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Hitler sets his eyes on Ireland, and gathers his foremost military commanders for the planning of Operation Green . . .
With the battle of Dunkirk coming to a close, and thousands of British troops swarming back to England, Hitler has an eleventh-hour realisation of what this could mean for the future of the Reich.
He begins a badly co-ordinated Luftwaffe assault on the boats crossing the Channel, which results in minimal casualties. When reviewing figures for estimated Allied troop numbers in Britain, and wary of anticipated American participation in the war, Hitler makes the decision to eliminate Britain as quickly as possible before advancing further East.
Amassing an Army, Beginning a Battle
After the fall of France, Hitler begins preparing plans for a the downfall of Britain. With the Soviet invasion of Bessarabia, he realises he is threatened with a war on two fronts. Deciding that it will be easier to give a swift knock-out blow to Britain before gearing up for the expecting invasion by Russia, Hitler ramps up production of armaments and materiel, with factories operating at a loss to meet quotas.
Relations with the occupies territories are improved under a programme led by Wilhelm Frick, with French, Dutch and Norwegian workers put to the now state-run factories almost immediately, with wages much higher than they were receiving before. This is known as the Arbeitskraft Hilfe programme, and is a considerable drain on Nazi funds, but is considered necessary by many leading Nazi officials to prevent partisan activity. Hitler is originally opposed to the programme, and much of it is done under the table, but with French saboteur activity, he realises than brute force will only create a rallying point for freedom fighters, and gives the funding his blessing until Allied threat is neutralised, at which point funding will be redirected to German factories. A maximum of two years is given to Minister Frick for funding to Occupied Territory factories, many of which produce inferior goods or cannot meet necessary quotas to justify their existance.
Preparation for Operation Sea Lion
The Reichstag and SS are at odds with each other over preparations for an invasion of Britain; Werner von Blomberg and Wilhelm Keitel, Ministers of the Reichswehr, believe that Germany needs to wait until arms production is increased before an invasion can take place. The SS and the Wehrmacht, with the backing of Hitler, is confident from its recent victories and want to engage Britain as soon as possible. Both are concerned of a Soviet invasion due to the recent absorption of the Baltic states, and come to a compromise; with Wehrmacht troops stationed in Romania and Poland to buffer against an invasion, a full invasion of Britain will take place in April of 1941, the date decided by Hitler himself, with growing impatience.
Factories around Germany are running to full capacity: new workers are drawn in from across Europe, attracted by high wages and better living conditions than those in their home countries. In the Ruhr industrial areas, nazi racial policy is regularly unenforced, to accommodate the large number of non-aryan workers in the factories. A large manufacturing district is planned in Bohemia, to be run by Sudeten Germans and is effectively the Reich's first experimental colony. By Christmas of 1940 several steel foundries and munitions plants had been established, attracting 8,000 workers and their families. Much of the dangerous construction work is done by local Czechs, who also had to give up their housing to accommodate the German settlers. Once construction is complete on the factories, the Czechs are removed from the area and sent for labour elsewhere.
Starting in the Autumn of 1940, new vehicles are designed and produced for the invasion of Britain. Due to the reliable condition of British roads and suitable year-round weather, not much emphasis is placed on new designs for tanks or trucks, and Panzer IV's are considered to be ideal for an invasion force, and so a production quota of an extra 1000 was ordered. This was too high a demand for the already stretched German economy, and so only 600 managed to be added to the existing tank regiments by April 1941. Knowing the importance of quickly moving troops throughout British soil, Hitler personally meets Ferdinand Porsche to discuss a deal on truck production and an amphibious landing craft. Generous grants are given to have them designed and produced by April 1941, which rushes production and causes gaps in German funding.
Nazi activity in South Africa
To increase revenue, Nazi activity amongst Boer population groups increases, with German and Dutch sympathisers sent to South Africa to Increase partisan activity and resistance to South African government. This proves to be extremely effective, with Boer and Afrikaaner populations taking advantage of smuggled German weaponry to start liberation movements, with the Western Cape and areas in Transvaal becoming completely independent within weeks. This leads to expulsion of black and Indian populations from these areas, and protests in Johannesburg turn violent, with racially-motivated attacks increasing. South Africa lost control of Namibia by September, and to the surprise of the Allies, a small German fleet lands at Walvis Bay in early October, quickly subduing the local population, and by November, the colony of German South-West Africa has been re-instated.
Due to the unrest in South Africa, the German colony took effective control of the Western and Northen capes with no resistance. Quickly rallying the local white populations, the Germans are able to utilise black chattel labour to export huge amounts of diamonds and gold to re-strengthen the threatened German economy, and nickel and chromium to reduce reliance on Turkish imports. This led to Turkey trying to gain favour with Germany, feeling threatened by losing their bargaining position, by allowing the stationing of German troops in the country later in the war. The situation in South Africa led to pro-independence movements gaining ground in the Portuguese colonies of Mozambique and Angola, the former using peaceful demonstrations, the latter fearing a German invasion and setting up a reactionary government that was pro-German. This crisis caused division in the Portuguese government, which led to a reduction in control of their colonies. Angola curried favour with the Germans by allowing direct oil exports southwards, allowing a more substantial German fleet to be established in Walvis Bay by January. This thwarted any hopes the Allies had of regaining control of South Africa, which was now split into a western zone of German control, and an Eastern zone of anarchic communities, tribal governments, and Boer republics, with German troops freely moving throughout the area with only small pockets of resistance.
The Normandy countryside proved to be an ideal training ground for Wehrmacht troops, being very similar to the British coast. Beginning in August 1940, large amounts of troops and armour began massing in Normandy for war games, with defenses and ports doubling in size in most places. Le Havre soon became the focal point of the Kreigsmarine, with round-the-clock Luftwaffe surveillance to prevent enemy planes gathering intelligence. The port was closed to the locals, with the surrounding city having a curfew zones. Only German and Eastern European labourers were allowed to work in the port, to prevent Allied spying. In the Calais area, four large cannons, Hans, Hilda, Heinrich and Hugo are built to hammer British defenses before a landing in Dover and the surrounding area. They each had a range of 38 km, just enough to fire 80 cm shells across the Channel.
Porsche's amphibious landing craft are proving to be an enormous success. Each capable of carrying 50 men, 2000 are produced by April, with the remainder of the German forces being transported by refitted canal boats. Several battle cruisers have had adjustments made to allow them to launch the landing craft when near the coast, and are fully outfitted with anti-aircraft guns to repel RAF fighters. Large platforms are used to transport vehicles to the beach, to allow a quick launch onto the sand.
Britain prepares itself
British intelligence is highly aware of a pending German invasion sometime in 1941. The loss of southern Africa has caused great moral drops in public life in Britain, as well the catastrophic loss of Egypt to overwhelming Italian forces in September 1940. Having reached and occupied the Suez Canal, and with German patrol boats guarding the Cape of Good Hope, oil supplies have dwindled drastically, leaving the Royal Navy, portbound in many areas around the globe. German U-boats have prevented the Navy stationed in Britain from leaving in convoys to escort oil carriers. American assistance was vital to the sustainment of Britain, and a preliminary division of US troops has already been placed in Norfolk for training purposes. With Romania coerced into sending large amounts of it's oil to Russia to gain favour with the Soviets, and Angolan oil being too dangerous to transport over such long distances in areas where the Roayl Navy was still operating, Germany now relied on the Italians to capture oil fields in the Middle East. However, the Italian suffered a loss of three out of their four divisions in Egypt, and moving further east is not an option. Hitler decided now that if the Royal Navy is given a chance to regroup, and the Soviets make a total invasion into Romania, he will be left without any oil at all. Sacrificing precious men and armaments needed for the invasion of Britain, Hitler sent several divisions of Wehrmacht troops and Ostlegionen to Romania, to keep Soviet forces in check.
The Iraqi Campaign
In a bid to secure oil, Hitler sent several armoured divisions south to Egypt in November 1940, to reinforce Italian troops stationed there. They hoped to make use of anti-British sentiment in Iraq at the time, and send troops north to Syria to rendezvous with Vichy French forces. In what was later dubbed 'The race to Baghdad', Axis forces sped across the desert in only 4 weeks, decimating pockets of Allied resistance. Locals were quick to assist the Germans, with anti-colonial sentiment at an all-time high. Syria was reinforced by Christmas, and Iraqi British forces quickly succumbed to local partisans and newly arrived Axis forces. Hitler later reflected on this as 'one of the greatest and most important gambles of the war'. Had the Axis troops been defeated, they would have had no fuel for a retreat and no chance of a reinforcement.With the Syrian and Iraqi oil fields secured, Germany now had the stage set for an invasion of Britain.
Threats to the Wehrmacht
By February, Hitler's armies were far more spread out than he had planned them to be. Namibia was being resupplied with troops to counter attacks from Rhodesia, and the Royal Navy still threatened German shipping off the African coast, past the range of the U-boats. Syria and Iraq required troop placements to keep public order in the face of the collapse of the local governments, and Egypt was still a hotbed of anti-German fighting, with the British still holding defensive positions south of Cairo, preventing Mussolini from sending reinforcements to Abyssinia by land, forcing him to use the perilous shipping lane of the Red Sea.
Axis commanders are also concerned of an invasion of Iraq through British India and Persia. Hitler ordered special divisions to be sent to the Euphrates region, further diminishing the troop numbers needed for an invasion of Britain, with the April deadline fast approaching. Soviet commanders are also alarmed by the situation south of the Caucasus, and began amassing troops at the border. Turkey believed an invasion was imminent, and so requested assistance from German troops stationed in Greece and Syria, the former of which had been occupied along with Yugoslavia in a joint Italian-German invasion in September. An interim government is set up in Yugoslavia, headed by Ante Pavelić, which is sympathetic to the Nazi cause, and allows Hitler to free up troops and to move them to Calais in March.
A surprise incursion into Persia by the Soviets on March 10th created a crisis for Axis commanders in the Middle East. The need to move troops to the Turkish-Iraqi border with Persia allows British troops to move up through Egypt, which reached Alexandria by March 25th, and creates a gap in Axis lines, cutting off Italian troops in Libya from German and Italian forces in Syria and Iraq. With the Persian surrender by April 1st, Hitler could not afford to move troops out of the Middle East, but makes the decision to launch Operation Sea Lion, despite the pleas of his top military officials to postpone.
The Invasion Begins
On April 15th, after months of heavy damage caused by the resumption of Luftwaffe attacks in December, Britain found itself with 250,000 German, Italian, Croatian and Hungarian troops crossing the Channel, with troops landing at Dover, Kent, Norfolk, Wight, Brighton and Cornwall. Bombardment by cannon fire and Luftwaffe bombers made it impossible for British troops to move in by the time they learned of the attack. At the same time, the Strait of Dover and St. George's Channel have been cut off by 'wolf packs' of U-boats, and the Royal Navy sustained heavy losses in the attempt to break Kreigsmarine lines.
Initially, German troops advance only a few km inland, establishing beachheads before taking defensive divisions. The US troops stationed in Norfolk quickly repel the German division before they can make progress inland, and a trench-warfare style standoff ensued, hampering British plans to move the US troops further south. By mid-day, Franklin D. Roosevelt has heard of the invasion, and makes an on-air declaration of war against Germany, fully taking the United States into the war. The only advancement made by German troops after the opening day of the war is in Devon, where the isolated beaches and hilly terrain suits the mobile units, who quickly spread to the Dartmoor region before being followed up by on-foot troops. Cornwall fell under German control by April 20th, but several regiments of British troops repel the Germans to the far west of the peninsula.
A stalemate situation has occured, with Kreigsmarine control of the seas around Britain, but British troops far in superiority on land. The only areas German forces have control over by May are a beachhead between Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft in Norfolk, Hastings, an encirled division in Brighton, the southern half of the Isle of Wight, the Dartmoor region with a small stretch of land going through Modbury to the beaches at Holbeton, and several divided regiments of troops trapped east of Falmouth. Trenches were dug in, and a desperate Hitler, terrified of American reinforcements, orders Fallschirmjager troops dropped to reinforce existing troops, and supples delivered to the troops in Devon and Cornwall by parachute.
Trouble for Roosevelt
However, in U.S Congress, the decision to declare war is extremely unpopular, with riots taking place in New York and San Francisco over the decision to get involved in what is seen as a European war. In May, Roosevelt comes to the decision that materiel and armament deliveries to Britain will continue, but troops will not be transported unless Germany directly attacks the United States. This satisfies many members of the public, but protests continue in the Deep South, with state senator Strom Thurmond utilising the situation to gain support for Nuremberg-style laws that would increase the segregation of blacks and whites in the Southern states, as Hitler's recent successes have convinced many pro-segregation politicians that a racially pure society will benefit greatly. This also becomes infused with the idea of 'States Rights', and an alarmed Roosevelt attempts to draw parallels with this and the conditions that led to the Civil War. This had the contrary effect of raising support for Thurmond amongst whites in the South, and racially motivated attacks against blacks increase. When a 20,000 strong Ku-Klux Klan rally in Birmingham, Alabama takes place with Klan members marching in a Nazi style with outstretched arms in the fashion of a Nazi salute, Roosevelt considers sending Home Guard troops into the Southern states to prevent breakouts of violence. He decided that this could create more violence rather than stop it, and the attention shifts from Europe to the escalating violence which is now taking place from Texas to North Carolina.
With casualties mounting, German troops in Eastern and Southern England are forced back to the beaches, with Brighton finally re-taken by June. Only Devon was under full German control, with the exception of the port of Plymouth, which had been reduced to ruins in many areas by continuous bombing by the Luftwaffe. Troops in Cornwall attempted to move east, but fierce resistance by British troops cut off from reinforcement led to trench warfare and attrition reminiscent of the Western Front in World War I. Hitler was dismayed by the resources being used up, and wary of building Soviet strength in Persia, was pressured into removing his troops from the beaches, and essentially abandoning his troops in Devon, Cornwall and Wight. By July 1st, with the Scilly Isles having fallen to German troops, an uneasy stalemate has been reached, with British troops in the Cornwall front supplied by a direct Plymouth link, and German troops in Devon prevented from moving east by reinforcements. The Germans dug into the Devon moors and hillsides, and waited out while the British troops built up manpower for a full attack.
The Germans dig in
With heavy local resistance to the German troop presence, Field Marshall Walther von Brauchitsch made fierce attempts to establish defensive positions before a British counterattack can take place. With faith in the Churchill government dwindling and the evacuation of King George VI to Canada, British morale is at an all time low. With troops held up in the south transporting German prisoners, and securing beaches in case of a future invasion, military action is at a standstill, allowing dozens of miles of trenches to be constructed in Devon. Luftwaffe patrols keep RAF action in the area to a minimum, and casualties begin to mount on the Cornwall front. The British government attempts to portray the failure of Operation Sea Lion as a British victory, but the presence of German troops on British soil and the chokehold on the Channel is cause for repeated revolt in London, particularly by minor Socialist parties and Labour supporters, who have begun a campaign to begin a ceasefire with Hitler in return for assured safety of the British population.
Hitler was enraged at the failure of the campaign in only a few months, and replaced several high-ranking generals, which caused rifts in Wehrmacht military command. With the growing Soviet threat in the Middle East, and fears of an American intervention in Europe, Hitler grew more and more distrusting of the Italians, believing them incompetent and unable to secure territories they capture, especially during the capture of southern Italian Somaliland by British troops in June. Mussolini's inability to control Abyssinia, as well as repeated failures to move troops north through the Sudan, have caused trouble within the Italian government. Few believed Mussolini to be capable of properly controlling the military.
Von Brauchitsch established a de facto command centre of forces in southwestern England in the village of Modbury, with bunkers being dug into the surrounding hillsides to protect from increased RAF activity in the area. Trench warfare was now the norm, with the Cornwall front becoming an increasing concern for the German forces in England. Von Brauchitsch knows unless reinforcements arrive, his men will be decimated. Hitler, however, had refused to allow a surrender or a retreat, threatening to attack the Devon German forces if they retreat or collaborate, condemning what he sees as a potential act of treason.
Hitler makes the decision to put the vast majority of Luftwaffe forces on bombing campaigns in England, with Kreigsmarine forces guarding the Atlantic route to Europe, and Wehrmacht forces divided between Romania, Turkey and Iraq. The stretching of German forces is buffered by new troops brought in from the absorbed former South Africa; the Afrikaanercorps, many joining the German army to escape rampant poverty and famine which has struck southern Africa due to collapse of local governments in the area.
The Africa Campaign
German and Afrikaaner forces made use of the crisis in colonial command by spreading their forces far into the interior and along the coasts. Local African populations also revolted, with northern Angola receiving de facto independence from Portugal. A panicked British government sent Kenyan and Tanzanian forces south to combat German incursions into Bechuanaland and Rhodesia. Herero revolts in Namibia caused destruction at Walvis Bay, with local populations destroying fuel dumps and port facilites. The Germans responded with a two-week extermination process, with local black populations reduced by over 400,000 from gunfire, disease and exposure from being pushed into the interior desert by advancing Germans. Terrorist activity by British settlers was rife in former South Africa, supported by a small regiment of troops still in control of a coastal area of the Eastern Cape. Local Afrikaaners, having set up a shaky series of local communes with little overall control, engaged in a campaign of driving British, local Africans and Indians out of farmland and city interiors, where the refugees resorted to setting up shanty towns with extremely limited food supples. An outbreak of cholera grounded the already weakened British soldiers and settlers, and Afrikaaner began to move these populations onto large labour farms, where extremely high mortality rates prevailed.
American Naval activity had previously prevented much Axis shipping along the African coast, but with the crisis faced back in the U.S, Roosevelt's government had reduced military autonomy in fear of a coup, and kept most commanders nearby in Washington D.C, effectively paralyzing American Navy activity. This led to the U.S fleet in Honolulu being brought to San Diego, causing fears of a Japanese invasion of the Philippines without Naval support to stop them.
Communication between Axis and Soviet governments had been at all time low in the months leading up to the invasion of Britain. Stalin perceived Hitler's building of forces along the Soviet border as preparation for attack. He believed the German forces to be much more powerful than they actually were, and so prepared himself for a pre-emptive attack on Germany. He ordered Soviet weapons and armour production to be moved west of the Urals, with a focus on the Donbass and Minsk regions, to keep military supplies as close to the frontline as possible. Workers were drafted in from the Far East to complete this task, and in the harsh winter of 1941, deaths to due abbhorant conditions began to mount. Several mutinies were brutally crushed, keeping locals loyal to the government by way of force. Purgings of the bureaucracy in the wake of these mutinies led to inept officials being promoted. Mismanagement caused 40% of the Ukrainian grain harvest becoming unaccounted for, adding famine to the already climbing list of concerns for Stalin in Western Russia.
A puppet Persian government allowed export of almost all oil production north through the Caucasus, making the city of Baku a global commander in oil reserves. This massive oil capacity kept the Soviet economy soluble, and prevented economic collapse, and allowed the completion of the arms factory removals and the development of fuel-heavy tanks and trucks.
Control was kept in Persia by heavy military presence: over one million Soviet troops were stationed in various areas, maintaining order, and buffering an Axis advance in the west.
In an attempt to bolster Soviet forces in Europe, an absorption of the Baltic states by Russian forces took place on the first of September 1941. With Lithuanian forces retreating north, and Estonian forces retreating south, 400,000 Baltic soldiers and civilians were pushed into the Courland, managing to hold off Soviet forces and setting up a Cour Republic, with it's capital at Jelgava, only 30 km from where the Red Army had set up camp. Finland, alarmed by the Soviet aggression and already having lost territory during the Winter War, sent troops and supplies by sea to the Cour Republic. The Finnish government was divided on the issue, but on November 1st 1941, placed a request to Hitler for German troops to be brought to Finland along with armaments to be used by Finnish forces. Hitler responded with five divisions of soldiers, ecstatic at the chance to further the defensive lines in the East. With his troops beginning to encircle Soviet defenses Hitler said 'We need only tighten the noose, and the diseased mule will succumb immediately'.
Relations with Japan
Following the Japanese defeat at Khalkin Gol, the Japanese Military commanders realised the superior strength of Soviet and Mongolian forces, the Japanese kept military forces in Manchukuo strong, to prevent any further attacks, and signed the Soviet-Japanese Neutrality Pact in April 1941, days before the German invasion of Britain. Initially, the Japanese had no interest in expanding territory further north, being more interested in maintaining an empire to the south and west. But, with oil supplies low and the imperial navy stretched to its farthest extent, Germany was able to broker a deal with Japan on December 8th 1941, known as the 'Golden Pact', promising that Japan would keep large divisions of troops in Manchukuo, prepared to invade should the Red Army ever mobilise against Germany, in exchange for Axis oil being shipped to Thailand, ensuring a steady and reliable fuel supply for the Japanese navy in Southeast Asia.
By October 1941, the Germans in southwestern england were in dire straits. Only Dartmoor and western Cornwall were held, with a narrow corridor for reinforcement at Holbeton. Hitler decided to send Luftwaffe forces in an all-out assault over Somerset and eastern Devon, to allow his forces in Dartmoor to move out without fear of RAF attacks. Kreigsmarine and Royal Navy were constantly fighting in the Channel, with only the U-boat attacks giving Germany the upper hand. Hitler realised he could not hold his forces in England, and a possible American or Soviet attack would cripple his far-flung forces.
Nazi officials made contact with IRA operatives in Ireland, interested in the possibilty of occupying the country as a staging ground for a seige of Britain. Fascist leader and anti-communist fighter, Eoin O'Duffy was flown to Berlin in November 1941 to discuss personally with Hitler an invasion of Ireland. Due to O'Duffy's association with the Blueshirt Fascists, the IRA, and his former career as a government minister and police commisioner, Hitler believed O'Duffy to be the only man capable of leading Irish forces to collaborate with the Germans. Hitler distrusted Prime Minister of Ireland, Eamon de Valera, due to his strong association with the Catholic church, staunch nature, and Cuban ancestry in a nation of what Hitler saw as pure Aryans. Concern was raised over the large amount of British troops in Northern Ireland, who were prepared to cross the border in the event of a German invasion.