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October 1944: Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin dies in his sleep; it is later confirmed he had slipped into cardiac arrest and died suddenly. Unlike his wartime allies (UK and US) there is no real clear successor to the longtime dictator and the Politburo is divided on who to select as the next leader. Andrei Zhdanov, Vyacheslav Molotov, and Lavrentiy Beria emerged as the main contenders, and agreed to cooperate with each other throughout the war with the Germans. Hitler is elated at the news of his enemies’ death, believing history is repeating itself, and that the tensions amongst Stalin’s successors will cause the Russians to sue for peace, and allow for Germany to concentrate its entire might against the United States, the British Empire, and France. The war progresses similar to OTL.
November 1944: Franklin Roosevelt is re-elected President of the United States for an unprecedented fourth term, defeating Republican candidate Thomas Dewey.
January 1945: Roosevelt is sworn into office once more; however, to observers he looked weak and frail. Just six days after his re-inauguration Roosevelt died at his desk in the Oval Office, Harry Truman was sworn in as the 33rd President that evening.
February 1945: Winston Churchill, Harry Truman, and the Soviet Triumvirate meet in Yalta for discussion of postwar Europe and Pacific. Each of the Triumvirate believed they needed the support of their allies began their own negotiations with the west to gain favor, and gain prestige for the USSR without sacrificing too much.
Yalta Conference Points
- All sides agreed on Germany’s unconditional surrender
- France would be allowed to have occupation zones in Germany and Austria (Carved from the American and British zones)
- Post war Germany would undergo a vigorous de-nazification and de-militarization
- Germany would be partitioned into three or more states
- The Soviets agreed to enter the United Nations and allow France a membership in the Security Council
- Parts of eastern Poland would be annexed into the Soviet Union; Poland proper would be compensated with lands from Germany.
- The Baltic states and East Prussia would be included in the Soviet sphere of influence
- Soviet troops were to be stationed permanently in Poland and Romania, but were unable to interfere with domestic politics of either nation
- The Soviet Union agreed to enter the fray against Japanese within 90 days of Germany’s surrender. In return the US would recognize the Soviet claims on the entire Sakhalin Island; the Kurile Island chain, and Uighuristan.
- The entire Korean Peninsula would be placed under the administration of the US Army
- The creation of an allied reparation council with its seat in Moscow
- Soviet citizens would not be returned without their consent
All three Soviet leaders returned to Moscow claiming credit for the success of the conference; however, with the war waning, all three began to move to ensure themselves as the next leader of the USSR.
March 1945: The Soviet Union announced the execution of Andrei Zhdanov, after it was “discovered” he was plotting against to supplant the Politburo and rule Russia as the “new Tsar”.
April 1945: Soviet and American forces link up at the Elbe River, cutting Germany in half. Mussolini is captured by Italian partisans and hanged. Adolf Hitler committed suicide in his bunker along with Eva Braun, his long-term mistress whom he had married just hours before their joint suicide. In his will Hitler appointed his successors; Karl Dönitz as the new Reichspräsident ("President of Germany") and Joseph Goebbels as the new Reichskanzler (Chancellor of Germany). However, Goebbels committed suicide on May 1, 1945, leaving Dönitz as sole leader of Germany.
May 1945: Germany unconditionally surrenders to the allies; the war in Europe is over. The western allies turn their focus to the Pacific, the Molotov-Beria alliance is beginning to unravel, but for now it focuses its energies on one man, Georgy Zhukov. Beria was prepared to announce Zhukov and Zhdanov were in league with one another, and that Zhukov had intentionally prolonged the war with Germany to allow Zhdanov time to execute his coup d’etat.
Word of this betrayal reached the ears of Zhukov, fearing for his life Zhukov led the Red Army into Moscow and had Molotov and Beria promptly arrested, assuming control of the USSR. He announced to the Soviet People had he not interfered the Soviet Union would be plunged into a bitter Civil War without end. “We did not come all this way for another war. Millions did not die so millions more could be slaughtered by the political ambitions of two mad men. We have fought, we have won, and we will have peace.”
Zhukov met the British, American, and French ambassadors at the Kremlin and assured them he would honor the agreements from the Yalta Conference and that the blood of their fallen. Mikhail Kalinin would become the official leader de jure; Zhukov would remain the de facto leader of Russia.
July 1945: Late in the month the Soviet Union declared war on Japan, crossing into Manchuria.
August 1945: The United States drops atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Japan surrenders onboard the USS Missouri, World War II finally ends.