Alternate History

The Unthinkable

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January 26th, 1945- USS Quincy torpedoed and sunk in North Atlantic en route to Malta by one of the last surviving U-Boats in the Atlantic. President Roosevelt is aboard and killed when the one of the main boilers explodes, destroying his cabin.

January 27th, 1945- Vice President Truman is sworn into office as the 33rd President of the United States.

January 29th, 1945- President Truman is given a top secret briefing on a joint US-British research project known as "Project Manhattan"

February 11th, 1945- The Yalta Conference goes ahead a week later than originally planned. President Truman arrives just hours before the beginning of the conference, having slept just three hours in the previous two days. Upon arrival, he immediately confers with Prime Minister Churchill privately. Churchill's distrust of Stalin and Truman's irritation and tiredness produce a catastrophic first meeting, in which virtually all of Stalin's attempts to get Europe divided into spheres of interest are rebuffed.

February 13th, 1945- Stalin, via interpreter, levels an ultimatum at Truman and Churchill: the Western Allies will allow the Soviet Union free reign east of the Elbe River, or the Soviets will back the French Communist movement as the legitimate government of France. Truman storms out of the room in anger, leaving Churchill to berate Stalin.

February 17th, 1945- Truman and Churchill leave the Conference with no major agreements reached as to the appearance of the post-war world. Within hours, Patton and Montgomery receive new standing orders from General Eisenhower, who in turn received a joint communique from the two leaders: The US and British forces are to immediately move to a lightning offensive stance, seizing as much territory within Germany as is possible.

February 21st, 1945- Western Allied leaders in Greece receive a message from Marshal Tito in Yugoslavia. He believes the Soviets are planning to invade the country. In exchange for assistance in stopping Soviet troops from invading and setting up a puppet government, he will agree to negotiations with the monarchist government-in-exile. The offer is accepted within hours by both Truman and Churchill, who are anxious to erode Soviet power in any way possible.

February 22nd, 1945- A message from Churchill and Truman arrives in the Kremlin, asking what Stalin's intentions towards Yugoslavia are. He flies into a rage, demanding that his advisers tell him what business the British and Americans have interfering in Eastern Europe.

February 24th, 1945- Stalin commits 150,000 Red Army soldiers to the invasion of Yugoslavia. The plan had been on the books since late 1944, when it became clear that Tito wasn't as pliable as could be hoped. He'd had no intention of using it yet, but if the Allies are moving in on the country, he needed to beat them.

February 28th, 1945- Soviet troops cross the border into Yugoslavia. They are met by silence, at first. They make it almost a dozen miles inside the frontier with minimal resistance. Suddenly, coordinated strikes at their rear begin, while American and British planes based in Italy and Greece appear to fill the sky. Yugoslav and Greek partisans, as well as American and British special forces, begin harassing and delaying actions, convoys are hit, detachments destroyed. The Soviet frontline has few tanks, and the older Allied planes available are more than enough to massacre infantry.

March 2nd, 1945- The Yugoslav front has shifted another dozen miles back from the frontier, but Soviet casualties are beginning to mount. Stalin authorizes another 100,000 troops to re-inforce the existing invaders. In the meantime, Allied garrisons throughout the Middle East, North Africa, Greece, Italy, and as far afield as India are being shipped in as quickly as possible.

March 3rd, 1945- Allied agents make contact with Field Marshal von Rundstedt, suggesting the possibility of a negotiated peace and alliance against the Soviet Union. Knowing Hitler and the Nazi High Command (aside from Göring) will never allow it, he tells the agents he is a loyal servant of the Führer and would never consider such a thing ... while slipping a note with a meeting time and location across the table.

March 10th, 1945- Hitler, Himmler, Dietrich, and Goebbels are all assassinated in a coordinated strike on the Nazi High Command. It is later discovered that Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt and a cabal of high-ranking Heer and Luftwaffe officers are responsible. However, this will be revealed only after they seize power in Germany.

March 11th, 1945- Von Rundstedt broadcasts a message across Germany decrying the assassination of the Führer by "communist elements in the population" and calling for all Germans to remain loyal to the state as he attempts to stop the Soviet invasion. The Waffen-SS units considered most unreliable are disbanded and integrated into Heer units.

March 12th, 1945- Peace negotiations begin between the German Provisional Government and the Western Allies including Britain, the US, and France. Offered terms are this: Germany will immediately withdraw from all Western territory including Italy, Norway, and Denmark, and will ally with the Westerners to defeat the Soviet Union. In exchange, Allied bombing of Germany will stop and economic aid will be sent as soon as possible. Following the end of any conflict with the Soviet Union, Germany will withdraw from all occupied territories in the East, including Poland and the Sudetenland, while Austria and Danzig will be offered a plebiscite on their territorial status as soon as practical. Negotiations are concluded within three days, a record time for peace accords of any kind. Commentators in the US, Germany, and Britain all remark upon the irony of the term "peace accords", even as Allied and German forces rush across Germany to redeploy facing the Soviet Army in Eastern Germany.

March 13th, 1945- Von Rundstedt appoints General Heinrici as the commander-in-chief of the newly formed Army Group East, which will soon command 85% of the personnel in the Heer, and 90% of its armor.

March 14th, 1945- The Soviets hold the northern half of Yugoslavia and are attempting to push south. However, by now, Romania and Bulgaria are in open revolt, Ukraine is a hotbed of discontent, Turkey is contemplating joining the Allies, and well over one million Allied soldiers have concentrated in northern Greece, to add to 400,000 Yugoslavians and 200,000 Greeks. The Soviets, if they are to continue pressing into Germany against the newly combined German and Allied forces, can employ no more than 800,000 men there.

Germany elects to turn over research into what will later be called Fuel-Air explosives to the war effort. Testing of a coal-liquid oxygen weapon achieves devastating effect. They are difficult to produce and even more complicated to deliver, but these are minor obstacles given their demonstrated power.

March 18th, 1945- General Patton and the US 3rd Army reach the Oder River and begin integration with German forces there. USAAF planes begin staging through Paris in great numbers to reach airfields in Eastern Germany, while massive logistical efforts are made to secure lines of supply for fuel and other materials through the Baltic Sea.

March 20th, 1945- The Kriegsmarine issues orders to all U-Boats to pull back to Germany for redeployment to the Baltic Sea. Allied naval forces move to the Eastern Mediterranean, Baltic, Black, and Barents Sea.

March 29th, 1945- The US combat-tests an "ice bomb" (so named due to the temperature involved) on Okinawa in preparation for a landing there. They discover a heretofore unknown effect, which local forces quickly dub the tunnelf***er: the bomb burns the air out of the Japanese fortifications on the island. With a single blast they have rendered the entire Japanese fortification network irrelevant for the remainder of the war.

March 30th, 1945- Soviets begin offensive across Oder River. The German/Allied forces manage to contain them to a roughly 2 mile wide bridgehead, no more than a few hundred yards deep, but they pour forces into that area. Allied and German fighters maintain decisive air superiority over the Red Air Force.

Germany turns over plans and research into jet and rocket propulsion to the Allies. American factories begin gearing up for mass production of the Me-262. American and British scientists begin researching radar guidance systems for the V-1 cruise missile.

April 2nd, 1945- American bombers deliver the Allied response to the Soviet beachhead: four ice bombs ... The Soviet beachhead is utterly destroyed, with a loss of over 12,000 soldiers and several hundred tanks. The Soviets order the dispersal of many front line forces, knowing that the Americans and Germans are not yet able to go on the offensive, but can certainly drop more bombs like the ones that destroyed their beachhead. Stalin orders researchers to develop similar weapons and demands mass production of fighters at the expense of bombers and tanks.

April 4th, 1945- The Allied forces in Yugoslavia go on the offensive, striking at Soviet troop concentrations from under immense air cover. With most Soviet forces pinned down facing the Germans and Americans along the Oder, the Allied forces and Yugoslavians make excellent progress on the first day, but the Soviets recover by the next day and things begin to bog down in the mountains.

April 9th, 1945- The USAAF resumes firebombings of Tokyo after a three-day hiatus, dropping 28 ice bombs and destroying roughly 95% of the remaining buildings in the city. Total casualties are roughly 320,000. Surrender demands are broadcast to the Japanese population and government, threatening the systematic destruction of every major city, railroad, and industrial node in Japan if an unconditional surrender demand is not met.

April 10th, 1945- The Yugoslavian offensive has succeeded in regaining much of the country but is more or less stalled in the highlands south of Belgrade. The Allied High Command calls a temporary halt to refit and regroup, and call up more and heavier armor for use in the flat terrain further inland. Total casualties are fairly light due to massive air cover and the sympathy of the local population, with the support and intelligence it brings.

April 12th, 1945- USAAF planes firebomb Osaka, dropping 22 more ice bombs, amidst numerous conventional and incendiary ones. Total casualties are estimated at 140,000 and 50% of the city is destroyed. Emperor Hirohito begins contemplating a surrender to the Americans, but his militarized cabinet tries to keep him secluded.

April 16th, 1945- Nagoya is firebombed in the same manner, destroying 40% of the city. Luckily for civilians, Japan's civil authorities have begun taking it under their own authority to evacuate, and casualties are minimal.

April 17th, 1945- Overriding his military ministers, Emperor Hirohito, spirited out of de facto house arrest by several dovish ministers, makes a public appearance and advocates the conditional surrender of Japan.

April 18th, 1945- While speaking publicly, the Emperor is interrupted by several military men, under the command of a hardliner faction, and manhandled into a government vehicle. The sight of their Emperor touched against his will horrifies the people of Japan, who clamor for his release from military custody.

April 21st, 1945- Polish freedom fighters which had formerly fought the Nazis earlier in the war, begin shifting operations to fight the Soviets. Though many are communists themselves, they refuse to be returned to the status of a Russian puppet under Moscow.

April 22nd, 1945- As public dissent reaches a new crescendo, a dovish faction of military officers stages a palace coup in Japan, overthrowing the current leaders and placing provisional authority in the hands of the Emperor himself. He begins drafting a surrender announcement almost immediately.

April 23rd, 1945, Tokyo, 1100 hours: "The Empire of Japan will seek conditional surrender terms from the United States of America in the coming few days.  Our nation has been led astray from the path of peace and prosperity, onto the path of war and destruction, by militarist elements even now being purged from our government.  We now implore our former enemies, to whom we have brought so much death and hate, to accept our surrender and our earnest feelings of responsibility for the harm we have caused.  We see now the desolation and death we heaped upon others brought to our own shores, and see that it was wrong.  Let us put an end to it." -Translated from Emperor Hirohito's public radio address to Japan, 4/23/45.

April 24h, 1945- The Americans cease all bombing of Japan and all other offensive operations, and send a negotiating team to Kyoto, where the Emperor is currently residing, to begin negotiations.

April 27th, 1945- The Americans and Japanese announce the conditional surrender of the Empire of Japan to Allied forces and a pro forma declaration of war against the Soviet Union. The Soviets are in no position to do anything about it, while Japanese forces in mainland China are pulling out for the home islands. Chinese Republican forces begin moving into occupied areas of coastal China and Manchuria, restoring order. The Chinese communists are still bottled up in Northern China by Republican forces, Japan agrees to lend troops to the effort.  The surrender terms allow Japan to keep the Emperor as a ceremonial head of state, but they will otherwise adopt a parliamentary model of democracy.  The United States agrees to assist in the reconstruction of the Japanese army once the war is over.  The Imperial Japanese Army, Navy, and Air Force will be replaced by the Japanese Self-Defense forces and limited in size, somewhat.  Korea is to be granted independence, while Taiwan and Manchuria will be handed back over to China.  Overriding its allies in Europe, the United States opts to take on a caretaker role in French Indochina and the Dutch East Indies, which will be prepared for independence as the Federation of Indochina and Republic of Indonesia, with independence scheduled for 1955.  The British recover Malaya, Singapore, and Burma, but turn Northern Borneo over to the American caretaker administration for Indonesia.

April 29th, 1945- American forces begin redeployment to Sakhalin Island, from which they will mount an invasion of the Soviet Union's Far Eastern Provinces, codenamed Operation Icefire. Under the Allied operations plan, Vladivostok would be seized in preparation for a second front against the Soviets operating out of Japan and Manchuria.

Japan makes a formal request to the Allies for food aid to be shipped to the island. Shipments begin consolidation in Hawaii, on America's West Coast, and in Australia.

April 30th, 1945-  Gandhi, in his role as spiritual leader of the Indian independence movement, meets with British opposition leader Clement Attlee to request Dominion status for India before the end of the war, and with President Truman of the United States to ask for economic aid.  The Marshall Plan for South and East Asia is born out of these meetings, when General Marshall suggests that economic aid could be tied to the continuation of democratic government and used as a way to prevent the spread of Communism in the post-war world.  The idea is fleshed out over the coming weeks and put to work before the end of the war, and continues for a decade thereafter.

May 1st, 1945- Soviet troops in Yugoslavia mount a flanking offensive into Greece, swinging around the main Allied positions and nearly cutting their lines of supply.  Unfortunately for the Soviets, they misjudge the position of the leftmost flank of their army and violate Turkish territory.  A battalion of Soviet soldiers is interned by the Turkish 1st Army in European Turkey.

May 2nd, 1945-  The Soviet Union issues an ultimatum to Turkey: release the interned men or face a declaration of war.  Turkey refuses, and makes contact with the Allies to seek help.  Persia and Turkey begin shifting forces to their borders with the Soviet Union.

May 3rd, 1945-  The Soviet Union declares war on Turkey and what few troops it has in the Caucasus region are deployed in a small offensive.  Simultaneously, troops in Central Asia push into northern Persia.  Turkey formally requests entry into the Allied Powers.

The allies adopt the new name of the "Alliance for Democracy" and Germany, Italy, and Japan become official member states. Very few people comment on the fact that Japan is currently not a sovereign nation.

May 4th, 1945, Moscow, 1100 hours: "LOOK at this map!!!! I tell you, LOOK AT IT!!! Where does the revolution hold sway?  Are we stronger than last year, or even than last week?  With the entry of Turkey into this war, we are entirely surrounded by a sea of "democracy" and "capitalism."  You have let us be surrounded by the Allies, and turned even the enemies we fought as friends into their allies!!  Now it is WE who face rebellion, discontent, and destruction, Iosif!  We no longer face tiny Germany alone, but the combined might of the godd**ned Nazis, the American capitalist pigs, and their British lapdogs." -Translated from the memoirs of Georgy Zhukov, quoting Lavrentiy Beria's last words to Stalin, just two hours before his fatal automobile accident.

July 16, 1945- In the New Mexico desert, a blinding light and massive fireball are seen by observers. The Manhattan Project is complete... Trinity is a success. It is estimated that, following the first three bombs, it will take 3 months to produce material for another. From then, scientists believe, the US can produce two bombs per month.

President Truman is informed of the success of the project, and asked if he will choose to employ the weapons in combat. Though the situation in Yugoslavia has been recovered, and the situation in Germany is good, he believes that the use of the weapons will hasten the end of the war. He authorizes the long-range strike against Leningrad, flying out of Stettin, in East Pomerania.

July 24th, 1945- A lone B-29 bomber and escort fighters appear over Leningrad. Believing that no single bomber can possibly harm the city, the commander of the anti-aircraft artillery elects not to fire immediately. The fighters peel off over the outskirts of the city, while the bomber flies a straight, high altitude path. Within seconds, Leningrad is gone. 450,000 people are killed immediately, with another 300,000 dying later of radiological effects or conventional burns.

July 25th, 1945- Stalin broadcasts a message denouncing Allied barbarism and vowing to continue the fight against the "Western imperialist aggressors."

July 29th, 1945- A small strike force of bombers is sighted over Kiev. Soviet authorities scramble every available fighter and open up with flak, but several bombers make it to the city center, dropping... hundreds of thousands of fliers. Each one reads, in Ukrainian and Russian: This could easily have been a superbomb, and your Russian masters would have been the death of you. Join the Allies now, rise up against your oppressors, and fight for your freedom. Propaganda strikes like this one are repeated in ethnic-minority cities throughout the Soviet Union over the next few days, encouraging revolt and rebellion. Ukrainian discontent with the Russian elite of the USSR increases, and armed bands rove the countryside killing Russian soldiers.

July 30th, 1945- Following the propaganda strike model, a flight of B-17's appears over the Soviet front lines in Western Poland. All but one peel off as they reach the Soviet Headquarters, and the world's second nuclear weapon detonates in an airburst directly over the center of the Soviet lines. 180,000 Soviet soldiers are killed instantly, while another 300,000 are incapacitated. Allied armored forces skirting the blast zone 3 hours later turn the flank of the remaining defenders and shatter the Soviet lines.

July 31st, 1945-  General Zhukov begins surreptitiously gathering forces personally loyal to him and shifting them back along the chain of supply towards Moscow.

August 7th, 1945- General Zhukov and several battalions of crack infantry from the front lines storm the Kremlin after dropping out of Moscow's view for a few hours.  Despite being on high alert, the local guard forces are completely overwhelmed.  Red Army units in the city receive conflicting orders: orders to stay put from Zhukov's chain of command, and orders to move from people outside the Army CoC, such as the head of the NKVD, Georgy Malenkov.  Before much can be done, Zhukov has captured Stalin, who signs a sworn testimony that he is retiring from the public eye due to health considerations.  Stalin is never seen again.

August 8th, 1945-  Zhukov meets with Soviet nuclear physicists to ask a number of questions about the Allied superbombs.  The first and foremost is how long it will take for the Soviets to build one, to which he is told, "at least three years."  The scientists tell him they believe that the Allies can drop another 4 bombs in the next three months.  Though they are wrong, it is this belief that will put WWII to an end.

August 9th, 1945-  In a meeting of his staff, Zhukov announces his intention to surrender to the Allies in the face of the massive bombing campaign and vast technological gulf.  He believes that the Soviet Union will get a better deal for itself if it remains undefeated when it requests negotiations to end the war.

August 15th, 1945- The Soviet Union, though far from totally defeated, sues for peace with the Alliance for Democracy. World War II is over.  Total casualties worldwide are estimated at 75 million, including roughly 35 million Soviet deaths from the two successive wars.  The Soviets have won, and quickly lost again, all of Eastern Europe up to the Oder River.  The peace negotiations will take place in Warsaw, just behind the current Allied front lines.

September 2nd, 1945- Peace negotiations begin in downtown Warsaw, in one of the few buildings left standing.  The map of Europe is almost completely redrawn, with concessions from Germany and the USSR alike.

To be continued ...

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