Westward the Revolution! (A Soviet victory over Poland in 1920)

Update One- Warsaw Falls

The Tai-Pan

Kicked
The Red Army had done it. Despite initial set-backs, communications problems and the context of a still very unstable nation, the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic had not only driven the invading Polish armies out of Ukraine and the border regions, but driven deep into the Polish heartland. By August 1920, after nearly a year and a half of fighting, the Russian soldiers stood on the banks of the Vistula and began attacking Warsaw itself. The Polish army, battered and desperate, moved to defend the city, even as hope dwindled. Peace talks were already being held, but the Russian leaders suddenly smelled blood in the water, and pushed their armies hard. Perhaps more than a simple ceasefire could be won here, in the heart of Poland. Propaganda ran hot on the idea of Bolshevik banners waving over the Polish capital, an obvious precursor to European wide revolution. A victory here could do much to support uprisings in Germany and even farther afield.

And a victory is what they got. The Russian armies completely encircled and crushed Józef Piłsudski’s forces around the city. It had been a desperate battle full of bold plans, wild gambles and miscommunications but a last minute Russian reinforcement (ordered there away from Stalin’s Crimea front at his reluctant consent) turned the tide. The Polish armies, already worn by months of campaigning, broke completely, many of them surrounded. The Soviet commander, Mikhail Tukhachevsky managed to bag nearly the entire Polish 5th Army and badly mauled the 1st, with Polish losses ranging upwards of 20,000 killed or missing and over twice that captured. Piłsudski himself managed to slip the net, retreating westward with the tattered remains of his forces, but everyone knew the war was over.

iu

Polish troops surrounding after Warsaw falls in August 1920

The reaction in the rest of Europe was immediate and intense. It seemed clear to all observers that the seemingly unstoppable tide of Bolshevism was sweeping westward. This was greeted with jubilation by some on the left. French Section of the Workers' International stated in their official paper- “Not a man, not a sou, not a shell for the reactionary and capitalist Poland. Long live the Russian Revolution! Long live the Workers' International!”. The British labor Party printed leaflets supporting Russia and stating that no member of Labor would help Poland, either in war or commercially. Strikes and sitdowns in sympathy with the Soviet victory swept across Europe, especially in Germany and Czechoslovakia where anti-Polish sentiment had run high among the working class. Among the elites, of course, the reaction was very different.

Many of the more historical minded drew comparison to the sweeping victories of Revolutionary France in the late 18th century, when their armies had been fired by zeal and went from victory to victory. Indeed Tukhachevsky’s latest moniker was the Red Napoleon, clearly showing how the Soviets had inherited the mantle of French terror. Winston Churchill was more blunt and compared the Russian invasion to a literal plague stating, “ An infected Russia, a plague-bearing Russia; a Russia of armed hordes not only smiting with bayonet and with cannon, but accompanied and preceded by swarms of typhus-bearing vermin which slew the bodies of men, and political doctrines which destroyed the health and even the souls of nations.” While somewhat overwrought, Churchill would have found many who agreed with his sentiments. The mood was dark in European capitals as they contemplated the possibility of Russian bayonets thrust straight into the heart of Central Europe.

Like so many concerns, much of it revolved around Germany, the still riven battle-scarred country right in the center of Europe. Germany was obviously a very troubled state, still reeling from the immediate aftermath of the First World War. The Weimar Republic was still only a few years old and struggling with civil unrest and political instability. Indeed, only a few months before, it had weathered the right-wing Kapp Putsch which had only been defeated by a general strike. This had been followed by left-wing socialist violence, echoing the still fresh Spartacus Uprisings of 1919. It seemed apparent to all, and especially to the Russians, that Germany was ripe for a socialist revolution, a nation on the edge.

iu

Right-Wing Freikorps mobilized during the failed Kapp Putsch, a sign of Germany's instability

In Germany itself, the reaction to the Polish-Soviet War had been mixed. Many Germans, at least those not in the far left, feared Bolshevik armies sitting on their borders. It seemed clear that Russia intended to spread their socialist worldview at the point of a sword, and indeed perhaps preferred to. Worse, such a Red victory might inspire the flickering embers of German socialism to new heights and many feared for the survival of the central government. On other hand, any weakening of Poland enhanced the chance of Germany reclaiming the expansive eastern territories stripped away by Versailles . While the Weimar Republic had approved of the settlement on paper, desire to regain those lands ran high even among those dedicated to democracy. In some ways, Russia and Germany were natural allies, both now isolated powers hated and feared by the former Entente. This was reflected on by Lenin who stated quite baldly that the Entente had ‘crucified and suppressed Germany.” Before and during the Polish war, both sides had met and discussed possible economic treaties as both nations sought to rebuild after years of devastating violence and upheaval.

So it was with a certain amount of optimism that German diplomats received Soviet counterparts in the summer of 1920. The Russian proposed a deal, a deal with wide-ranging implications and possibilities. On the surface it was a simple enough proposal. If Germany would agree to not assist Poland, Russia would not only respect German borders, it would return the eastern lands taken in 1918. In addition, they advanced plans for extensive trade between the two nations with Russia providing food for a still hungry Germany and Germany supplying industrial goods and machines for a devastated Russia. For their part, the German received these offers with, perhaps surprising, wary acceptance. While most German leaders did not assume the RSFSR was a trustworthy ally, geopolitical conditions did press them together. The Bolshevik diplomats were correct when they judged Germany felt shunned and oppressed, with an industry in tatters and locked out of international trade. An economic pipeline to the fabled agricultural riches of Russia could do much to stabilize the nation. Even better, the prospect of reclaiming the lost eastern territories would be a great boon. Not only did they view it as a moral good, and one that would defend the rights of the German peoples in those areas, but it would also bolster the Weimar Republic’s support among the population. Among the right, ironically, came the loudest calls for acceptance of the deal. For, they argued, if Russia was not to be trusted, then surely taking the territories now would help in any future war? At least the frontline would be farther east.

The talks had been kept secret of course, for such a deal would outrage the western powers. Germany had convinced Russia that it could not openly invade Poland, even if the nation was defeated. So instead a bit of subterfuge was required. If it seemed that Russia would win the war, the Red Army would allow the old German territories to revolt and throw off the Polish shackles. Then, with these places in apparent confusion and disorder, German troops would move in to restore order. It was gambled that London and Paris would rather see these areas in even German hands then Bolshevik ones. It was a bold diplomatic stroke that had seemed unlikely to happen. Only half a year ago the Poles had been driving into the Ukraine, and it was the RFSR that had been desperate for aid.
Austin-Putilovets_%C2%ABPozna%C5%84czyk%C2%BB_near_Bobruysk%2C_1920.jpg

Polish troops during their opening drives on Ukraine. Red victory had seemed academic.

Now, the situation could not be more different. Russian armies were chasing the last fragments of Polish troops, clearly winning the war. Liviv fell a few weeks after Warsaw, the last southern Polish bastion, and Soviet troops were charging ever further. They began entering the former German territories and all the diplomatic back and forth became frighteningly relevant. Soviet leaders pressed Berlin for a firm answer. Would they accept their old territories for a promise of peace and economic aid, as well as firmly backing the RSFSR in whatever peace settlement was decided with Poland?

The offer came at a particular tense time of German and Allied relations in the fall of 1920. Only a few months before at the Spa Conference, the Allies had still treated Germany as a defeated, subjected nation by demanding coal supplies, extensive monetary reparations and widespread disarmament. German negotiators had been humiliated when the Allies had simply ignored their own proposals and declared their intentions for economic sanctions or even military force if Germany did not simply concede. It was with this recent disgrace in mind that German elites considered the tantalizing Russian offer. Their final thoughts could be be summed up by the Chief of Army Command, Hans Von Seeckt ‘Never can Prussia-Germany concede that Bromberg, Graudenz, Thorn, (Marienburg), Posen should remain in Polish hands, and now there appears on the horizon, like a divine miracle, help for us in our deep distress. At this moment nobody should ask Germany to lift as much as a finger when disaster engulf Poland.’ The only downside was the risk of Allied Intervention if the Germans made their move. Would France and Britain consider such reclamation a breach of the Versailles Treaty, a break worthy of military action? What of the Rhineland and other border territories? On the other hand, would the war weary Allies truly risk general war over eastern lands filled with German people? The Weimar Republic thought not and sent messages to Moscow, indicating that they would take the offered deal.

Hans-von-Seeckt.jpg

Hans Von Seeckt, German Chief of Army Command and backer of the Soviet deal

Even as the German agreement was sent, Poland was disintegrating at last. By November 1920 the last Polish troops faced a daunting choice. They could either surrender to be captured by the hated Bolshievks or attempt to flee the country. Piłsudski chose the former, fleeing by ship out of Gdansk and eventually arriving in Paris, where he hoped to set up a Polish government in exile. Thousands of others followed him, either by ship or more commonly by simply crossing the border into Germany. The rest were caught in the net of Red Army units which exhausted followed behind. Weary and battered, one thing drove them on. They had won. Poland had been defeated and a vista of new options opened for the Bolshevik leadership in Moscow.

The fate of Europe seemed to hang in the balance, ready to be remade in the image of socialism and communism.
 
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Paradoxer

Banned
The Red Army had done it. Despite initial set-backs, communications problems and the context of a still very unstable nation, the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic had not only driven the invading Polish armies out of Ukraine and the border regions, but driven deep into the Polish heartland. By August 1920, after nearly a year and a half of fighting, the Russian soldiers stood on the banks of the Vistula and began attacking Warsaw itself. The Polish army, battered and desperate, moved to defend the city, even as hope dwindled. Peace talks were already being held, but the Russian leaders suddenly smelled blood in the water, and pushed their armies hard. Perhaps more than a simple ceasefire could be won here, in the heart of Poland. Propaganda ran hot on the idea of Bolshevik banners waving over the Polish capital, an obvious precursor to European wide revolution. A victory here could do much to support uprisings in Germany and even farther afield.

And a victory is what they got. The Russian armies completely encircled and crushed Józef Piłsudski’s forces around the city. It had been a desperate battle full of bold plans, wild gambles and miscommunications but a last minute Russian reinforcement (ordered there away from Stalin’s Crimea front at his reluctant consent) turned the tide. The Polish armies, already worn by months of campaigning, broke completely, many of them surrounded. The Soviet commander, Mikhail Tukhachevsky managed to bag nearly the entire Polish 5th Army and badly mauled the 1st, with Polish losses ranging upwards of 20,000 killed or missing and over twice that captured. Piłsudski himself managed to slip the net, retreating westward with the tattered remains of his forces, but everyone knew the war was over.

iu

Polish troops surrounding after Warsaw falls in August 1920

The reaction in the rest of Europe was immediate and intense. It seemed clear to all observers that the seemingly unstoppable tide of Bolshevism was sweeping westward. This was greeted with jubilation by some on the left. French Section of the Workers' International stated in their official paper- “Not a man, not a sou, not a shell for the reactionary and capitalist Poland. Long live the Russian Revolution! Long live the Workers' International!”. The British labor Party printed leaflets supporting Russia and stating that no member of Labor would help Poland, either in war or commercially. Strikes and sitdowns in sympathy with the Soviet victory swept across Europe, especially in Germany and Czechoslovakia where anti-Polish sentiment had run high among the working class. Among the elites, of course, the reaction was very different.

Many of the more historical minded drew comparison to the sweeping victories of Revolutionary France in the late 18th century, when their armies had been fired by zeal and went from victory to victory. Indeed Tukhachevsky’s latest moniker was the Red Napoleon, clearly showing how the Soviets had inherited the mantle of French terror. Winston Churchill was more blunt and compared the Russian invasion to a literal plague stating, “ An infected Russia, a plague-bearing Russia; a Russia of armed hordes not only smiting with bayonet and with cannon, but accompanied and preceded by swarms of typhus-bearing vermin which slew the bodies of men, and political doctrines which destroyed the health and even the souls of nations.” While somewhat overwrought, Churchill would have found many who agreed with his sentiments. The mood was dark in European capitals as they contemplated the possibility of Russian bayonets thrust straight into the heart of Central Europe.

Like so many concerns, much of it revolved around Germany, the still riven battle-scarred country right in the center of Europe. Germany was obviously a very troubled state, still reeling from the immediate aftermath of the First World War. The Weimar Republic was still only a few years old and struggling with civil unrest and political instability. Indeed, only a few months before, it had weathered the right-wing Kapp Putsch which had only been defeated by a general strike. This had been followed by left-wing socialist violence, echoing the still fresh Spartacus Uprisings of 1919. It seemed apparent to all, and especially to the Russians, that Germany was ripe for a socialist revolution, a nation on the edge.

iu

Right-Wing Freikorps mobilized during the failed Kapp Putsch, a sign of Germany's instability

In Germany itself, the reaction to the Polish-Soviet War had been mixed. Many Germans, at least those not in the far left, feared Bolshevik armies sitting on their borders. It seemed clear that Russia intended to spread their socialist worldview at the point of a sword, and indeed perhaps preferred to. Worse, such a Red victory might inspire the flickering embers of German socialism to new heights and many feared for the survival of the central government. On other hand, any weakening of Poland enhanced the chance of Germany reclaiming the expansive eastern territories stripped away by Versailles . While the Weimar Republic had approved of the settlement on paper, desire to regain those lands ran high even among those dedicated to democracy. In some ways, Russia and Germany were natural allies, both now isolated powers hated and feared by the former Entente. This was reflected on by Lenin who stated quite baldly that the Entente had ‘crucified and suppressed Germany.” Before and during the Polish war, both sides had met and discussed possible economic treaties as both nations sought to rebuild after years of devastating violence and upheaval.

So it was with a certain amount of optimism that German diplomats received Soviet counterparts in the summer of 1920. The Russian proposed a deal, a deal with wide-ranging implications and possibilities. On the surface it was a simple enough proposal. If Germany would agree to not assist Poland, Russia would not only respect German borders, it would return the eastern lands taken in 1918. In addition, they advanced plans for extensive trade between the two nations with Russia providing food for a still hungry Germany and Germany supplying industrial goods and machines for a devastated Russia. For their part, the German received these offers with, perhaps surprising, wary acceptance. While most German leaders did not assume the RSFR was a trustworthy ally, geopolitical conditions did press them together. The Bolshevik diplomats were correct when they judged Germany felt shunned and oppressed, with an industry in tatters and locked out of international trade. An economic pipeline to the fabled agricultural riches of Russia could do much to stabilize the nation. Even better, the prospect of reclaiming the lost eastern territories would be a great boon. Not only did they view it as a moral good, and one that would defend the rights of the German peoples in those areas, but it would also bolster the Weimar Republic’s support among the population. Among the right, ironically, came the loudest calls for acceptance of the deal. For, they argued, if Russia was not to be trusted, then surely taking the territories now would help in any future war? At least the frontline would be farther east.

The talks had been kept secret of course, for such a deal would outrage the western powers. Germany had convinced Russia that it could not openly invade Poland, even if the nation was defeated. So instead a bit of subterfuge was required. If it seemed that Russia would win the war, the Red Army would allow the old German territories to revolt and throw off the Polish shackles. Then, with these places in apparent confusion and disorder, German troops would move in to restore order. It was gambled that London and Paris would rather see these areas in even German hands then Bolshevik ones. It was a bold diplomatic stroke that had seemed unlikely to happen. Only half a year ago the Poles had been driving into the Ukraine, and it was the RFSR that had been desperate for aid.
Austin-Putilovets_%C2%ABPozna%C5%84czyk%C2%BB_near_Bobruysk%2C_1920.jpg

Polish troops during their opening drives on Ukraine. Red victory had seemed academic.

Now, the situation could not be more different. Russian armies were chasing the last fragments of Polish troops, clearly winning the war. Liviv fell a few weeks after Warsaw, the last southern Polish bastion, and Soviet troops were charging ever further. They began entering the former German territories and all the diplomatic back and forth became frighteningly relevant. Soviet leaders pressed Berlin for a firm answer. Would they accept their old territories for a promise of peace and economic aid, as well as firmly backing the RSFR in whatever peace settlement was decided with Poland?

The offer came at a particular tense time of German and Allied relations in the fall of 1920. Only a few months before at the Spa Conference, the Allies had still treated Germany as a defeated, subjected nation by demanding coal supplies, extensive monetary reparations and widespread disarmament. German negotiators had been humiliated when the Allies had simply ignored their own proposals and declared their intentions for economic sanctions or even military force if Germany did not simply concede. It was with this recent disgrace in mind that German elites considered the tantalizing Russian offer. Their final thoughts could be be summed up by the Chief of Army Command, Hans Von Seeckt ‘Never can Prussia-Germany concede that Bromberg, Graudenz, Thorn, (Marienburg), Posen should remain in Polish hands, and now there appears on the horizon, like a divine miracle, help for us in our deep distress. At this moment nobody should ask Germany to lift as much as a finger when disaster engulf Poland.’ The only downside was the risk of Allied Intervention if the Germans made their move. Would France and Britain consider such reclamation a breach of the Versailles Treaty, a break worthy of military action? What of the Rhineland and other border territories? On the other hand, would the war weary Allies truly risk general war over eastern lands filled with German people? The Weimar Republic thought not and sent messages to Moscow, indicating that they would take the offered deal.

Hans-von-Seeckt.jpg

Hans Von Seeckt, German Chief of Army Command and backer of the Soviet deal

Even as the German agreement was sent, Poland was disintegrating at last. By November 1920 the last Polish troops faced a daunting choice. They could either surrender to be captured by the hated Bolshievks or attempt to flee the country. Piłsudski chose the former, fleeing by ship out of Gdansk and eventually arriving in Paris, where he hoped to set up a Polish government in exile. Thousands of others followed him, either by ship or more commonly by simply crossing the border into Germany. The rest were caught in the net of Red Army units which exhausted followed behind. Weary and battered, one thing drove them on. They had won. Poland had been defeated and a vista of new options opened for the Bolshevik leadership in Moscow.

The fate of Europe seemed to hang in the balance, ready to be remade in the image of socialism and communism.
Like story pod and idea. Hope you keep posting. Will you post map of SSR and domestic divisions of USSR that retains its Russian empire borders mostly if not entirely?

After the fall of Poland that secures USSR grip on Baltic. They still might lose Moldova to Romania at least temporarily but could get it back later if not earlier then otl. Does USSR keep hold of Finland too?

I’m curious about divisional maps that Soviets create for their SSRs. I imagine so nationality get different treatments and borders depending on how loyal or resistant they are to Soviet rule and concept of socialist.

I see Poles getting completely screwed while Ukrainians might be more at eased and compensate on behalf of Poles. Basically Polish SSR likely gets its Russian Empire or congress of Poland borders at most. Maybe even lose the little panhandle extension to Lithuania or Belarus. Belarus SSR is probably rather bigger then OTL. The Catholic Church also makes Poland more of headache for USSR when they have to deal with a very hostile to opposing international organization stirring up resentment and unrest in Poland which in otl it did at times.

On plus side I see Germans and possibly Jews having much better status and security in USSR then otl. Maybe USSR gives the Jews part of Pale Settlement if not all of it to weaken Polish and Baltic influences while giving Jews a homeland. In OTL Germans had one or two small SSRs themselves within some cities. Marx being German and Jewish also might help those groups image in Soviet propaganda.

With Poland does USSR have enough Jews now in one area to give them a SSR of their own? While German enclaves out East get some to in effort to bring German over to socialist ideas.

I could see German socialist regime or even Weimar social democratic one flavor of socialism taking in more nationalistic characteristics or identity(even if more moderate ones).

For example, Germans in Protestant north even in otl became much more secular under socialist regime then Poles did under theirs to point much of modern East German is non religious now. So this is narrative that socialist in Germany use for exclusion of poles and continued encouraged German settlements in these areas.

Although I could see Germany even communist or socialist ones being somewhat nicer and cordial to Czechs if they still take that area back but Czechs always run risk of being demographically and culturally overwhelmed if joined into greater Germany even if they respect their language and culture. Also they would still have good relationships with Jews too.

This alliance or even temporary partnership will worry and piss off Western Europe but they likely only embargo and cut ties maybe blockade Germany at most but no war. Also blockade doesn’t mean much if they can import from Soviets for food and raw materials.

That is powerful alliance. German tech and know how plus Soviet numbers and raw resources.

Germany being friendly with USSR also might open up possibility for US becoming more cordial with both especially if imperialist powers piss them off enough.

FDR likely would not be anti German with Weimar Republic(especially social democratic one) or even socialist ones. That might ironically drive wedge between US and UK down line but US is biggest wild card here
 

The Tai-Pan

Kicked
Thank you for your kind words, @Paradoxer . Some of the stuff you mention was on my radar, some of it not.

Things you mentioned

Finland: Finland is long indepdent by this time (happened in 1917-1918). The RSFR isn't getting it back anytime soon

Borders: Yeah, having Poland in the Soviet orbit (next post will explore what that might mean!) will change things, especially for Lithuania.

Germany: German stuff is going to be a very complicated can of worms...
 

Paradoxer

Banned
Thank you for your kind words, @Paradoxer . Some of the stuff you mention was on my radar, some of it not.

Things you mentioned

Finland: Finland is long indepdent by this time (happened in 1917-1918). The RSFR isn't getting it back anytime soon

Borders: Yeah, having Poland in the Soviet orbit (next post will explore what that might mean!) will change things, especially for Lithuania.

Germany: German stuff is going to be a very complicated can of worms...
When did Trotsky invade Finland? Also isn’t he major general in Soviet Polish War that organizing much of it? Doesn’t victory in Poland do a lot for his popularity?

Trotsky is basically Lenin foreign/espionage and military person while Stalin is his jackboot and “bogeyman”(he did Stalin dirty work). If Lenin lives longer which given increased popularity he might(less likely to be shot or someone jumps in front of it). He very well more capable then both Trotsky or Stalin ever was.

Trotsky would lead USSR to Napoleon Revolutionary France end. Too fanatical, over ambitious, and full of himself. We know how Stalin will do stuff from otl. Although funny part he still might be “big bad guy” in communism to many because Lenin will use him to keep his imagine more “clean” and positive among people.

Also Lenin is probably only person that could keep Trotsky and Stalin in line which saids a lot about his leadership and respect he commanded even from Stalin. Lenin knew how Stalin was but when alive and well he knew Stalin respected and like him to point he would not “show himself” until Lenin was dead or near it.

Trotsky can be just as brutal as Stalin in his own ways and reasons. Finland and his military campaigns show that. He just less of brute and paranoia then Stalin.

Lenin can be just as ruthless and is arguably just as fanatical as Trotsky but he actually practices what he teaches unlike Stalin and doesn’t piss everyone off by being snob and smartass like Trotsky was. Lenin was work hard, live humbly, and pragmatic. He was even pragmatic with his ideology and how to move forward instead of always trying to go 1 to 90 like Trotsky often wanted too.

For example, Lenin is type that will make concession or two or “play nice” with ideological opponents because one he knows you can’t just win over everyone by force/conquest. Two he spreading idea and ideology. Which makes this a cultural/ideological and propaganda war to win over minds along with economic competition to help add credibility to those words(they have to actually improve things in some way to win people over). Lenin likely disregards agreements with non socialist or sympathizing powers when possible especially towards UK
 
Update Two- The Polish Question

The Tai-Pan

Kicked
Update Two-The Polish Question

One can only imagine the thoughts running through Piłsudski’s mind as he settled in Paris, slowly cobbling together a Polish government in exile. It had been his design to invade Russia, seeing the former Tsarist state as weak and riven by civil war. It had been under his direct command that Polish forces had rushed into the Ukraine, defeating both the local Ukrainian troops and scattered Russian units. The gamble had gone well in those early days, with Polish victory following on Polish victory. Piłsudski’s grand dream of Intermarium, a vast Polish political entity taking up much of Eastern Europe, seemed within reach, indeed even likely. His dream, his vision, brought into the world by his actions. And now, it was his fault for creating every Polish nationalist’s nightmare. Delivering his homeland back into the hands of the hated Russians. After only a few years of precious independence Poland was once again a subjected nation, under the heel of the Bolsheviks.

jozef_pilsudski1.jpg

Jozef Pilsudski, the Polish leader who unwisely pitted his nation against the Russian juggernaut

However, what would Russia do with its latest conquest? That was the question currently being hotly debated in Moscow, an argument that revealed the growing tensions among the fractured and increasingly divisive RSFSR leadership. The only thing universally agreed on was that the new Poland would be socialist and much of its land would be reannexed to Russia proper. Seemingly everything else however, was up for debate, including if only Poland was the topic on the table.

For some, the defeat of victory only burnished the revolutionary dreams of widespread European conquest. It seemed self-evident that the Bolshevik armies were unstoppable, especially when combined with the surely sympathetic working classes of the capitalist, imperialist states. In their minds, Poland was merely a springboard, an entryway to the real prizes of Germany and beyond. A pan-European Soviet clearly seemed in the offing. Why bother with the shape of Poland when all of Europe beckoned? The socialist movement need only stretch out their hands and grab it. The strongest proponent of this ideal was Nikolai Bukharin, editor of Pravda, the official socialist organ newspaper. A front page on the eve of the Battle of Warsaw screamed that Bolshevik armies should keep moving, “right up to London and Paris!” However, this revolutionary delirium was quickly dashed when looking at the true state of Russia.

The Red Army was in tatters, worn to the bone after months of intense struggle on multiple fronts. Despite the herculean efforts of the Bolshevik leadership, it was poorly supplied and undermanned. Many of the men were rough conscripts with little training or experience, and political ideology was considered a far more important quality for officers than tactical ability. While they had managed a miracle at Warsaw, it was not a force capable of further campaigns, let alone against a developed nation like Germany or Czechoslovakia. The situation on the homefront was even blacker. The nation was still dealing with the ongoing Russian Civil War, with violence in Ukraine, Siberia and the Baltic. White units still operated in southern Ukraine, Japan troops still held much of the Pacific coast and peasant unrest was still extensive and intense. Indeed, even as Russian troops chased Piłsudski out of Gdansk, farmers in the Tambov region were already rising against their Bolshevik masters. The economic situation was even more dire, with the transport system in chaos due to lack of rolling stock, degradation of railways and lack of spare parts. Medical supplies were non-existent and food was scarce, with actual starvation looming large in certain regions. While these facts did not rule out furthering the socialist revolution, indeed that would always be the primary forgein policy goal of the RSFSR government, it did make further direct invasions unlikely. For now, Poland was the only morsel on the menu.

Red%20Army%20marching-a.jpg

Red Army Units in 1920, victorious but clearly unable to go any farther.

Even Poland alone was a difficult conundrum however, even setting aside the thorny issue of the former German lands. As Soviet control over Poland solidified and as it became clear that further direct Red Army invasions westward were temporarily impossible, three main options were discussed on the organization of the former Polish state, each with a major Bolshevik backer in Moscow.

The first was Lenin’s grand sweeping vision of fully incorporating Poland into a general socialist federation controlled utterly by Russia, just like was being done with Ukraine or Armenia. In Lenin's mind this federation would rapidly expand to encompass all of Europe, with places like Germany and Romania becoming constituent , socialist parts of a grander design. Such a federation would still be 'administered from a single organ’, namely the Bolshevik party apparatus. This was the most natural and logical solution to the Polish problem, and it had a certain rationality. For one thing, Congress Poland had been an old part of the Tsarist empire, just as Ukraine, Siberia or the Baltic states had been. There was some validity to Russian ‘claims’ in the region. More importantly though, to Lenin’s mind, was the idea that Poland would merely be one of many such conquests. Surely integrating them together into one single, cohesive whole was the objective? A dictatorship of the proletariat, guided by his iron will stretching out from Moscow to Berlin and beyond.

At the other end of the spectrum were those who simply wished to set a socialist government up in Warsaw, annex valuable territory directly to Russia and then leave Poland to its own devices. Interestingly it was volatile and ardent internationalist Leon Trotsky who held this view. He had been against the Polish War from the start, seeing the RSFSR as too weak to export the revolution itself. His view was, international revolution from within was about to erupt all over the world, so Russia did not need to expose itself to danger and deprivation to extend it, not in its current state. Trotsky had actually gone so far as to advocate for peace with Poland with only minor border changes, and leaving Poland a republic. This would leave Moscow the ability to focus on the internal dissents and finish the ongoing civil war, as well as heal the economic damage.

Stalin, ever the pragmatist, held a middle position. He had no desire to give up Bolshevik primacy in Eastern Europe, viewing it as the best defense of the RSFSR but he also viewed Lenin’s dreams of a Pan-European socialist federation led by Moscow as delusions. Stalin, better than most, perceived that nationalist was not going to simply vanish overnight, regardless of what governments said or did. Even after being labeled as a chauvinist by Lenin, Stalin held his ground saying, “If you think you'd ever get Germany to enter a federation with the same
rights as Ukraine, you are mistaken. If you think that even Poland, which has been constituted as a bourgeois state with all its attributes, would enter the Union with the same rights as Ukraine you are mistaken.” This was not to say that Stalin imaging Poland as a free ‘sister socialist state’, he clearly intended Russia to dominate its smaller neighbor, but that it would be an nominally independent nation even after a socialist revolution.
440px-Stalin_1920-1.jpg

A somewhat idealized photo of Josef Stalin, the main mover behind the nominally independent Polish state option.

While the Bolshevik leadership bickered over Poland’s future, events moved apace. During the war a Provisional Polish Revolutionary Committee had been founded in Moscow, to provide a Soviet Poland with politically suitable, and pliant, leadership. Little more than a Bolshievk puppet committee, its titular head was Julian Marchlewski a left-wing Polish communist with deep roots, actual power in the Committee lay with Felix Dzerzhinsky. Dzerzhinsky, a devoted Bolshevik and head of the feared Cheka secret police, was Polish born but had little time or attention for Polish politics. He knew that the real power lay in Moscow and was reluctant to leave for Warsaw. At the same time however, building a strong power base in Poland could give Iron Felix a private backyard. His opinion was given considerable weight in the ongoing debate over Poland’s future, and he eventually sided with Stalin.

After long debate Lenin was finally convinced that the Polish people simply would not accept whole integration into a Russian dominated federation. Trotsky’s view of leaving Poland to its own devices was essentially ignored, infuriating him. While Piłsudski’s exiled government maintained his own legitimacy, a collection of Polish officials were rounded up by the Russians to dictate a peace to. In December of 1920, they signed the Treaty of Lublin, which imposed harsh terms. Poland was forced to return a good deal of land back to Russia, restoring the old Congress of Poland borders, save in the north where a long panhandle was taken. It also demanded a socialist Polish government, as well as a series of reparations. So in January the Polish Revolutionary Committee was sent into a battered Warsaw, and instituted as the leadership of the newly established Polish Soviet Republic. Marchlewski was made premier but Felix Dzerzhinsky was still the real power behind the scenes. Cadres of backers were found in the Polish Communist Party but their power was quite weak at first. Few Poles considered the socialist government legitimate, and viewed it merely as a stalking horse for their new Russian masters. Unrest of all kinds swept the fledgling socialist state, ranging from strikes and riots, to more serious outbreaks of outright violence in Krakow and Wroclaw. To quell this, Dzerzhinsky, still settling into his new Warsaw offices, was given free reign to ‘pacify’ Poland and bring about order.

With this directive in mind, Iron Felix unleashed a wave of Red terror throughout the country. It was perpetuated by imported squads of experienced Cheka agents, Red Army units as well as local Polish communist when available. The repression was widespread and far reaching, seeking to remodel the nascent Soviet Republic in the RSFSR’s image. Hundreds were killed and thousands arrested in the attempt to cow ‘counterrevolutionaries’ and supposed ‘Entente agents’. The academic and commercial elite were especially targeted, with many fleeing aboard. The Catholic Church, a pillar of Polish identity, was also attacked, both directly and indirectly. Dozens of priests were arrested and church lands nationalized. Religious schools were closed and holy events canceled under the threat of violence. The entire nation reeled under this spasm of ‘pacification’ which reached to every corner of the Polish Soviet Republic except for the former German regions.

felix-dzerzhinsky_1-t.jpg

Felix Dzerzhinsky, former head of the Cheka and the organizer of the Polish Red Terror.

These areas were left alone, providing clear evidence of Dzerzhinsky’s iron control over his otherwise wild minions. In these regions Red Army troops merely swept through, captured Polish combatants and withdrew. With secret encouragement from Berlin, Germans revolted here, demanding self-determination. Germany, apparently confronted with the choice of reducing these lands from capture or letting them fall into Bolshievk hands, moved into their former eastern territories. By February it was over, and in a few short weeks and with barely firing a shot, the Reichswehr had undone much of the despised Versailles treaty. The Polish Corridor was gone, Danzig was a German city again and even the troubled region of Silesia had been annexed. At a stroke the Polish dream vanished, replaced by old borders and new powers. Weimar Germany and the RSFSR, two pariah states, now had a long border far from the western Allies.

How would the rest of Europe react to these seismic events?
 
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Great premise, but minor nitpick - I don’t think the Bolsheviks would name their “sister” puppet state a People’s Republic at this time. The Ukrainian People’s Republic was a recent enemy of the Bolsheviks. During this time period, I believe the Bolsheviks would name any and all of their client states Soviet Republics, so it should be the Polish Soviet Republic.

looking forward to the next update!
 

The Tai-Pan

Kicked
Great premise, but minor nitpick - I don’t think the Bolsheviks would name their “sister” puppet state a People’s Republic at this time. The Ukrainian People’s Republic was a recent enemy of the Bolsheviks. During this time period, I believe the Bolsheviks would name any and all of their client states Soviet Republics, so it should be the Polish Soviet Republic.

looking forward to the next update!
I was looking at Mongolia for inspiration since they are a socialist state but never brought into the USSR. Good point on the name!
 

Paradoxer

Banned
Update Two-The Polish Question

One can only imagine the thoughts running through Piłsudski’s mind as he settled in Paris, slowly cobbling together a Polish government in exile. It had been his design to invade Russia, seeing the former Tsarist state as weak and riven by civil war. It had been under his direct command that Polish forces had rushed into the Ukraine, defeating both the local Ukrainian troops and scattered Russian units. The gamble had gone well in those early days, with Polish victory following on Polish victory. Piłsudski’s grand dream of Intermarium, a vast Polish political entity taking up much of Eastern Europe, seemed within reach, indeed even likely. His dream, his vision, brought into the world by his actions. And now, it was his fault for creating every Polish nationalist’s nightmare. Delivering his homeland back into the hands of the hated Russians. After only a few years of precious independence Poland was once again a subjected nation, under the heel of the Bolsheviks.

jozef_pilsudski1.jpg

Jozef Pilsudski, the Polish leader who unwisely pitted his nation against the Russian juggernaut

However, what would Russia do with its latest conquest? That was the question currently being hotly debated in Moscow, an argument that revealed the growing tensions among the fractured and increasingly divisive RSFSR leadership. The only thing universally agreed on was that the new Poland would be socialist and much of its land would be reannexed to Russia proper. Seemingly everything else however, was up for debate, including if only Poland was the topic on the table.

For some, the defeat of victory only burnished the revolutionary dreams of widespread European conquest. It seemed self-evident that the Bolshevik armies were unstoppable, especially when combined with the surely sympathetic working classes of the capitalist, imperialist states. In their minds, Poland was merely a springboard, an entryway to the real prizes of Germany and beyond. A pan-European Soviet clearly seemed in the offing. Why bother with the shape of Poland when all of Europe beckoned? The socialist movement need only stretch out their hands and grab it. The strongest proponent of this ideal was Nikolai Bukharin, editor of Pravda, the official socialist organ newspaper. A front page on the eve of the Battle of Warsaw screamed that Bolshevik armies should keep moving, “right up to London and Paris!” However, this revolutionary delirium was quickly dashed when looking at the true state of Russia.

The Red Army was in tatters, worn to the bone after months of intense struggle on multiple fronts. Despite the herculean efforts of the Bolshevik leadership, it was poorly supplied and undermanned. Many of the men were rough conscripts with little training or experience, and political ideology was considered a far more important quality for officers than tactical ability. While they had managed a miracle at Warsaw, it was not a force capable of further campaigns, let alone against a developed nation like Germany or Czechoslovakia. The situation on the homefront was even blacker. The nation was still dealing with the ongoing Russian Civil War, with violence in Ukraine, Siberia and the Baltic. White units still operated in southern Ukraine, Japan troops still held much of the Pacific coast and peasant unrest was still extensive and intense. Indeed, even as Russian troops chased Piłsudski out of Gdansk, farmers in the Tambov region were already rising against their Bolshevik masters. The economic situation was even more dire, with the transport system in chaos due to lack of rolling stock, degradation of railways and lack of spare parts. Medical supplies were non-existent and food was scarce, with actual starvation looming large in certain regions. While these facts did not rule out furthering the socialist revolution, indeed that would always be the primary forgein policy goal of the RSFSR government, it did make further direct invasions unlikely. For now, Poland was the only morsel on the menu.

Red%20Army%20marching-a.jpg

Red Army Units in 1920, victorious but clearly unable to go any farther.

Even Poland alone was a difficult conundrum however, even setting aside the thorny issue of the former German lands. As Soviet control over Poland solidified and as it became clear that further direct Red Army invasions westward were temporarily impossible, three main options were discussed on the organization of the former Polish state, each with a major Bolshevik backer in Moscow.

The first was Lenin’s grand sweeping vision of fully incorporating Poland into a general socialist federation controlled utterly by Russia, just like was being done with Ukraine or Armenia. In Lenin's mind this federation would rapidly expand to encompass all of Europe, with places like Germany and Romania becoming constituent , socialist parts of a grander design. Such a federation would still be 'administered from a single organ’, namely the Bolshevik party apparatus. This was the most natural and logical solution to the Polish problem, and it had a certain rationality. For one thing, Congress Poland had been an old part of the Tsarist empire, just as Ukraine, Siberia or the Baltic states had been. There was some validity to Russian ‘claims’ in the region. More importantly though, to Lenin’s mind, was the idea that Poland would merely be one of many such conquests. Surely integrating them together into one single, cohesive whole was the objective? A dictatorship of the proletariat, guided by his iron will stretching out from Moscow to Berlin and beyond.

At the other end of the spectrum were those who simply wished to set a socialist government up in Warsaw, annex valuable territory directly to Russia and then leave Poland to its own devices. Interestingly it was volatile and ardent internationalist Leon Trotsky who held this view. He had been against the Polish War from the start, seeing the RSFSR as too weak to export the revolution itself. His view was, international revolution from within was about to erupt all over the world, so Russia did not need to expose itself to danger and deprivation to extend it, not in its current state. Trotsky had actually gone so far as to advocate for peace with Poland with only minor border changes, and leaving Poland a republic. This would leave Moscow the ability to focus on the internal dissents and finish the ongoing civil war, as well as heal the economic damage.

Stalin, ever the pragmatist, held a middle position. He had no desire to give up Bolshevik primacy in Eastern Europe, viewing it as the best defense of the RSFSR but he also viewed Lenin’s dreams of a Pan-European socialist federation led by Moscow as delusions. Stalin, better than most, perceived that nationalist was not going to simply vanish overnight, regardless of what governments said or did. Even after being labeled as a chauvinist by Lenin, Stalin held his ground saying, “If you think you'd ever get Germany to enter a federation with the same
rights as Ukraine, you are mistaken. If you think that even Poland, which has been constituted as a bourgeois state with all its attributes, would enter the Union with the same rights as Ukraine you are mistaken.” This was not to say that Stalin imaging Poland as a free ‘sister socialist state’, he clearly intended Russia to dominate its smaller neighbor, but that it would be an nominally independent nation even after a socialist revolution.
440px-Stalin_1920-1.jpg

A somewhat idealized photo of Josef Stalin, the main mover behind the nominally independent Polish state option.

While the Bolshevik leadership bickered over Poland’s future, events moved apace. During the war a Provisional Polish Revolutionary Committee had been founded in Moscow, to provide a Soviet Poland with politically suitable, and pliant, leadership. Little more than a Bolshievk puppet committee, its titular head was Julian Marchlewski a left-wing Polish communist with deep roots, actual power in the Committee lay with Felix Dzerzhinsky. Dzerzhinsky, a devoted Bolshevik and head of the feared Cheka secret police, was Polish born but had little time or attention for Polish politics. He knew that the real power lay in Moscow and was reluctant to leave for Warsaw. At the same time however, building a strong power base in Poland could give Iron Felix a private backyard. His opinion was given considerable weight in the ongoing debate over Poland’s future, and he eventually sided with Stalin.

After long debate Lenin was finally convinced that the Polish people simply would not accept whole integration into a Russian dominated federation. Trotsky’s view of leaving Poland to its own devices was essentially ignored, infuriating him. While Piłsudski’s exiled government maintained his own legitimacy, a collection of Polish officials were rounded up by the Russians to dictate a peace to. In December of 1920, they signed the Treaty of Lublin, which imposed harsh terms. Poland was forced to return a good deal of land back to Russia, restoring the old Congress of Poland borders, save in the north where a long panhandle was taken. It also demanded a socialist Polish government, as well as a series of reparations. So in January the Polish Revolutionary Committee was sent into a battered Warsaw, and instituted as the leadership of the newly established Polish People’s Republic. Marchlewski was made premier but Felix Dzerzhinsky was still the real power behind the scenes. Cadres of backers were found in the Polish Communist Party but their power was quite weak at first. Few Poles considered the socialist government legitimate, and viewed it merely as a stalking horse for their new Russian masters. Unrest of all kinds swept the fledgling socialist state, ranging from strikes and riots, to more serious outbreaks of outright violence in Krakow and Wroclaw. To quell this, Dzerzhinsky, still settling into his new Warsaw offices, was given free reign to ‘pacify’ Poland and bring about order.

With this directive in mind, Iron Felix unleashed a wave of Red terror throughout the country. It was perpetuated by imported squads of experienced Cheka agents, Red Army units as well as local Polish communist when available. The repression was widespread and far reaching, seeking to remodel the nascent Soviet Republic in the RSFSR’s image. Hundreds were killed and thousands arrested in the attempt to cow ‘counterrevolutionaries’ and supposed ‘Entente agents’. The academic and commercial elite were especially targeted, with many fleeing aboard. The Catholic Church, a pillar of Polish identity, was also attacked, both directly and indirectly. Dozens of priests were arrested and church lands nationalized. Religious schools were closed and holy events canceled under the threat of violence. The entire nation reeled under this spasm of ‘pacification’ which reached to every corner of the Polish People’s Republic except for the former German regions.

felix-dzerzhinsky_1-t.jpg

Felix Dzerzhinsky, former head of the Cheka and the organizer of the Polish Red Terror.

These areas were left alone, providing clear evidence of Dzerzhinsky’s iron control over his otherwise wild minions. In these regions Red Army troops merely swept through, captured Polish combatants and withdrew. With secret encouragement from Berlin, Germans revolted here, demanding self-determination. Germany, apparently confronted with the choice of reducing these lands from capture or letting them fall into Bolshievk hands, moved into their former eastern territories. By February it was over, and in a few short weeks and with barely firing a shot, the Reichswehr had undone much of the despised Versailles treaty. The Polish Corridor was gone, Danzig was a German city again and even the troubled region of Silesia had been annexed. At a stroke the Polish dream vanished, replaced by old borders and new powers. Weimar Germany and the RSFSR, two pariah states, now had a long border far from the western Allies.

How would the rest of Europe react to these seismic events?
Who has Memel? Germans or Soviets?

Also the Polish exiles and radicals could be a hot bed for far right radicalization against bolsheviks. Even Poland itself could have ethnic tensions build up as well.

While much of land with Germans and Jews in them are now in either hands of Germany or Soviets they still have noticeable enclaves and minorities of them across empire.

This is important because the Jews and Germans left in Polish Soviet puppet might become influential minorities within government and granted protected rights by socialist government due to them being at least more passive if not supportive of Soviet oversight.

This sees increased in anti-German and anti Semitic feelings across Polish population especially among more rural or poor masses.

Trotsky was Jewish. Marx was Jewish and German(propaganda going to “hype” up those connections and Parallels especially if local Jews and Germans seem too cordial with socialist government to some Poles). Both Germany and Soviets team up on them again to partition. The Polish exile government and radicals might alienate some in west depending how loud and bad they are with anti Semitic stuff. They might get nazi level themselves but never in place to power to act on that hate like Nazis did.

The socialist governments in both Poland and USSR could be on better terms with Jews and Germans and give them special little security or enclave protection to at least make them sympathetic towards new regime.

Jews often preferred Soviets because they were at least in name the only group that just did not constantly bash them or alienate them like Tsar or even nation state regimes like second Polish republic. The conservative and more traditional leaning Jews are kind of left out to dry with Austria Hungary and dynastic regimes gone(some of nobility and monarchs not in Russia actually did not treat many bad and better then later nation state did).
 
Communism has shown it's true face to the world faster than OTL, will this turn off some of the intelligentsia that were enamored with the ideology? The Soviet's massive espionage rings are probably not going to be so successful TTL.
 

The Tai-Pan

Kicked
Communism has shown it's true face to the world faster than OTL, will this turn off some of the intelligentsia that were enamored with the ideology? The Soviet's massive espionage rings are probably not going to be so successful TTL.
Iron Felix is probably not the best ambassador, no.
 
With war-communism applied to Poland 1919 by a victorious Red Army, we'll probably learn the Polish word for Holodomor (Maybe "Głoduśmierć"?) and get some 7-10 million Polish dead or fled in a couple of years.

Also, it would be an interesting twist to have Dzerzhinsky, who is having a slightly more prominent role end up as the main rival for Stalin or whomever succeeds Lenin, and having this lead to anti-Polish policies ala "Every Dzerzhinist is a Pole and every Pole is a Dzerzhinist". Maybe Stalin / Notlin goes for a deportation of the Poles to Siberia, because of their "inherent bourgeoise nationality" or something like that.
 
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Wow, it is the first time I saw that someone's take on no miracle over Vistula that has a German-Soviet friendship. Watched!
 
Update Three- Cannes

The Tai-Pan

Kicked
Update Three- Cannes


Much of western Europe viewed the Polish defeat with growing alarm and concern. In France in particular the events of 1920 were an unmitigated disaster. Poland, their strongest and historic ally in the region had been destroyed after mere months of independence, caught up in a seemingly unstoppable tide of Russian Bolshevism. Russian troops, which had seemed so far away and disorganized, were now knocking on the door of central Europe. Even worse, from the French point of view, were the actions of what they viewed as an even greater danger then Red Russia, Germany. The ink was not even dry on the Treaty of Versailles and Germany was already violating the terms of the agreement. German militarism had, apparently, not even been hampered despite the best efforts of the Allies. How long would it take for Berlin to reconsider the other terms of the treaty, particularly the thorny issue of reparations? The French Prime Minister, Poincare, demanded immediate action against Germany but was slowed by disagreement from Great Britain..

The British saw things quite differently. To many Imperial policy-makers, Russian socialism was arguably the greater threat to the current world order than German annexation of bits of Eastern Europe. While they certainly didn’t enjoy seeing the revival of German militarism, it was of little import next to the prospect of a global socialist revolution led by Lenin. British observers considered not only Eastern Europe but also Central Asia, the Middle East and the Far East as all possible areas to be infected by Bolshevism. It was the old Great Game all over again, with the added danger of international class warfare. In this grave context, Germany was a needed bulwark against a resurgent Russian colossus. Bickering over reparations or the status of Danzig seemed foolish when the Red Army was pouring across the Vistula. British Prime Minister, David Lloyd George placed some of the burden of German left-wing upheaval on the Allies, saying, "There is much greater danger from Bolshevism if we fail in the task of reconstruction than there is from propaganda which the Bolshevists undertake."

Quarreling between France and the United Kingdom continued until spring 1921 when an emergency meeting of the Supreme War Council in Cannes called German diplomats to explain themselves. The Germans did come, inwardly rankled at being summoned to these one way conferences. The seriousness of the situation was revealed when Lloyd George and Poincare themselves arrived at the meeting, eager to confront the Germans over their actions in the East and at least attempt to present a united front. Unlike at Spa however, German Chancellor Fehrenbach did not attend, due to being busy fending off political challenges. Instead he sent foreign minister Walter Simons, who had also attended the humiliation at Spa.

The French, as usual, led the charge demanding an immediate German withdrawal from the East and an explanation for the blatant violation of the Versailles Treaty. Poincare, obviously personally irate, also darkly mentioned military punishment for the transgressions. Simons coolly replied by asking if anyone at the table would really prefer if Bolshevik rule had been extended over the areas. Did any of them actually want to see Lenin’s armies resting comfortably in Danzig or Posen? Surely a Soviet dominated Poland puppet had no right to these lands? Simons went further and presented a brief presentation of German and Polish refugees who had streamed into Germany ahead of the Red Army, talking about massacres and political repression. A few had come later, describing the red terror then being inflicted by Felix Dzerzhinsky and his secret police. Simons stated, quite firmly, it would be “morally impossible” to hand these people over to the Russians and did France really want to insist?

A few hardened French nationalists probably would have answered yes. It was Germany not Russia that had invaded their nation twice in the last fifty years, but even Poincare knew his demands for outright withdrawal were politically impossible when set against the backdrop of Soviet violence. It was one thing to demand lands be returned to a democratic Poland, born after centuries of oppression. It was quite another to fight a war merely to hand lands over to a Soviet dominated puppet state. Ironically only the most radical left and right wing parties would assent to such a move and Poincare could never pull it off. That did not mean however that he intended to do nothing while Germany flaunted the hard-won treaty to his face. The French were here to issue demands, not accept Germany's excuses.

Poincare’s list was short but inflammatory enough to cause a temporary and ad-hoc intermission. First, France demanded an increase in the already crippling reparations, under the logic that if Germany was gaining more lands and industry, surely it could pay the Allies more. Secondly, that Germany's actions in the East violated the Treaty of Versailles and demanded immediate military action. While Poincare left the exact extent of this open, he clearly intended a possible annexation of the Rhineland and an occupation of the Rhur. Third and last, France refused to consider any lessening of the disarmament of Germany, anticipating its demands involving the growing threat of Russia. Not only had these demands been offered without Lloyd Georges’ input, they had been brought to Cannes without his knowledge, hence the need for a small break after the bombshell landed.

After reconvening, Lloyd George did his best to cool tempers by offering his own plan, something that had been on his mind for months. Despite being one of the major participants, some aspects of the Paris Peace Process had bothered the British leader, namely that two major players, Germany and Russia, had been excluded from the talks. That had been politically necessary at the time but it had left the resulting peace settlement far less stable. This crisis, in fact, proved his concerns were coming to life. With that in mind, Lloyd George suggested a general European conference to discuss the various issues confronting the continent, with Poland being one of them. He outlined inviting Russia and Germany as equal members of the brotherhood of nations, with full fledged seats at the table. It was a breathtaking vision, and a fundamental reconsideration of the post war settlement.

Poincare would have none of it. While he grudgingly conceded that such a summit might be useful, it had little relevance to the matter at hand. To the Frenchmen, the problem was quite simple. Germany had violated the terms of the treaty and the Allies had the right to punish Germany within that same context. If Britain refused to go along, France would simply do it unilaterally. French troops were already being issued provisional orders to this effect. For his part Simons replied that the Treaty of Versailles hardly meant that Soviet Russia was free to do what it willed in Eastern Europe. Surely Germany still had the right to defend itself from a proven aggressor? If his country did not defend human rights in the East, who would? The Allies failed attempts to support the White proved that neither Britain or France could possibly hope to do so. Clearly a re-thinking of the geopolitical situation in light of Poland’s seizure was warranted? Poincare refused point-blank to reconsider any part of the treaty, so the conference broke up without accomplishing much of anything. All went home to with dramatically different goals and concerns.

The French demands placed Lloyd George in an impossible position. If he backed the French, he would be weakening a possible German ally against Bolshevik Russia and quite possibly igniting a general war in a very fragile Europe. Conflict breaking out between Germany and the Allies would only help Lenin in his mad dreams of global domination. On the other hand, letting Germany escape unscathed essentially meant abandoning the Versailles Treaty border adjustments and giving up on a very hard won peace process. What had the First World War been about if not to prevent German aggression in Europe? Only a few years later and now they wanted to ease up? His compromise of a general peace summit seemed unlikely to even occur, let alone solve the intractable issues. The whole issue merely became one of many that had reduced George's once impressive popularity and authority. His return from Cannes with no plan and no real explanation for his failure, not to mention the possibility of a new war in Europe over Poland, brought an end to his ailing career. The Conservatives, who were still operating in the war-time coalition, pulled their support. The fall of Poland had, in its own way, once again claimed one of the victors of the First World War.
 
Update Four- Eastern Europe

The Tai-Pan

Kicked
While the powers of Western Europe sought to come to terms with the changes brought about by the fall of Poland, in Eastern Europe the reactions were far more intense and immediate, often involving national survival. A constellation of new states had arisen in the chaos of the First World War and the entire region was in flux. The fall of Warsaw and the founding of the Soviet Polish state threw this already fluid area into further chaos.

The baltic region had been a literal battlefield since 1914, with German and Russian armies clashing many times during the long war. When Germany finally withdrew from the east after defeat and revolution, the local peoples declared independence and began the difficult work of creating a new nation. It was a bloody process, involving fighting a war on three fronts. One against the Bolshevik regime, one against a renegade White Russian/German armies and even against the Poles who sought to incorporate parts into the new Polish state. Through hard labor and much fighting, they had somehow achieved success and had even fought the RSFSR to a standstill, resulting in set of peace treaties in July 1920 where Moscow recognized Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian independence.

This all changed when Warsaw fell in August however, and the region was more exposed to Russian power then ever. The new treaties had hardly been signed when Trotsky began to undermine them. He reached out to the small Communist movements in all three nascent countries, offering money and military support if they revolted. In Lithuania such plans had advanced considerably and in November 1920, a local communist revolt broke out. Instantly, Red Army unit poised on the border, under the now seemingly invincible Mikhail Tukhachevsky, launched into action. Despite heavy fighting, by December Lithuania had fallen and the entire area had been reintegrated into a reformed Socialist Soviet Republic of Lithuania and Belorussia (often referred to as Lit-Bel), a direct part of the RSFSR.

Soviet_POWs_in_Lithuania.jpg

Lithuanian POWs captured after the Soviet final drive on Vilnius.


Similar abortive attempts in Estonia and Latvia failed, but it seemed only a matter of time until the entire Baltic coast once again fell under Russian domination, this time under the red boot of the Bolshievks instead of the Tsar.

Setting aside the Baltic, reaction to the Soviet conquest of Poland was most intense in the Balkan region, particularly in Romania. Sharing a long border with the RSFSR, the Kingdom of Romania had very tense relations with their former ally. The two nations had both fought for the Entente in the First World War but since the sociaist revolution, had been dire enemies. Romania had gained Bessarabia during the turbulent months of 1918, an act that still rankled the Bolsheviks who viewed the Romanian annexation as illegitimate. Instead, Lenin wished to rebuild the Moldavian Democratic Republic, a short-lived Russian puppet state that had existed in 1918 before being dissolved into Romania. The Soviet sweep into Poland exacerbated fears that Bessarabia (and Romania as a whole) were next. This fear seemed borne out when, in October, the Socialist Party of Romania proclaimed a general strike, and over 400,000 workers took part. The government panicked, assuming the work stoppage was the prelude to a socialist coup as had happened in Lithuania, and ordered the army into the street. Hundreds were arrested in breaking up the strike and the socialist party went semi-underground during the violence but girded itself for further action. Thinking the apparently unstoppable Red Army was about to pour across the border, aided by a Romanian fifth column, the government began desperately casting about for international allies.

The situation was much the same in Hungary, except for the lack of a direct border with the RSFSR. Hungary had been wracked by political instability since the end of the First World War and the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Counter revolution followed revolution, as the initial soviet uprisings in 1918 and Red Terror were crushed by a White Terror which killed thousands more. That regime promptly also fell apart leading to the reestablishment of the Hungarian monarchy in mid 1920, even as Warsaw was falling to Bolshevik armies. By the fall Mikolas Horthy, a imperial era admiral, had been placed in charge of the monarchical state as a regent but was in practice a dictator. The fragile new state was politically repressive, and socialism was feared as the greatest evil. The White Terror had broken up Hungarian socialism and Horthy was determined to keep it that way. Under the Admiral’s watch, there would be no uprisings or strikes. As part of his effort to buttress his regime, he signed the Treaty of Trianon which gave up a swatch of territory to Romania, Czechoslovakia and others. While unpopular at home, the move was considered vital as to maintain relations with the West, ever more critical in light of Russian victories in Poland and Lithuania.

iu

Mikolas Horthy, a determined foe of Communism and dictator of Hungary.

In contrast the Czechoslovak Republic was one of the most stable nations in the region. Also born out of the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, it had a compact, literate and wealthy population along with a strong tradition of local autonomy. Even by 1920 a functioning democracy was put in place, with peaceful elections being held that year. Here socialism was not only legal, it was part of the democratic process, gaining high percentages of the vote but not enough to form the government. Ironically, unlike Romania or Hungary, Czechsovokia had viewed Poland as its greatest threat, contesting with its larger northern neighbor over contested Cieszyn Silesia. The struggle had come to outright violence in 1918 and 1919, with deaths on both sides. The area had finally been divided between them, but few in Prague wept tears when Warsaw had fallen to the Red Army. Still, having the RSFSR as a neighbor was concerning and most government officials in the Czechoslovak Republic assumed the Russians would try to interfere in their internal affairs. Talks with both France and Romania were entered, discussing the possibilities of an Anti-Bolshevik alliance.

Further south reactions were perhaps less acute but still unsettling. The Socialist victory in Poland energized the scattered socialist parties to new heights. In Bulgaria, the communist aligned parties and their allies won over fifty percent of the vote, alarming the established interests there. In the newly formed state of Yugoslavia, socialist led miner strikers were put down with vigorous force. Only in rather distant Albania, which alone lacked a socialist party, were things relatively quiet. Matters in Western Europe were moving apace however, as France took matters into their own hands.
 
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