The Footprint of Mussolini - TL

When telling people how a guy was bad, listing the goodish thing is usually not the best idea.
Isn't this the scariest thing regarding people like Hitler and Stalin?
They weren't soulless monsters, but normal human beings that at one point or another decided mass murder was the best solition for all their problems.

Also regarding who is worse between Hitler and Stalin: when it comes to Comminism, you can argue that Stalinism is a corrupted ideology and that Marx never openly encouraged things like genocide and mass starvation.
For obvious reasons you can't do anything similar with Hitler and Nazism
 
Stalin had an odd relationship with his daughter. He adoringly loved her until she grew older and they increasingly drifted apart, I think the final straw came when he exiled her lover to the front in Stalingrad as a wartime reporter (later the Gulag) and seemed to disapprove of it greatly. If memory serves me right, they exchanged some words after the end of WWII though I'm not sure to which degree it rekindled their relationship.

Stalin made sure that she wasn't alone with Beria - for obvious reasons of course. She also took a liking to Beria's son if I recall. Stalin also seemed very uncaring for his sons, though he did show some emotion when he heard the news that Vasily had been taken prisoner. Stalin seemed to show Svetlana genuine affection unlike his other offspring.

As an aside Stalin used to torment his fellow party members through other ways than mass executions and torture. He put tomatoes on nearby seats and waited until his colleagues sat down on them and burst out laughing at the noise they made and liked jokes.

Hitler comes across as a rather dark personality with no warmth to him, a man who genuinely hated the world around him. Stalin for his part used to creepily put pen to paper and scribble the most hideous of sketches when sitting in meetings.
 
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Zagan

Donor
Hitler comes across as a rather dark personality with no warmth to him, a man who genuinely hated the world around him.
Well, Hitler liked dogs and other animals. That's why we should fight those damn ecologists! They are just like Hitler!
(joke, sadly I have to mention this on the Internet)
 
I'm still not sure whats up with Corsican terrorism. Is Corsican separatism even a thing IOTL? Im a little stumped at what it could be.
Corsican separatism won't be a thing TTL as OTL is started as a direct result of Algerian independance and the repatriation of piednoirs to Corsica which created tensions with locals. French colonialims was driven by Corsicans, a fifth of administators in the colonies were Corsicans!
 
Corsican separatism won't be a thing TTL as OTL is started as a direct result of Algerian independance and the repatriation of piednoirs to Corsica which created tensions with locals. French colonialims was driven by Corsicans, a fifth of administators in the colonies were Corsicans!
Balbo mentioned Corsican problems France has in his interview for World at War.
 
That may just be a overprotective dad having too much power right. What dad doesn't want to put their daughter's boyfriend in the gulag? Especially considering he was 20 years older than Stalin's UNDERAGE daughter. He didn't even allow her to be near Beria, angrily telling her to get away from him upon finding out she was at his place. The man showed an uncharacteristic concern for his daughter's well being.

When telling people how a guy was bad, listing the goodish thing is usually not the best idea.
And yet, he had no problem letting others fall into Beria's clutches.
 
Isn't this the scariest thing regarding people like Hitler and Stalin?
They weren't soulless monsters, but normal human beings that at one point or another decided mass murder was the best solition for all their problems.

Also regarding who is worse between Hitler and Stalin: when it comes to Comminism, you can argue that Stalinism is a corrupted ideology and that Marx never openly encouraged things like genocide and mass starvation.
For obvious reasons you can't do anything similar with Hitler and Nazism
Stalin had an odd relationship with his daughter. He adoringly loved her until she grew older and they increasingly drifted apart, I think the final straw came when he exiled her lover to the front in Stalingrad as a wartime reporter (later the Gulag) and seemed to disapprove of it greatly. If memory serves me right, they exchanged some words after the end of WWII though I'm not sure to which degree it rekindled their relationship.

Stalin made sure that she wasn't alone with Beria - for obvious reasons of course. She also took a liking to Beria's son if I recall. Stalin also seemed very uncaring for his sons, though he did show some emotion when he heard the news that Vasily had been taken prisoner. Stalin seemed to show Svetlana genuine affection unlike his other offspring.

As an aside Stalin used to torment his fellow party members through other ways than mass executions and torture. He put tomatoes on nearby seats and waited until his colleagues sat down on them and burst out laughing at the noise they made and liked jokes.

Hitler comes across as a rather dark personality with no warmth to him, a man who genuinely hated the world around him. Stalin for his part used to creepily put pen to paper and scribble the most hideous of sketches when sitting in meetings.
I think the problem with someone like Stalin is a bit bigger than him: namely the system created by his predecessor.

Lenin, regardless of what you think of him, created a system that would lead to the Bolshevik revolutionaries becoming little better than feuding nobles squabbling over territory.

It was only natural for someone like Stalin, who was possessed of the instincts of the mobster, could rise to power.
 
Lenin, regardless of what you think of him, created a system that would lead to the Bolshevik revolutionaries becoming little better than feuding nobles squabbling over territory.
Nobody doubts that the Soviet Union would have ended up being a dictatorship even if Stalin hadn't rise to power, but as people have already pointed out even Stalin's successors didn't imitate his most brutal acts.

On the other hand Nazism was explicity built on the ideas of genocide and destruction.
Even if Hitler had died before his rise to power, his followers would have still started persecuting jews and other minorities.
Heck i am pretty sure even the invasion of Russia was inevitable considering how much the Nazi Party screamed about the communists, the jews and the slavs.
 
And yet, he had no problem letting others fall into Beria's clutches.
Well, he's Stalin. A certain degree of heartlessness when it doesn't pertain to him personally is to be expected. Plus, if you were an evil overlord with, say, a pet monster that needed ritual sacrifices every month or so, that wouldn't mean you'd check your watch on the January the 31st, sigh, grab your daughter, and throw her into the feeding pit.
 
Nobody doubts that the Soviet Union would have ended up being a dictatorship even if Stalin hadn't rise to power, but as people have already pointed out even Stalin's successors didn't imitate his most brutal acts.
Perhaps, but his successors did participate in many of them. Khrushchev and Mikoyan only came to power by eagerly selling their compatriots to grisly torment and execution.

And while Khrushchev was certainly not the worse guy in the world, he did crackdown hard on the Hungarians.

On the other hand Nazism was explicity built on the ideas of genocide and destruction.
Even if Hitler had died before his rise to power, his followers would have still started persecuting jews and other minorities.
Heck i am pretty sure even the invasion of Russia was inevitable considering how much the Nazi Party screamed about the communists, the jews and the slavs.
Hitler himself was, to a certain extent, a product of his environment.

All the horrible ideas he cooked up were things that had been produced in beta-form by others.

From Volksich nationalism, to antisemitism, to a colonial attitude to Eastern Europe. Many of these ideas had percolated for decades in the minds of German leaders.

Even relatively normal people like Gustav Stresemann weren't above these attitudes, considering his refusal to recognize the Polish corridor.

The OTL Valkyrie plotters, while not being evil monsters, were certainly supportive of some Nazi ideas, like authoritarian government, Slavic bigotry, and keeping some of the shit they stole from the Poles.

Hitler was bad, but he was merely the same key played higher.
 
Well, he's Stalin. A certain degree of heartlessness when it doesn't pertain to him personally is to be expected. Plus, if you were an evil overlord with, say, a pet monster that needed ritual sacrifices every month or so, that wouldn't mean you'd check your watch on the January the 31st, sigh, grab your daughter, and throw her into the feeding pit.
Even to his own family, he was pretty harsh.

He drove his first wife to suicide by humiliating her at party.

He drove his son Yakov to near suicide with his bullying behavior, and then quipped his son couldn't even shoot straight.

He helped turn Vasily into a paranoid drunk.

And while he did love his daughter, that love was not enough to keep her from defecting to the West.
 
Anyways, how do you imagine Balbo's subordinates reacting to his actions in nuking Addis Ababa with a hydrogen bomb? Could you see talk of a palace coup against Balbo amongst senior officials?
 
Yep. Stalin was monstrous to his family, turning even on his daughter in time. Don't feel too bad for her, she became a major proponent of Stalin apologism in the West.

Hitler may have been worse in terms of personal life though frankly... all of his former lovers killed themselves, save Eva Braun until then bunker, and he was apparently into some really dark, twisted shit.
 
Anyways, how do you imagine Balbo's subordinates reacting to his actions in nuking Addis Ababa with a hydrogen bomb? Could you see talk of a palace coup against Balbo amongst senior officials?
I don't think that they begin plan ousting one of "founder fathers" of fascist Italy. All of them might don't like that but they hardly care enough acting against man whom Mussolini trusted and even named him as his successor.
 
Perhaps, but his successors did participate in many of them. Khrushchev and Mikoyan only came to power by eagerly selling their compatriots to grisly torment and execution.
Yes and they stopped the moment he bit the dust.
Do you think Himmler or Goering would have done the same if Hitler had won?

he did crackdown hard on the Hungarians.
Yes, but i wouldn't compare Hungary in 1956 to places like Ukraine in 1943.
 
Anyways, how do you imagine Balbo's subordinates reacting to his actions in nuking Addis Ababa with a hydrogen bomb? Could you see talk of a palace coup against Balbo amongst senior officials?
I can picture it creating some severe divisions among the fascist party. This act severely damages the credibility of the nation and challenges the notion of colonialism as a force of good.

If opposition to fascism grows, Balbo could lose even more support.
 
Such Stuff as Dreams are Made On
Such Stuff as Dreams are Made On

Extract from 'The Decay: Communism's Final Days (1969-1973)' by Dwight Ryan

In January 1970, Suslov announced that before the year was out that the Soviets would land a man on the Moon. This announcement stunned Western observers since Israel’s intelligence service, which had been keeping both ITO and the Roman Alliance up to date on the Soviet moves, showed that the Soviet Union could barely expect to pull of an orbit around the Moon by the end of the year. It would certainly beat Britain and Italy, where both leaders knew they didn’t have the resources to pull of the venture so quickly. Then some information came out of the Soviet Union from Mossad spies that was even more baffling – there were now-massive reductions to the number of personnel and the rocket facilities in Central Asia despite there apparently being a huge operation within the year. It wasn’t until March that the first whispers of a faked Soviet Moon Landing came along the grapevine. The first words Prime Minister Jenkins said on hearing the claim was, ‘They can’t be that stupid’. But as the claims continued to come, the evidence got louder and louder. Eventually, the evidence was discussed clandestinely by Israeli, Italian, British and American leaders in phone calls through the summer of 1970. It was around that time that the definitive launch date of November 7th was penciled in by Soviet state broadcasters to mark the anniversary of the October Revolution. It was ultimately agreed by all powers to keep absolutely quiet: if the Soviets were really going to do something so astonishingly asinine, the last thing they could do was break Sun Tzu’s famous adage that one must never interrupt their enemies when they make a mistake. The open secret reached ludicrous proportions when Israeli spies demanded time off because they were so sick of having Soviet defectors tell them that they were planning a faked Moon Launch and the spies had to pretend they had never heard the claim before. Even around the rocket site, the rumours of a fake launch were so prevalent that the main argument against it was that so many people had already heard about the fake launch that they’d have to scrap the plan to avoid embarrassment. Western leaders actually launched a counter-intelligence operation to emphasize that they didn’t know the landing was going to be faked, in what is generally considered to be the only successful intelligence operation in relation to the event.

Gagarin recalled the moment that he was told of the plan by a KGB Agent. “I resisted the urge to strike him,” Gagarin recalled. “It was an insult to the friends I had lost in these insane missions, an insult to the Russian people that I was supposed to hoodwink and an insult to mankind that I would sully what was supposed to be our common mission: to reach the stars as one humanity. If I could I would have spat on his face.” Nevertheless, Gagarin agreed to the plan under pressure from state authorities. He mentally steeled himself for the dangers of the flight around the Moon and the shame that would come from living off stolen glory as he was driven to Moscow to begin shooting the fake scenes. At Mosfilm studios, famous Soviet Sci-Fi director Pavel Klushantev was placed in the director’s chair after having been plucked from the Gulag (his experimental films being seen as too ‘radical’ for the Suslov Era) on the condition that he make the film in total secrecy. Klushantev nominally agreed, but his disgust at the regime transcended any sense of self-preservation. Simultaneously knowing enough about Science to know what was correct and enough to know what could fool clueless KGB goons, he went to work. He dropped a series of clues in his fake film reel to prove the footage was faked. He created a blast crater around the rocket, had an impossibly straight flag (explaining that there was no air on the moon so the flag would be totally stretched) and added stars to the background. The fact that none of these were in the Apollo footage should have been a hint to his controllers, but all were convinced by Klushantev’s explanations. Gagarin acted with a voice so unenthusiastic that an impersonator ultimately dubbed him before the footage went out. As October concluded, all the pieces were in their place to begin the most notorious hoax of all time.

Gagarin blasted off from Kazakhstan with another two cosmonauts deep into space. There was extra weight on the rocket to simulate what a lunar lander looked like which nearly took down the whole ship before it left the atmosphere when it didn’t detach correctly. After a day had passed and all had gone well the Soviets finally announced that Gagarin was heading to the Moon and would be there shortly. Announcements that the Soviets would ‘one-up’ the Americans by landing on the Far Side of the Moon were met with disbelief by anyone who was not ignorant of the effort that went into Lunar missions and simultaneously completely ignorant of the Kremlin’s designs. The return of such a figure to public attention sent a short, pleasant wave of nostalgia through the Russian people that helped alleviate their suffering for a time. They were going to beat everyone but the Americans to the Moon – it wasn’t too bad. Finally on November 7th, Gagarin disappeared behind the Moon and he sat ‘brimming in disgust at what I knew was happening at that exact moment at home’. The Soviets were displaying the fake footage with all the pomp and circumstance of people who thought they were going to get away with it. However, something quickly seemed off. Western nations were not congratulating the Soviets or even acknowledging it – even when Gagarin went into Space there was an announcement. The footage showed Gagarin land on the Moon, but his weightlessness did not seem right, his voice did not seem connected to the actions on screen. His first words on the Moon, “In the name of Comrade Suslov, and the people of the Soviet Union!” felt painfully choreographed. The West gladly allowed the footage to be broadcast, knowing full well how the Soviets were doing nothing more than digging their own graves.

It wasn’t until a few hours later when the capsule had supposedly returned to flight and the craft had in reality come around the Moon that America, Britain and Italy launched a joint-press statement that accused the Soviet Union of faking their Moon Landing. They had been tracking the flight the whole time and knew that to come around the Moon in so short a time was impossible if it had to land on the surface. The accusation was met with feigned outrage from the Soviets and stunned disbelief among the Western public that the Soviets would ever have tried something so outrageous. At first, many expected it to be something that would be debated for years to come – the Soviets would claim they did go, others would claim they didn’t and a new debate like whether Perry had really reached the North Pole would begin. But due to spectacular circumstances, the world would be robbed of any doubt. Gagarin, stewing in rage for the entirety of his orbit of the Moon, had decided that he could not face the embarrassment of parading himself around as a man who landed there and decided that drastic action had to be taken – he was going to defect. Turning off communications with mission control back on Earth, he convinced his partners that Suslov would likely kill them to keep the secret covered up. Armed with a now supportive crew who already were great admirers of Gagarin, the trio set out to work. By the time they were in orbit, they were supposed to land over Kazakhstan. Instead, they banked sharper and ended up (through miraculous, spontaneous piloting skills from Gagarin) jettisoning out over East Turkestan. The trio were taken into custody by local authorities with the expectation the Soviets would soon collect them – but when an interpreter said that they were asking to defect to the United States, a diplomatic crisis hit the supposedly neutral state. The Soviets accused the East Turkmen state of imprisoning their heroes and inventing the story of defection while the West begged them to give Gagarin his liberty, mostly because of how damaging a tell-all exclusive would be. Ultimately, Gagarin and his friends were sneaked out of the country by help of the state authorities onto an American transport plane. When the plane landed in Washington, Gagarin found himself at the centre of an international crisis with reporters surrounding the airport so intensely that the army had to be called in to control the situation. Gagarin was taken to the White House to meet the President, who congratulated him on his newfound freedom. Corley was quickly assuaged as to Gagarin’s usefulness, when the very next day saw the Russian perform a press conference at the White House.

The full extent of the conspiracy was revealed in titillating detail: the political interventions, the deaths of his fellow Cosmonauts, the failure of the Soviet program, the tragicomedy of a space flight and much more. The Soviet regime was absolutely bewildered and baffled about what they could do. As Molotov recalled, “I knew this was going to be bad – I didn’t expect it to be cataclysmic.” Ultimately, their decision may have been terrible, but it was the best they could come up with: they stated that Gagarin had been assassinated and replaced by a body-double to discredit the Soviet Union. Of course, if that had actually been the case, it wouldn’t have done half as much to discredit the Soviet Union as their explanation. Accusing the US of murdering a beloved national hero, they organized a day of national mourning for the obviously alive Gagarin while burning US and East Turkestan flags for being his ‘murderer’. The Soviet citizenry, and especially the East Germans, Poles and Slovakians, well understood what had happened and lost what little faith they had in the system. Soviet excuses were lampooned in every country from Iceland to Ghana as something more befitting a pantomime. Communism had simultaneously become something to be reviled and nothing to be feared, as it would probably trip over trying to tie its laces. Vice-President Wayne wasn’t inventing the saying when he said, “The Commies couldn’t pour piss out of a boot if the instructions were on the heel”, but he certainly popularized the statement. Italy was likewise relieved – the fake landing had taken away a lot of the attention and heat they’d gotten from their strike on Addis Ababa, something Balbo was only beginning to realise the extent of its disaster. The Soviets had finally succeeded in making the workers of the world unite … in laughing at them. Only the most devoted of Neo-Communists online still believe that the Soviets landed on the Moon, with most believing the difference between the Apollo and Soyuz landings on the tapes proves that the Apollo mission of all things was fake. Ironically, the failure of the Soviet cover-up deflated any notion of the NASA landing being fraudulent by exposing just how impossible it would be to cover such a situation up. This left time for Britain and Italy to finish the job they had started out, with the Soviets refusing to go any farther after having ‘Proven its superior Socialist technology by being the first power to land on the Dark Side of the Moon’.

On May 7th 1971, Peter Taylor repeated his groundbreaking adventurism of being the first Briton in space by being the first Briton to land on the Moon, planting the Union Jack on the lunar surface and fulfilling Von Braun’s prophecy of being the second country to land. His first words on the Moon were to quote English legend William Shakespeare in saying, “We are such stuff as dreams are made on”. In Britain, suffering from IRA and Turkish Nationalist bombing, the landing led to a resurgent national pride and confidence. On August 4th, the first Italian would land on the Moon. It would be Roberto Mussolini, son of Bruno and grandson of Benito, who had been a pilot like his father. Like Balbo’s child, he wasn’t the most talented, but he certainly had the right connections. In the aftermath of the fallout from Ethiopia, it was felt that having someone with the Duce’s surname on the Moon would help alleviate the situation – in reality, it only gave license to those who talked about ‘how good everything was before Balbo came along’. It also encouraged those who felt like Fascism was simply a system of nepotism, corruption and handouts – which it had increasingly become by the 1970s. Roberto Mussolini’s first words were perhaps a tad predictable but well befitting the occasion: “Veni, Vidi, Vici” (“I came, I saw, I conquered”). Thus, for decades on the lunar surface, the Stars and Stripes, Union Jack and Tricolore were the only three flags on its surface – until the Blue Sky and White Sun of China made its first appearance in 2015, thus taking the total to four. Many Italians remember their lunar ascent as the high-water mark of domestic Fascism in Italy, where the regime had nowhere to go but down. Of course, the Soviet “landing” itself would become a moment that would mark the fall of the regime. The Soviet Union would never land on the Moon, nor any of her successor states as of today.

Suslov shut down the Space Program immediately after, partly because funds were critically needed to avoid another famine and to cash out their depreciating chips while there was still something to be got. Of course, the chips were already worthless. In 1970, the Soviets were lucky enough to be coming into winter, where no one wanted to be outside protesting. But 1971 was different. By now, the fear that many felt towards the regime from within the slave states had melted away owing to the sheer incompetency of the Fake Moon Landing. Even though Suslov ordered anyone caught “Spreading Western propaganda” about the Moon Landing be sentenced to prison with some ‘serious offenders’ being ordered shot, in reality this was almost never followed as the chain of command in the Bloc had collapsed so thoroughly. One story from Moscow told the story of a police officer overhearing two men discuss how many girls Gagarin must have been getting in America and that American girls would probably be better than Russian. The policeman intervened, and rather than arresting them for denying the official story of the Soviet Moon Landing, he was far angrier that Russian women were deemed worse than Americans – which he argued was probably the one thing Gagarin missed about the Soviet Union. Another policeman overheard that conversation and argued that Gagarin would miss Vodka over the women. The two men were then ordered away while the policemen continued to argue about what Gagarin missed most about Russia. As Yuri Andropov warned Suslov, “If we arrested everyone in Russia that joked about the Moon Landing we’d have to move the whole country to Siberia.” In Poland, the ‘Society of Gnomes’ was created, which lampooned the Communists with Pro-Soviet graffiti that was so embarrassing it could not be removed but humiliated the regime nonetheless. “We support Communism as surely as Gagarin landed on the Moon!” read one popular leaflet. “We want more rockets and less food!” ran another, alongside “Gagarin lives in more than just our hearts!” Similar movements began in Slovakia and East Germany, which the authorities could not crack down upon without coming off even more ridiculous than the situation had already gotten. But it was not simply the lack of fear, it was the re-emergence of yet another famine on the horizon. Attempts to buy grain from the United States were laughed out of the White House as were attempts anywhere else. The Famine of 1971 brought genuine suffering to the people within the Soviet Bloc that it had not seen since the 1930s under Stalin – the slave states of East Europe were so badly raided to try and find the resources that even the mostly dormant Polish resistance movement spiked in activity well before the ultimate fall of the Soviet state. By now, the Poles were confident enough in their ability to stand up to the Soviets as one again.

On August 31st, workers and farmers across Poland threw down their tools in protest of their work being taken to the Soviet Union without sufficient compensation when suffering and starvation were becoming increasingly common within their own country. With that, the East Germans also threw down their tools on the excuse that since the Poles weren’t letting anything be transported it would be pointless to continue production. Slovakia likewise joined in on September 5th for the refreshingly honest reason that ‘The workers of Slovakia cannot compel themselves to work for people who spit on our heritage”. In Korea, Kim Il-Sung was smart enough to see which way the wind was blowing and stated he was unilaterally halting grain shipments to the Soviet Union (though privately continuing to give a smaller number) to quell the growing anger with the Soviet giant. In North China, Jiang pledged to combat the famine by “Rousing and strengthening the people with Socialist cinema”, which consisted of her starring in her latest film fan-fiction version of herself combatting fictional saboteurs creating the Famine. South Beijing and South China itself faced new waves of refugees of their brethren, with Chiang more convinced than ever that Jiang was on her last legs. In Ezo, the Japanese citizenry of the island had been protesting their difficulties, only to be smashed with Soviet and Ezo troops landing batons on their heads. The native troops, mostly Ainu, were horrified by the thought of the Japanese reasserting their dominance on Hokkaido and what that would mean for their people. Serbia was the only region in the Communist Bloc not to face protests, as the existential fear of Croatia was too great for that luxury. The whole Soviet Bloc had descended into bedlam, and in the Kremlin, the old regime continued to think it was just another day in the office.

Negotiations with Polish strikers by the Polish government (led by Arch-Stalinist Edward Ochab) failed to resolve anything. The Solidarity Union held firm against pressure, but the Polish government was fearful of another Soviet invasion of Poland and was increasingly buckling under pressure from Moscow to deal with the situation immediately. On September 11th, the government declared martial law and ordered the army to halt the strikers, who by now made up the vast majority of the entire Polish workforce. Instead, to their horror, the domestic Polish army stayed in their barracks – mutiny had begun. The Polish Liberation Army quickly understood the cue and rose up all across the country against the vanishingly small Soviet presence, which had been significantly cut back due to budget issues. Witold Pilecki, having been trapped in the Carpathians for almost twenty-five years to lead the PLA after countless close-calls on his life, emerged from hiding by arriving in Krakow and taking to the radio to announce that “Poland is ready to battle the forces of the Communist Antichrist!” He had to quickly escape when the Soviets began bombing Krakow from the air in preparation of their new invasion. The Communist Polish government fled east to Moscow where they hoped to mount a comeback. The Kremlin had not anticipated an uprising in Poland and consequently had much too few men in the country to deal with such a sudden, radical outpouring of support to the revolutionaries. Nevertheless, on September 13th, tanks began rolling into Poland from its eastern border. But something wasn’t right – their advance was far slower than expected, with the roads well-mined and loaded with ambushes. To make matters worse, though the lack of war had covered up the problem by not making it visible, the Soviet army was in a state of total disrepair. The Stalinist economy and countless funds spent in Space had left the Soviet army hollow and weak. While they had the air force and tanks, neither was good at stopping a universal insurgency in a country with boundless land that was easy to hide in, as the Italians had found out in Ethiopia. The Soviet performance brought back memories of the Finnish embarrassment in 1939. Discipline had simply collapsed, substance abuse was rampant and the demoralized Soviet soldier did not remotely care for his assignment. Though Soviet troops were able to restore order in the main Polish cities by late September, they faced an insurgency that was well prepared, motivated and had learned a few lessons from Ethiopia when it came to pitched battles with occupying giants.

East Germany, cut off from all sides due to the Polish insurgency, spiraled into an even worse condition as food and fuel was almost completely shut off. On September 20th 1971, housewives in East Berlin protested over the shortages of food in the country that was becoming very noticeable in domestic life. It was assumed that the Communist authorities would be gentler on women than men for obvious PR reasons. But Erich Honecker, the new Stalinist leader of the country, wanted to stamp down his authority quickly to prove himself to Suslov. To that end, he ordered the protesters beaten off the streets with ‘maximum prejudice’. The Stasi attacked the crowd of a few thousand starving mothers with truncheons and tear gas. Nine women were killed in the crackdown, one a fourteen-year-old trying to protect her mother. If Honecker thought he had the situation in hand, he was much mistaken. The next day, a crowd of more than 100,000, this time mostly infuriated men, marched along the streets of East Berlin, smashing anything to do with the regime. Stasi members were lynched in public, police stations were burned down and the government lost all control of the situation. Defections and mutiny had ensured that weapons had by now been distributed to the locals, as they made an attack on their main target: the Berlin Wall. Honecker and the government had already fled to Schwed to mount their resources against the revolutionaries. Soviet soldiers were ordered to fire on anyone trying to escape West, but there were now far too many to successfully hold back. As frantic calls were relayed between local commanders, Suslov finally consented to a new order. Soviet troops were to pull out of Berlin – he had his own plans for what he was about to do. Contacting the mob, the Soviet troops informed them they were pulling out of Berlin and that anyone who wanted to go West was free to do so. The anger and vengeance that filled the mood of the crowd made way to jubilation and mirth. Armored trucks commandeered by the revolutionaries smashed through the Berlin Wall, which was further defanged that night with a litany of sledgehammers from both sides. After ten years of separation, East and West were reunited, but the celebrations were premature.

On September 22nd, Suslov announced that he was closing the roads and railways into West Berlin, thus effectively turning the city into an island. Later that day, Soviet troops moved into East Berlin, retaking the city which was by now had turned into a ghost town. Conditions had gotten so bad that more than 80% of East Berliners had fled into West Berlin, creating a gigantic refugee crisis within the enclave. Suslov told the West that he would continue the blockade of West Berlin as long as ITO and the Italians had a presence in the city. He assured them that West Berlin’s existing citizens would “Be welcomed like brothers into the Socialist community” while “domestic troublemakers” who had escaped into East Berlin would face a “stern reckoning”. The euphoria that had greeted the announcement of the fall of the Berlin Wall was now checked with the stark reality of another nuclear standoff. Suslov hoped that the specter of a total war with the West would finally awaken the Soviet people from the lethargy they had been under since Armstrong walked on the Moon. This was in flat defiance of agreements made at Kiev and Potsdam and the West was stunned about what had happened. Questions were raised over how to respond. Though America had no zone inside Berlin, Corley made sure to insert himself to demonstrate his Anti-Communist credentials, arguing that if they stopped the trucks and trains the Reds were asking for tanks. Ironically, the Italians were among the more pacifistic, arguing that they could not deal with a war in Ethiopia and staredown with Moscow. It was ultimately the British who suggested the airlift idea, based on the Indian Airlift of their own history. Kaiser Ferdinand was strongly in favour of the airlift option to avoid any damage to the country he loved, one of the few things he agreed on with Chancellor Willy Brandt. Both ITO and the Roman Alliance temporarily put aside their differences to launch the Berlin Airlift, the last major act of cooperation between the democracies and Fascist dictatorships. Even Israel joined, in what the Kaiser called ‘The triumph of man’s responsibility to the future over his control by the past.” Given the vastly expanded population of East Berlin, it was always going to be a challenge, but East German refugees remained cheerful, the common joke being to their meager rations a ‘Communist’s Feast’ for which they had already had ‘twenty-five years practice’. Around the clock, transport planes and helicopters from all around the world sent in supplies, often extracting the refugee population into Germany proper (with South African representatives traveling with the Italians and assuring the refugees that they always had other options ‘far away from the Red Menace’).

The Berlin Airlift proved yet another catastrophe for Suslov. Rather than an exhibition of strength, all it served to do was to temporarily heal the relationship between the Fascists and ITO and energize the East German resistance to the Honecker regime. Due to a fatal brain-drain, the East German state was now in a state of decay unmatched anywhere in the Eastern bloc. The basic functions of state had collapsed and terrified Soviet soldiers, who knew they were stranded and on borrowed time, restored order with only bare stability remaining in the East German project. His position was further undercut with protests reaching Slovakia on October 2nd against Gustáv Husák’s regime. Here, Husák attempted to do the opposite of Honecker and accommodate the initial demands of strikers for better hours and pay. What ended up happening was that the dissidents smelled blood in the water and now argued for democratic elections, emboldened by the Catholic Church’s resolute support. Husák panicked and pleaded for more Russian troops to occupy Bratislava, which by now was seeing increasingly violent protests against the state. Reluctantly, Suslov ordered Russian paratroopers to land in Bratislava to prop up yet another failing regime. Their initial deployment was met with bricks and stones, which were responded to by live fire on October 11th. Twenty people died in the first volley, leading to a pitched resistance in the city centre. Whether they were harsh with protesters as in East Germany, accommodating as in Slovakia, or somewhere in between as with Poland, it seemed there was nothing the Communist puppets could do to quell their uprisings. It could hardly have come at a worse time for Suslov, with the three slave states of East Europe now no longer able to be raided for resources. The already tottering Soviet economy had entered a level of rationing not witnessed since World War 2. Conscription was expanded, further draining the economy with Soviet boys ordered sent to Poland, Slovakia and East Germany to support regimes no one liked to uphold a system almost no one supported anymore. Suslov extolled Russian patriotism against the ‘Nazi German and Fascist Polish menace” but no one was willing to die for a country that tried to fake a Moon Landing and fail so miserably at it. The tension continued boil within the Soviet Union, and on November 7th, the anniversary of both the October Revolution and Gagarin’s flight, that tension finally reached a crisis point.
 
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