The Third Great European War
The Third Great European War, also known as the War of 1972, was a conflict between some of the major European powers. The war lasted for three years, beginning on May 16th, 1972, and ending on July 24th, 1975. It was the deadliest European conflict in history, with over fifty-five million casualties; thirty-five million killed and twenty million wounded, missing, or captured. The war officially ended with the signing of the Treaty of Berlin.
After the First and Second Great European Wars, the nations of Europe wanted to prevent another war from occurring on the continent ever again. The European League was set up in Brussels to replace the failed Order of Europe as a place where European leaders could solve problems diplomatically and enforce proposed resolutions. Following the defeat and dissolution of the Central Powers, the Western Powers sought to rehabilitate Germany, Spain, and Portugal. Both Franz Schiffer and Fernando Diaz were arrested for war crimes and democratic governments were set up in the former Central Powers. Because of their increased cooperation and shared democratic and economic values, France and Great Britain sought to maintain their alliance out of a mutual desire for security and economic growth. In an attempt to garner peace and stability, France and Great Britain spearheaded the creation of the Western European Coalition (WEC) in 1946. The WEC was an economic and military alliance that included France, Great Britain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Germany, Spain, and Portugal. The WEC would promote an interdependent and prosperous western Europe for decades.
As the former Western Powers were strengthening their political and economic systems, the Eastern Powers were struggling with theirs. In an attempt to weaken Germany and compensate Russia for the massive casualty count it had sustained during the war, Germany was divided into Germany and East Germany. Germany would maintain its sovereignty and fall under the supervision of the Western Powers. On the other hand, East Germany would be incorporated into Russia. Despite the benefits Russia received following the war, the costs of the war proved to be devastating. Following a massive economic depression and a weakening political system, a second communist revolution took place and successfully overthrew the Russian government in 1949. After the success of the revolution in Russia, many nationalist and communist revolutions took place throughout Austria-Hungary, which had been struggling for decades to maintain its sovereignty. By 1954, the country of Austria-Hungary had dissolved and the nations of Austria, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Yugoslavia had emerged, all of which had communist governments. In late 1954, Italy, which had still been struggling with the consequences of its unification, set up an authoritarian, communist government. The Russian government, seeking to spread communism, consolidate its own authority, and fearful of the WEC, sought a permanent alliance with Italy and the new nations of eastern Europe. Russia spearheaded the creation of the Federation of Socialist Republics (FSR) in 1955. The FSR was a permanent economic and military alliance that included Russia, East Germany, Austria, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, and Italy. The FSR would promote a developing eastern Europe, with a rebounding Russia at its forefront.
By the end of the 1950's, the WEC and FSR were becoming global superpowers. The WEC saw the largest and fastest economic growth in European history and expanded its trade alliances to North and South America, particularly the United States. Meanwhile, the FSR had brought stability to eastern Europe and expanded its trade alliances to central and southeastern Asia, particularly China. Europeans wanted to believe that peace would be everlasting following two catastrophic wars due to new-found economic prosperity and a belief that another European war would lead to the continent's demise. Despite the WEC and FSR's relative cooperation, the 1960's would strain their diplomatic relations and heighten conflicts. In 1962, WEC representatives to the European League called the FSR a "conglomeration of evil" that "suppressed the rights owed to every human being". FSR representatives were furious, especially after the Russian government was compared to the German government headed by Friedrich Hienden. In 1965, a protest in Berlin calling for a reunified Germany was suppressed by FSR forces, resulting in over 100 casualties. The crackdown sparked outrage throughout the WEC, particularly in Germany. In 1968, the WEC set up a trade alliance with northern African nations which gave exclusive oil-trading rights to the WEC. The FSR responded by setting up a trade alliance with Saudi Arabia and Iran. These events created notable tensions between the two alliances, which finally peaked in 1972 when the FSR proposed withdrawing from the European League. On May 14th, 1972, WEC representatives spoke at the European League and condemned the FSR withdrawal proposal. During the speech, a group of Russian radicals bombed the league and assassinated the WEC representatives. Citizens in the WEC were outraged, while FSR officials refused to condemn the attack. On May 16th, 1972, the nations of the WEC declared war on the FSR. Both sides mobilized their forces and prepared for an assault.
Progress of the war
The "everlasting" peace following the Second Great European War was destroyed as Europe was plunged into yet another war. The WEC wanted to fight a defensive war, but also understood the costs of a stalemate. Once mobilized, WEC forces deployed to French and German borders. On the other hand, the FSR wanted to fight a fast, offensive war because they understood the consequences of a drawn-out conflict. Once mobilized, FSR forces initiated a three-pronged attack on southeastern France, eastern Germany, and Scandinavia. WEC forces were able to successfully halt FSR forces on mainland Europe. However, because Norway and Sweden lacked sufficient military power, Scandinavia was easily overrun by FSR forces.