Shattered World - Segment 53.1
June 17th 1949 to August 15th 1949
"The Japanese are a disease of the skin, while the Communists are a disease of the heart"
Chinese Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek
It was a blisteringly hot day in Tianjin, China, and the crowd gathered in front of the City Hall suffered in relative silence as the grim People's Liberation Army soldiers force-marched a dozen blind-folded men towards the recently erected gallows. An officer in front of the gallows paced menacingly, casting harsh glares at the condemned men and then turning to face the crowd, staring accusingly through the spectacles that so many Party intellectuals liked to wear.
"See the People's enemy, the Japanese-licking running dogs of greedy capitalists, warlords, and foreign barbarian scum. See the justice of the Party at work!" the officer shouted, pointing at each of the condemned as they were forced into position in front of each assigned noose. Hisses and several cast stones emerged from the crowd, none dared show any sympathy for the Party's enemies. One man who had apparently pleaded for his life now had a rag stuffed in his mouth, and bleeding sores on his face showed where the soldiers had indicated their displeasure.
One by one the trap doors opened, and each of condemned in turn fell to their death, legs thrashing with involuntary motions and bowels loosening in one final disgrace. Hu Bao looked on from his position at the back of the crowd in anger and disgust, barely containing the urge to spit on the pavement at his feet. He hated the communists the way only the son of an executed business man could, with deep and abiding passion. He'd climbed the ranks of the Nationalist Army rapidly, proving his loyalty time and again with a variety of special missions carried out against the communists. Now, he'd penetrated deep into communist controlled northeast China. Rumors of this execution had reached his ears through a small but growing network of informants, and he'd come to confirm the rumor.
And, indeed, the communists had executed a well placed friend of Nationalist China, a powerful informant and former acquaintance of someone powerful in the Nationalist leadership. The crime here would be remembered, and avenged a hundred fold when the communists were rooted out of China like the worms and insects they were. Hu longed for that time, and hated the Russian barbarians for delaying its arrival. Forcing his grimace into a lopsided grin, Hu turned away and paced down an alley towards his home in the city's center. The time would come, and in the meanwhile he would prepare.
June 17th 1949
Nationalist Leader Chiang Kai-shek continues to demand that Soviet forces withdraw from northeast China and Manchuria, accusing them(truthfully) of working to establish communist regimes in both of their zones of occupation. The Nationalist Chinese leadership is reaching its boiling point, even threatening privately to withdraw from the AfD and invade the Soviet occupation zones.
On the Eastern Front German forces link up northeast of Minsk, isolating some 250,000 Soviet soldiers in a large pocket with the city of Minsk at it's center. Over the previous several days some 80,000 Soviet soldiers managed to flee to the north and east, mostly on foot and horse back. For the Soviet soldiers trapped inside the Minsk Pocket, surrender is not an option. They know what fate awaits them in German captivity.
June 19th 1949
Jubilant celebrations in NAZI occupied Sweden become tempered as reports begin to filter out of the Red Army's "area denial" operations. Although not as thorough as operation 'Black' in the western Ukraine, Soviet forces are none-the-less destroying ports, factories, mines, machinery, and other strategic assets as they continue their careful withdrawal from the country.
June 22nd 1949
The great German push in the north continues to drive ahead. In the Baltic states the Soviets have abandoned Riga and are now falling back towards Estonia and Russia itself. In Belorussia the Minsk pocket remains completely cut off and Soviet forces are withdrawing eastward as rapidly as their limited fuel reserves allow. Red Army forces all along the unraveling northern front have now been ordered to withdraw to positions along the Beria Line which runs roughly along the border of Russia itself from west of Leningrad and south to Smolensk, and then further south, merging into the powerful Soviet defensive lines in the eastern Ukraine.
German forces for their part have reinforced their ring around the Minsk Pocket but their powerful mobile forces are driving hard to the east.
June 27th 1949
After several weeks of mopping up operations, AfD forces declare the Canary Islands and Madeiras fully secured. Although the facilities on many formerly Axis held islands remain heavily damaged, the islands held by the British are a buzz of activity as existing infrastructure is expanded and new construction booms across the islands. Axis reconnaissance aircraft note the frantic buildup, sparking concern in Berlin and Rome.
In Scandinavia Soviet forces have largely completed their orderly evacuation from Sweden into Finland, leaving behind a Swedish countryside rendered largely pre-industrial by Soviet demolition units. In Finland itself the guerrilla activity in the countryside, which was never quite totally stomped out, picks up considerably.
June 28th 1949
A massive bomb, hidden in the basement of the British embassy in Alexandria, explodes - destroying the building and killing over two hundred British nationals and locals, including some of the diplomatic staff. The "Nationalist Islamic Movement", a radical Islamic Arab Nationalist organization, claims credit for the bombing and calls for an uprising against the British. Over the coming weeks British forces and the Egyptian government will begin a series of harsh crack downs - outlawing Islamic Nationalist groups, several political parties, and throwing thousands in jail.
June 29th 1949
As the Minsk pocket shrinks steadily back into the city itself yet continues to hold out, the German logistical situation has begun to become a major issue. With Minsk still in Red Army hands, all German supplies flowing east must go by truck on a limited system of roads around the city. This is beginning to slow down the leading panzer spearheads, giving the Soviets just enough time and breathing space to continue their desperate move into the Beria Line.
June 30th 1949
In a concession made only after much bitter resistance to massive pressure applied by the U.S. and Britain, the Soviet Union agrees to begin transitioning power in northeast China over to Chinese Nationalist forces. However, Beria refuses to begin withdrawing from Manchuria, claiming loudly that an early Soviet withdrawal there would leave a power vacuum, "inviting the Japanese or internal warlords to seize power there".
Communist Chinese forces, meanwhile, have no intention of giving up power in northeastern China or Manchuria. Flush with Soviet arms, and with the benefit of plenty of time to prepare, they intend to unite all of China under Chinese communism. China is on the brink of full scale civil war.
July 5th 1949
After a small Soviet counter-attack nearly cuts off one leading German panzer division, the German High Command calls for an operational pause along the northern front while logistical lines are improved. In the north, German forces have now cleared the Baltic states and have advanced to within forty kilometers of Leningrad itself and to within twenty kilometers of Pskov. To the South, German forces stand at the border between Belorussia and Russia proper and are within 75 kilometers of Smolensk. Further to the south the front is stable, with neither side currently prepared to act very aggressively in the Ukraine.
July 7th 1949
In a huge underground complex inside western Poland, German engineers are working on a very special missile, a missile designed to deliver a very special payload - a payload designed to leave the bounds of the Earth, achieving orbit. It is Von Braun's true dream, to turn humanity into a space faring species. And, in the process, deliver a stunning propaganda coup to the Third Reich.
July 10th 1949
The Minsk Pocket has now shrunk to include little more than the city itself. However, the 225,000 Soviet soldiers still alive there remain grimly determined to fight. There are still enough supplies thanks to the massive stores built up prior to the German offensive and the Russian soldiers there, exalted and hailed as stoic heroes on Soviet radio broadcasts that they can hear, are fighting for the survival of Russia itself and against their own grim fate. Many of them even still believe the words of their commanders and the voices on the radio, promising a coming counter attack to relieve the beleaguered army. Though the smarter Red Army soldiers know the lie, Minsk promises to remain a running sore in the side of the German Army for quite some time.
July 13th 1949
After several weeks of intense and highly secret negotiations, diplomats and military staff in Casablanca strike an accord between Free France and the United States. Although Free France will not join the AfD, the United States will be granted full rights of passage through Free French air, ground, and sea territories, in addition to the use of Free French transportation and supply infrastructure - payment for this passage will come in the form of significantly increased U.S. military and economic aid to Free France. The British reluctantly agree, turning over coming operations in the Free French theatre to the United States.
In the Pacific, the massive U.S. 7th Fleet is assembling for operations against Iwo Jima. The Japanese combined fleet, what remains of it, is dispersed around the Japanese Islands awaiting orders to sortie for one last battle with the Americans. Hundreds of human-piloted rocket bombs, a Japanese weapon of kamikaze, are being rapidly prepped for combat. These deadly craft, launched from heavy bombers, air fields, or warships, can achieve over 500mph and are guided by dedicated, if fanatical, human minds.
July 15th 1949
After having stopped for ten days to rest and bring up supplies German forces renew their offensive in the north, crashing northeast towards Leningrad and directly east into the Beria Line towards Smolensk. Led by carpet bombing and a massive nerve gas attack, German infantry and heavy panzers move into the massive defensive belts southwest of Leningrad. Despite the bombings and nerve gas the attack runs into heavy Soviet resistance and spends many men and panzers to advance just several kilometers.
The push towards Smolensk gets off to a better start, with German forces surging around Soviet strong points and penetrating as much as seven kilometers into the Beria Line west of Smolensk. However, the Soviets have cleverly positioned their forces to cover the relatively narrow approaches to Smolensk and the campaign promises to be a costly one for the Germans.
To Be Continued in Segment 53.2...