, of course, Nasser – the content even more so. Aflaq had been in a nuclear bunker beneath the Presidential Palace at the time of the explosion, and though badly shaken (with the deaths of hundreds of thousands above him), Aflaq lived. Yet the problem was now this: the bunker was buried under countless tonnes of rubble, the city centre was irradiated and any organised rescue attempts would be at greater risk of revealing where Aflaq was, potentially leading to his being killed. For that reason, Aflaq and other UAR military leaders were trapped in the Baghdad Bunker, as it came to be known. Their equipment had been badly damaged in the initial strike, but in a few days, they had managed to repair it, to the joy of countless radio operators overjoyed to hear their leader return almost from the dead. But Aflaq was not happy … and he wasn’t happy because of one man in particular: General Nasser.

In his return radio address, Aflaq made one thing very clear: Nasser was not in charge of the UAR, he was. “In this hour of darkest crisis, we will not listen to the siren calls of usurpers, be they in the Levant or Egypt. General Nasser, by your having lost your eyesight in the nuclear explosion of Cairo, you have already earned a well-deserved rest far away from the ultimate command of Arab forces.” Nasser was infuriated that Aflaq revealed his secret to millions of people over the radio and demanded to know who leaked the information. Though he would always deny it, most historians believe that Sadat (perhaps in tandem with his close pupil, Yasser Arafat) sent the information off through anonymous sources. Regardless, the idea the Arabs would let a blind man lead them was laughable, and thus ended Nasser’s leadership ambitions overnight. As the Italians marched down the Nile, with the British and Sudanese marching up, Nasser descended into delusion, muttering about how he would get his revenge on Aflaq. All the while, Egypt continued to plunge into flame and chaos from chemical weapons attacks on her few, scattered troops and crowded, anarchic cities. Starvation and disease ravaged what little was left of the untouched rural environment. Egypt was in pieces, but would she be allowed to sink into a lower condition than even that? Finally, Anwar Sadat would be forced to make a decision.

Extract from ‘The Home of the Holy: The Miraculous Story of Lebanon’ by Jerry Robertson

When news hit Beirut that morning of a nuclear explosion at Tripoli, followed by news of the Israeli army breaking through to the Litani, blind panic swept the streets. Everyone was convinced that Israeli occupation was a death sentence, with many praying that the, ironically crueler, Turks would sweep in beforehand. But it was even scarier for those in control of the province. Rashid Kamari, the highest-ranking Ba’athist in the province, urgently messaged Baghdad, Damascus and Cairo for aid. Yet, to their growing horror, both he and his staff realised that no one was responding. Slowly, reports started to come in of the other cities across the region that had been struck with nuclear weapons. Fearing Beirut was next, Kamari and his main subordinates fled the city northward, hoping to escape the Israelis. While Beirut had been spared obliteration, it was now just as leaderless as anywhere else. That morning from his forward base in Rhodes, Gemayel assured the Phalangists that nothing would befall the city, and that the time had come to rise up and take the city immediately. The Phalangists had been brutally suppressed and numbered only about 1000 by the time of Operation Samson. However, the moment they emerged and announced they were seizing Beirut, the city’s population, regardless of religion, fell to their knees and serenaded them. This reached the point of dark-comedy. One fourteen-year-old boy dreamed of being a Philangist but his father had forbidden him from joining, despite his own membership. The boy snuck out in a makeshift uniform that was far too big, armed with a knife he had taken from the kitchen. After being bewildered by the mayhem, he found himself suddenly faced with ten fully armed UAR soldiers. When the soldiers demanded to know whether the boy was with the Phalangists, the boy broke down and begged to be forgiven … only for the soldiers to throw their weapons down and plead that they wanted to surrender – leading to the awkward scenario of the boy marching the soldiers to the Phalangist HQ to ask what to do. The reason the soldiers surrendered, of course, was that if the Phalangists took the city, then they presumed that neither the Israelis nor the atomic bombs would reach them. Thus, the Lebanese looked to the Phalangists as the only friendly face in a world of demons, which would start the myth of Lebanon having been an Anti-Ba’athist state (which it most certainly was not). The main issue the Philangists faced was simply moving from Point A to Point B due to the throngs of traffic and people pledging allegiance. By September 17th, Beirut fell entirely into the hands of the Phalangists, the date still celebrated in Lebanon as its official Independence Day.

The Israelis crossed the Litani on the same day, racing up the coast to secure maritime supplies from the dominant western alliance. This meant reaching Beirut, with the Israelis promising to leave most of the actual occupation of Lebanon north of the Litani to the Phalangists. At the same time, the arrival of the now enraged, battle-hungry Israelis proved terrifying to the whole of Lebanon. The hard hearts of the Israelis were shaken when they saw the terror in the eyes of the Lebanese, who genuinely expected to be hunted and killed to the last. One Israeli soldier recalled a woman standing by the road when she saw an Israeli soldier approach her. She not only froze in horror, she began to tremble, and at her legs a stream of urine began to run. More tragically, some Arabs decided to kill themselves and their families, fearing that life after the UAR under what they presumed would be Israeli rule. One farm with a family of six was searched by IDF troops, who found that the parents had one-by-one drowned each of their children before hanging themselves. Others still grabbed twigs, held them in the shape of the Christian cross, and pleaded through stammering voice, and a flood of tears that they were loyal to the Phalangists. As the days in Lebanon rolled on, the hatred the Israelis felt towards the Arabs began to melt into reluctant pity. As Rabin would recall, “The soldiers were looking for a battle – they found only people begging to live. They almost wanted to children throw stones at them, to look in their eyes and see hatred. Instead, they saw something that broke their heart: fear.”

On September 20th, the IDF marched into Beirut, the only surviving Arab, Middle-Eastern capital with significant cultural heritage. The streets were deserted, as thousands cowered in the cellars and basements, expecting the Israelis to order everyone out into the street to be shot. To the relief of the city, it was agreed that the Phalangists would occupy Beirut, and play a significant role in liberating the rest of the country. Israeli troops were redirected to the east to surround the ruins of Damascus. The Phalangists, their ranks swelling with eager recruits, with overwhelming western air-support were able to pick off and obliterate the remaining Ba’athist forces within Lebanon. The UAR’s surviving forces were demoralized, starving and almost invariably unable to receive orders from their superiors, who had usually died, fled in terror or simply had their communications equipment destroyed in the madness of September 16th. After pleading from the Phalangists that landing an Italian division in Beirut was one of the worst things that could be done in light of what had just happened, a British division from Cyprus was landed instead on September 22nd. The troops were flooded with pleas from the population of ‘Please don’t leave!’ and ‘Long live Queen Elizabeth!’ They were desperate for protection from the Israelis and Italians, whom they didn’t so much hate anymore as unbearably fear. On September 30th, the Phalangists found Karami in a farm in Riyak, handing him over to a nearby IDF squad. Though under orders to capture him, Karami was shot on the spot by the IDF. Rabin was outraged and demanded to know who had gone against orders. As he recalled, “I found myself facing ten men with cold faces and colder hearts, their only higher purpose being to protect their comrades from punishment. They looked at me not with fear or anger … but indifference, like nothing I could do or say would change their tune … and they were right.” By the end of September, the UAR had lost all its presence within Lebanon, setting the stage for a new era for the Mediterranean encampment.

Extract from ‘The War that Ended a World’, by Francis Gautman

While Yemen was spared obliteration during Operation Samson, it wasn’t hard for the rulers of the country to realise that they had no chance of defying the Italians, British, or any other significant Western power. Yemenis of all persuasions feared a destructive invasion that would take away not just Aden, but even feared being incorporated under the harsh jackboot of Mussolini’s New Roman Empire. The Alwaziri consequently moved from being seen as Yemen’s greatest heroes for taking Aden to their greatest villains for having invited such immediate, overwhelming destruction. Of course, the Yahya family still had supporters within the ancient society, despite the purge that happened when the Alwaziri swept to power in 1948. The few communication channels were flood to bursting with desperate negotiations to install the exiled Hassan Bin Yahya onto the throne. Some said they would only side with the Yahya family if Yemen’s gains in Aden were totally recognised – this gained a flat, stinging rebuke that quickly made the Yemeni loyalists grasp their position. Finally, the plotters agreed to move against the King, Imam Abdullah.

On September 22nd, at a royal council in Taiz, discussions were made on how to protect the Yemeni government from potential nuclear attack. One hour after the meeting started, guards royal to the old Yahya regime burst through the door and slaughtered every attendant, with the sole exception of Imam Abdullah. Imam Abdullah was instead captured, bound, taken to the centre of Taiz and stoned to death as an ‘apostate’, in having killed God’s appointed ruler. A similar fate awaited Al-Qardaei, Yahya’s assassin, who was stoned several hours later in the same location, directly beside the old King’s corpse. Throughout the week, the Alwaziri family and Bani Murad tribes were hunted to extinction, thus securing the long term powerbase that would allow Hassan’s rule as King to be so relatively secure. No help from the UAR or Saudi Arabia arrived, as both still had no clearly organised central governments to command the starving, leaderless troops to march. Italian bombing runs from Ethiopia proved the final straw for any hope of resistance against the Yahya family’s re-ascendency to the Yemeni Throne.

However, in an act that astonished the world, especially Britain, Hassan would return to his native land through the port of Aden on September 24th (on an Italian vessel) to rapturous crowds. Hassan went on to say that Yemen would still gain from the war, and stated that he would not abandon his countrymen to the British ever again. This set massive alarm-bells ringing in London, as this seemed to be the Italian position in that the Italians had groomed Hassan for almost a decade at this point. Yet it wasn’t, from the British perspective, anyone’s right to decide what to do with the Aden Protectorate other than Britain herself, especially the Eden government that came to power on the promise of restoring imperial virility. For now, the public condemnations were few, but already in the great abodes of European power, divisions that would shape the following decades of European policy were being formed.

But there was a further, equally damaging offensive being concocted. On September 26th, Turkish as well as Albanian, Libyan, Eritrean, and Somalian troops loyal to the Italian Empire landed just outside of Jeddah in Saudi Arabia. The only thing they had in common besides their comradery was that all the soldiers were Muslims. The Saudi Royal Family had been obliterated in the Italian-Israeli nuclear attack, and the next remaining members in the line of succession were so vague and distant from power that none ever expected they would get a shot. They thus had no in-built power-base to leverage and take control of the country. Consequently, even one and a half weeks after the death of King Saud, no one knew where the Arabian government was anymore. Israel had taken advantage of the carnage to capture the whole of the Gulf of Aqaba by September 21st, beginning a race down the coast fuelled by the British and Italian navies. However, all parties knew that ultimately, only Muslims would be accepted as the proper protectors of the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. Consequently, the Italians sent their crack Muslim troops to land on the Saudi shores, quickly overwhelming the scattered, terrified defenders. It had been agreed between Mussolini and Orbay that Turkey would regain her old possession of the Holy Cities of Islam. To that end, a joint task force was assembled (with no input from Britain), which quickly formed a beachhead in the leaderless country. On September 25th, Mecca fell to Turkish forces, the Kaaba once more falling under the rule of the Turks. On October 2nd, Medina would likewise fall. Such incendiary actions, which led to riots in many occupied areas of the Arab world, would lead to increasingly angry telegrams getting sent back and forth between Rome and London, the latter demanding the former become more transparent with its strategies. Of course, this was all part of Mussolini's plan from the outset, and the coup de grace was still to come.

As chaos continued to subsume the Middle East, even more alliances and political intrigue threatened to upturn the state of affairs. Chief among them were the many discussions the Kurds were having, with the North Iranians demanding the Kurds quickly begin their rebellion against the UAR to stop Turkey from devouring all in sight, and the Kurds waiting for the still collapsing UAR to present itself as an even more appealing target. Finally, the Kurds could take it no more, and on October 1st 1956, the Kurdish Uprising began in Erbil, quickly seizing the city from the Ba’athists, who were beginning to surrender in mass due to the chaos and confusion of who was leading the UAR (Aflaq’s radio comments had not reached everyone), and how they were meant to reply. The Kurds were able to quickly establish themselves as too much for the weak, shattered Baathists to deal with – much to the alarm of Turkey. The Turks were in the middle of slamming the UAR army against the Mediterranean coast by chasing them to the Sea. The rise of the Kurds had created a massive potential security threat for the Turkish state, but the troops to deal with it still didn’t exist. To that end, the Turks began to rush the conflict, linking with the Israelis on October 4th, to swing around and crush the Kurds before they were too strong to put down. At the same time however, other people had other plans. The North Iranian army was readying its troops ... as was the South …

The Great Middle Eastern Crisis

Extract from ‘The War that Ended a World’, by Francis Gautman

The Arab states were alternatively extremely conservative and relatively liberal. They were both modernized and primitive, urban and rural. But regardless of their differences, they were united in the suffering of war, and an unprecedentedly destructive one too. The Arab world had suddenly been decapitated without a clear system to know who replaced who. This led to personal rivalries, self-preservation and the lust for power being the order of the day. Compounded by the distances, gaps in language, religion and tribe, Pan-Arabism had fallen in perhaps the most discrediting way it could. The unity that Ba’athist propaganda had glorified was shown not merely to have died, but to have never existed at all. It was not the love of their neighbor that brought the Arabs together, but the radiance of Aflaq’s image and the fear of the whip. Once these were gone, the supposedly unbreakable bond that stretched from Gulf to Gibraltar was found to be as robust as the Emperor’s New Clothes. The chaos that followed the Italian nuclear attack would be well remembered among Arabs as the ultimate proof that the fellow members of their race were not necessarily on their side. It must be remembered, that while to Europeans the destruction of Arabia was indeed awe-inspiring, to the more traditionalist and conservative Arabs, it was as much a God-ordained, apocalyptic event in scale and wrath as Noah’s Flood or the Plagues of Egypt. Trade between the Arab states had vanished, with trucks full of food rotting on the borders with no one to allow them through. The electricity, where it had worked, was non-existent. The radio whizzed static, water didn’t come out of the tap and Western planes flew unimpeded over the sky like divine punishers, dropping clouds of death. Whole cities, cities that had stood for thousands of years and held millions in their sway, had vanished in seconds. The Second Nakba (Second Catastrophe) as Arabs call it, was the mental equivalent of the Soviet experience in World War 2, only combined with extreme religious ferver. The Arabs had never faced such a gigantic, universal catastrophe in their history, and people scrambled to find religious meaning in it. Sadly, the most popular one, which began to ferment even while Aflaq held out in the Baghdad Bunker, was that it was divine judgment for letting a Christian rule the primarily Muslim Arabs. Others even argued that Aflaq had been a European agent entrusted to sabotage the Arabs and render them enslaved. Even some of those who didn’t go as far as to attack Aflaq looked upon the Christians as fifth-columnists, a view which was greatly aided by the Phalangist takeover of Lebanon and subsequent events in Egypt and Iraq. Thus, even as the endgame began, the seeds of the next episode of suffering in the Arab World already began to grow.

Yemen was the first country to surrender to the Roman Alliance, quickly announcing that they would join the war on Italy’s side to improve their chances at the final negotiation. This would lead to longstanding jokes in Italy about the reliability of the Gulf state. Yemen would send its relatively unmolested forces both north against Saudi Arabia and east into Oman. They would meet Italian forces (who had invaded around the Mecca area) on October 6th at Balqarn while still bewildered they had barely fired a shot during their long march northward – their main impediment being the scores of starving civilians begging for food. The Saudi government could not respond to the threat because there was no Saudi government. By now, the Italians had been contacted by at least six different camps claiming to represent the legitimate heir to the Saudi throne. Some even suggest that the ultimate decision to accept the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia (Muhammad ibn Ibrahim Al ash-Sheikh) as the true inheritor of the state was done by little more than frustration about working out whose royal claim was valid. The Mufti, who had venomously disagreed with King Saud over the alliance with Aflaq and the Soviets, gladly took the chance to pull the plug on the old alliance of the Salafists and Saud family. With the Mufti declaring that the Saud family had ‘forsaken the will of God by entrusting themselves to atheists and Christians’, their rule was consequently forfeit. On October 9th, the Mufti declared that all Saudi troops would stand down or ‘God would strike them dead’. The remaining members of the Saud family grabbed what little of their fortunes were left and fled the country, mostly to Brazil. Thus, the House of Saud came to an ignominious end as a ruling family.

The British, by now having recognized that the Roman Alliance was not acting remotely in the collective interest of the Western camp and were consequently furious at, had hurriedly organized a landing in Oman on September 26th. Sultan Said bin Taimur returned from exile, his former promises of allowing Western companies to have access to his natural resources still very much in play (though the British would muscle the Italians out of the deal). Landing in Salalah to cut off any attempted Italian incursion into Oman, the British quickly raced to the Yemeni border to stop them. Oman had likewise descended into turmoil since the Yom Kippur Nuclear Bombings. No two towns had the same leader and starvation had become the norm. The population, never particularly invested in the far away UAR imposing its control despite the popularity of its former leader Alhianai, put up scant resistance to the British. They were more worried about what the Italians and Yemenis would do to them (especially the latter if they were attempting to ‘prove their loyalty’), and often welcomed the English. Others were more than willing to cooperate with their new occupiers in return for more food or security – it was through this simple act of cooperation that a world-arresting revelation was about to assert itself. Meanwhile, the British landed another force close to Muscat on October 2nd, being likewise met with almost no resistance due to the shattered state of the Arab forces. Among them were many Israelis, all eager to find out the location where the Jews of Muscat had been imprisoned and hopefully save them from starvation. Of course, there was no one waiting to be rescued, and very soon, it was about to be known to the world.

But it was the fall of Egypt that would be the first major capitulation of the war. The Italians marched down the Nile to scant resistance; they had bypassed most of the fighting at Cairo due to the city’s extinction. The British and Sudanese marched steadily up the river, and all over the country’s skies, the Egyptian Air Force had been eliminated even as an afterthought. It was obvious to even the true believers that Egypt was finished. Yet Nasser continued to descend into deeper and deeper delirium. Sadat recalled the meeting that finally convinced him to act against his friend: “It was October 1st. Nasser was escorted to the table and we delivered a report discussing the situation in Kurdistan – about the Kurds rebelling and seeking Iranian help. Once we finished, and we talked for about fifteen minutes, Nasser spoke for a whole hour about nothing except how much he hated Aflaq and that we must plan a way to get him to lead the UAR instead of him. Then he left – the words ‘Kurdistan’ or ‘Kurds’ weren’t spoken. Yasser [Arafat] came to me after the meeting and said, ‘We can’t live like this – we need to do something’. He was right, and I told him he was. That was when, with the heaviest heart, I decided to put my love of my country over the love of my friend.”

On October 5th, the day had started badly for all concerned. It had been confirmed that Israeli troops had reached Damascus, though they naturally avoided going to the nuclear centre, content simply to pacify the suburbs. Nasser was alone in his quarters, mumbling about this was all Aflaq’s fault. Sadat came up to him, talking about the only subject Nasser cared to discuss at that time: the need to get revenge on Aflaq. At the same time, Nasser demanded he have some coffee to calm his nerves. Once the coffee was delivered, Sadat closed the door and poured cyanide into Nasser’s cup, which the dictator would have been easily able to see if he was not blinded. He then passed the drink to his friend. Nasser’s last words were, ‘Once this war is over …” and he never finished the sentence. Nasser died almost immediately from the first gulp – Sadat believed that Nasser died too quickly to realize what had happened, which gave him ‘immense peace’. He would recall his emotions afterward. “I willed myself to cry for what I had done to my friend – instead I only wept that I hadn’t done it sooner so that more Egyptians may have lived.” Meanwhile, troops loyal to him had arrested most of his competitors to the Egyptian leadership, notably Abdel Amer, who had become a figure of unbridled hate from most of the officers for his notoriously useless military commands. That evening, Sadat sent a message out to the Italians and British that Egypt had declared independence from the UAR and sought unconditional surrender. Sadat hoped that at the very least, the end of Egypt’s suffering had been reached. Tragically, in many ways, it had only begun.

Extract from 'Duck and Cover: The Near Misses that May have Meant WW3' by Donald Rusker

Faced with the demoralized, depressed Arab opposition, the Kurds were able to easily clear Erbil, taking most of the cities in the north of Iraqi Kurdistan, especially close to the Turkish border. Indeed, the main opposition the Kurds encountered was not the scattered Ba’athists, but the Turkish Air Force, who relentlessly battered the Kurdish forces, even in the midst of fighting the Ba’athists. As the UAR’s Air Force had effectively been grounded, the Turks had no problem finding spare forces to harry the Kurds. At the same time, the Israelis bombed the Ba’athist positions in the Kurdistan region as the indirect response to Turkish assault. This evened the score on the aviation front, and allowed superior Kurdish communication, organization and morale to overwhelm the Arabs. On October 10th, the Turks had finally completed their objective of reaching the Mediterranean, having liberated their annexed territories and obliterating the once imposing UAR army, whose greatest challenge they presented to the Turks was where to put all the surrendered soldiers. With that, the Turks finally began to turn around to march into the Iraq region with the goal of obliterating the Kurdish Independence Movement. But two other important things happened on October 10th. The first was the beginning of the Kurdish assault on Mosul, which the Kurds considered the key to controlling Iraq in the absence of Baghdad. But even more important was the second: it was the date that North Iran stated that it would ‘Defend the Kurdish people from Fascist aggression’ and thus moved its troops into Kurdistan. This turned the Kurdistan Crisis (also known as The Great Middle Eastern Crisis) into an International, existential threat that could result in Nuclear War.

The world was startled by the escalation, none more so than the Soviets, who couldn’t believe one of their client states had done something so bold as to risk World War 3 by preparing to begin a showdown with a Roman Alliance member in Turkey. Of course, compounding the Soviet concern were two brutal facts: the first was that they were seen as the ringleader of the operation, even though the last thing Khrushchev wanted was to go into the crippled UAR. He was planning to cut off the roads to West Berlin and pressure the West enough to leave the city to him in order to regain lost credibility before events completely overwhelmed him. The second was even more humiliating. To claim that North Iran had done the action without his authorization, while correct, would have been laughed out of court at best and at worst irreparably damage the credibility of the USSR, when even their puppets were seen to be out of their control. Molotov would recall, “Khrushchev, whose nerves had already plummeted in the three weeks, pulled out most of what was left of his hair in rage and fear at what the Iranians had done”. That night, the Soviets reluctantly made an announcement that they endorsed the Kurdish struggle for independence, throwing Aflaq so hard under the bus that Pravda changed from talking of the ‘Heroic UAR’ to the ‘Villainous UAR’ in a single day. But everyone knew the incredible risks that were unfolding – the North Iranians were a member of the Stalingrad Pact. If they were attacked, the Soviets would have to defend them against Turkey, which would involve the Roman Alliance and inevitably ITO. Thus, the Kurdistan Crisis would go down as one of the main flashpoints in history that could have concluded with retaliatory nuclear warfare.

But if that wasn’t enough, on October 12th, South Iran made their own incursion, also against the UAR but nowhere near Kurdistan, focusing on southern (Shia) Iraq. Britain had not been informed of the attack, and was likewise furious that an already intense crisis had yet another dimension to it. There were two major thrusts. In the first, keeping close to the Gulf, they charged at the barely coherent Arab defenses. Quickly surrounding Basra by the 13th and beginning the ‘liberation’ of Kuwait on October 14th, the South Iranians were greeted as saviors from possible Israeli occupation, though the population was much to broken and starving to put much emotion into anything. The second thrust was right towards the heart of the whole UAR edifice: Baghdad. The city had been reduced to radioactive rubble, albeit with its dictator still trapped beneath the graveyard that had once been his mighty metropolis. While Aflaq reportedly liked the visual of his holding out in the Baghdad Bunker as one of defiance in the face of death, in reality it simply left his cut-throat subordinates to fight among themselves without his iron direction. Baghdad was surrounded by scores of refugees fleeing in all directions except the city itself. The city of Aladdin, the city of a thousand myths and tales had become a smoking, disease-ridden husk of death. On October 15th, the South Iranian reconnaissance troops made out the ruins of the ancient city.

October 15th would also be a critical day in the north of Iraq. That was the day that Kurdish forces, backed by air power from both Israel and North Iran in one of the most bizarre alliances to grace to region, broke into the centre of Mosul. This should have been a moment for wild celebration, and it certainly was for Kurdish commanders. Unfortunately, word travelled fast to Ankara. The Turks decided that serious actions now had to be taken to obliterate the Kurdish presence in Mosul, even if that meant obliterating Mosul period. The Turkish Air Force was launched, as Turkish forces drew ever nearer to the Iraq border, setting up the final confrontation with the Peshmerga. Turkish pilots were told to ‘kill everything you see – there are no friends in Mosul’. To that end, Mosul was struck brutally, and only the relatively primitive nature of the Turkish Air Force hindered the operation. Both Arabs and Kurds perished beneath the bombs, even as they fought each other. But then came the great mistake. One Turkish fighter saw a significant detachment of men outside the city and turned to fire on them – which indeed he did. Others then swarmed the survivors and almost obliterated them. It wasn’t until that evening that the word reached Ankara: those weren’t Kurds, or even Arabs … they were Iranians. Radmanesh made a radio speech that night saying that, “The Fascist Turks have fired the first shot in the next war!” Soon after, Khrushchev, still reeling at how events were overwhelming all concerned, made a similar speech that, ‘The Turks and all their Western allies have committed an unpardonable offense!” Soviet ambassadors were recalled across the world, and the Soviet Union went on high alert. In response, Bulgaria (also the most Pro-Israel state in the Roman Alliance outside of Italy) [1], officially remilitarized Dobruja in defiance of the Kiev Agreement on October 16th. Israel finally pulled any support of the Kurds, recognizing how serious the new crisis was. Patton by now had finally leaned into the conflict, saying that it would fully support its ITO partners in conflict with the Soviets, and would consider an attack on the Roman Alliance tantamount to one on ITO. As Kurdish/Iranian and Turkish troops prepared to clash at the old Syria-Iraq border, it seemed like the world was hurtling towards Nuclear War, with the Great Middle Eastern Crisis seemingly doomed to lead all of its competing parties to oblivion.

Then, in Jerusalem on October 16th, Prime Minister Ben-Gurion would walk out to a press conference. As the Israeli press breathlessly asked him if WW3 was imminent, he gave the news that would stun the world. And of all people he had to thank for the revelation, none of the journalists in the room would have suspected that it was none other … than Otto Skorenzy. [2]

[1] - Not to mention the presence of many figures OTL who stood against Hitler's plans for the Holocaust, ITTL, Thessaloniki (renamed to the Bulgarian 'Solun') has a significant Jewish presence. In the 19th century, it was a Jewish majority city. Now that the city has been annexed to Bulgaria (with almost all Greek Jews fleeing there after pogroms) it has once more got a majority of the city after the Greeks were expelled. Ladino is kept alive as a major language there, with Yiddish kept alive as the major Jewish language among those who remained in Libya, and of course Hebrew in Israel, thus keeping the three main tongues of Judaism alive.

[2] Believe it or not, there is strong evidence Skorenzy was enlisted by Mossad to keep tabs on the Egyptians. ITTL, something similar happens, though the target is a little different …
Peace in the Middle East

Extract from ‘The Arab Tragedy: 1944–1956’ by Abdul Nazim

Otto Skorenzy had been involved in many notorious operations during WW2, notably wearing American uniforms to lead commando raids during Operation Ragnarok. He escaped trial for war crimes after the conclusion of the conflict before breaking out of jail and escaping. First, he went to Spain before pressure on Franco from Mussolini to follow up leads on Nazi escapees became to concerning. With that, he made his escape to Argentina, but here too Peron would complicate matters by joining the Roman Alliance, thus forcing a move to Brazil. He had settled down enough that he was uninterested in moving to the UAR and thus made a home in the country. He hoped he would finally find peace there, and for the most part he did … until 1955. On that day, two men posed as hitchhikers looking for directions and asked him for help – when Skorenzy let his guard down, he found himself looking at two gun barrels pointed right at him. Certain he was about to die, Skorenzy found to his astonishment that these two men, who were members of Mossad though they pretended to be Italian, did not want to kill him. Instead, they wanted to recruit him. They wanted him to pursue a suspected SS network operating in the UAR by the name of ODESSA. It was centered in Tikrit, away from the bustling madness in Baghdad and elsewhere but close enough for easy contact. Skorenzy, knowing the alternative was being shot on the spot, reluctantly agreed.

He arrived in the UAR in February 1956, just before the Second Arabian War commenced. This made his job vastly harder, but he was still able to get into the main complex, where he met Fegelein and a series of other Nazi fugitives (“Welcome to our Promised Land!” laughed Fegelein when they first met). Ultimately, the war meant that it was impossible to launch an attack on the complex as resources were needed elsewhere. Skorenzy spent his time relaying to Mossad the going on of the settlement, which rarely amounted to much. However, days before the Yom Kippur Rocket Strikes, Fegelein would tell Skorenzy, “Otto, I can’t tell you what’s going to happen, but very soon, the Jews will remember the taste of death in their mouths.” Without specifics, there was nothing much to be done, and thus the night of September 15th shocked Israel, the world and even Otto Skorenzy. It was soon realized that Fegelein’s prophecy referred to that very offensive. With that, Skorenzy went to work, extracting as much information out of Fegelein as possible. He managed to explain about Otto Ambros’s work in nerve gas, that there were research labs scattered throughout the UAR and that Aflaq conceived the offensive. In the madness following the nuclear retaliation, Skorenzy had difficulty contacting his Mossad superiors but he managed to get through not only the information on what had happened. Indeed, he had also smuggled out of Fegelein’s office a map detailing the chemical weapons labs and missile production centres that were littered through the UAR. For the next week, Western air forces proceeded to batter everything in the UAR that could ever have been made chemical weapons. The UAR, already in shambles following Operation Samson, was powerless to avoid even a single raid. Otto Ambros, trapped with Aflaq in the Baghdad Bunker, sat powerlessly as all his wiles came to catastrophic ruin.

Finally, the time came to end the operation. Even in Tikrit, famine was spreading due to the collapse of civil authority. Skorenzy told his superiors that Fegelein, Brunner and all the other fugitives were planning on fleeing to South Iran (“The Birthplace of the Aryans” as Fegelein put it). The Israelis knew that the time had come – thankfully, they had achieved their objectives in the region, capped off with the successful capture of Lebanon and Damascus. With undivided attention, they initiated Operation Wrath of God, a commando strike led by Ariel Sharon that would fall into Tikrit and capture (though if needs be kill) the nest of Nazi fugitives that had ignited popular imagination for more than a decade. On October 10th, a series of Israeli helicopters took off from deep in what was once Jordan, flying over the silent desert, before at last reaching a small compound, the only one in the town where lights still worked. Skorenzy had fled to a nearby safehouse and watched the chaos from a distance. The town of Tikrit was awoken by the sounds of explosions and machine gunfire. No one had expected the Israelis to arrive in the town in such an auspicious way, or indeed any way at all. Storming the complex, they found the SS fugitives were not ready to give up without a fight. Walter Rauff managed to engage Sharon in hand-to-hand combat before Sharon shook him off and fired ‘enough bullets into him to make him more holes than flesh’. Alois Brunner attempted to throw a grenade but was shot in the hand during the attempted throw, causing him to drop the grenade, which not only blew him up but broke the ceiling and sent half the building on top of him. Klaus Barbie would be among the highest targets to be successfully captured, but Fegelein would escape the fate of the Israelis had planned for him, being found peacefully in his chair with a cyanide capsule dangling from his mouth. With Fegelein’s death, ODESSA effectively died with him. Every document that could be taken was grabbed and flung onto the nearby helicopters. Skorenzy was likewise brought onto the helicopter, entirely unsure if he was about to be betrayed. Instead, he was presented his old Brazilian passport and told he would soon be sent back there. Ultimately, he would travel back to Brazil and resume his old, fugitive life, though he never got official recognition for his actions until the new millennium. He furthermore never received any official pardon, thus living the rest of his life in the shadow of fear about possible retribution. However, he had played his role in history, having not only destroyed the Nazi support groups that the UAR employed but potentially saving the world from global nuclear war.

Extract from ‘The War that Ended a World’, by Francis Gautman

Israel’s revelations, topped off with photos of Fegelein’s corpse, the documents proving Nazi involvement in the UAR’s chemical weapons program and Klaus Barbie’s handcuffs wrapped around the man himself, had stunned the world. That all the major powers could be distracted from a potential nuclear conflict was an indication of how important this revelation was. To Israel, it obliterated any lingering doubts as to the morality of Operation Samson. To the West and non-aligned states, it destroyed the reputation Aflaq had attempted to develop as an Anti-Colonialist and tied him to the moral culpability of the Nazis (indeed several South American nations would finally declare war on the UAR). But the most important change came upon the Soviet Union. For all its dictatorship and anti-Semitism, the Nazis would forever be regarded as the eternal enemy of the Soviet people. There was no Devil so great as to force the Soviets to ally with Nazis, and the leadership knew it. In the final twist, the Soviets declared war on the UAR soon after Israel’s revelations were made public, completing the total diplomatic collapse of the USSR during the course of the Second Arabian War. The war was so damaging to Soviet interests and esteem that it would inform Soviet decision making for the remainder of the Union’s existence. Khrushchev, bewildered with what had happened in the last month, tried to use it for his own propaganda purposes, arguing it showed his wisdom in never openly siding with the UAR. In reality, what little was left of the USSR’s reputation now lay shattered on the floor. They had been exposed not merely as bestial for their treatment of Jews, not just cowardly in their refusal to come to their ally’s help, not just weak in their inability to rein in their Iranian puppet, but as comically incompetent goons who sang the praises of a man giving shelter to the people who raped their country. As Suslov would bitingly tell Molotov, “We’re too monstrous for the democracies to work with us and too pathetic for the Fascists to be scared of us”.

But the most important thing that came out of the shock of the UAR’s secret being unearthed was that it sharpened the minds of all parties enough to convince the Turks and Iranians and Kurds to stop firing on each other in a series of frantic messages brokered by the British and Soviets. The Kurds and North Iranians marched to the old Syria-Iraq border, occupying everything north of the Tigris. The Turks completed their occupation of all of Syria, leaving Israel and South Iran as the final powers in the region, swallowing all that was left. By Halloween, the Israelis had recaptured all of her territories, and Baghdad was completely surrounded (not that there were many people left in the city). In a sop to the Israelis, given what they had been through in the war, Mossadegh suggested that the Israelis perform the killing blow on the Baghdad Bunker. Thanks to the multitude of prisoners that fell into South Iranian hands since the collapse of the UAR, there was a pretty good idea of where the Bunker was located and finding the best way in. The Israelis gladly accepted, naming the plan Operation Cyrus in honor of the Persian Emperor who freed the Jews from bondage. The plan was to drop into Baghdad (everyone would be given as much protection from the poisoned city as was feasible) and break into the Bunker. From there, they would hopefully find and arrest Aflaq. No radio communication had been sent from the Bunker since early October, and questions were raised about whether Aflaq had escaped or committed suicide. Naturally, there was only one way to find out. With the help of the South Iranian military patrolling the skies and outskirts, several Israeli helicopters landed into the post-nuclear wasteland of central Baghdad on November 5th. As one of the participants in the operation, Meir Kahane would say, “It was like we had landed in Hell to slay the Devil”.

Only twice on the surface was any resistance encountered, one from a man so emaciated that he couldn’t raise his gun much higher than his waist. Not wanting to waste a bullet, the commander of the Operation and fresh off his work in Tikrit, Ariel Sharon merely punched the assailant. He was shocked to see the would-be-shooter had died instantly. All around, the rotting corpses of mutated, half-disintegrated and long-forgotten people lay around, some old, some recent. Baghdad, once the crown jewel of Arabia, city of dreams and fantasy, had been reduced to death. It was not a city with dead people, a city where people went to die - it was death. It was rubble and ruin, famine and pestilence, silence and stillness. Getting to work quickly to avoid the risk of radiation exposure, a series of explosives taken by the team went to work on the rubble that covered the entrance to the tunnel. What had entombed Aflaq for more than a month had been obliterated in a matter of minutes. Eventually, it was time for the team to go down, all scared to die, all blessed that they of all people were the ones to go after Aflaq. The complex was vast but they knew what to expect from the word of refugees fleeing the city. The walls were filled with portraits and posters of the regime’s leaders and aspirations, perhaps the only evidence that there was ever life in the city of Baghdad. Finally, the first few people were found, all dead, but what was astonishing is that the gunshots were mostly in the chest, which would indicate murder rather than a suicide. The bodies were relatively fresh too. Now racing through the Bunker, they found the same thing again – dead soldiers and bureaucrats, but it was clear that some of the bodies had suffered from radiation poisoning, based on their confinement and having defecated all over the room, giving the Bunker a demonic smell. On and on they went until they got to the Presidential office. They burst in and saw the awful sight. Aflaq had escaped man’s justice, but not God’s. He lay on the ground, having gone bald with blotches all over his skin, having defecated so much that a pool of brown surrounded him. He was long dead, radiation poisoning having done its work. As Kahane said, “G-d could have given him no more fitting punishment”. In the corner was Otto Ambros, shot almost twenty times in addition to serious physical bruising, and lying dead. After further searching, a few scattered, delirious survivors were extracted, almost all near-death and precisely all having gone temporarily insane. They, along with Aflaq’s corpse, were extracted and would prove invaluable sources of information after their treatment. What had happened was that Aflaq had begun succumbing to radiation sickness at the start of October. In the time that the condemned group had been trapped beneath the rubble of Baghdad, Aflaq was the one personality who maintained leadership. When died on October 31st from his illness, Aflaq insisted that he die in the Presidential Office to have a more ‘dignified death’. Once he did die, the Bunker went delirious, half due to their leader’s death, half due to their confinement. Ambros was blamed for having caused the destruction that befell the city and was lynched on the spot in Aflaq’s office. In the chaos that followed, collective insanity spread around the Bunker, resulting in factions, shootouts, suicides and mutilations, all while the terrifying effects of the radiation exerted themselves. Sharon estimated that if they had arrived one day later, “There wouldn’t have been a cockroach alive in that place.” Aflaq’s disgusting remains were well-publicized, which sucked out all oxygen from claims that he had a ‘glorious death’. His death was so slow, painful and non-heroic that many Arabs thought it was a divine curse, tying into sectarian claims of Christian uppity-ness.

The announcement of Aflaq’s death was enough to cause most of the remainder of Iraq to surrender, the last surrender of a coherent Arab force being made on November 11th in Ramadi to the Israelis, the same day as the end of World War 1. On the same day, the Moroccan forces likewise accepted their surrender. Algeria’s FLN would never formally surrender but were so shattered that De Gaulle declared Algeria to be ‘pacified’. On the same day, the Israeli army, having marched virtually unopposed since the start of November, reached the Euphrates River, thus fulfilling not only the dream of Zionism but the prophecy in the Bible's book of Genesis that God made to Abraham that his descendants should inherit all the land of Canaan between the Euphrates and the ‘Brook of Egypt’. However, celebrations were far more muted than the First Arabian War – the lack of a central government that agreed to peace made the occasion somewhat arbitrary, and many more had died than the first war as well. By contrast, the mood in Italy was one of immense fervor, with Mussolini proclaiming with typical bombast from Rome that ‘Twice Rome and Carthage have fought, and twice Rome has stood victorious”. Turkey had no such time for indulgence – they had an extremely uneasy peace on their southern border with a hostile power backed by Communists with a significant diaspora within their territory. Everyone knew that there was a serious chance the armistice could break down over this fact. The Soviets, utterly humiliated, were eager to exert the rights of the Kurds against the Fascists to extract something from the fiasco the war had become. The British spoke diplomatically with all sides, but were burning with fury in private with what the Roman Alliance had done. Quick backchannel communications agreed to hold a conference in nominally neutral Budapest to hammer out the final deal, which was quickly named by the American press as the ‘Peace in the Middle East Conference’. All powers that fought against the UAR in the conflict, alongside Russia and America, were invited to come. Notably, the UAR would give no representative, for reasons as much practical as they were political – the UAR was so badly splintered that no one could feasibly speak for the entire group of scattered nations that once composed its body. Due to the extremely volatile situation in Turkey, the meeting began quickly on December 14th, with hopes to finish the talks by the end of the year.

While the peace had yet to be solidified, the armistice at least brought most of the horrendous suffering of the Second Arabian War to an end. The war had killed nearly three million people, overwhelmingly Arab civilians in the Yom Kippur Nuclear Strikes and subsequent mass chemical bombings and starvations. Though there were still isolated rabbles of warlords operating deep in Arabia and Iraq, the UAR as an entity had not simply been defeated – it had been atomized. It was a collapse without any parallel in war. Only in the Twentieth Century could life be so centralized but so vulnerable to decapitation. Surprisingly little resistance followed up the occupations, regardless of whether they were Turks, Kurds or even Israelis. A mood of hopeless nihilism permeated the entire region, a phenomenon known now as ‘Gulf Syndrome’. Millions of Arabs now knew that any dream they had of proud, independent states glorifying their Arab heritage were not just gone, but that they could never exist again. Yet even many Israelis came down with ’Gulf Syndrome’, for which many explanations were offered, from guilt over the scale of the carnage to the loss of a clear enemy through which they could define themselves. But whatever the cause or extent of guilt the Israelis felt, their leadership, increasingly dominated by Begin and Shamir, were doggedly determined that no force could again arise among the Arabs that could threaten the Israelis. For that reason, Begin made the request to the Americans to hand over some of the plans they had for Germany after WW2. The one that most caught the eyes of the Israeli leaders was called ‘The Morgenthau Plan’.

Depart From Me, Into Everlasting Fire

Extract from ‘The War that Ended a World’, by Francis Gautman

As the Budapest Conference began, not even King Otto’s pleasantries could disguise the increasing fractures that were rippling through the Western alliance. Between the Roman Alliance and Britain especially, a significant mistrust had begun to ferment. The only thing that stopped open conflict was the need to present a united front against the Soviets. All the while, there were significant differences of opinion between the Western nations as to how to treat the Arabs. While fury against the Arabs had reached fever pitch, especially after revelations about Aflaq’s shelter of Nazi War Criminals, there was still some mood among America, France, Germany and Britain to turn the traditionally conservative nations into stalwart Anti-Soviet allies, much as Germany had become. By contrast, Israel and the Roman Alliance demanded the total obliteration of the Arab states as anything that could conceivably threaten peace again. The Soviets were actually on the side of the Roman Alliance and Israel, if any greater irony could be imagined. They would rather turn the Middle East into a useless pastoral wasteland than imagine the possibility of a strong Arabia with the West reaping the economic fruits of stable, reliable allies. Naturally, the North and South Iranians (who coordinated with astonishing unity that surprised both Western and Soviet observers) likewise wished a harsher settlement on the Arabs. On December 16th, the question would have its resolution.

British troops in Oman, close to the border to ward off potential Yemeni incursions had found a surprisingly well-stocked house. Upon investigation, and after being fired upon, they discovered that a boy was hiding there. One of the local interpreters gasped with astonishment – it was the son of Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr (who perished in the madness that befell the Baghdad Bunker). This boy’s supposed death had started the whole conflict. Upon intense interrogation, the boy revealed everything, even that he overheard the location of where the Jews of Muscat were sent – the boy eventually being sent off to a sanatorium due to what he had been through. The information was quickly relayed to British authorities in the north of the country, who found enough desperate inmates among the Ba’athist prisoners who knew where the monstrosity had taken place. On December 18th, the mass graves where the Jews of Muscat had been murdered were unearthed. The refugees from the destroyed city were taken and shown the grave to shame them, with the local British commander saying, “The Italians should have nuked you more.” The revelations were quickly spread around the world, providing the final deathblow to any talk of mercy with respect to the UAR. As Ciano would tell the delegates, “We have as much right to take what we want from the Arabs as the Arabs had to take it from the rocks and bugs.” With that, the final, Carthaginian settlement was drawn up.

The fates of Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia were in part connected. In all these areas, any sense of Arab identity was to be extinguished, with Berber language, culture and practices to be encouraged and enforced and Arab versions to be minimized with the hope of eventually eliminating them. ‘Arabic’ as practiced in that region would be known as the 'Maghreb' language and would have a legally inferior status to Berber. Morocco lost their access to the Mediterranean, as Spain’s concession now reached the Algerian border. Everything south of Ifni was annexed, thus saving the city from its being surrounded. The entire Atlantic Coast was likewise annexed to Spain for ten miles from shore, thus ensuring Casablanca and Rabat fell to Franco. Morocco, having lost all access to the sea, was left to the mercy of Spain, and was forced to become a protectorate. Mohammed V abdicated to his son Hassan II, a man whose ruthlessness in suppressing Pan-Arabism would endear him to Franco. Hassan may have been unpopular, but like the collaborationists in Greece, they seriously believed that they had to prove their loyalty to the Roman Alliance so that they could maintain the independence of their country. Local Moroccans were allowed to choose which state to which they would belong to, with most preferring to take their chances in the new capital of Marrakesh than stay under the Spaniard heel. Franco was elated, feeling he had in some sense restored Spanish virility that had seemingly decayed with every passing year since the glory days of King Philip.

Algeria was divided into two: the northern section would remain an integral part of France with the southern portion being a protectorate, known as ‘French Algeria’ and ‘Algeria’ respectively (even though the latter was to all intents and purposes French as well). Given that Algeria was full of natural gases and resources in the south, De Gaulle knew it was foolishness to allow those resources to be lost. Thus, exciting Berber leader Mouloud Mammeri (who had been targeted by the FLN for assassination due to their rigidly Pan-Arab beliefs) with the dream of leading a Berber Algeria, the Berber activist accepted a position as the President of Algeria, believing the price of French economic control to be slight compared to the regeneration of the language and culture he loved so much. Algeria would even adopt the Berber national flag. At the same time, he would have to accept the loss of the coastal provinces, with the borders of Saïda, Tiaret, Médéa, Batna and Annaba becoming the new borders of France. With the great cities of Oran and Algiers firmly locked under his control, De Gaulle would announce that all citizens of French Algeria would be forced to sign an oath of allegiance to France, with those not doing so being sent to Algeria. Almost all Colons and Jews accepted the deal, with a roughly equal amount of Arabs (or ‘Berbers’ as they often called themselves to avoid being lumped with Arabs) likewise agreeing to stay with France, mostly those who had either joined the military or who had family in the military as well. Others who chose to remain included Christians who feared being seen as fifth columnists. Regardless, by 1958, a majority of French Algeria was ethnically French, with its ‘Berber’ minority terrified at the thought of unity with its southern neighbor.

Finally came Tunisia, whose large Italian and French communities posed a problem to the conference. Ultimately, it was agreed that the Jewish island of Djerba would be better suited to Italian control given Libya’s significant Jewish heritage, and that the Kerkennah Islands would likewise be annexed to assuage Italian concerns about quick actions to save their fellows should Tunisia descend into flames again. However, these were the sole territorial gains Italy would make from the war in Tunisia. The Bey of Tunis’s rule was re-established, with Chedly Bey, the youngest son of the late Muhammad, proclaimed King of Tunisia as Muhammad IX. Berber, French and Italian all became the national languages of Tunisia, with ‘Maghreb’ relegated to a ‘poor country’s language’ according to state propaganda, for which the population was to move away from. French and Italian cultural projects were to receive full state funding, while anything promoting ‘Maghreb’ values was left in the dust. By 1960, you couldn’t find a newspaper in Tunis that was in Maghreb, but you could find plenty of the main three languages. Altogether, the French, Italian and Jewish settler populations made up roughly 10% of Tunisia’s population, but they were quickly established as the only reliable support base the King could fall back on. All the same, France ensured that Italy would be allowed to free access to the Tunisian market, just as France had free access as well, thus turning the shattered region into an economic bonanza where trade between the Roman Alliance and Western democracies was brisk and under the carpet. French, Italian and Jewish communities would likewise be provided with rigid security to stop another slaughter like had begun at the start of the war, to be paid for by the Tunisian state.

In Libya, in celebration of the province’s resistance, they were ‘rewarded’ with full recognition of rights and formal annexation into the Italian mainland, thus ending Libya’s debatable status as a colony. The provinces of Tripolitania (where Djerba and the Kerkennah Islands were integrated), Fezzan and Cyrenaica were now as Italian as Rome itself. By 1957, the province was roughly 52% ethnic Italian following the expansion of the oil industry bringing in countless migrants, with a further 8% being Jewish, another 10% being other whites (often Albanians, Montenegrins or Slovenians) and the remainder being ‘Pheocenian’. As such, it was believed that the province had been sufficiently tamed to warrant full recognition. The news was met with a wild ovation in the streets of Tripoli and Benghazi, with Mussolini visiting Italy’s African region that February to a raucous reception from the inhabitants, especially when he dusted off the ‘Sword of Islam’ that he had once wielded in Libya to assure the Muslim population of his support. He would repeat his promise and praise, “Our Pheocenian brethren, who took the name of Islam back from Arab savagery!” Libya’s recognition would lead to a new wave of immigration from Italy and other Roman Alliance nations that would further cement the region’s status.

Egypt was the first state to which serious consideration had to be given, as there was a cacophony of interests on all sides. The simplest dilemma was taken off the table immediately: Israel would annex the Sinai, expelling the inhabitants onto the soil of Africa. Yet even beyond that, Shamir was desperate to fulfill the Zionist dream of annexing everything between the Euphrates and the Nile in accordance with the promise God made to Abraham in the Book of Genesis. Begin too (and even to some extent Ben-Gurion) sympathized with this wish, but all around the table knew how much of a complication that would be to the situation. Ultimately, in one of the few instances recorded at the Conference, the Italians and British conspired together to resist Israeli annexation west of the Suez Canal. Legions of Rabbinical Scholars were flown into the Conference to assure Israel’s leaders that since Genesis made no mention of the Nile and only ‘the Brook of Egypt’, the Suez Canal was indeed a sufficient location to fulfill Biblical prophecy. To deliver the final blow, Mussolini assured Shamir and Begin that he would launch a construction project to allow a segment of the Nile to reach Suez. With that, Israel’s leaders were content that they had fulfilled Biblical prophecy and left the remainder of Egypt up to the Italians and British, under the condition that ‘Egypt can’t take a shit without a gun barrel pointing up from the toilet bowl,” as Begin memorably put it.

Firstly, Everything from the Libyan border to the start of Alexandria Province was annexed as Italian occupied territory, right down to the Sudanese border. Here, there was no mercy – everyone had to leave, with the ‘Qattara’ region becoming a military buffer zone to keep Libya secure. It was agreed that Egypt would be split in two, with the Italians dominating the North and British dominating the South. Furthermore, North Egypt would be a state for Christians (overwhelmingly Coptic) and the South a country for Muslims. The North Egyptian capital would be Alexandria and South Egypt’s capital would be Luxor. Though the old Anglo-French control of the Suez Canal would be maintained, the Italians would annex everything north and west of Suez. Cairo would be an international city in order that neither North nor South Egypt could claim that they were the legitimate successor of the old Egypt. Cairo would be occupied by both British and Italian troops, and be a place where both Northerners and Southerners could mingle, though they could go no farther north or south. North Egypt would have its official languages be Coptic and Italian, while in the South would be English and ‘Egyptian’, as what was once the Arabic dialect in the region was now called. Though the Canal was still run by the Anglo-French, the Israelis and Italians would receive special favor given that one crossed their territory and the other needed access to their colonies in East Africa. All other nations would still be allowed through, including the Soviets, despite Israeli objections. The new leader of North Egypt was the bewildered Pope Cyril VI, the Patriarch of the See of St. Mark, the new head of the Coptic Church. There was indeed a practical side to the appointment – the Church was one of the few institutions left in Egypt that was both functioning and not alien. Fearing that the alternative was North Egypt becoming an Italian colony (and enraptured at the possibility of a revival of the Coptic language and culture of days gone by), Pope Cyril accepted his post as the Head of North Egypt, promising to be fair and just to the Muslim population. By contrast, the British did not want to stir the pot any further, and allowed Sadat and Arafat to become the rulers of a thoroughly defanged South Egypt.

For Israel, its new borders long outstretched the puny non-entity the Peel Commission made all those years ago. In addition to the Suez Canal, everything south of the Litani River was annexed from Lebanon, thus bringing the danger of encirclement at the Golan Heights to a memory. Tiran Island and the entire Gulf of Aqaba were annexed, right down to Sharma in Saudi Arabia. Then came the ultimate dream of Zionism fulfilled – the annexation to the Euphrates. All of Al Anbar province up to the Euphrates was annexed into Israel, with the new southern border now a straight line between Sharma on the Red Sea and the base of Al-Anbar province, just beside the Al-Najaf region. To say this was an astonishing annexation was an understatement – in terms of both the sheer scale of the move, in addition to the religious significance, it was an epoch-defining event. With the annexation of the Sinai, Litani River region and now vast swathes of Iraq and Saudi Arabia, a prophecy thousands of years old had come startlingly true. Yet the locals would not partake in it – all Arabs in the region were to be expelled with all the (lack of) reluctance that characterized the Polish expulsion of the Germans. Thankfully, most of the regions were relatively under-populated, though that was small comfort to the countless thousands now forced to move. For the Arabs of 1948, who had been forced into Israeli citizenship, Ben-Gurion and the Socialists fought with all their political capital to preserve them, much to the fury of Shamir, who demanded total expulsion. Begin would finally broker a deal between the warring parties – Arabic was removed as an official language from Israeli governmental services and all ‘Arabs’ would henceforth be classified as ‘Bedouin’, who spoke the language that would become known as ‘Levantine’. With that, though many Arabs grumbled about these impositions, many others realized how lucky they were to avoid such official persecution.

In the Arabian Peninsula itself, extreme consideration was given to the fate of the Holy Cities of Islam, Mecca and Medina. The Turks argued that it was their historic right to the cities, while others argued they should be content with rule of the Holy sites in Jerusalem. To that, a compromise was suggested. The Kingdom of Hejaz was recreated, which would be a Turkish occupied protectorate, under the rule once more of a Hashemite. His name was Hussein, his father had been King of Jordan and overthrown in a coup. Now was his chance to restore the Hashemite name after having been so grievously cast aside by history. At the same time, he was an Anglophile after having been educated there, so he was considered a moderating influence on Turkish designs. Mecca was declared open to all Muslims of all denominations, and even to limited degree Non-Muslim visitors, though they would still not be allowed access to the main sites like the Ka’aba. Its Northern borders would be with Israel, and its southern border would be against the new Yemen.

Yemen itself was renamed the Kingdom of Saba, to bring back visions of its pre-Arab glories. The Najran, Asir, Jizan and Bahah regions of what was once Saudi Arabia were annexed to the new Kingdom. Meanwhile, the thorny problem of Aden’s occupation by now the ‘Saban’ forces was causing extreme resentment from the British. Finally, an agreement was made, brokered by the Italians: the Kingdom of Saba would both allow and pay for Britain to have a naval base at Aden, with Saba purchasing the remainder of the Protectorate with Italian funds. The payment would ultimately balloon to $500,000,000 dollars (1956 value). King Hassan was proclaimed by his subjects as a great conqueror for having so stupendously restored the backwater nation to glory, though in reality, he had no fortune other to be the right heir at the right time. He would find particular fame in Israel, where the recreation of the ‘Kingdom of Sheba’ excited visions of Solomon. Oman was fully restored to British control, as were the UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, and Bahrain. As a condition for the exiled rulers of the latter four to return to power, they had to recognize Israel’s existence, her borders, and Jerusalem as her capital. Though it was a bitter pill to swallow, all agreed in the face of the horror met on the Arab states who had run afoul of the Roman Alliance.

The central regions of Saudi Arabia, with the exception of the Eastern coast that was full of Shia and oil, were left to the Salafist government of the Saudi Grand Mufti. He managed to contact the Western powers and delivered a set of demands that utterly astonished them – he was demanding a treaty far harsher than what they demanded of him, and he did so knowingly. The Mufti believed that the war’s conclusion was a divine punishment to the Arab people and that they required a ‘period of correction’. To that end, he insisted that while he be left to govern Central Arabia as an autocracy, he would not only forswear attacks or agitation against Western nations, but turn his anger upon his own people. The strictest interpretation of Sharia was to be followed to the letter and all Western influence was to be declared illegal - even electricity was to be abolished. The aim was to mimic the time of the Prophet exactly, so that the Muslim world (or at least central Arabia) could be redeemed. He even forbade Muslims from performing the Pilgrimage (which he said was ‘lost by God’s will to atheists and flame worshippers’) as Muslims had proven their unworthiness of the honor of standing in Mecca. He assured the people that eventually, once they fulfilled Islamic commandments so strictly that there was no room to doubt their piety, God would intercede and liberate them. But until then, the people of Central Arabia would have to be ‘chastened’. All recipients of the request were astonished, with many thinking it was a trick to allow the Arabs to conspire against them in secret. But when an allowance came through that the West were allowed to have their planes fly over Central Arabia at will to confirm that they were readying nothing, the disbelief became caws of cackling and merriment. The Western diplomats accepted what one Bulgarian diplomat described as ‘Suicide by Peace’. As a final insult, the various parties of the Arabian Peninsula agreed to call their language ‘the Gulf Language’. In the aftermath of the war, when nothing but hate lived in the heart of the world for anything Arab, few cared about the appalling fate they had condemned the citizens of Central Arabia. Soon after, the Islamic State of Arabia was declared throughout the land – anyone who declared it from a loudspeaker was executed for ‘Use of Non-Islamic technology’. For the Islamic State of Arabia, even the Dark Ages would prove too progressive. Guns, however, would temporarily be kept so as to 'uphold the will of God'.

Lebanon would receive a far lighter sentence, and could honestly say they came off best out of the war with the exception of Saba. While it was harsh to lose the south of the Litani, they were considered an annexed territory of the UAR, rather than an accomplice. To that extent, Israel even forwent demand for reparations and actually promised to invest in Lebanon in return for its annexation as a form of payment (not that these investments were altruistic). The Philangists became the undisputed masters of Lebanon with Pierre Gemayel as dictator. They would be allowed their own army, an astonishing luxury for a state bordering Israel and officially wrote into the new Constitution that Lebanon was a ‘Christian nation’. Gemayel furthermore announced that all Christians in the MENA region would be allowed into Lebanon, an offer that many took during the next year, as riots and pogroms against Christians for their ‘betrayal’ and ‘dual-allegiances’ forced thousands to flee. If those refugees thought that all Christians would be treated equally in Lebanon, they would be sorely mistaken, as the Maronite Church that composed the inner-circle of the Philangists stubbornly held precedence in the party. With the loss of Sunni Tripoli, Gemayel made the still controversial move to deny the non-Christians south of the Litani the right to move to the new Lebanese state to further ensure its Christian character, arguing they would be better suited to the local Sunni and Shia nations instead. Many simply immigrated abroad than live in the nightmare the Middle East had become. Indeed, it’s only recently that Lebanon has allowed some recompense for the ‘Banished Family’ that it forsook in 1957 by allowing some in. Regardless of morality, the policy was effective, and by 1958, 75% of Lebanon was Christian with the number continuing to rise from Christian immigration and Muslim emigration. In a similar vein to Israel, Gemayel announced his own plans for how to differentiate Lebanon from the rest of Arabia, an orchestrated plan that would allow him to distance Lebanon from its support of Aflaq: he would resurrect Aramaic, the language of Christ himself. Relatively few people spoke it at the time, but it was given full support from many quarters, from the Italian government to Christian Fundamentalist movements in the United States (a group that would become a significant lobbying party for the Lebanese state). The new Lebanon breathed a sigh of relief that they had escaped the worse fate of their eastern neighbors. They were an independent nation with their own (restrained) army. Talks soon began on whether they could join the Roman Alliance, a fact underlined by Gemayel being the first leader of an ‘Arab’ country (though the Philangists would insist they were Pheocenian) to visit Israel in 1957 after recognizing it in the peace treaty.

Further joy (or rather relief that a worse punishment was avoided) was given to both the Druze and Alawi minorities. The Druze especially had proven themselves valiant fighters in the war for Israel, a fact that made Shamir’s rants about non-Jewish communities needing to be expelled from Israel repulsive to many people. Nevertheless, it was felt that not only did the Druze deserve their own country, but that they also needed to further bury the Arabs by taking more land from them. The Daraa and the As-Suwayda regions of Syria became the new Druze state. The state was to be called ‘The Druze Republic of the Levant’, or often simply ‘The Druze Republic’, with citizenship only accorded to Druze adherents. Its capital was Daraa, renamed to ‘Jethro’ after the Prophet of the Druze faith. Israel gave full allowance for the Druze to go, though Begin would declare, “We do this with full knowledge that we are surrendering some of our finest citizens – and though we may not be the best of roommates anymore, I pray we can be the best of neighbors”. Though it was a reluctant move for many Israeli Druze, for Syrian Druze there was no option but to remain in the new state, which would hold out from Fascist pressure and remain a democracy. Druze religious leader Labib Hussein Abu Rokan, formerly an Israeli MK, was elected President in short order. Their language was ‘Levantine’, just like their Alawi neighbors. The Alawi had little love from the Roman Alliance, as they had been quite the nuisance in Turkey’s annexations of the First Arabian War. Now, Turkey simply expelled the Arab population of Latakia and Tartus, who were mostly Alawi. They would, however, be given their own state, and not an insignificant one. The Damascus Governate was to be handed to the Alawi, to be proclaimed ‘The Alawite Republic of the Levant’, or just like the Druze’s example, ‘The Alawite Republic’. However, while the Druze Republic was trusted to run its own affairs, the Alawite Republic would be placed under Israeli occupation. Ali Sulayman al-Assad, a leader of Alawi in Latakia, was elected President. His Semitophilic and Pro-Colonialist views [1] were in sharp contrast to many of his peers and allowed him to lessen the more restrictive rules imposed on the Alawite Republic, even getting significant international help in rebuilding Damascus. His son, Hafez Al-Assad, a jet fighter in the Second Arabian War, would never forgive his father for his ‘betrayal’ and immigrated to South America in disgust. But the pleasantness with which he treated Western diplomats helped to save the Alawite Republic from being lumped in with the rest of the UAR, preserving the Alawite Republic as a decent place to live, as well as keeping it a democracy. Damascus, after a period of rebuilding, would become the capital.

With the minorities of the Middle East now placated, Syria and Iraq were now put under the spotlight. The former especially was considered the root of the Ba’athist poison, and Turkey was desperate to take advantage of that desire for vengeance. As well as expelling the Arabs in Latakia and Tartus, the Idlib and Aleppo provinces were also annexed to Turkey, only the population was not allowed to remain, cast out to Syrian interior, or to Lebanon, or the Alawite or Druze Republics if they were lucky enough to be from those minorities. As petty compensation, the now overwhelmingly Sunni Syria annexed everything north of the Euphrates and south of the Tigris in Iraq up to the Baghdad region. Thus, almost all of Sunni Iraq (after Israel’s expulsions) was now a part of Syria. For the ruler of the new Syria, the Turks wanted a Monarch but were unsure of who had the status to pull it off. That’s when it struck them – they would use the exiled King Faisal of Iraq, since the only King of Syria had been his grandfather and therefore only the Hashemites could stake a reasonable claim. Thus, in an appalling act of humiliation, Faisal renounced his claim to the Iraqi throne to take up his new status as a Turkish puppet in a neighboring state – he was 21 years old. To be thrown off the Iraqi throne amidst such humiliation, he could scarcely believe an even more humiliating spectacle would be to return to power. He would sink into a deep depression that characterized his rule, especially given the immense suffering his people endured while he was powerless to help. He attempted suicide at least three times during his reign before 1960, though failing in each. Only the support of his fellow Hashemite King, Hussein of Hejaz, after he was informed of his cousin’s depression was enough to keep the young King going. While Syria was placed under Turkish occupation, what was left of Iraq was placed under Southern Iranian occupation. While Syria was declared to be a ‘Sunni State’, Iraq was declared to be a ‘Shia State’. Ali Reza, the younger brother of the Shah was placed as the new King of Iraq, and he was certainly less concerned about the fate of his subjects than King Faisal. Likewise, the Shia people of Eastern Saudi Arabia were placed under the rule of the next youngest brother of the Shah, Abdul Reza. This new country was simply known as 'The Kingdom of Arabia'. Here, the border began from town of Shoba Nisab down to the Southwestern-most border of the UAE, ensuring not only that the Islamic State of Arabia had no access to the Sea, but that almost all oil in former Saudi Arabia was likewise out of their hands too. This was also declared to be a ‘Shia State’. With two new puppet nations now under their sway, South Iran had become a leviathan in the region, much to the enjoyment of the British, who were pleased that an ITO member had denied the Fascists access to all the oil of the region. Syria's capital was Homs, and Iraq's capital was still Baghdad.

The final border to be decided was the toughest of all: Kurdistan. The Turks were adamant that Kurdistan could be an autonomous province at best – but Kurds were not ready to surrender all that they had gained, and the Soviets backed them up considerably. Eventually, the discussion began to break into different dimensions, with each country being asked the whys for its decision-making. Eventually, after heavy wrangling on all sides, a compromise was determined. The Turks could not agree to Kurdistan being on its border, as it could cause agitation. Thus, the Duhok province of Iraq, and the northern region of the Erbil province (terminating at the North Iranian/Turkish border), would be given to a different state altogether: an Assyrian State. This would be a demilitarized state whose independence was guaranteed by the United Nations, with its elected President ultimately being Shamoun Hanne Haydo, the famous Assyrian warrior who had defended his community from Ottoman Genocide (who were being aided by the Kurds). The beauty of the deal was that the Assyrians hated both the Kurds and Turks so much that both sides knew there was no chance of them picking sides or letting them cross their borders. The Assyrians gladly accepted the creation of their own state as an escape from Turkish and Kurdish chauvinism, accepting demilitarization on the condition that their independence was upheld by the international community. The Turks were happy in that there was no Kurdistan on their border and the Kurds were happy that they needn’t disarm. The tiny Assyrian state would be the buffer that divided the Turks from the Kurds. While Kurdistan would still border Turkish occupied Syria, the Turks accepted this, as the Syrians were not ‘their people’. As further insurance, the first ten miles of the Tigris were ordered demilitarized by the Turks, which the Kurds publicly (though not privately) obeyed. Kurds in Syria quickly made their escape to the new Kurdish state. The new Kurdish state would seize everything east of the Tigris (adding Mosul into their domains), including the remainder of Erbil province (with the new Turkish/North Iranian/Assyrian/Kurdish border being something of an international novelty due to the tension of all parties at the region), Kirkuk, right down to and including Diyala province. It was a scintillating amount of land, but the Kurds would not expel the Arab residents, feeling the incoming waves of Kurds from Turkey and North Iran would be enough to ensure demographic dominance. Mustafa Barzani was elected as the first President of Kurdistan, and he would quickly make himself one of the most hard-to-get rulers of the Middle East, moving back and forth from Pro-Soviet to Pro-Western agendas. His inaugural address where he declared that ‘North Iran and Israel will always be our friends’ was the embodiment of this unclear strategy, though the only constant enemy state that he denounced was Turkey. His state would be like Israel, especially the Israel of the 1930s – militarist but avowedly Socialist - though a Socialism that stressed a humanist rather than Marxist origin, with highly devolved communes becoming the order of the day, based on the Kibbutzim system. Marxist-Leninism was a view only of a small minority of its residents, thus making Kurdistan more akin to the Barcelona of 1936 than the Moscow of 1956. All citizens were given equal rights, but a strong Kurdish identity was fostered among all residents. Kurdistan would remain one of the most unknowable and fascinating states in the Middle East.

In conclusion, of the new or reborn states, there was a new Democratic Socialist Republic (Kurdistan), a Christian-Fascist Dictatorship (Lebanon), a Christian Theocracy (North Egypt), a Christian Democracy (Assyria), Alawite Democracy (The Alawite Republic), Druze Democracy (The Druze Republic), Islamic Theocracy (the Islamic State of Arabia), two Berber Monarchies and another Berber Republic that were all Dictatorships (Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria), two Shia Kingdoms under Southern Iranian control (Iraq and the Kingdom of Arabia), two Sunni Kingdoms under Turkish control (Syria and Hejaz), a tottering dictatorship with Islamist elements (South Egypt) and an absolute Monarchy with Islamist elements (Saba).

All states in the Middle East were forced to recognize Israel’s existence, borders and capital with the exception of the North Iranians, who maintained the strict Stalingrad Pact pledge not to recognise Israel. All states that had expelled Jews in the prior years would be forced to pay reparations for the Jews they had dispossessed, even allies like the Kingdom Saba. After immense pressure from the German delegation, led by Erwin Rommel, that Germany had proven its commitment to Israel, the Israelis consented to restoring relations with Germany on condition of significant Holocaust reparations, which Germany eagerly accepted. Egypt’s cultural treasures became their own form of reparations, as they were given to the British and Italians for their own museums. This was made on the logic, expressed by Ciano, that ‘if the Arabs were stupid enough to destroy their present and future, why should we trust them with their past?’ Egypt’s museums and tombs were emptied and given over to their new occupiers, leaving the confused countries of North and South even more prone to religious division. The Morgenthau Plan, which demanded the total de-industrialization of Germany and its return to a pastoral, toothless backwater, was repurposed for the new Arab states and re-christened ‘The Ciano Plan’ due to Ciano’s support and justification of the policy. Iraq, Syria, and Oman (who were included due to their involvement in the Muscat Blood Libel) were earmarked for the treatment. The Alawite Republic was spared the treatment due to Assad’s pleas and the unwillingness of many Israeli occupational commanders to go along with it (a kindness that the Turks and South Iranians had no time for), especially considering many thought the Alawites another dispossessed minority looking for a home. Not wanting to risk opening a deep wound in the IDF, Israel’s leaders increasingly minimized the actual punishment the Alawite state was to go through until it went through almost none at all. The Egypts likewise escaped total punishment due to British refusal (due to their bordering Italy) and Italian persuasion (who had their own plans for North Egypt). Instead, they would get a slightly lessened version that only highly limited and supervised industrialization without explicitly outlawing it. Lebanon escaped punishment entirely. Across the three condemned nations, almost all vehicles, factories and anything else of economic use was given to the occupational authorities. Any further development of industry was illegalized. Natural resources like oil would be ruthlessly exploited exclusively for the benefits of the occupying powers (Turkey for Syria, South Iran for Iraq, and Britain for Oman). The three nations gradually lost the entirety of their industry and most forms of employment, being forced out into the rural areas to work useless crops. The Ciano Plan was virtually a death sentence for the nations that fell under it, but that was prepared for too. Mass immigration of Arabs from the Middle East was considered a highly beneficial concept by the Roman Alliance, as long as the immigrants didn’t land in their own countries. It meant fewer mouths to feed and less chance of rebellion, so little was done to restrict the outflow of people. The Soviets also didn’t want large amounts of religiously conservative migrants flowing into their country, and America still had the quota restrictions that forbade them from making any large intake. Thus, Latin America and South-East Asia were the primary destinations of choice for some ten million Middle-Easterners and North Africans in the coming years. Unscrupulous employers, in return for almost nothing, would work them to the bone in extremely exploitative environments; all the while movements arose demanding that they be deported. ‘The Arab’ would become the most despised, reviled ethnic group in the world; friendless, penniless and without a home he could be proud of. Thus concluded the Treaty of Budapest, a treaty whose modern infamy surpasses even Versailles in the intensity of moral debate. On January 25th, 1957, the Treaty was formally signed. De Gaulle, in a message to his cabinet, compared the Treaty of Budapest to the words of the Bible where God cast the sinners into Hell, saying "Depart from Me into everlasting fire!' It is unclear whether he was condemning or praising the treaty. Regardless, it had created a Hell indeed.

Khrushchev had almost no cards going into the conference apart from his will to help the Kurds. As a Socialist Kurdish state had been established, which also acted as a buffer for North Iran, Pravda publicly waved the Treaty of Budapest as a fantastic achievement (while almost everyone, especially those in power, knew what a total disaster had occurred). Knowing he had no influence over the rest of the Middle East, Khrushchev was content to ‘let the Jews and Italians choke on the whole damned continent’. At the same time, most of his cabinet didn’t see it that way, and with good reason. Patton had been highly demoralized by the conference, his old doctrine of always supporting the enemies of Communism having been blown apart by the rift between Italy and Britain. De Gaulle, now in power for ten years, was more popular than ever after having ‘solved’ the Algerian question (which he most certainly did not, as time would tell). Turkey proclaimed total victory in having retaken Mecca and Medina, annexing the most economically prosperous regions of Syria and proving itself a great power again (while silently deporting Kurds in large numbers to Kurdistan to ensure their ethnic dominance). Israel was far more subdued, with even the annexation up to the Euphrates inspiring little excitement given the deaths that had taken place on both sides to get it. Nevertheless, Israel would receive a wave of Jewish immigration from all corners of the world in response to the victory, mostly owing to the now total lack of neighboring threat to the Jewish state – a condition that the Israelis had never known before. As the most developed nation in the Middle East, now recognized by all parties, it stood to be at the epicenter of an economic whirlwind. In Britain, Eden proclaimed that ‘Britain is ‘Great’ again!’ He argued that South Iran had balanced the gains the Roman Alliance had made in the region and that it had been a great success. Gaitskell and the Labour Party condemned the deal as one that was unduly favorable to the Italians. The Italians themselves were in throws of revelry. Mussolini would visit Libya, the Qattara military region (proclaiming that the Qattara Depression would be filled to prove the glory of Italian engineering) before taking a tour of North Egypt, concluding in occupied Cairo at the foot of the Pyramids. Mussolini’s profile in line with the Sphinx would prove a favorite of the Italian press, the dictator’s popularity now higher than it had ever been.

Yet even now, he had one trick left up his sleeve – his coup-de-grâce. His final plan to make Italy a name that would inspire dread on the far side of the globe had already been approved.

[1] He wrote a letter to PM Blum of France in the 30s begging the French to stay, as well as praising the Jews of Palestine.

The Cool War

Extract from 'The Still Sun: The British Empire after WW2' by Cecil Moore

Eden, flushed with a spike in the opinion polls, wished to strike while the fire was hot and called for another election for June 1957, hoping this time to gain a majority government. Unfortunately, at the exact same time, an equally emboldened Mossadegh wanted to press his own advantage. South Iran was in the throes of popular pride at their successful invasion of Iraq and Arabia, creating two puppet kingdoms that made the average South Iranian feel like even with one-hand tied behind their back in the form of the Red occupation up North, that Iran was back on the world stage. His approval ratings sky-high, Mossadegh now demanded of Britain a fair cut of Iran’s oil, without BP’s monopoly. The British, certain of their own steel after the Second Arabian War, were unafraid and talked tough in the negotiations. However, after weeks of negotiations, the plan went nowhere – Britain was still insisting on a humungous share of the oil and a payout for what it lost. It was then that negotiations stalled. Then, on May 14th, Eden was informed of the news: Mossadegh had nationalized BP in Iran, Iraq and the Kingdom of Arabia. In his outrage, he attempted to contact the Shah, hoping he could quash Mossadegh (as he had the constitutional right to) – but not only did the Shah laugh it off, Eden soon received even more astonishing news – the Italians had landed in Bandar Abbas. The British had underestimated how unpopular they were in the region, especially in denying the South Iranians their own oilfields after they were flushed with the pride of vanquishing the Arabs. The Italians announced that it was, ‘Ludicrous to laugh off the valid claims of the mighty Persian people, the ancient savior of Israel and allies against Arabian darkness.” Mossadegh, from the centre of Tehran, announced that South Iran was leaving ITO, and was instead joining the Roman Alliance, where she could keep her own oil, pledging to pay pittance to the British just so they could leave, while at the same time redoubling their efforts against Communism and their hopes to free North Iran from ‘The Red Plague’. To that end, the British were given ten days to leave South Iran or war with the Roman Alliance would result. Eden was mortified by the turn of events but knew it was hopeless. Though America was sympathetic, it would not commit troops to attack a country where the hand of Communism or the Soviets could not be found; the American public opinion was not in favour of a gigantic war with the nuclear Roman Alliance, especially one that had significant sympathy from both the Italian and Jewish communities. In the following days, Britain would begin a humiliating pullout from South Iran. Mossadegh would formally join the Roman Alliance by mid-year, and succeeded in holding and winning a referendum that made him ‘Prime Minister for Life’. The Shah was guaranteed to endure as a ceremonial heirloom, though he would not have nearly as much power as Mossadegh himself, or indeed his younger brothers who ruled their respective Arab prizes like feudal fiefdoms.

But the most important thing that would result from South Iran’s defection from ITO to the Roman Alliance was the creation of OPEP (L'Organizzazione dei Paesi esportatori di petrolio, or Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) in October 1957. This was Mussolini’s ultimate plan from the start, and one he had dreamed of even before the Second Arabian War had begun. Mussolini wanted Italy to become the third greatest power on Earth behind the Americans and Russians – Britain standing in the way. In terms of military, Britain could project power farther than Italy could due to its navy. Mussolini went back to the drawing board and pondered how Italy and the Roman Alliance at large could possibly hope to match the power projection of Britain, asking all available branches of government. That’s when it struck him that the world’s economy depended increasingly on oil, and that if he could get enough of it, he could use it to make and break economies at his will. And of course, where could you find more oil than the Middle East? The West wanted to play tough? They could see how tough they really were once the price of gas doubled. From there, they could change the price of oil at will to bully smaller nations into towing their line, as well as wreaking havoc on Soviet oil exports by manipulating prices. “Control the world’s oil,” Mussolini told Balbo, “and you control the world.” But he could not do this openly, as Britain would obviously object. Instead, he hatched a devious plan in conjunction with the South Iranians. Mossadegh, under the guise of being ITO’s representative in the region, would get as much of Iraq and Saudi Arabia’s oil locked up under puppet regimes. Italy would grab whatever else it could. Mossadegh was a nationalist and resented British rule in the region. At the same time, he was attracted by the liberty with which Roman Alliance nations (whose names weren’t ‘Greece) could conduct their own affairs. He needed little further encouragement to become Dictator – he had more than enough popular support for it, and decided to base his government on the Mussolini model, given that Mussolini had turned an international lightweight into a global leviathan. After he gained his new domains, South Iran would flip to the Roman Alliance, thus giving them all the oil they could desire. Amazingly enough, the plan actually worked, with Mossadegh in Rome that October to announce the beginnings of a great alliance between Rome and Bandar Abbas.

The founding members of OPEP were Italy, Portugal (owing to their oil in Angola), Iran, the Kingdom of Hejaz (effectively a Turkish proxy), the Kingdom of Iraq and the Kingdom of Arabia. But quickly, it was expanded. That December, the Right-Wing dictatorship of Venezuela announced that they would join OPEP, going as far as to join the Roman Alliance by December, with Italian military advisors proving instrumental in suppressing a 1958 democratic insurgency within the country. By now, a majority of the world’s oil was being controlled by a handful of Fascist dictatorships doctrinally committed to the destruction of Communism, the cajoling of the democracies, and of course, their own supremacy. In the years after the Second Arabian War, a global boom would rocket across the global economy, turning OPEP into a veritable license to print money. The world’s oil industry had become a front for Fascism, financing its vanity projects, its colonial bloodshed and recruitment efforts around the globe. In 1957, with South Iran, Venezuela, Greece (formally), Lebanon, and the Kingdom of Saba being added to the Roman Alliance, historians generally regard this period as the peak of Fascism. Even if it would certainly find success in the coming years in various fields, it would never again reach the same level of ascendency, certainty, and protection.

In response, the British began to rally their own oil-producing regions. Kuwait, the UAE, Bahrain, Oman, and Qatar were reinforced, much to the delight of local Emirs (especially the Sunni Monarchy of Shia-majority Bahrain), with oil facilities being developed as quickly as could be. Gaitskell won the ill-called 1957 election in a landslide with nearly 370 seats, not only trouncing the Conservatives but reducing the now reviled Fascist Party to a mere ten seats and single digits worth of votes (though Mosley, hailed as a God in the BUF, hung on). Gaitskell had slammed the Tories in the campaign of ‘Doing more for the Italian Empire than the British’ (an attack richly supported by having Fascists as coalition partners), arguing their obstinacy on the BP issue had pushed South Iran into the arms of the Roman Alliance, and that this was proof too much colonialism was equally as bad as too little. The Conservatives were cast into the electoral wilderness, with Harold Macmillan inheriting the Tory Party mantle later that year, the party now possessing no more illusions about Italy or Mosley. A new consensus had emerged in Britain that the Roman Alliance were an actively Anti-British group no less dangerous than the Soviets, forcing a change in foreign policy consensus. One of the main points of consideration was Colonial Policy, particularly in areas close to the Roman Alliance. It was agreed by the Labour cabinet that while the old system of colonialism was unsustainable, some form of compromise was necessary to ensure Fascism didn’t walk over a weakened, de-colonized Africa. The first underpinnings of this policy were seen in performing referendums in the Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, and Cyprus with the question of whether they wished to be fully-fledged members of the United Kingdom, or maintain their lesser status. The former two overwhelmingly accepted their ascendency to full status in the UK with their own MPs. Malta actually had their own referendum on the subject in 1956, narrowly approved within the turnout requirements (dropped in subsequent referendums) due to fears of war in the region that ultimately came true. Cyprus was a far more contentious location, and the vote quickly became a source of ethnic tension as the Greek population mostly supported membership of the UK (not seeing anything desirable about the collaborationist state that called itself their homeland), while the Turks of the island wanted to join the Roman Alliance. Roughly 60% of Cyprus voted to join the UK, but the Turkish community, much like the Irish Nationalist community of Northern Ireland had not forgotten their origins. The moves enraged all the respective Roman Alliance powers that had their eyes on the territories, notably Argentina, Spain and Turkey – with Italy having been quite annoyed at Malta solidifying itself into the UK bosom. While Gaitskell was comfortable with giving some of the smaller areas of the British Empire the formal right to join if they so wished, he knew that for larger territories, the only real option was independence with a strong degree of cooperation. Ceylon and Burma were given independence on January 1st, 1958 (long-delayed due to the chaos in India requiring a forward base), both establishing British military presence and alignment to the Commonwealth. Malaya was given her independence later that year after the Communist insurgency in the country was finally and totally extinguished, leaving South-East Asia what Vietnamese Emperor Bao Dai would proudly declare ‘A Red-Free Zone’. Africa, by contrast, was a much trickier game given the significant presence of Roman Alliance nations (Italy, Spain and Portugal). Ghana would gain its independence in 1958, but those regions, such as Sudan or Kenya that bordered the Fascist nations would have to make do with full dominion status until a common policy had been decided. This was okay with the natives, who had seen what happened to the Arabs when they fought the Roman Alliance and were terrified a similar fate would befall them if they threw out the British and left themselves prey for the Fascist lions. However, given the relative success of Ceylon, Malaya and Burma, all remaining Pro-British and integrated to the Commonwealth, a valid pathway out of the ‘Colonial Question’ had been shown. Unfortunately, the Dutch and Belgians could not depend on the resources of Britannia …

Extract from ‘False Hope: The USSR 1953-1957’ by Alexander Solzhenitsyn

The only surprising thing about the coup against Khrushchev was that it took so long. It is quite the miracle he wasn’t deposed during the Budapest Conference, or even during the Second Arabian War itself. The war had eroded every facet of the USSR’s credibility, respect, and self-esteem. Just ten years before, it seemed that Stalin, aided by the equivocation of a foolish US President, a seemingly unstoppable Red Wave in China and opposed only by a divided, shattered Europe was going to sweep to Lisbon. Yet in ten years later, the US was an eternal enemy, all of Asia south of the Yellow River was an enemy, India was an enemy, the only people left alive in the Middle East were enemies, and even those who had once called themselves Communists now called themselves ‘enemies’. The Soviet economy had been pulled asunder, its moral reputation was nonexistent, its projection was laughable. In short, despite having a new legion of puppet states, the USSR was probably in its worst position (outside of WW2) since the 1920s. It was ridiculous to blame the situation on Khrushchev, much less his reforms, which were finally starting to encourage hope of a better future. Yet perhaps it was precisely because of that he fell. He never criticized Stalin (though there are rumors he planned to give a speech on the subject) but his reforms were an obvious break. To the Troika of 1957 of Suslov, Molotov and Malenkov (also known as ‘The Final Troika’), something had to be done, but only Suslov seemed to know what could take its place. It seemed clear to Suslov that what the Soviets needed was a sort of ‘Stalinism without Stalin’, where they would mimic the ironclad control, foreign policy and decisions of the Stalin years without Stalin’s personal ‘eccentricities’ as Suslov described them. To that end, of course, Khrushchev would have to go.

On June 3rd, 1957, tanks were seen overflowing the streets of Moscow, with troops storming buildings and arresting people seemingly at random. It wasn’t until evening that terrified residents (and baffled Western observers) were finally told what had happened – Nikita Khrushchev was dead, of a heart attack. Of course, the only thing that attacked Khrushchev’s heart was the bullet that went straight through it (thankfully avoiding the face so that the state funeral could still happen). Khrushchev was chronically unpopular by the end of his reign, especially among the hardliners in the Kremlin, but killing him had definitely been a far tougher decision. According to Molotov, Suslov was insistent that Khrushchev be killed, Malenkov wanted mercy to set a new example and Molotov himself only mildly supported Malenkov’s more merciful position. Assuming we believe Molotov, we can perhaps glean that Malenkov’s more merciful change of heart began with Khrushchev, though we can hardly ascertain why it began here. Perhaps their mutual conspiracy in having killed Stalin had made him feel close, or perhaps he simply never wanted to go through something like the death of Stalin again. Regardless, Molotov says that eventually Suslov stopped talking with Malenkov and trying to convince him. The young Stalinist eventually told Molotov the truth that Khrushchev only being deposed without being killed would hideously endanger the entire Soviet system, as Khrushchev knew about the true nature of Stalin’s death. Given that the last Soviet leader was killed and had it covered up over unfavorable circumstances, it didn’t seem too absurd to argue the same thing was warranted here. Malenkov was considered too stupid and spineless to put up much of a fuss in any event. Indeed, it would turn out to be the case, at least for the moment. With Khrushchev unceremoniously dragged from his office and shot beneath the Kremlin, Malenkov realized how isolated he had become in the ruling council. It was at this point that he entered what he called, ‘The Valley of the Shadow of Death’. Nevertheless, he held onto a diminished role in the ruling council. Thus Suslov, the most energetic and wily of the three, became both the most powerful man in the USSR and the true successor of Stalin. Whatever reforms Khrushchev had begun, political or economic, were thrown into the fire before they could get a chance to breathe. A new era of darkness had descended on the Soviet Union, after a false ray of light. But most cruelly of all was how this cruel era began.

On October 4th 1957, Sputnik went into space, the first man-made satellite. The Americans, Italians and British were all so distracted among themselves with wars that Khrushchev’s greatest achievement fell into the hands of Suslov as his own propaganda tool. The flight of Sputnik did two things, both of which would change the fate of the Soviet Union. The first was that it confirmed Suslov’s belief that a return to the ‘Socialism in One Country’ model, now taken to its logical extreme was the best foreign policy strategy. Many Western schoolchildren know it as the ‘Silence (‘Tishina‘) Strategy’. It emphasized that there was a fundamental conflict between the Fascist and Democratic states, but that they united when the opponent was the Soviet Union. To that end, a surprisingly simple solution was sought – not making any noise internationally. Funds, desperately needed in any case, were no longer sent to Communists around the world, who would be left to their own devices. As well as saving on money, they hoped that as the Soviets became quieter and quieter on the international scene, there would be less reason for the Fascist and Democratic nations to unite, thus making it likelier that there would be a conflict. In that time, the Soviets would focus on rebuilding, until they were once more a world power to be reckoned with. The second important change of policy was that it made the Space Race as it would become known an issue for which the Soviets would desperately pursue every means they had to get to the top. For the Soviets, this was a discreet way of re-establishing credibility after the humiliating retreats of the Khrushchev years. It certainly shocked everyone concerned. The United States, Great Britain and Italy were all flabbergasted and began to create their own campaigns. The United States would create NASA, Great Britain (with the help of her Commonwealth) would form ‘The Ministry of Space Exploration’, which was helped in no small part from German rocket scientists like Werner Von Braun, and Italy would form the Agenzia Spaziale Italiana (ASI). All three parties were caught off-guard by Sputnik but vowed never to be humiliated like that again. Little did any of those countries know, and how much less did Suslov know, that it was the Space Race of all things that would be the death of the USSR.

Extract from 'Cold to Cool: American Foreign Policy in the 20th Century' by Vince Ingels

As Patton prepared to leave the stage in 1956, he would tell Dewey that ‘I’ll never talk about politicians like they had it easy again’. The world seemed very different to him from 1948 to 1956. Back in 1948, he reassured himself with the simplicity and certainty of the world, that the dividing line of the good and the bad was simply whether a country was Communist or not. He had certainly achieved much of what he wanted to accomplish. Communism had gone from an ideology that seemed to be on the verge of conquering the world to one that had been reduced to a scorned monster. Communist parties were dead outside of where they hung to power by the gun. Europe, Asia, the Middle East were all resolutely united against the Red Menace and tied to alliances that made it impossible for it to advance, with the Western Hemisphere Red-free. America had recovered its certainty and credibility, and they’d run every Communist sympathizer out of the government, unions and everywhere else. He’d killed the Party that he considered a nest of treachery, got the economy moving again, won in China and had done the right thing on Civil Rights. But at the same time, he was haunted by the end of his time in office, feeling like he hadn’t done enough, almost regretting he had agreed to term limits. The South was torn apart in Race feuds, Communism still existed, and the Western Alliance was beginning to fragment from the split between Fascism and Democracy. All in all, Patton left with a heavy heart – indeed he wouldn’t survive to reach 1958, dying on December 10th, 1957 of a heart attack. His funeral was attended by Churchill, De Gaulle, Mussolini and others; the Soviets offered to send Molotov to attend but in his will, Patton specifically stated that ‘No Commie bastard will be allowed to attend my funeral.” Patton was and remains adored by the American public, with polls placing him either second or third in terms of greatest Presidents alongside Abraham Lincoln. However, much like Churchill in Britain, his status is far more hotly contested by historians for his more questionable acts, like supporting Colonialism, his reckless approach to policymaking like Civil Rights and many of his strategies in China. Regardless of the nature of his legacy, it would certainly be a big one – and any subsequent President had a lot to live up to.

The 1956 election was at once a watershed but also a progression of events that had already been happening for years. The election was between the youthful Joseph Kennedy and Richard Nixon in one corner representing the Republicans, and Storm Thurmond and Al Gore for Vice-President (Gore having been chosen to deflect charges that the Freedom Party supported the Klan). The mood in the US had changed since the beginning of the Troubles – there were definitely fewer attacks than before, increasingly localized as well, but the conflict had gained a sense of being permanent. While business in California or the North East went on without issue, the South had remained stuck in the quagmire of businesses and millionaires fleeing the war-torn area, starving the area of investment. Kennedy argued for harsh policing policies by federal troops in the area with incentives for businesses to arrive and get the economy moving again, while Thurmond argued for harsh local policing and significant federal investment in the South. Of course, federal troops were seen as more sympathetic to blacks with local police more sympathetic to whites. When it came to the Second Arabian War, Thurmond supported American military involvement (notably performing a speech in Richmond after the Yom Kippur Nuclear Strikes that ‘The towelhead Commies had it coming’ and that ‘it’s crazy that American soldiers are pointing guns at their own citizens while a bunch of A-rabs are running around killing Christians where our Lord was born’) while Kennedy stressed caution and that after China more American lives. The Black Fascists under Little, though Little himself was always desperate to avoid killing white civilians for fear of the maelstrom of vengeance that would fall on them, had expanded to the point where individuals could not be restrained. Thus, first policemen and politicians hostile to blacks were killed, then those who aided or supported the Klan, until finally, random killings of whites, some of whom were outright hostile to the Klan and segregation, were reported in scattered areas of the south. Things got even worse when a police station in New York was attacked with a bomb on October 2nd by a local claiming allegiance to the Black Fascists. While federal troops had focussed more so on the Klan before, the Black Fascists now received full attention. Over the course of October, their organization was given the lion’s share of targeting (a change of targeting that Hoover greatly enjoyed). Little himself would be forced to seek shelter, making an escape to Texas in December, claiming that he was innocent of all wrongdoings and that it was set up by ‘The Slaver in Chief, Patton!’ The Black Fascists more sadistic turn that year had also led to a new surge in recruitment to the Klan, who likewise underwent a short revival in fortunes.

On election night, both Kennedy and Thurmond had something to be happy about. Kennedy had of course won the election, but Thurmond had won all the old states of the Confederacy, plus West Virginia, Kentucky, Missouri and Oklahoma for 166 electoral votes. Of course, given that most of the whites that voted Republican had already left the south, this was not as incredible a victory as Thurmond trumpeted it to be, but he had polarized the electoral map in a way that maximized the gains a southern party could reach. At the same time, Thurmond boasted to his associates that, ‘The President eight years from now will be whistlin’ Dixie’. Squeezed under the FPTP US electoral system, the brief challenge from the States Right’s Party was annihilated, ironically often due to blacks holding their nose to vote for the Freedom Party. The balance of the House and Senate stayed the same, with strong Republican majorities in each, though supermajorities were the thing of the past. Joseph Kennedy was consequently inaugurated as the 36th President of the United States on January 20th 1957, the first President born in the 20th Century. His inaugural speech would be the first to explicitly mention the Civil Rights movement, and was indeed primarily based on the subject. Stressing the need for healing, Kennedy made his first bold move when, in reference to the terrorism of the Black Fascists claimed, “There is no help Fascism can give anyone in the United States, White or Black, Rich or Poor, Jew or Gentile.” This would trigger a newfound shift in American foreign policy that would be matched by the change in Britain’s government the same year, with America’s foreign policy elite worrying less and less about the emasculated Soviets and more and more about the surging Fascists. But it wasn’t until the complete breakdown of Democratic-Fascist relations after the South Iran fiasco that American policymakers determined to take active steps to rein in Fascism. Then of course, came the critical day, on March 5th 1957 when, speaking at Westminster College in Fulton Mississippi on a day mostly to do with improving race relations in the South, Kennedy would say the famous line that ignited a new phase of Cold War conflict. “We are not, perhaps in another Cold War with the Fascists, but I believe you can say that we are in the midst of a Cool one”. In 1958, the ‘Cool War’ had begun, and its first battlefield had already been decided: Cuba.
The End of the Beginning

Extract from ‘El Pueblo, Unido’ by Rodrigo Diaz

The seeds of successful rebellion in Cuba were sown in October 1954, when Batista, in an effort to increase his prestige to the Roman Alliance, decided to crack down on the Mafia to gain the attention and support of Mussolini. The Mafia, enjoying a Golden Age in America, had created a veritable Pleasure Island in the sunny Caribbean state, with gambling parlors, good-time girls and exotic drinks on exotic beaches. When Batista started cracking down on the Mafia, the casinos were shut down, the acts stopped coming and the Mob wasn’t making money. This put Batista on the Mob’s hit-list, as they planned to get back on top, as well as giving a bloody nose to their eternal enemy in Mussolini, who by this point had essentially exterminated the Mafia in mainland Italy, Sardinia and Sicily. But while the Mob in Italy (outside of Libya and East Africa) was long gone, the American Mafia had more than enough resources to fancy their chances against the chronically unpopular Batista, whose seizure of power had alienated almost all stratum of society. It took a while for their golden-boy to appear, but appear he did.

Fidel Castro and his brother Raul were both working on overthrowing the Cuban leadership in the July 26th Movement (commemorating an attack on a Cuban army barracks). While both had previously expressed some interest in Communism, the revelations of what was happening to the Jews of the Soviet Union and the nuclear bombing of Poland were enough to repel them, or at least make them realize that the ideology was so unpopular that it was suicide to associate themselves with it. Their movement was floundering by 1956 and seemingly on its last legs, especially since they had competition from the avowed Marxist Che Guevara, whose ‘Cuban Revolutionary Front’ received Soviet backing under Khrushchev. But just when it seemed they were done for, the Second Arabian War began, and Batista sent multiple troops to Spain to try and win glory in Morocco. This gave some breathing room for Castro, especially as the Cuban economy continued to decline due to corruption mixed with a fall in tourism with Mafia-owned resorts being forced to shut down. This was when Castro began to meet representatives in La Cosa Nostra, who offered financial support on the condition that Castro bring back their bars, brothels and gambling dens to Havana. Castro, cynical after his fallout from the Left and desperate for anything he could get, reluctantly assented. By the beginning of 1957, Castro’s forces were better stocked than Che’s by a mile, with even the Cuban army looking cheap in comparison. Batista knew the war-weary US wanted nothing to do with his conflict, and that it would be both incendiary and embarrassing to import Italian troops and advisors to flush out Castro’s men. For that reason, he decided to lie to his Roman Alliance compatriots, telling them that Castro was on his last legs. He certainly succeeded, with the Roman Alliance turning to other matters.

Then, in February 1958, Cuba was hit by news that stunned all who heard. After a reported massacre by Batista’s men in a number of villages on the south of the island, America had demanded Batista step down, immediately. The Kennedy Administration, now deeply concerned about the extent of Fascism’s reach in Latin America, had reversed tack on a number of Right-Wing dictatorships, saying they were not only bad for human rights but bad opponents of Communism. Batista, enraged, expelled the US ambassador from the island, but by now, his fate was cast in stone. Castro’s men had a sudden surge of morale, with the Cuban economy tanking even faster than it had been the previous year. American tourists fled, and the money did too. On April 2nd, 1958, with Batista’s underpaid, undervalued men simply refusing to fight, the July 26th Movement saw their troops enter Havana, with the Castro brothers at the vanguard. Batista would flee to Spain, where he would spend the rest of his life. In the elections that were hastily organized for the end of June, the July 26th Movement (swiftly renamed to ‘The Cuban People’s Party’) received 60% of the Parliamentary vote, the Liberal Party roughly 23%, 10% to the Corporatist Auténtico and the most of the remainder to the Communists (Progressive Action, Batista’s party, had been banned). At the same time, Castro won a vote for the Presidency at 70%. Naturally, the Communists accused Castro of rigging the election and Guevara promised to “Fight Bourgeois Castro as fanatically as we fought Fascist Batista!” With a democratic mandate and the assurance that Guevara’s Marxist movement would continue to be opposed militarily, Castro had ensured that he had the ear of Washington – a Washington that was obsessed with finding a way to get a leg-up on Fascism and installing (American-supporting) democracies across the region.

On July 20th, Castro flew to Washington where he personally met both Kennedy and Nixon, who ingratiated him immensely. Kennedy promised funds to get Cuba going again, particularly money for Cuba’s health and education system as well as military support against both Che and Fascist forces that had refused to give up. This would be given on the condition that Castro continued to closely align Cuba’s economy to America’s, with a mixed-market Capitalist economy where the rights of American companies were respected (i.e. no nationalizing). Again, faced with little choice, Castro agreed to respect the rights of Americans within the country in return for American funding to help with regional inequality and poverty. As a result, within five years, almost all Cuban children were getting a decent education, Cuban healthcare was the best in Latin America and Cubans had a living standard equal to Fascist Europe. At the same time, Havana had become a city synonymous with what people alternatively saw as fun and thrills or sleaze and decadence. The city was fit to bursting with American tourists, and the owners of many of the resorts were also American, though not exactly the most altruistic types. Indeed, even to this day, Cuban-Americans are almost as associated with the Mafia as Italian-Americans. Cuba would be the site of countless tales of Mob intrigues in the coming years and decades, and not even the rise of Las Vegas could fully dent the reputation she had made for herself as Pleasure Island. Acts from all across America, from Frank Sinatra to Miles Davis made their presence known in Cuba, making the island a cultural as well as an economic hotspot, with Manuel Mirabal and other Cuban artists began to make waves among Spanish-speaking American audiences. But while the long-term consequences of the Cuban Revolution were vast, the short-term consequences were just as important, particularly in the neighboring Fascist Republics scattered throughout the Americas. The moment was best captured by a speech Richard Nixon would give when in Havana on August 4th, saying, “We can see that in a part of the world more known for its summers, a new season has begun – spring. Spring not just for Cuba, but all of Latin America.” Though he didn’t precisely say the words, ‘The Latin Spring’ would come to define the waves of revolt that simmered through South America after the fall of the Cuban dictatorship.

For Che Guevara, he continued his fruitless struggle against Castro’s Presidency before being eventually captured and sent to La Cabaña prison in 1962. His imprisonment, ending with his ultimately dying in 2007, would be the deathblow to Marxism in Cuba, which exists today only as a scorned, mocked remnant much like the rest of the world. Batista would rage at Castro for the rest of his life, though he would eventually die in Spain, unloved and unwanted in his home country. For Castro himself, he would ride out his reign with glory, until he finally fell in scandal in 1972 after it emerged that he was embezzling funds to give them to his young mistress whom he was not only having illicit relations with, but was an agent of the Havana Mafia. Subsequent investigations showed his connections to the world of underground crime that had emerged from the Revolutionary War. In return for an official pardon, he resigned his post and lived the remainder of his life in relative obscurity, though his brother Raúl would eventually win the Presidency in 1992, holding it for two terms. As he died in 2016, statesmen of all countries mourned him as the man who restored Cuban democracy, lit the flame of freedom across Latin America and made Cuba the First-World country it is today.

After Cuba, the first country that would be hit by the Latin Spring would be the Dominican Republic. Rafael Trujillo, the resident dictator, had already been on thin ice since the murder of Jesús Suárez in New York but the change in international allegiances had forced a change in American policy towards the Dominican Republic, with American diplomats openly supporting the calls for democracy. The opposition, united under Juan Bosch and supported by American money, was emboldened by the fall of Batista to press their claims against Trujillo. However, Trujillo had no intention of bending towards what he described as ‘Haitian Insurrection’. He had of course already murdered 30,000 Haitians in the Parsley Massacre of 1937, so killing was no problem for him. On August 10th, 500 protestors in Santo Domingo (re-named ‘Trujillo City’) were massacred under Trujillo’s orders, leading to an exodus towards the Haitian border. When Haitian president, ‘Papa Doc’ Duvalier, made a statement the next day that any attempt to massacre Haitian refugees trying to flee to Haiti would be met with resistance, Trujillo laughed it off.

On August 12th, Dominican troops were astonished to see Cuban volunteers standing at the border, battle-hardened in a way that the Dominicans were not. With American weapons and superior training, the Cubans took seven casualties, while the Dominicans received over 100. The embarrassing incident was precisely the fuel that the Dominican Resistance needed, and suddenly finding more weapons than they knew what to do with (typically arriving on beaches from ‘unmarked ships’), they took the fight to the Trujillo regime, now under American embargo. This was a signal to the business elite and aristocracy of the island that their last chance for preservation came down to getting rid of Trujillo, and so he was. On August 14th, Trujillo’s car exploded on the road, later discovered to be a planted bomb. The Dominican military, recognizing the hopelessness of the situation and listening with desperate hope to American guarantees that the status of the old elite could be mostly preserve