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Before discussing the so-called Sudeten Crisis, it's worth pointing out that Hitler actually *demanded* a war in 1938. He only backed down because he realized damned well that the German people weren't going to leap into it with glee the way his ideology demanded. His goal, as the Hossbach Memorandum of 1937 showed, was for a European war in 1941. Despite starting his major preparations in 1937, he wanted it in 1938. It also tends to be forgotten that Hitler's Empire was anything but 'Germany.' It was Germany + Austria + Czechia. That combination was more populous and richer than interwar Germany, and it was that combination in addition to the state of Slovakia and the Soviet Union that overwhelmed Poland in 1939, and then Denmark, Norway, Luxemburg, the Netherlands, Belgium, and France in 1940. It would be German augmented by an entire continent that invaded the USSR in 1941. Two significant, but usually overlooked, parts of this process were the expansionist acts of 1938. First, Germany invaded and annexed Austria. In so doing his troops gained practice at maneuvers on a combat setting and managed to add in the lessons learned.

Then Hitler followed this by demanding he be given the Sudetenland. While inhabited by Germans (who, it's worth noting, got the best treatment of any minorities anywhere in interwar Europe, as Czechoslovakia was the only 1910s democracy to last to the late 1930s) also contained the best Czechoslovak industry and the best natural defenses the Republic had. Had Hitler gone to war in 1938, he'dve faced 1,000,000 well-trained troops, in addition to the Soviets, as well as the Anglo-French alliance. The Nazis were able to sustain a war for six months maximum in 1938. The Allies, however, vastly overestimated their real power, and were in the midst of their own re-armament, and decided essentially to play for time. We call this appeasement nowadays. The result, however was that democracy betrayed democracies, while the Polish military dictatorship of Colonel Beck avenged its defeat of 1919 to gain the Teschen Region by dishonor when it was incapable of doing so by crude brute force.

This is an essential irony of no little importance for later in the war, when Great Powers did unto Poland what it did unto the Czechs. However in 1939 Hitler invaded the Czechia region and annexed it as the Reichsprotectorates of Bohemia and Moravia, and was the ironic first father of a state of Slovakia. More interestingly this first Axis satellite state was run by a Catholic Priest, Father Tiszo, and would work quite hand in hand with the Nazis for the duration of WWII. It's worth noting again that Slovakia did exist before the 1990s......as Hitler's satellite. The importance of this will be in the postwar series' comparisons of what happened here with the Velvet Divorce and Yugoslavia's disintegration, especially due to the importance of the Croatian state's own Axis satellite origins in WWII. This decision was the key difference between 1939 and 1938: Hitler had shown himself to be an unreliable negotiator whose sole understanding was force.

But there would be a few other key ironies in terms of WWII and its origins, most infamously in the alliance of Stalinism and Nazism in seeking to mutually destroy an established order both had every reason to hate, an alliance that means that WWII technically began with the Soviet Union a member of the Axis Powers. It began also with a joint union of totalitarianism against democracy, albeit a union that crashed and burned in two years. And it's also worth noting that Allied appeasement was to postpone a war so they'd be in a stronger position to wage it. As will be shown in the discussion of Khalkin-Ghol and the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and its poison fruit, the USSR was doing so to get revenge for areas where it had lost the Russian Civil War and the War of 1920-1 with Poland. Its motivation was also an attempt to get the West to replay WWI with more lethal modern weaponry for its own advantage, though its motivation was not what it actually got in practice by any means.

However, and this is extremely important, the USSR was involved in a nearly-continuous set of wars from the Soviet invasion of Xinjiang in 1934 to 1945. These wars included clearly aggressive and expansionist acts in both Asia and in Europe. But as will be shown, when war came in 1939, the Soviets actually had a good idea, on paper, as it was understood at the time, and in practice wound up isolated and faced with the unpleasant prospect of initiating a major war with Germany in virtual isolation, while saddled with an army handicapped by the Purges, with a bad plan it executed very badly. Where the West found itself in for one of its worst shellackings in modern history, and nobody, not even Adolf Hitler, realized this was going to happen.

And of course the Second World War in Asia was a massive conflict long before it spread to Europe, as the Chinese armies that went to war with Japan were quite massive, as were Japan's own. It's a pity that this theater has been overshadowed even in terms of the Asian part of WWII, butt then again most of the history in Japanese and English has focused on the Pacific War of 1941-5, in English because to the USA if US troops weren't directly involved it either didn't exist or didn't mean anything, in Japanese because Japan continues to deny both its atrocities and the ferocity of that war. There is a reason that my series are including WWII in Asia long before Operation White.
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This is one of five subseries, of which the other four are Oceania in the East, in relation to Soviet atrocities, Carthago Delenda Est for Italian, The Bamboo Spears for the Empire of Japan, Albion's Perfidy for the UK, and The Eagle's Claws for the United States. Each of these subseries is going to be an extremely dark and gruesome element of this entire tapestry of blood and violence known as WWII. It cannot be otherwise, because in the largest war in human history the atrocities were likewise the worst in human history, in terms of both scale and intent. The series, fittingly enough, begins with this one, which covers Nazi Germany, and I am starting in 1919 to lay out a crucial theme of my view of the broader slate of Nazi atrocities in the all-European sense: the Nazis never wanted peace, they always wanted war, and their war was always one of annihilation, ein Vernichtungskrieg.

Nazi atrocities differed from all the others in that they were a movement that gained power with the great and primary goal to carry them out, and the atrocities envisioned would have been the largest in human history had they come full-flower, the ones that did are incomprehensibly appalling as it is. The direct line of continuity here starts with Hitler's embrace of the Dolchstosslegende first profered by the generals Paul von Hindenburg and Erich Ludendorff. The Dolchstosslegende, Stab in the Back Legend, was perhaps the most insidious legacy of the German officer corps, and it applies to their role in the second war as much as it does in the first, and this will be covered later. The significant thing here is that as early as 1919 Hitler was making promises to slaughter his way through Central and Eastern Europe. In the process of writing Mein Kampf (which in an interesting anecdote I read the same year that I read The Autobiography of Malcolm X, of the two there's no comparison: I liked Malcolm X as a man and as a human being, and also as a writer, Hitler I loathe as a human being, I despise utterly as a man, and as a writer is worse than Stephanie Meyer and LaHaye and Jenkins put together, from a purely literary POV). In his book, a wretched semi-autobiography slash political manifesto, Hitler laid out a vision of a Vanguardist movement butchering its way through Europe to establish a new, blazing world of charnel houses dominated by Greater Germany.

In his election campaigns, Hitler and the Nazis toned DOWN the anti-Semitism, seeking to be more electable. This is not a sign that it was adopted for convenience, rather it is a graphic illustration of the inherent evil in the midst of the Nazi ideology: the Fuhrer knew what he was doing was evil. He knew it, and he did it anyway, and was smart enough to tone it down if it benefited the needs of the moment. At the same time in 1934, when Hitler became Chancellor and Fuhrer, the first Nazi pogroms happened, and a part of the Night of the Long Knives had to do with the SA demanding over-zealous enforcement of anti-Semitism where Hitler's immediate needs were concerned.

After the Night of the Long Knives, Hitler then passed the Nuremberg Laws. In Mein Kampf he spoke approvingly of the US segregation system and racial quotas for immigration at the time, as well as the Chinese and Japanese Exclusion Acts. In a nasty tribute to them he established a system of blood-quotas, ranking people as Mischlingen if they had even one Jewish parent, defining a huge number of people who were practicing Christians, atheists, or didn't even see themselves as Jews as Jews by fiat. At the same time he mandated a total segregation of Jew and German, and the Nazis began a sequence of actions to shame and humiliate people who broke such sanctions, such as having them stand holding signs wrapped around their necks, mandating pools, fountains, benches all being explicitly for Jews, things like this.

Initially the Nazi definition of Judenrein (which means Jew-Free) was to simply push all the Jews out. At the same time the first concentration camps had already been opened, but for SPD and KPD members, who were interned in the fashion where the Nazis cut their teeth on, as far as the model of camp that would spread as WWII itself did. This, like a later program of atrocities, is extremely significant as it means that from the first the Nazi ambitions were wider than the infamous and well-known atrocities directed at Jews. At the same time, as will be illustrated in the torturous course of events leading up to 1945, Jews were targeted in a direct, single fashion rivaled only by Gypsies, so there is a very good, sound, logical reason for viewing the Holocaust as distinct from the broader extermination plans.

In the next entry, WWII begins........

halialkers: Smilodon (saber-toothed cat) right side profile view. Mouth open, ears back (Meremi)
The Spanish Civil War of 1936-9 is to World War II what Bleeding Kansas was to the American Civil War. Both sides found their ideologies hardening in the course of the fighting, and it also served as a means to prepare people on both ends of the ideological spectrum for the outbreak of the war. 1936 is the crucial year in the evolution of WWII in Asia, which is why it receives coverage here *before* the first year of the Spanish Civil War:

In 1936, Jiang was kidnapped by the son of the warlord of Manchuria and made to accept a Second United Front against Japan. The actual incident was a very murky one, reflecting a pure alliance of convenience between the warlords and the Communists, neither of which for understandable reasons wanted Jiang to do weell. In the course of the kidnapping Mao also gratuitously used it to make PR gains at Jiang's expense. This was a crucial matter because while murky enough in a Chinese context, it was to provide a final tipping point for Japan, where the process of government by assassination had already culminated in a military dictatorship, to prepare what would be the start of WWII, on the Marco Polo Bridge. The irony here is that the Chinese United Front really didn't have a thing in the world to do with sincerity in fighting Japan, the true motivation of the warlords and communists alike was in practical terms to forestall their own destruction.

In 1936, however, the Soviets, who had embraced the Popular Front concept (which meant in practical terms Comintern-affiliated movements infiltrated Social Democratic movements to take them over), were to find themselves (and the rest of Europe for that matter), both surprised and concerned when the Nazis remilitarized the Rhineland. The Popular Front played a large role in the ascension to power of Leon Blum in France, but the election that would get him there proved to be a very long and protracted one. In this context Hitler, against the explicit warnings of his generals and a furtive assassination plot prepared by them, sent German troops into the Rhineland, confirming yet again that Versailles was dead.

Europe's issues in handling the Rhineland crisis were deepened by the outbreak of the Civil War in Spain. Here the Spanish Republic, which was run by a relatively hardline socialist administration which was by no means inured to atrocities in itself (having engaged in anti-clericalist atrocities aimed at the Spanish clergy), was challenged by a military revolt. This war, which would last into 1939, would become the first modern proxy war, only it was a proxy war between Communism and Fascism. Democracy, like the rabbi and the noble, passed the bleeding victim of Spain by, it was the evil Samaritan of Stalin who would show up to "help" it by exporting his Purges, stealing all of Spain's Gold Reserve, and sending Soviet soldiers and NKVD agents into a wider, global context of the spreading Great Terror in the Soviet Union. Ironically because Moscow alone was making a serious effort for the Republic, democracy was even more motivated to let it die, for fear of helping Communism. Just like in the later Cold War, fear of the Soviets led to very poor choices of policies.

The next entry will cover the Nuremberg Laws, and then the one after that will cover the start of WWII itself in the Marco Polo Bridge Incident and the outbreak of the Battle of Shanghai. By this point WWII in Africa has been going on for two years and Ethiopian Resistance is currently the only one fighting a future Axis Power. As the entry after next will show when the Chinese began to fight the Japanese, one of the more formidable Axis Powers (while it's generally thought of as Germany-Italy-Japan, in a power context it's Germany-Japan, sixteen spaces down and to the right, Italy in letters much smaller than the other two), the world again paid precious little attention. Even the US China Lobby proved to care more about the souls of the Chinese than their actual lives.
halialkers: Raven from Teen Titans cartoon caption "I'm surrounded by idiots." Grey skin, purple hair/eyes (Idiots. I am surrounded by them.)
 The period between the wars was marked by a forgotten phase in diplomacy: the first Arms Limitations Treaties and attempts to blaze a new path to a new geopolitical framework. For a change states would try reliance on rule of law and intrigue over force. The treaties came in a variety of fashions. Locarno, one of the most famous treaties, was one that enshrined German demilitarization and securing Germany's western border. The navies of the world had seen famous treaties, one of which would in the 1930s become a key route to how World War II grew from a pattern of Chinese civil war and overmighty subjects of the Empire of Japan to a general, all-out war. This treaty established a condition that the USA and UK would have a 5:3:1 ratio over Japan (3) and Italy (1). Thus while in theory giving themselves superiority over Japan and Italy, the practical result was that in the Pacific Japan already had local hegemony.

Another crucial treaty of this timeframe was the Kellogg-Briand Pact (no, this has nothing to do with Cereal), a treaty that ironically still applies now, and as a result puts every single major power of the 21st Century in international deep shit if international law actually ever meant something. This treaty renounced war as a means of resolving social disputes. Now, factor this in with Fascism's reliance on war as the means of resolving social disputes. One can see a slight problem here.

The reason all this matters is as context for the lead-in to the Great Depression and its collapse of that existing order: the world of the 1920s was one where the USSR was at its mildest (and secretly giving Germany everything it needed to start building its military forces), Germany was a liberal democracy run by a great liberal statesman named Stresemann, and the overall geopolitical situation had been one of force on the decline as a tool of state. So when we read pablum about how WWII represented some worship of force that was natural, that's all bullshit to make the people that got dragged into a war that never really had to happen had the existing treaties been enforced feel better about a war that enabled the USSR to get a global empire at the expense of one Adolf Hitler.

The next entry will cover the impact of the Great Depression in terms of the rise of the Nazis to a plurality in the Reichstag, a factor that was contemporaneous with the Kwangtung Army's rampaging in Manchuria. These events did not occur in vaccuums, each influenced the other. The entry after that will cover the Mandate of Palestine and the acceleration of Jewish and Palestinian radicalism, a factor important primarily in hindsight of the Holocaust, not directly caused by it at the time. The post after that will cover the ascendancy of Hitler to the position of Chancellor, and then a whole subseries on Soviet collectivization, building Deep Operations in practice, the Purges and Terror, and the profound irony of the Soviet role in the WWII era.

halialkers: flames crackling. Red light in patterns (Karu)
For a bit of juvenile humor, the original translation of Deep Operation was Deep Penetration. Now, imagine that phrase when I'm describing those long lines of hard, explosive firepower in phallic shapes penetrating deeply into vulnerable enemy lines that just open with aplomb and gaiety.

Anyhow, the Soviet Deep Operations concept is the most modern of all *concepts* in the Second World War. Alone among the belligerents of all sides, the Soviet Union built the industrial base and equipments and concept required to wage not a modern combined-arms battle, linking air, infantry, artillery, and armor all together in one single smashing combination, but focused on the much bigger and broader concept of the Deep Operation. That is that the Soviets, instead of having to figure out how to wage a Modern Battle, were focusing on how to wage and win a modern WAR. There is a huge difference and gap between the two. The USSR, using the First Five-Year Plan, was already inventing a concept of Deep Battle, that is the actual Soviet equivalent to the Blitzkrieg in Germany, in 1933.

The Soviet Deep Battle, it must be emphasized, does bear some resemblance to Nazi concepts. This is due to the forgotten alliance of the USSR and the Weimar Republic, meaning both the future Wehrmacht and Red Army leaders learned the same concepts and the same exercises. The gap between the two and between the German and Russian visions of what war should be, reflects that both took the same events and produced completely different lessons.

To rehash a military lesson:

Tactics is the lowest level of war. It is how one unit defeats another unit to capture an immediate objective. To use my preferred analogy, tactics is how a unit sees a hill in front of it, and defeats via either going straight at, going around, or getting at the side of an enemy unit right in front of it.

Operations is the level between tactics and strategy, seeking to execute broader patterns for military objectives that pursue strategic goals. Tactics fit into this in terms of the battles required for an operation to reach its culmination point. Thus a tactical action is something like the Battle of Kursk, an Operation is Operations Citadel, Kutuzov, and Rumiantsev.

Strategy is the highest level of war, linking all resources, military, political, civil, and economic together to win a war. Operations are means to strategic ends.

Blitzkrieg was a tactical system that evolved in the midst of WWII by accident and contingent circumstances. Deep Operations was an operational concept that evolved before WWII. This concept lasted unchanged into the 1980s. To put it another way, if there was ever something in the historical USSR that came closest to approximating its ideology, it would be the evolution of its way of war and military doctrine, the one area of the Soviet system as it emerged which worked splendidly.

The Soviet concept as it evolved between the wars involved use of paratroopers to seize individual points in an offensive and to disrupt enemy logistics behind the line in conjunction with partisans, but in practice the Purges annihilated both Soviet paratroopers and the partisans, both of which had to reconstruct themselves during the war.

In a practical sense, a Soviet Deep Operation assigned to a specific force the task of reconaissance, followed by launching powerful shock forces at the enemy. In Soviet terms the shock forces were the first, initial wave of an offensive. Their role, essentially and crudely put, was to get smashed to bits by the enemy but to hold that enemy's focus in the process of securing a breakthrough, at which point a second group of combined-arms mechanized forces would launch an exploitation phase intended to secure a major encirclement that would follow into a pattern of disrupting and annihilating entire enemy armies.

The Soviet concept involved entrapping these armies without room to retreat, leaving tactical details to be filled in in individual encirclements, pocket after pocket successively reduced in a sense at leisure. The Nazi concept as it emerged in practice, by contrast, was much more immediately focus on the tactical level of breaking up an enemy army and figuring out what to do later. This could lead to amazing results, such as at Kiev, only when the enemy for a number of reasons did everything to make that so. In practice against an enemy that did not, in a clash of the tactical combined-arms battle and the operational concept of combined-arms warfare, the latter will invariably win because just as the former thinks it's accomplished a miracle it turns out it was encircled the whole way through and it withers on the vine and rots in the Gulag.

In a real sense the Eastern Front of WWII is where you see the direct process of the evolution of modern warfare, between the two societies of the interwar era that spent the most money to develop it. It must also be noted that in practice Soviet performance was far short of their own ideas, for reasons equally inherent to how the Soviet system worked in practice. This is a basic concept everyone over the age of 14 should get, namely that just because you can imagine something doesn't mean doing it in practice follows straight from imagining it.

halialkers: flames crackling. Red light in patterns (Karu)
This is part of a two-part entry, detailing the crash Soviet industrializations of 1931-41 and the military concepts they were intended to bolster. The Soviet industrialization pursued by Stalin was his most infamous legacy. It created the highest death tolls, the worst overall situations, th most lethal context of the entire Soviet era. This was the product of a triple-chain of ideology and state tradition. The first is that traditionally the Great Russian Tsars of the Rurikid and Romanov dynasties had proven immensely willing to squander the lives of their people for cheap personal gain. This, after all, is how St. Petersburg had been built from the marshes of swamps, and how the Russian institution of serfdom had worked. The Russian Tsarina Catherine had actually defeated a true war with the Russian people under Yemelian Pugachev, while there was no such popular upswing in subsequent Russian or Soviet history until the Axis-Soviet War and in the War of 1812 (Napoleon's invasion, not Mr. Madison's War).

Soviet collectivization second reflected the ideological paradox that revolution had come not in industrialized, powerful Germany but in autocratic, agrarian Russia. This was to create a further paradox that the great constituency of a Soviet, Communist state was a minority of the population amidst a great sea of agrarian masses who had no connection and did not want such a connection with the Russian state and its methods and tools. In this regard Collectivization was intended to retroactively erase this embarrassing gap between ideology and reality and replace it with one of progress.

Finally, Tsarist industrialism had *also* arisen directly from influence of the state. The Soviet version was simply fully nationalized industry, instead of government-financed/regulated/reliant on the Cossacks to break up strikers. The difference was that the Soviets could and did simply release the NVKD on their own internal upheaval without losing a conscience.

Thus in practice in ten years the Five Year Plans produced an amazing growth industry, creating the basis of the Soviet industrial system that produced the huge quantity of weapons of war seen in the Second World War. The difference between this and what happened in the USA is that the Soviet system, adopted in a set of staggered patterns produced an equally imbalanced industry, favoring purely heavy industry and those sectors that directly benefited Stalin's kleptocracy, and not really those that benefited even the long-term survival of the Soviet state. The USSR, all the same, made for an incredible sweeping change in terms of providing bulk quantities of low-quality goods where in Tsarism there had been no goods, full-stop.

The evil in the Soviet system had to perpetuate itself by making enemies even where there were none, and so it is in the midst of these changes, occurring in the background of all else that will be described in this series, that the seeds of the Great Terror and the Great Purges were spawned, as the miracle-working system of the all-knowing Big Brother in Moscow needed an explanation for sometimes all-too-visible imperfections even amidst the heavy secrecy and censorship fog of the Soviet system.
halialkers: Heisei Godzilla, right frontal view, firing blue and white beam (Set-5)
The ultimate origin of the Great Depression is a very simple one: the WWI belligerents set up a giant ponzi scheme to repay WWI debts, like all ponzi schemes this one wound up failing. Specifically the USA's debts owed it by the Allies were to be repaid by the Allies using German reparations. This in a real sense was unworkable, and Locarno marked an attempt to alter this. It's worth noting, however, that the prosperity of the 1920s was nowhere equal in all places. The UK started off at a very low level of prosperity in the 1920s and never really got anywhere. France actually would experience the Great Depression *last* of the democracies. Germany had the worst experience of anyone, and the Soviet Five-Year Plans meant the Great Depression was more an era of forced, compressed industrialization. In the USA alone does the trope of 1920s prosperity hold truest. Japan, the other great WWII belligerent had some prosperity but was as badly hit by the Depression as Germany in some ways.

The Depression was signaled for a long time preceding the collapse of the Stock Market in 1929. Agriculture worldwide was relatively depressed much earlier, and the collapse of the stock market did not bring the bottom of the collapse. That proceeded in two or three stages and it was these later stages that were much worse. However the most significant impact of the Depression is that it induced a period of existential despair in one set of societies about the staying power of democracy and inaugurated the high tide of totalitarianism on the other. Between the USSR on the Left and the Nazis and Fascists in the Batshit Insane Menchildren category, democracy in Europe was reduced to France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Scandinavia, and the UK. And that was it.

However in the 1930s, the particular problems of the Great Depression for the island country of Japan were to draw it progressively into a combination on the one hand of a sequence of aggressive actions by the Kwantung Army, and on the other by increasing militarization, meaning the army shot anyone it didn't like the looks of, and on the other hand the vain intrigues of Chinese factions against each other as what was the most powerful army in Asia slowly built up a snowball that rolled downhill.

It's worth reflecting that an honest look at WWII would first of all date its beginning to the 1931 Mukden Incident, and to Japan's progressive expansion of what it would term Manchukuo. It spread next to Africa, following Mussolini's conquest of Ethiopia. It would expand in Asia into a short-lived Soviet-Japanese War, and would only spread to Europe proper in 1939. It never at any point spread anywhere in the Americas, though by 1941-5 Australia would actually be in at least the superficial danger of a major large-scale invasion (in practice if the Japanese had been stupid enough to try they would have destroyed themselves far earlier, no Bomb showing up in WWII itself).

From this point on, thus, Asia will be in the WWII series, Europe and Africa will still be in the interwar series. This is intended to provide a kind of real-time sense of the spreading chaos of the war. It's also worth noting that WWII only became truly global on December 11th, when Hitler decided to make the undeclared war of the USA and Germany in a naval sense into an outright full-scale war.

So......the next entry will be the first in WWII proper. Whoo-hoo, progress!
halialkers: Heisei Godzilla, right frontal view, firing blue and white beam (Set-5)
The rise of Stalin is something that thanks to Trotsky's Gift of Gab has generally been misunderstood. Stalin was the only Bolshevik leader to remain in Russia during the WWI phase, and he was one of the most instrumental in terms of the Russian Civil War, working actually quite well with Trotsky at first. However in a party of delusional messianic complex types, he was the only one to focus on the pragmatic wheels of power and how to turn them in the fashion that Vladimir Lenin did. This gave him a disproportionate amount of success relative to what the others had from the first. Stalin also was to a real extent Lenin's creation, and it's worth pondering that if the original Mk. 1 Leninism had managed to assert itself, the disaster of Lenin's ultimate later death would be worse than Stalin's. I'll explain why later.

In the process of his rise, Stalin flip-flopped on the surface on the issue of crash industrialization. Through the Locarno Era the NEP had steadily undermined Bolshevik claims of the superiority of the Command economy by its very success. One group of the Bolsheviks, epitomized by Nikolai Bukharin, wanted to progressively industrialize the USSR on a Russian model. The other, typified by Trotsky, wanted to leap in a decade across a chasm other societies had bridged by centuries. The complexity of this is that Stalin was actually in the Trotsky vein, though from a different perspective. To Trotsky Soviet crash industrialization was to reflect his idea of the Permanent Revolution, namely focusing solely on ensuring it influenced external forces. To Stalin, industrialization worked best to create a central citadel of Communism from which to spread it to the rest of the world. The balance of real-world politics seems to have validated Stalin's viewpoint.

The irony is that for his very success Stalin generally gets treated as the anti-Communist by a movement that owes its being seen as legitimate at all *to* Stalin. Anyhow, to secure power Stalin first sided with two Bolsheviks of the Left, Zinoviev and Kamenev (this guy is not the one that won the Russian Civil War, he's a different Kamenev), in order to neutralize Trotsky by steadily removing Trotsky from meaningful power and ultimately exiling him to Central Asia. He did this through handsomely exploiting mistakes on Trotsky's part, as well as slowly and patiently amassing a near-total control of the Bolshevik system. In the aftermath of the neutralization of Trotsky, Stalin turned to neutralize also Zinoviev and Kamenev, who had outlived their usefulness. Trotsky was expelled ultimately to Mexico, Z and K got to stay long enough to die in the Great Purge.

In his next trick, Stalin then turned on the Bukharinites. This required him to neutralize their claims by using his own view of Socialism in One Country (which again differed from the concept of Permanent Revolution in terms of focusing on building a central citadel of Communism *before* taking over the world, Trotsky was stupid enough to think a militarily weak USSR could last in a sustained war against Japan, much less say, Germany) and to begin the first stages of his Five-Year Plans. When Bukharin and Rykov objected, both were also neutralized. As a result, starting in 1922 with being already the most powerful man not merely on the Politburo but in the entire Soviet Union, seven years later Stalin was a totalitarian autocrat and the only arbiter of power. In terms of amassing power, strength of the sort he started out from is usually a weakness, in practice he engaged in some of the most subtle and Machiavellian Power Politics imaginable......just in time for the Great Depression, which threw the whole of interwar politics into a cocked hat.
halialkers: Heisei Godzilla, right frontal view, firing blue and white beam (Set-5)
The era leading up to the start of the Great Depression was in general the lightest and softest period of the interwar era. A separate entry will detail the process whereby Stalin managed the relatively more difficult task of going from Big Dog on the Block to sole arbiter of power. The entry after that will detail the shift in Warlord-era China culminating in the outbreak of the CCP-GMD war and the Northern Expedition, and with this the entries start tilting to the World War II series. The late 1920s, as noted, were as light and soft as this era in time got. The European states saw under Gustav Stresemann Germany assume an ever-greater role and influence again. While simultaneously re-arming and building the first stages of the Blitzkrieg idea with the full aid and support of the USSR, Weimar had already begun a process of nullifying the economic aspects of the Versailles Treaty.

However to do so it signed the epochal Treaty of Locarno, whereby Germany in theory accepted an established border in Western Europe......with Eastern Europe and Central Europe completely absent from the record. At this time Italian Fascism was continuing to consolidate itself, and one by one the Central European states bar Czechoslovakia were finding the task of building new states in the context of the interwar era to be too formidable a challenge when simultaneously attempting to make them democratic. In Romania the monarchy would last to the Second World War. In Hungary, however, Admiral Horthy established a military dictatorship (as to how an Admiral took power in a land-locked country, he was a veteran of the Austro-Hungarian Navy). Poland fell to a sequence of military dictatorships. Yugoslavia, under a Regency, functioned in actual fact as a repressive, authoritarian Greater Serbia.

However none of these dictatorships as a rule engaged in active hostility with their neighbors. Even the three Baltic states and Finland, exceptions to general rules of dictatorships in the region, were actually living in an order that was slowly growing into civility. Too, the USSR was actually beginning a process of integration into the wider world order, as under its foreign minister Chicherin it established renewed trading agreements with the rest of Europe, even as Stalin successively ensured that he was to become the only true totalitarian in human history since the reign of Qin Shi Huang, founder of China.

The reason all this matters is that in the light of arguments of the inevitability of the Nazis *and* of an armed Soviet takeover of most of Europe, it's worth considering that there was this four-year interval where European societies functioned in the main as ordinary, regular societies getting along quite hunky-dory with each other.
halialkers: (Ioseb Jugashvili)
In this entry, we cover the seminal events of 1924 in the lead-in to World War II. We start first with the Trial of Adolf Hitler. Y'see after his farce in 1923, the Weimar Republic chose to put Hitler on trial. Instead of being abashed, the Fuhrer (already using this term to refer to his being Leader of the NSDAP) used it to be a propaganda showpiece. In this, he won much sympathy from the German Army and the German Press, only the few hardy souls who raised criticism of Hitler outside the Comintern objecting. For this, Hitler was sentenced to a whopping nine months in jail in a very light sentence, and it was during this timeframe that he dictated Mein Kampf, his wretched little doorstopper of a craptastic book to his craven crony Rudolf Hess.

Having read Mein Kampf, it's part-autobiography, part-screed, pretty much all of it is incoherent, ranting, raving products of a mind that had the fanaticism of the ill-educated and the lazy to support it. In the first half of his book, the autobiographical element overshadows much of the rest, and in it Hitler presents a very self-serving and distorted picture of himself. But this is a series about WWII, not Adolf Hitler, and I won't go into that unless actually asked about it.

Now, the other seminal events of the year included that in the USSR Lenin managed to force through acceptance of the NEP, in a time when an assassination attempt on him (curiously enough Lenin and Hitler would have attempts to kill them several times, Stalin, not one attempt) and strokes were steadily degenerating his remaining ability to act. It was during this time, from 1919-24 that Lenin had ensured that the General-Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, the sinister Georgian Dzhugashvili, also known as Koba and Koba-Stalin, had become the most powerful single man in the USSR. Not, however, an autocrat able to act arbitrarily, not yet at any rate. The NEP had been a response to the USSR's upheavals during the Russian Civil War, and in response to the Kronstadt Uprising and other such post-war troubles where the Bolsheviks faced the reality that their proposals were not, after all, universally liked by anyone.

But in 1924, Lenin, a Bolshevik leader whom if he had survived might have actually been closer to Hitler as dictator than Stalin was, died. In the vacuum that unfolded, the most powerful man on the Central Committee was the cunning and brutal man whom Lenin had seen fit solely to note he did not use power with sufficient caution and that he was a rude SOB in his Testament, the same one that critiqued all the other Bolsheviks as completely unsuited to exercise power in any sense. But now, Koba, the bank-robber, was no more. Stalin, the man of Steel, was beginning his own rise.

And *that* is a convoluted tale in itself. Remember whenever the name Stalin comes up that the caricature the West absorbed from the self-serving memoirs of Leon Trotsky is not the real Stalin. Stalin was perhaps the most cunning and politically effective dictator in human history, certainly the most successful of all time. And at the start, Stalin again is already the most powerful individual in the Soviet Union. His challenge, one that if thought about is actually much more difficult than it sounded, is to take being already the alpha male into being the overlord of the entire system, without any challenge whatsoever. The most frightening thing is that he succeeded in a fashion no-one else in human history has ever remotely approximated. Forget discussions of Hitler as dictator, if we want to find a totalitarian evil militaristic asshole to admire, STALIN is the one to go for. No-one else ever came close to the kind of power he wielded in modern times, and only Qin Shi Huang did in pre-modern times.

halialkers: Red Rosa Luxemburg. Woman with round face and big hair (Hadassa)
A note-this entry will be one of the longest ones of the early part of the Interwar Series. Much of it will be behind a cut *precisely* because it's a long-ass entry.
cut for length )

However it would be the aftermath of the Putsch that was to be the turning point for the Nazis and for Adolf Hitler, the start of what ultimately proved to be the road to Moscow, Wannsee, and ultimately the emergence of NATO and the Warsaw Pact.

halialkers: Red Rosa Luxemburg. Woman with round face and big hair (Hadassa)
In 1922 another development occurred which ultimately portended ill for the future. In this case it was the emergence of Benito Mussolini, the son of the radical socialist blacksmith, and a man who had spent his WWI career both fighting and advocating others fight (and as he was sent back to do this from being badly injured at the front, none can question Mussolini's courage. Whether he had anything remotely deserving the word intelligence in that thick skull of his, yes. His courage? No). Mussolini began his political career in a country where WWI had produced one of the most pitiless and horrific theaters of the entire war (and in a nasty little development WWII would be even more horrific and this time for two years entirely outside the ability of Italians to even pretend to affect matters). This, coupled with the Italians' dismal performance leading to them being denied the over-ambitious territorial goals they set for themselves produced two types of instability: one was the Italian Communist party, another akin to the German Freikorps, and known as Fascio de Combattimento.

It was Mussolini who took over these movements, which he himself did not create, and which enabled him to challenge not only the Kingdom of Italy's monarchy (not that Victor Emmanuel III being challenged was very difficult), the regime's army (also relatively easy), and the regime's other totalitarian movement, the Communists. In a series of running, brutal street battles the Fascio de Combattimento defeated the Communists, and bluffed the King into allowing them to march on Rome, the King yielding to Mussolini's coming into power *before* the Marhc on Rome, though Fascist propaganda obscured this.

Under Mussolini, however, Fascism never developed the all-powerful control wielded by Stalin and Hitler, as the King and Church (the latter only temporarily, the former only theoretically) provided at least two alternate sources of power in Italy, while the Fascist Grand Council, kind of a Fascie Politburo, did not permit Mussolini untrammeled exercise of power.

The emergence of Fascism in Italy, combined with the Treaty of Rapallo was to start the process of Versailles coming unglued. In hindsight (ONLY in hindsight), 1923 would provide other, darker portents of the future. Portents involving a Bavarian spin-off of an Austro-Hungarian extremist fascist movement, the French army in Germany, and the first instance of hyper-inflation since the Confederacy's economy degenerated and by far the more enduring example in global memory.
halialkers: Red Rosa Luxemburg. Woman with round face and big hair (Hadassa)
Yes, this was an intentional entry-title for those that know their poetry.

Anyhow, in 1922 the Versailles order began to disintegrate before it fairly got started. The reason for this was a particular treaty overlooked by many modern historians in the origin to WWII, in no small part because the Axis-Soviet War overshadowed so much of what had gone before it. In 1922 Lenin was to decide that the USSR's future lay in developing a more modern, and a more powerful, armed force. However due to the origin of the new Soviet Union, it had been completely excluded from the order of the League of Nations and the Versailles Treaty, being run by ideologues of the wrong sort. While the Germans were excluded because WWI was still a fresh memory on everyone's minds. How did both states resolve this?

The Treaty of Rapallo, whereby Germany began re-arming (note, it was not Hitler that did this, it was the Weimar Republic when it was run by socialists that did this) with the aid of the USSR. From these secretive ties, including Soviet generals such as Mikhail Tucachevsky, and Germans such as von Manstein, came the origins of the two concepts of modern war that were to shape World War II: the German Blitzkrieg and the Soviet concept of Deep Operations.

The Nazis and the Soviets began to develop concepts of armored warfare, though in the German case the inability to develop modern arms would ultimately combine with the bureaucratic sloppiness of the Nazi regime to forestall development of an actual Blitzkrieg *doctrine* until 1941, and most generals of this era refused to conceive that the horse would go away for the panzer. In the Soviet Union's case, it learned from this ultimately that it needed to build up a very powerful army, and in this the first stages of the Five-Year Plans begin to cast their own ominous shadows.

A crucial element in Germany's end-running the post-WWI treaties is that it had the Soviet Union giving it all manner of aid it could never have done so on its own. It was, thus, not just the capitalist businessmen of the West that traded with militarized treaty-ignoring Germany, it was the USSR that reconstructed the German military.
halialkers: Green-skinned alien with four lights behind him caption "There is no war in Ba Sing Se" (freedom is slavery)
There is a certain relatively vicious irony following WWI in the historiography of the US Civil War. Namely people created the self-serving myth starting in the 1920s through the 1930s that if only the Europeans had followed the US Civil War they could have predicted the outcome of 1918 and followed the exact same path to victory that the blundering conscript army of the Union did over the backstabbing treacherous idiotic conscript army of the Confederacy. This self-serving myth was one of the earliest not-Lost-Cause ideas propagated of the US Civil War. Reflecting back on the series I did on that one, I can say with perfect honesty that it's a big load of bullshit. The US Civil War was one of the last classical Linear Wars, perhaps *the* last before the firepower-intensive tactics of Prussia inaugurated the modern age of firepower-guzzling armies.

It was certainly impossible to have the USA develop the institutions and concepts of a modern war without it, but that's not the same thing as 1861-5 anticipating 1914-8. For one thing the US Civil War in the West saw the kind of decisive victories in a pretty monotonous situation that didn't really characterize many of the WWI battles, for another the Union's early great victories were amphibious warfare and thus more in tune with the Western Allies of WWII, not WWI, and finally the WWI armies had to deal with regular reconnaissance from the air and everybody on all sides having a crapload of machine guns with the will to use them. Where WWI was mobile, such as in the War of Kaiser and Tsar and in Mesopotamia and Palestine, the war was mobile in a very different sense from the US Civil War, there was none of that arcane shift from column to line of battle and none of the massive clouds of gunpowder creating literal fogs of war.

Where the war was relevant to the US Army's performance is in two categories: one, there's Douglas MacArthur whose daddy issues included having a father who was a Civil War war hero and whose ego issues came early in 1942 from a deliberate parallelism of son with daddy. Daddy MacArthur actually earned his medal, the son should have been demoted to buck private. There's also General Simon Bolivar Buckner, Jr. a direct descendant of the guy who handed over Fort Donelson to Ulysses S. Grant, and there's Air General Nathan Bedford Forrest III, the great-grandson of Nathan Bedford Forrest. Thus for the generation that bled itself at Cassino, the Bocage, Guadalcanal, and the Huertgen Forest the Civil War was much more immediately present than it now is. Two, there's General George S. Patton who developed some of his ideas of how he'd conduct warfare from an old Confederate guerrilla and post-Civil War Unionist named John S. Mosby. There's also the endurance of the segregated US Army regiments that included both blacks and Japanese in this segregation and which were legacies of the victorious Union Army of Abraham Lincoln.

Aside from this, there is really no direct connection between the US Army of either World War and its Civil War precursors. The only general of that war on either side who's recognizable to modern generals is Grant, and he was far less lavish with blood than his WWI and WWII successors. For instance I highly doubt that a Grant with trucks and tanks would have willy-nilly slogged into the Huertgen Forest or repeatedly done the Monte Cassino Battle as Mark Clark and Eisenhower did.
halialkers: (Default)
An important reality of the real World War II, as opposed to the one of myth is that of all the combatants, only the USSR would go into WWII with an actual doctrine focusing on combined-arms WARFARE as opposed to the more ad hoc and improvised creations of the other belligerents. To me there is an argument to be made that this reflects to a real extent the different geography of Eastern/Central Europe and that of Western Europe. Western Europe by this time was densely urbanized, offering relatively little room for great sweeping mechanized offensives (how 1940 happened despite this is a......fascinating.....tale). Eastern Europe by comparison offered more room for maneuver and for sweeping pitched battles, as had been the case in World War I. Too, the Russian Civil War's battles such as at Omsk and in the Caucasus had seen the kind of sweeping maneuvers that had been the opposite of the experience that Germany, France, the UK, Italy, and the small Central European post-Habsburg states drew upon from World War I.

Thus when Mikhail Frunze, one of the forgotten but truly seminal writers in terms of the creation of modern warfare doctrine wrote a blueprint for an ideological war, he was drawing upon the experience of the War of Kaiser and Tsar, as well as that of the Kerensky and then the SovNarKom in their own wars. The Frunze concept significantly also predated the emergence of a large-scale Soviet/Russian tank force, and thus focused on cavalry over armor. In this the Soviets weren't all that much different from everybody else. Most German generals went right on believing Germany was better off investing in horses over armor up until France surrendered in 1940. General Patton jumped ship from cavalry to armor IN 1941. Only France, aside from the USSR, built large, well-equipped tanks and in France's case they had a completely different view of war that in its own way directly anticipates the modern "Western" concept of war in terms of emphasizing technological virtuosity over actual fighting ability.

Frunze sought what he termed the "Unified Military Doctrine" creating a large unified military able to square the demands of a military for aggressive, capable combat soldiers and of the totalitarian USSR for political loyalty from the armed services. His concept of a war of screening invaders with a simultaneous methodical build-up and massive counterattacks reflected the formative victory of the Red Army in the Russian Civil War. This doctrine emphasized a vision of infantry, engineers, cavalry, and artillery. The primary heavy weaponry was expected to be the armored train. In this, too, the emergence of the Soviet way of war reflected a military tradition of victory.

If I were to be perfectly blunt there are all of two armies in 1939 which were able to visualize the concept of the modern war: France's and the USSR's. One of them went headlong into defeat in a process of six weeks, one of them swallowed half the continent in four years. Why this happened is an interesting question and ultimately the defining one of the war, as it ensured that instead of a total triumph of democracy World War II became the military victory of Communism and the near-graveyard of democracy.
halialkers: Genghis Khan frontal view in feathered headdress, red robes (Ashari)
World War I in Hollywood myth is presented as an Anglo-German conflict of massed human waves being cut down by machine guns, fighting for shell-holes in Mordor, with a war that is presented as horrific, nasty, brutish, and ultimately a futile exercise. The reality of the war was something very different. Trench warfare did not emerge in WWI, its earliest precursor was the Siege of Petersburg in the US Civil War, where trenches marked a stalemate, wire and machine guns came into use, and it was the result of the ultimate conqueror too feeble to conquer, the ultimate conquest too incapable of either breaking itself or breaking through. In the Russo-Japanese War it again appeared in the long, bloody siege of Port Arthur. In the Second World War the Siege of Leningrad and the Italian Theater are quite the same as trench warfare, as would much of the fighting between Army Group Center and its Soviet counterparts be. Trench warfare appeared in the Korean War, when Ridgway took over and wound up establishing a stalemate that for political reasons the UN could not break but militarily the PLA had no chance whatsoever to actually break. In the Iran-Iraq War after the Iranians invaded Iraq the fighting again appeared, with two enemies with firepower too lethal to permit advancing, but too incapable of using it to actually win.

The reality of WWI was something different. The war began with all armies committed to the ideas of linear warfare in terms of serious confrontation with each other, advancing armies marching into columns, using complicated movements to form lines of battle, using simple concentration of firepower to ensure that at least they might hit *something*. In the Balkans, Africa, Mesopotamia, Palestine, Russia, Galicia, all these theaters saw WWI armies moving with speed and advancing with dramatic changes of territory and the captures of large-scale numbers of troops. It was in Gallipoli, the Western Front, and on the Isonzo that the stalemates set in. In the case of the Western Front it was a combination of enemies being too equal over too narrow a territory and without room to compensate for the greater lethality of firepower, and then when the deadlock set in having to adjust to a world where firepower ruled, communication broke down when battles started, and where tactics evolved in a pressure cooker and both sides learned from the others. In the Gallipoli case the Ottomans were incapable of driving the ANZAC and French forces into the sea, the ANZAC and French troops were incapable equally of ever breaking through Ottoman lines, this is what led to *that* trench fight. In the case of the Italian theater the problem was attacking uphill into machine guns and artillery, and it's worth noting the firepower-happy WWII Allies did not have a much greater pattern of success in the exact same situations.

World War I was far from a futile war, the reason it has fallen into disgrace in later years is that it is the most rudimentary, primitive, and brutal of modern wars, where modern armies adjusted from the world of Austerlitz, Chickamauga, and Koniggratz to one of vast armies dependent on ever-more-complex machines fighting on ever-more-widespread areas. In the light of the USA's patterns of lopsided firepower-imbalanced wars against outmatched enemies it certainly looks bloody, brutal, and stupid. But in the evolution of warfare it is literally impossible to overstate how much of a watershed the Great War of 1914-8 was. And it's also impossible to overstate its political results, either, as WWI, not WWII, led to the Israel-Palestine clusterfuck, while WWI, not WWII, is what led to the Cold War by virtue of the Soviets surviving a civil war arrayed against a great deal of factions in terms of number of factions if not number of troops, and led thus to a powerful and menacing ideological enemy on the periphery of Europe, an enemy which neither forgot nor forgave the Border Wars, and where its isolation played the greatest role after the Nazis in leading to the outbreak of WWII-in-Europe.

Of course in a history of *World* War II, as I will show the real war lasted for 15 years, 1931-45, and it owes its origins to nothing to do with Europe at all but instead to the collapse of the Qing Celestial Empire and what came of *that*.
halialkers: Genghis Khan frontal view in feathered headdress, red robes (Ashari)
The last legacy of WWI in the 1920s, when the Central European states had finished battering each other over their borders, the USSR rose out of its war, and the British Empire had squelched the first Iraqi revolt was the successful claim of independence by Ireland. I attribute this to WWI because the Irish nationalists were hand-in-hand with the enemies of Britain (just as the Iraqi nationalists of WWII were to prove to be), and the great bulk of Irish WWI veterans did not die to give Germany a victory in British territory but instead had fought, bled, and died on the Western Front in some of the most grim and sanguinary battles of a grim and sanguinary war. The IRA, however, under Michael Collins and company would over two years direct one of the most efficient and skilled assymetric wars of the early 20th Century, a look forward to what these techniques would achieve in the Second Indochina War, in the Yugoslav Theater of WWII, and other such conflicts.

The result, however, of the peace treaty that ended the war was the end of a united Ireland. Northern Ireland, several northern counties settled by Scots-Irish voted by majority to stay in UK territory, the rest of Ireland decided to become the Irish Free State. As with the later partition of the Mandate of Palestine this solution satisfied nobody but the relatively weaker faction opposed entirely to partition had neither the capacity nor the ability to wage a war with effective use of overwhelming force.

And not long thereafter Irish would be fighting Irish in the Irish Free State. But that is for a later entry, the one after this one analyzes WWI and the most common myths about it again, namely that it was a slow, grinding war of trenches and nothing more, as well as just what trench warfare really is.
halialkers: Genghis Khan frontal view in feathered headdress, red robes (Ashari)
These wars, occurring in the backdrop of the Turkish War of Independence and the Russian Civil War helped to delineate the boundaries of Europe in the wake of the postwar treaties. The wars were multi-faceted, including as one of the earliest a failed attempt by Gabrielle D'Annunzio to establish the Republic of Fiume. This owed itself to a long-standing Italian claim to territory that had been agreed to be part of Yugoslavia. Fiume matters most in terms of its existence in being the first version of Fascism, influencing both Mussolini and Hitler as dictators.

Poland spent a *lot* of time in this period trying to wage aggressive border wars, the one with Bolshevik Russia was simply the largest. The Poles fought clashes with Weimar Germany, invariably won by the latter, and serving as one of the resentments between the German Republic and the new neighbor to its east, helping ultimately to contribute to the Nazi decisions in their partition of Poland. Poland, more crucially and nastily in the light of WWII and hindsight waged a border war with Czechoslovakia over the city of Teschen. The Czechs won. Years later in 1938 the Poles gained by carving Czechoslovakia with Nazi Germany what they failed to win on the battlefield. The new state of Lithuania would also defeat an attempt by Poland to re-absorb it, with the legacy here being that of the old Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. And here again in the lead-in to World War II would old grudges create new violence.

It was these wars which marked an official end to World War I in Central Europe. There, however, was one other war that was a spillover from World War I that had yet to end.
halialkers: (Default)
The Turkish War of Independence would see from the time that Ataturk began a series of wars against France, Armenia, and Greece a successful use of interior lines and a global geopolitical situation to undo a postwar peace treaty and to establish a new order. In this the former Ottoman war hero Mustapha Kemal adopted the name by which he would be thereafter known: Ataturk, father of the Turks. The Turks won this war due to a simple factor: interior lines and much weaker opposition, though this opposition was multi-faceted and geographically widespread. Armenia, France, and Greece were simply put incapable of defeating a large enemy force intent on resistance and with interior lines of communication, and the Turks would crown their victory with the Treaty of Lausanne.

It was this treaty that mandated population exchange between Greece and Turkey that resulted in a mutual removal from both of what had previously been far larger Christian and Muslim minorities. This was agreed upon by all sides and speaks more to the lower standards of international law then to any humanity on either side in terms of what had been required. The victory in the war reflected military reality, namely that Turkish nationalists were too numerous and the requirements of Sevres too ambitious for the means the Allies were able or willing to devote to the war. The Treaty of Lausanne thus became the official treaty that marked the end of the Ottoman role in WWII, and the Kemalists established a state that took much inspiration in legal systems from a brand spanking new type of ideology and state: the Fascist regime of a disgruntled Italian socialist named Benito Mussolini......

The Turkish War of Independence had seen a treaty made that was incapable of being enforced, one which was overturned by armed force, and led to a triumphant march of arms by a totalitarian militaristic regime linked around a cult of personality. In this sense the Turkish War of Independence is a direct anticipation of World War II in Europe. There are of course obvious differences, such as Ataturk representing a war that began as one of defense, where Hitler was an aggressor, and the Turkish state not being bent on genocide as a basic political platform where Hitler very much was.

Up next, the most important treaty of WWII's precursors, the Treaty of Rapallo, Mikhail Frunze and the emergence of the Deep Operations concept, and then a flashback to the Chinese Civil War and the lead-in to the World War II series begins.
halialkers: (Default)
As has been noted throughout this series the Red Army of the Russian Civil War greatly outnumbered all its enemies which were actually Russian. In 1919 it faced a concerted effort to destroy it and defeated it, again with a far better strategic position and a minimum of 10:1 superiority over its many enemies. In 1920-1 it fought the largest-scale quasi-international war with Poland. Poland had been engaged in fighting with the Red Army since 1919, but preferred to have the Red Army destroy the large, powerful AFSR forces in the region first as it feared that White Russia wanted to re-absorb Poland as a Russian province (which in fact they actually did want to do this). Poland in turn wanted to expand its boundaries further east and would do so with an essential blank check as the Versailles Treaty laid out Poland's western boundaries, but not its eastern one. Poland, again, was not actually seeking to destroy the Red Army, so the view that the Poles would have smashed those dastardly Reds is an inaccurate one.

As it turned out, however, the Red Army at first was again weakened and overstretched and was bashed back eastwards in an initial Polish strike that took it rather deep into Ukraine, including the capture of the city of Kiev. Under Commissars such as Trotsky and Koba the Red Army would bounce back, and found itself in an offensive in turn deep into Polish territory. Now, the Red Army had up to this point fought relatively small numbers of enemies who were dependent on much poorer strategic positions than that faced by the Polish army of this time, and it was having to spread itself out further and further in a type of battle it had no prior experience in, at the same time as General Wrangel was providing the last core of White Russian resistance on Russian soil proper.

A Red Army force thus overstretched and undermanned was committed to attacking in two separate directions and unable to achieve decisive numbers anywhere (shades of the WWI Tsarist army here), and the Poles, who were outnumbered by 300,000 but the largest, most formidable army faced by the Red Army during these wars, attacked them in the Battle of Warsaw and smashed the tar out of the Red Army force, sending them in a retreat back to the lines where the Red Army counteroffensive had started from around Kiev. The result was Poland successfully gained a strip of territory jutting into the eastern USSR, and this laid the groundwork for the Nazi-Soviet alliance against Poland that started WWII, so it's here that the first stirrings of the European theater show up.

The Red Army, after this, would turn south and crush Wrangel in the last major campaigns of the Russian Civil War, capturing the Crimea, and would partition with the Turkish Republic the region of the Caucasus, the Gubernaia of Erevan (aka Armenia) becoming part of the Soviet Union. With the Russian Soviet Federated Republic annexing the Caucasus, Central Asia, and the remaining parts of Siberia and establishing the second global Communist regime in Mongolia, the RSFR was renamed in a federalist guise, taking on the name it would hold until 1991: the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. In 1922, thus, a new type of state was born: a totalitarian one, committed to a global ideology, led by an elite that created a siege mentality for itself that produced self-fulfilling prophecies. In the same year Fascism would rise in Italy. The Center was already beginning to degrade.


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