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The Continuation War (Unthinkable)

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The Continuation War
Continuationwartemplatepic
Top Left: Rearmed German Panzer Division

Top Right: American troops in Poland
Bottom Left: Soviet troops marching
Bottom Right: Calliope rocket artillery firing

Date April 22nd, 1946 - December 15th, 1948
Location Europe
Result Disputed Allied or Soviet Victory
  • International recognition of the Federal Republic of Germany
  • Poland, Romania, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Hungary, and Albania have Communist governments and become satellite states of the Soviet Union
  • Austrian independence
  • Creation of NATO and the Warsaw PACT
  • Soviet famine of 1946–47
  • Emergence of the United States and the Soviet Union as superpowers
  • Creation of the United Nations
  • Beginning of the Cold War
Belligerents
Flag of the United StatesUnited States

Flag of the United KingdomUnited Kingdom
Canadian Red Ensign 1921-1957Canada
Flag of FranceFrance
Flag of GermanyGermany
Flag of NorwayNorway
Flag of BelgiumBelgium
Flag of the NetherlandsNetherlands
Flag of DenmarkDenmark
Flag of GreeceGreece
Flag of ItalyItaly (1947 - )
Flag of CzechoslovakiaCzechoslovakia (1947 - )
Flag of FinlandFinland (1948 - )
Flag of PolandPoland (1947 - )

Flag of the Soviet UnionSoviet Union

Flag of PolandThird Polish Republic (1946 - 1947)
Flag of PolandPolish People's Republic (1947 - )
Flag of RomaniaPeople's Republic of Romania (1947 - )
Flag of BulgariaPeople's Republic of Bulgaria (1947 - )
Flag of HungaryHungarian People's Republic (1947 - )
Flag of Albania (1946-1992)People's Socialist Republic of Albania (1947 - )

Commanders and leaders
Flag of the United StatesHarry S. Truman

Flag of the United KingdomWinston Churchill
Flag of FranceCharles de Gaulle
Flag of GermanyTheodor Heuss
Flag of PolandWładysław Raczkiewicz

Flag of the Soviet UnionIosef Stalin

Flag of PolandWładysław Gomułka
Flag of RomaniaConstantin Parhon
Flag of HungaryIstván Dobi

Strength
1946: 4.2 Million

1948: 6.8 Million

1946: 4.7 Million

1948: 9.4 Million

Casualties and losses
Military Killed: 854,842

Military Wounded: 2,951,206

Military Killed: 2,983,351

Military Wounded: 4,248,126


The Continuation War (Not to be confused with: The Continuation War) was a two year long conflict consisted of Western and Central Europe fighting against the communist governments of Eastern Europe. Causes for the conflict directly relate to the initiation of Operation: Unthinkable and Stalin's persistent stance on winning the conflict. With nations such as Germany, Denmark and Norway regaining their independence they were able to commit several dozen divisions to the Ally cause.

In 1947, president of Poland, Władysław Raczkiewicz, reached out to the Allies to halt any military operations on Polish territories and in exchange declare neutrality. Angering the General Secretary of the Soviet Union, Iosef Stalin decided to attempt and initiate a coup within Poland and convert the government to a loyal Communist regime. However the plan failed and resulted in the division of Poland by the Vistula River. With the Allied aligned portion belonging to Władysław Raczkiewicz and the relocated capital at Kraków and the Soviet leaning Communist faction known as the Polish People's Republic, with the capital at Bialystok and leaded by Władysław Gomułka.

As a result of Stalin's failure to consolidate power within Poland, he ordered Red Army divisions to stage simultaneous coups across Eastern Europe and install loyal Communist regimes. This quickly succeeded with most of Eastern Europe joining the war on his side with the exception of Yugoslavia. With the backing of several Eastern European powers, Stalin soon assembled around an extra one million troops to fight for his cause. To respond to this, Allied military analysts decided to go with liberating Czechoslovakia and and pushing through Slovakia into the Balkans. These armies were poorly equipped and supported by war torn Hungarian and Romanian units.

By the beginning of 1947, Czechoslovakia was liberated and fighting alongside the Allies. Allied forces were able to send troops through Slovakia and liberated Austria the following year from the 3rd Ukrainian Front. During the third and fourth quarters of 1947, both sides were constantly suffering heavy casualties and accomplishing very small amounts of victories. Multiple attempts were made by both sides to cross or bypass the Danube and the Vistula but were repelled due to heavily entrenched positions.

Just after the year ended, the leaders of Finland saw an opportunity to retake Karelia and other lost territories from the USSR during the Winter War. Approximately 100,000 troops crossed the border into Karelia and soon reclaimed the territory, as well as making several advances upon Leningrad. These offensives were soon repelled and Finnish forces retreated back to Finland. Soon after, the government of Finland requests troops to be sent to the nation. Under pressure from the European Theater that was required a constant flow of manpower to replace the casualties, about 50,000 troops were spared.

Considering the several months of absolute stalemates, morale was plummeting, Allied forces attempted to rescue several German prisoners of war that were held in Novocherkassk, in order to raise morale for troops within the European continent. After continuous bombardment of the city by air and sea, US Marines soon landed on the beaches of the Rostov Oblast and in several weeks captured the city of Novocherkassk. Several thousand German prisoners of war were soon rescued along with pilot Erich Hartmann.

Background

The Continuation war began when leaders of the Western Allies declared war upon the Soviet Union with the intent of keeping Germany aligned neutral or at least intact. Following the events of Operation: Unthinkable, the Red Army was pushed back into Poland. After several attempts to make peace with the Soviet Union, Iosef Stalin refused the peace offerings and persisted towards a war. This war lasted for a little more than two years and resulted in the deaths of several million military members and civilians.

Course of the War

Allied Crossing of the Oder and the Invasion of Poland

Directly after the success of Operation: Unthinkable, Allied land forces were able to cross the Oder and pursue the retreating the 1st Belorussian, 2nd Belorussian and 1st Ukrainian fronts. Most of the divisions of these fronts were shattered and scattered across Poland after the Red Army retreated back into Poland. With naval and air support, Allied forces soon crossed the Oder with several dozen divisions. Within several days, the towns of Pieńsk, Przewóz, Trzebiel, Sękowice, and Gubin were captured which created a bulge into Polish controlled territory. After two weeks, the Allies have seized Polish towns north of Gubin and fixed the bulge.

With the Oder captured on both sides, engineers soon established pontoon bridges and also repaired bridges that were destroyed by the Wehrmacht and the SS during the Second World War. United States Naval fleets arriving from the Pacific later arrived in the Baltic and decisively crippled the Soviet Baltic Fleet. Marines then conducted an amphibious assault of the city of Danzig/Gdańsk which was later successful. Another amphibious assault was attempted at the city of occupied Königsberg. Red Army divisions of the new 1st Shock Army repelled the Marines and other landing forces. However, the city was later reduced to rubble after constant aerial and naval bombardment.

Months after the initial crossing the city of Wrocław has been taken and Allied troops eventually enveloped the city of Kraków. Red Army and Polish divisions attempted to break out of the encirclement. As an attempt to aid the break out of Red Army units, Georgy Zhukov and Vasily Chuikov ordered the 1st Belorussian Front to attempt and retake the city of Wrocław to surround the Allied forces. This was leader deemed as Operation Neptune by Iosef Stalin. During the initial phases of the operation, the 1st Belorussian Front managed to move into the city of Wrocław. However, they were pushed out and repelled from the city by reinforcing Wehrmacht Panzer Divisions.

The conclusion of the crossing led to an Allied Victory and later resulted in Stalin's attempted coup of Poland which split the nation into two portions split by the Vistula River. Red Army divisions trapped within the territory of the Polish Republic were hunted down and later captured as prisoners-of-war. About 25,000 Soviet troops were captured by Polish partisans fighting against the Red Army. Allied troops were able to establish a foothold within Poland and create heavy fortifications across the Vistula River.

Battle of the Black Sea

The Battle of the Black Sea was a short military engagement throughout the entirety of the war. Admiral Ernest King and Admiral Sir John Slessor were tasked with the capture of the Black and Azov Seas. With a considerable fleet consisting of several battleships, two aircraft carriers and ships from several other nations, the admirals, with permission from the Turkish government to pass through the Bosphorus, were ordered to paralyze Soviet, Romanian and Bulgarian naval capabilities within the body of water.

At 9:43 A.M on August 8th, 1946 the two fleets met in the Danube Cone. German naval vessel FGS Lützow (Formerly known as the DKM Deutschland) fired the first shots of the battle. The first round hit the Romanian destroyer, Regina Ferdinand in the turret. This later blew up a magazine within the ship, crumpling the superstructure and splitting the ship effectively in half. With numerical and aerial superiority, the Allied forces were able to sink the Soviet battleship Sevastopol after isolating the ship from the main portion of the Soviet Black Sea Fleet and her allies. USS New Jersey, which over the past several weeks returned to the Atlantic fired a 16in round at the Sevastopol, striking the waterline. Water soon flooded the lower decks of the Sevastopol fuel began to leak. Attempting to retreat with the rest of the fleet, a 5in round from the destroyer USS Renshaw hit the ship's rudder while it was attempting to turn to port, effectively leaving the Sevastopol with the soon to be same fate of the Bismarck.

Grumman TBF Avengers soon swarmed the paralyzed Sevastopol and unleashed four torpedoes into the water. All of them made direct contact with the ship, with one entering the breach that the New Jersey has created. The bow of the ship was raised into the air as the magazine compartment exploded as the torpedo blasted through the vessel. Of its 1,149 compartment, only 246 survived and were later captured as prisoners-of-war. With the flagship of the Soviet Black Sea Fleet gone, the Romanian and Bulgarian navies soon retreated to their respective ports and anchored their naval vessels to defend them. However, the Soviet Navy, further away from the Crimea, was engaged by pursuing submarines, torpedo bombers, and dive bombers. B-29s soon devastated naval facilities in cities such as Sevastopol and Odessa.

By the end of October the Soviet Black Sea Fleet was virtually nonexistent as their main combat vessels have been destroyed or damaged beyond repair, with the few exceptions of a very small amount of outdated submarines. British Fireflies, anti-submarine warfare planes, scoured the Black Sea for these submarines for months, effectively destroying around 17 of them. Due to the decisive Allied victory, this later allowed operations to be conducted within the Caucasus region, including the one that rescued the famous German pilot, Erich Hartmann.

The Caucasus Campaign

After the decisive victory that was acquired by the Allied forces in the Battle of the Black Sea, scorched earth operations were able to take place in order to cripple the Red Army's fuel supply to drive its numerous amounts of armored vehicles. In order to first create a foothold within the region, General S. Patton with the cooperation of the US Navy and the Army Air Forces landed led an amphibious invasion on the Georgian coastal city of Sukhumi. With the prediction of intense enemy fire, the city was already mainly in control of Georgian partisan groups. Expecting heavy casualties on the beaches, Allied troops were met with Georgian partisans and welcomed the Marines. With the aid of the partisans, Patton and a division of marines were soon able to capture the city.

Capturing Sukhumi permitted Allied supplies and troops to flood into the Caucasus and cut off Red Army supply lines. The divisions that were stationed in the Caucasus were mainly formed of penal battalions in an attempt to pacify Chechen and Georgian rebels. Due to their foundations being made upon the least effective soldiers of Red Army units they easily shattered and attempted to retreat across the Caucasus Mountains. Most who attempted to make the retreat died due to the extreme cold. However, around 50,000 prisoners-of-war were taken and the Southern Caucasus was soon taken. Makeshift airfields were soon constructed to allow the quick resupplying of strategic bombers such as the B-24 and the B-29.

Patton's first orders after taking the Southern Caucasus was to destroy Soviet infrastructure and industry within the region. Oil refineries across the region were destroyed, crippling Soviet oil production. Red Army troops that desperately needed to get their trucks working would have to step into the knee-deep pools of sludge that was oozing out of the ground with buckets. Armored vehicles such as the T-34s that were stationed and other armored cars were towed with vehicles confiscated by the locals in order to entrench the positions. Red Army battalions waiting for Patton's units to cross the Caucasus Mountains were later destroyed as fighter bombers crippled Soviet defenses. These were later followed by constant rocket barrages and B-29 missions.

Several days after the artillery strikes and bombing raids, US Marines from the Black Sea soon landed north of the Caucasus Mountains and drove the Red Army east towards the Caspian. With a diversion in place, Albert Kesselring, Generalfeldmarschall of the Luftwaffe suggested to the Allied forces to take the city of Novocherkassk to save famous German pilot, Erich Hartmann in order to raise morale for the exhausted Wehrmacht. In a daring attempt, US Marines landed on the beachheads of the Rostov Oblast and headed towards the city of Novocherkassk which has been battered by naval and aerial bombardment for several days. With most of the Red Army within the Caucasus drawing the attention of other landings just north of the Caucasus Mountains, Marines were able to capture the city of Novocherkassk with ease within a week.

Erich Hartmann was saved along with several thousand more German prisoners-of-war. He soon returned to Germany where he was offered the position of Oberst which he gladly accepted. However, US Marines in the Caucasus were soon found surrounded as Soviet reservists from Asia crossed the Caspian Sea and attacked the rear of the Allied troops. Patton soon ordered troops to push back east and retake reoccupied territory. However, this was a diversion by the Red Army, 100,000 troops from the 4th Ukrainian Front soon crossed the River Don and started pushing south. Outnumbered and outgunned by such a large unit, Patton ordered the destruction of any captured oil refineries and wells in the region, as well as an incendiary bombardment directly after. After over a year of fighting in the Caucasus, Patton's forces soon evacuate the region, leaving it ruins and its abundance of oil unobtainable for several more months.

Eastern Europe

Following Stalin's coups of 1947 the nations of Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, and Albania joined the war in order to aid the Soviet cause. However, Yugoslavia, although converted to a Communist regime, declared neutrality, and attempted to separate from Soviet influence. The nation of the Polish People's Republic, or East Poland was also introduced in this Eastern European coalition as the result of a semi-failed coup in Poland. In order to substitute for the manpower and equipment that was lost during the Second World War, these nations of the soon to be nations of the Eastern-Bloc and the Warsaw PACT were somewhat effective and acted as a nuisance to Allied ground forces. While most of the Soviet troops were relocated to east of the Vistula in order to halt Allied advances, these particular states were ordered with occupying Czechoslovakia.

This occupying force consisting mainly of Hungarians and Romanians were poorly equipped unlike their Soviet counterpart. Due to the ineffectiveness of these troops, Allied troops were able to drive the occupation force out of Czechoslovakia; which later resulted in the liberation of Czechoslovakia which then joined the war. However, the former occupation force, although shattered, regrouped at the border with Hungary consisting of a force of 450,000 fortified in a deep series of bunkers and trenches. With the lack locations possible to continue major offensives on both sides of the war, the rest of the conflict in mainland Europe remained a stalemate for a whole year with minor victories for both sides occasionally occurring.

Karelia

Finnish nationalism during the war was rising due to the nation's neutral stance. Protesters in Helsinki swarmed the streets of the capital and demanded a declaration of war against the Soviet Union to retake Karelia. Under pressure from protests across the nation, including the capital, the 7th President of Finland, Juho Kusti Paasikivi, sent a declaration of war to the Kremlin in the month of October. Approximately 100,000 men were soon sent into Karelia and captured the region within two months. However, the 3rd Belorussian Front sent several dozen divisions to repel the threat. A week later, divisions of the 3rd Belorussian Front soon engaged with the Finnish Defense Forces. Under the threat of being overrun, Finnish troops retreated back into Finland fortified established several entrenched positions. However, by this time the Allied forces and the Soviet Union soon agreed to a cease-fire in order to create a treaty.

Soviet Famine (1946 - 1949)

After the Second World War, Nazi Germany has devastated farmlands within Ukraine and Belarus, which resulted in this deadly famine. Shortages of able-bodied men to harvest crops and constant droughts led to only an estimate of 30 million tons of food to supply the nation to be produced between 1946 and 1948. Although most of this food went to Red Army in order to continue the defensive against Allied troops within Europe, only around 25 tons managed to be distributed to the nation. However, this famine barely halted the Soviet war effort due to the Red Army being a priority to survive. Although only 30 million tons of food was produced between 1946 and 1948, in 1949, Ukrainian and Belorussian farmers were able to produce a less marginal amount of food.

Estimated deaths due to the famine are about 1.5 million to 2 million. Although the famine officially ended in 1949, several thousand civilians still died in the early 1950s due to malnutrition. While the Soviet Union blamed the United States and Britain for their famine, the United Nations later proved it was because of severe weather conditions.

Famine in Moldova

Between 1946 through 1949 there has been 500,000 related deaths due to the famine. Although the Moldovan Soviet Socialist Republic has surpassed planned production output, Soviet officials allowed troops to confiscate reserves of food and other agricultural products to assist.

Aftermath

The Allied forces and the Soviet Union along with her Allies soon created two factions that have divided Europe between the west and the east. Nations such as Hungary, Romania, Albania, Bulgaria, and East Poland became loyal satellites for the Soviet Union. However, these Communist regimes eventually collapsed in the late 80s and early 90s. Shortly after the war, the nations of the Allies created the North Atlantic Treaty Organization with the intent of mutual defense. In order to rival this organization, the Soviet Union and her allies created the Warsaw PACT, consisting of Albania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and East Poland. Yugoslavia was invited to the Warsaw PACT, however, Josip Broz Tito declined the offer and slowly aligned towards the West.

Although allied with the United States and Britain, Germany still lost a quarter of its pre-war territory that was ceded to West Poland. Among these territories are Silesia, Pomerania and Neumark. East Prussia was handed over to the Soviet Union as part of Stalin's demand. Romania officially handed over South Dobrujda to Bulgaria and Bessarabia to Ukraine. Hungary ceded Transylvania back to Romania and Slovenia was handed over to Yugoslavia by Italy. Albania was also guaranteed independence from Italy.

Italian colonies in Africa were split up, Italian Somalia was given up to the United Kingdom and Ethiopia was guaranteed independence. Libya was officially jointly held by Britain and France. Shortly after, in 1951 Britain and France relinquished their occupation of the region and allowed King Idris I to rule. Idris later lost his crown and Muammar Gaddafi later proclaimed himself as Chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council. The Republic of Italy has agreed to recognize these governments as independent states.

The nation of Poland has been split in half by the natural border of the Vistula. Separated by opposite regimes, the Third Polish Republic or West Poland and the Polish People's Republic or East Poland has been established. Bridges to go across the Vistula have been barricaded by both sides and Warsaw has been cut in half. With the capital of Warsaw in the middle of the divide, West Poland has made Kraków its new capital, while the East made its capital Bialystok.

Famines after the war have devastated the population of the USSR. Unlike the United States and Britain which actually had population booms, the Soviet Union's population plummeted by several million. The lack of able bodied men and constant droughts continued on after the war until 1949.

After the conflict, the United States and the Soviet Union soon rivaled each other in the exertion of influence across the world. Massive arms races have initiated to counteract each alliance. Series of proxy wars have begun in nations such as Korea, Vietnam and Afghanistan. The terms superpower were later used to describe the military and political positions of both the United States and its rival the Soviet Union.

Footnotes

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