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POD- June 22- Hitler decides to call off operation Barbarossa after listening to Rommel about Napoleon. He reaffirms the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. June 30- Construction begins on the Black Curtain, a Nazi line of fortification.
June 22- After reviewing the plan of Operation Barbarossa, Manstein sent Hitler a long letter explaining that he had reviewed the plan and described how Napoleon had been just as confident but had badly failed. He also spoke of the dangers of a two-front war as he felt that it was likely the USA could be drawn in. He advised that the invasion be put on hold until Britain was crushed. Hitler surprisingly agrees at the last moment and calls for new plans to be made for the invasion of the rest of Europe and the building of a large defense line north of Poland to the bottom of Greece. (Romania, Hungary and Finland are to be left out. Hitler sees no real need for them).
Stalin is delighted as the German back down means he can have time to prepare for a German invasion. He also orders the beginning of plans to annex Romania, Bulgaria, Finland, and Hungary and plans for the invasion of the German Reich and Japan.
Rommel is backed up with an extra division and in September he pushes Montgomery to the Suez Canal where the British mount a successful counterattack but only manages to stop them at the Suez Canal.
Hitler orders the general staff to prepare plans for the invasion of Malta and Gibraltar; both invasions are directed to take place in 1942/1943 with the final being a preparation for Operation Sea lion in 1943.
Also Stalin hears from Sorge, his Tokyo spy, that Japan is going to attack south. He orders preparations be made for an invasion of Manchukuo the moment Japan begins its attack.
Japan attacks Pearl Harbor on the 7th of December. Stalin holds back even though Konev, the leader of the invasion force, tells him he's ready to begin. Stalin wants Japan to properly be engaged before he attacks.
Hitler declares war on America, hoping to show he is keeping the alliance with Japan.
On the 1st of June, Germany and Italy invaded Malta.
The invasion of Malta was a message to Stalin - Germany would not invade in 1942. The revelation of this meant that Stalin gave the go ahead for Operation Opportunity - the invasion of Romania - which would be preceded by the order for more Romanian land. This invasion was more or less pivotal for Stalin as he put war with Germany on the line. In fact, the only reason he was doing it was because German troops had been removed from the three Balkan republics. They had fallen out after the postponement of Barbarossa and Hitler was secretly planning invasions and didn't want their armies modernizing. Meanwhile, the Red Army was a giant improvement of the 1941 Red Army. The T-34 had nearly fully replaced the BT tanks and obsolete T-26 as the main tank and IL-2 sturmoviches were being mass produced. Also they had a reasonable command structure of intelligent adaptive - and most importantly - brave colonels and generals and marshals. The Romanians had also modernized but it didn't have a chance in Hell of taking on Russia as its strategy depended on the other Axis Powers to come in and save the day. When the Romanian Army smashed into three army groups the Romanians were forced to retreat deep into their own territory and after fierce fighting they surrendered on April 27. The German response was neutral but secretly Hitler was raging. Russia was now in control of his oil and although it was at the same price, now it would never always stay that way.
On May 1st Luftwaffe planes flew over Zurich and Bern. What followed was one of the heaviest bombings in history. It was meant to crush the Swiss and their will to fight. It killed tens of thousands but didn't break the Swiss resolve. Now the Germans faced a well-trained, organized and modernized army who had been told by their leaders that soldiers and citizens alike should fight to the death. They joined the Allies quickly but that meant nothing as they were too far away from Britain. The British and Americans still provided air support which did benefit the hard nosed Swiss defense. The Swiss army had been mobilized since the war's outbreak. The well-trained Swiss with the equal or even superior Schmidt-Rubin repeat rifle dealt the Germans heavy casualties and although the Germans had superior tanks it took them nearly three weeks for 1,100,000 soldiers to break through the first Swiss defense line - only to come up against a another defense line. The fighting there the Swiss were much more fanatical as this defense line protected Bern and Zurich. It took four weeks for resistance to end on the defense line. The Swiss retreated to Zurich and Bern where, though encircled, both cities fought on for many weeks although after Zurich fell it was clear to the Swiss that Bern was too outnumbered and outgunned for any relief to be made. The remaining defenders broke out soon after. Even though it was only a matter of time to their defeat, the Swiss continued to fight holding out in Geneva for many days - never surrendering even when all of Switzerland was occupied. It had taken five months for Germany to take Switzerland and had cost them 250 000 dead with Swiss dead just over 1,000,000
The campaign got press but not as much as it should have for on May the Tenth the Soviet Union attacked Japan. The operation was carried out as a classic double pincer movement over an area the size of Western Europe. In the western pincer, the Red Army advanced over the deserts and mountains from Mongolia, far from their resupply railways. This confounded the Japanese military analysis of Soviet logistics, and the defenders were caught by surprise in unfortified positions. The Japanese commander was missing for the first eighteen hours of conflict and communication was lost with forward units very early on. At the same time, Soviet airborne units were used to seize airfields and city centers in advance of the land forces, and to ferry fuel to those units that had outrun their supply lines.
After four months of fighting of fighting, during which Soviet forces were already penetrating deep into Manchukuo. Emperor The Soviets continued their largely unopposed advance, reaching Mukden, Changchun and Qiqihar by August 20. At the same time, Mengjiang was invaded by the Red Army and their Mongol allies, quickly taking Guihua. The Emperor of Manchukuo, Pu Yi, was captured by the Soviet Red Army.
On August 18, several amphibious landings had been conducted ahead of the land advance: three in northern Korea, one in Sakhalin, and one in the Kuril Islands. This meant that, in Korea at least, there would already be Soviet soldiers waiting for the troops coming overland. In Sakhalin and the Kurils, it meant a sudden and undeniable establishment of Soviet sovereignty.
The land advance was stopped a good distance short of the Yalu River, the beginning of the Korean peninsula, when even the aerial supply lines became unavailable. After constant retreat, the Japanese army launched a counterattack in Pusan which almost completely drove the Reds out of Korea, partly due to overstretched logistics. This was the last battle as both sides settled in for winter. Most importantly there had been no German offensive despite cries from Japan. This ensured to Stalin at least another year of defensive preparation.
On April first Germany invaded Sweden with 500 000 men. Hitler was angry at Sweden helping Jewish refugees and also wanted full control of their iron ore. It was a lot like the Portuguese campaign. Although the Swedes fought bravely they couldn't mount a nationwide defense. They constantly pleaded to Finland for aid but none was forthcoming. The Finns said they were hostile to the attack but that was basically it. Sweden surrendered after four weeks.
In May Rommel crosses the Suez canal and conquers the Sinai Peninsula. The Italians and Arabs attack in the South, but are stopped at the height of El Faiyum and Beni Suef. At the end of October, the Germans stand near the little city of Gaza. Now, Churchill exchanges several messages with Jewish leaders like Ben Gurion. The Jews now may officially form an army to fight against the Germans. Since he mustn't anger the Arabs too much, he makes Ben Gurion promise that Arabs have to keep full rights in case a state of Israel should be founded after the war. As fast as possible, the Jews raise troops. They don't exactly have the best arms, but are eager to fight against the Nazis. Southern Palestine (the Negev desert) is conquered by Germany, but then the Brits and Jews manage to stop them somehow, often simply by bluffing.
Middle of August, Hitler is getting furious since Rommel didn't break the lines yet. He demands a victory - or else. Rommel manages to find a way: Instead of attacking Palestine directly, he lets his troops march into Transjordan. One week later, Amman is conquered. It's easy to see what Rommel is up to: He wants to enclose the Jews and Brits in a pocket and force them to fight on two fronts. They still manage to hold the line along the Jordan and the heights of Golan. End of November, Rommel wins a battle against Free French troops and approaches Damascus. About that time, anti-British rebellions start in Iraq (again). Hitler thinks that the time has come and orders to take Cyprus.
In the first week of October, things look bleak for Britain and America. Half of Cyprus and most of Syria are in German hands. On December 6th, they reach the coast of Lebanon. Palestine is cut off, while the Germans in Syria approach the rebels in Iraq. Again, Churchill exchanges messages with Ben Gurion, asking whether he wants to evacuate his troops from Palestine. Ben Gurion answers: "We're ready to die for Israel!" Churchill tells him: "I hope you know that we can't support you forever." Ben Gurion: "As long as our volunteers will run the German lines, we'll stand and fight." What they don't know: Hitler just ordered Rommel not to attack the Palestine pocket but only to clean up Syria and Mesopotamia. "We've got the harbors of Syria, now we need the oil!" he commands. October 1943 the Italians in Ethiopia capitulate. Now Churchill finally has a victory, which does a lot for British morale.
Stalin sees what Hitler is trying to accomplish, he no longer wants to be reliant on Romanian oil.
In May the Soviets march into Bulgaria. This shocks all. Even though Hitler had moved his troops out after the cancellation of the invasion of Russia, they are another German ally. Stalin states to the world that the entrance is for Bulgarian protection in the new Bulgarian-Soviet alliance. There is no such agreement but King Boris III understands the message "Are you with us or are you against us??" Boris chooses the former. In June he reveals that the alliance was real and Soviet troops occupy Bulgaria. In July 1943 Bulgaria announced it would leave the Axis powers and make peace with the allies. Now they had Soviet "protection" they couldn't be forced. The allies had only one term Bulgaria move out of Yugoslavia and Greece. to which they agreed. Hitler was enraged at this betrayal and for several weeks played about with the idea of invading the USSR but settled down when Guderian said they would for a while be fighting a two front war.
In September Iranian communists (with large amounts of Soviet help) revolt in Tehran. Almost immediately, as planned, Stalin attacks stating he is helping his socialist brothers. Soon the Iranian government is overwhelmed by the now powerful Red army and soon the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics welcomes the Iranian Soviet Socialist Republic. But Stalin isn't finished. He knows that Turkey is shaking about those greedy Axis eyes who are now advancing in Asia Minor. Stalin sends a private note saying he has received intelligence talking about an invasion of Turkey once the Middle East is German controlled. He offers Turkey an entente. Turkey will not be annexed, occupied or be made a puppet but if the USSR or/and Turkey are invaded they will help each other and cooperate. This suits Turkey and Russia fine. Turkey - and the Caucasus for that matter - are protected and in Ankara in October 1943 the USSR, Bulgaria and Turkey sign the peace, protection and friendship pact or as it's more commonly known but unofficial name the Black Sea Pact.
Meanwhile, in the Pacific war things are not going well for Japan although they conquered Hong Kong, Malaya, Singapore and many small islands. They know the situation is looking grim. In February the Soviets launched another. This was another success with the new T34/85 smashing through Japanese positions. Soon they were retreating deeper and deeper into China. Meanwhile, in Korea where the stronger Japanese forces were it was garder fought but the Japanese were still being pushed back. By June with their Chinese gains about to completely collapse they mounted a Dunkirk style evacuation which is heavily hampered by the Red Air Force and the Red Pacific Fleet. It requires a large help and support from the Jap navy and because of this they get a much worse hammering at Midway. The evacuation is more or less successful but the rest of China, including Hong Kong and Korea are liberated by September the Eleventh. The Philippines never fell because of Japan redirecting its efforts to the Russian front and by 1943 the Americans were being heavily resupplied and were pushing the line back. The Soviets signed an official alliance with China stating that they would annex Korea and Manchuria but China could keep all its territory. Soviet troops moved through China and attacked occupied Indochina in August. By November 1st they had taken the region and moved into Burma. American victories in Guadalcanal and the Philippines and the beginning of an American blockade helped allied morale - especially after the hammering they had just taken in the Middle East.
In January Rommel unleashes an all out attack on Saudi Arabia and the remainder of Syria the allies know that this would give Germany one quarter of the Earth's oil and cannot be allowed to succeed. Hundreds of thousands of American and other allied troops defended the area stopping the advance at Mecca. Slowly but surely, the Axis were being pushed back.
Meanwhile, in Britain things are dire. Luftwaffe raids on England are stepped up. By March, the RAF, bolstered by US parts and planes, is countering much of that and the "Second Battle of Britain" occurs on Easter, 1944, with a goodly portion of a large force of German bombers shot down by a small force of RAF fighters. However, with no threat to their east, the Germans are able to reinforce the Luftwaffe in November and the bombing (called the "Second Blitz") begins again.
The British are in dire straits. German U-boats (especially a new model called a Type XXI, capable of high speeds underwater as well as many other innovations) were wiping out Allied shipping. 100s of thousands of tons were being sunk, and American shipyards, just recently re-tooled, were having a hard time replacing them. British rations were cut in August, again in October, and again again in late November. (Additionally, German jets are now seeing service and V-1 Fritz flying bombs are dropping on London every other week.)
On February 5th, 1944, "Operation: Sea lion" (long dormant since 1941) was resurrected and given the go-ahead for initial start up preparations by Hitler.
"Sea lion" had to rely on several things happening at once and several key elements coming about (one of which was useful invasion transports, which were in the development stage.
The first was, of course, air superiority. Production of the Me-262 Schwalbe fighter jet (introduced in late spring 1944) and the Junkers 287 jet bomber (introduced in July 1944) had been given top priority. And German jets were already patrolling. "Sea lion" had to rely on several things happening at once and several key elements coming about (one of which was useful invasion transports, which were in the development stage.
Like Germany, British cities were being firebombed this was bringing heavy casualties, but even worse airfields and radar stations are being bombed non stop and ports and ships were also taking a thumping. Large amounts of American planes were being sent to Britain but this was only replacing losses in the battle. In July rations were cut down and lowered again in September, the Luftwaffe were massacring the RAF and merchant convoys and naval battle were taking place in the Channel and north Sea. Waffen-SS troops participated in raids in Cornwall and Dover. American troops poured into Britain not for the expected invasion of France but to defend the British Isles. The British government now had some decisions to take. Halifax and his supporters were for a negotiated peace, Hitler had offered very generous terms, the end of the occupation of the European countries, Britain wouldn't be occupied and the British empire would not lose anything. In a note the Germans had said they'd (if necessary) force the Italians into giving back Egypt and Somaliland. Churchill cheerfully replied on the Radio "Is the idiot who claims to run Germany deaf? We told him we would never surrender then and we'll never now. In his old age Hitler has clearly lost his hearing. I personally cannot wait for him to invade, for he will encounter the greatest defeat on this island that that nation or any ever has. And to his Italian "friends", do you know that if we surrender they are ready to force you to hand over your takings from us in Africa? I would certainly evaluate who your allies are." The reply to the ceasefire offer did raise public morale in the starving and terrified nation and also strongly helped to cool Italo-German Relations.
In February Stalin demands of Hungary the territories of Sub-Carpathia. Horthy realises how this will go and even though he knows he won't have any support refuses Stalin. On 2 March two Armies cross the border into Hungary. Hungary became a battlefield. Horthy promised greatness for Hungary and a prosperity for the peasants but in reality Hungary was crumbling and its armies were slowly being destroyed. The retreating army demolished the rail, road and communications systems. By the End of March Hungary had been occupied and reformed into the Hungarian Social Republic. Hitler was too tied up with preparations for Sea lion to try anything.
By May in the Pacific the Japanese had been pushed out of Malaya, the Philippines and Singapore. The Red Army had moved through China to invade Indochina where they met up with the British in India. In April Stalin had launched an invasion of Hokkaido which advanced slowly down. The Soviet and American air forces were firebombing dozens of cities and the USA had completely blockaded Japan. With all their options gone, the Japanese agreed to surrender in June under the condition that the Emperor remained. The Pacific war was over.
In the Middle East Rommel was now completely outnumbered and was in full retreat. By August the Americans and British had retaken Syria, Iraq and Saudi Arabia .The Palestinian pocket had been relieved and Rommel was caught up trying to start on the East side of the Suez canal.
Mussolini had been severely angered by the German offer to the British and in July gave them his own offer. Italy will switch sides if Libya and Ethiopia are guaranteed to remain in the Empire when Germany capitulates. Churchill accepts and manages to convince FDR as well. Germany is the main threat and they will accept any ally - especially with Sea lion apparently planned.