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Thread: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs
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Chapter #66: Communication Problems (1887-1896)
Spoiler: Chapter1st of January, 1887
As the year 1004 begins in the Slavic Calendar, the main reforms being debated in millennial Poland – i.e. angrily demanded and bluntly refused – are the same that they’ve been for several decades. An end to the clunky Commissions system and properly expanded voting rights; public education, already embraced by most surrounding countries and with tangible benefits to the state; and the abolition of child labor and other practices harmful both to the children themselves and everybody else. At the same time, many liberals, communists and separatists alike are getting impatient with the state’s intransigence and turning to more violent means to enact their preferred solutions by force. The Crown’s policing, anti-militia and weapon stockpiling laws have been decently effective at preventing a rehash of the Hungry ‘40s – or worse – but small-scale terror attacks, protests turned riots and generally heightened tensions are a regular headache. Slav civilians have started feeling scared to enter many parts of the Bremen and Vienna Voivodeships, which of course is exactly what those rebel scum want. Poland is perhaps not authoritarian enough to use the level of violence that could actually put down these movements (even temporarily), but neither is it democratic or humble enough to compromise with them.
The so-called Social Democratic Party is disrupting the Sejm from within, but the other parties know perfectly well that, at least right now, any voting reform would not appease the reds but only make them stronger. After all, the reason those other countries are so far “ahead” in terms of social(ist) policy is because their broader voting rights have given the reds that much more influence. Conservative groups in Poland, not least the National Coalition, see themselves as a successful bastion against socialism, not the outdated relic the left would depict them as. Blanket opposition to socialism as a movement with some legitimately worrying elements makes it a lot easier to avoid addressing its actual contents.
Of course, people’s exact reasons for opposing socialism are varied. Some minority probably does feel actual disdain for the lower classes, or equate democracy with uneducated mob rule. Others are just worried about the communists’ openly violent rhetoric. Some can understand the left’s economic demands, but not its social and moral stances. And others just can’t accept going against the new economic dogma established in the past few decades, together with the amount of money all these demanded programs would inevitably cost.
What is clear is that the SDP is no longer merely “infiltrated” by communists, but actually split within itself into two camps: revolutionary and reformist (all putting up a thin veneer of the latter, of course). As it turns out, given the Sejm’s stonewall attitude the more inflammatory and passionate revolutionary wing has been more popular by far, leaving the reformists completely sidelined within their own party but unable to leave it either. As long as it remains in the minority, the party might be unable to achieve anything regardless; but at least the revolutionaries are ready to speak up against the rest of the Sejm, not just lick its boots in hopes of perhaps being thrown a bone one day. That’s how the hardliners put it, anyway. The Dwójka has failed to live up to its promises of busting this charade wide open; either it is truly incompetent, or the communists very good at picking “clean” candidates and hiding their tracks.
The government is more immediately worried about the state budget. Open-handed industrial subsidies have helped the economy to grow, most importantly keep ahead of the Latin Federation, and as long as the economy has done well, the subsidies themselves have been affordable; however, many enterprises built entirely on subsidies never end up getting off the ground. Instead, they remain dependent on government support – even growing and demanding more subsidies – or actually become outright money laundering schemes to channel that cash directly to other pockets. In addition, when the economy happens to dip, the demand for subsidies rises at the same time that tax income drops, which isn't the best combination.
To deal with this, the Coalition is finally forced to review its economic policy. This means not removing subsidies entirely but restricting what sorts of companies can have them, introducing stricter vetting of the recipients themselves and demanding proper bookkeeping... all of which someone in the administration will have to go through. The Coalition is also unable to let go of its free trade platform and raise tariffs, but quietly makes some cuts to its “negative tariff” programs that have effectively been subsidizing cheap exports until now.
Minor changes in Polish economic policy can have devastating effects on smaller nations dependent on Polish trade, as demonstrated by Bavaria: with tensions heightened by the massive layoffs caused by the drop in demand, protest marches on 1st of May – a traditional holiday co-opted by socialists as International Workers’ Day – end up escalating into an outright communist uprising, with the angry masses even outnumbering Bavaria’s own army. Polish reinforcements are requested and sent from Prague, cleaning up the would-be revolution (in a very messy manner), but such spontaneous eruptions of red rebellion right in the neighborhood only feed the Polish government’s own paranoia.
Socialism is indeed creeping into the Polish sphere, the Lotharingian Workers’ Party even winning the local election (fair and square). So far the party has held onto its promises of working peacefully within the parliament and not trying to consolidate power in any way, but many Polish diplomats on the other hand are refusing to deal with their Lotharingian counterparts, or struggling to hide their distrust while doing so.
There are even bumps in the so-far smooth colonization of Africa: troops trying to establish order in the Upper Congo, a remote region they’re only now expanding into that wasn’t actually part of the eponymous Kingdom of Kongo, are forced (quote) to adopt ever more brutal measures in their subjugation of the locals. Unlike their more civilized neighbors, these tribesmen refuse to bow at the sight of the Polish military. It is estimated that during 1887 alone, as many as 10,000 natives are killed in various riots, battles, massacres and even some conflicts amongst themselves, a fact which Poland tries to keep from the rest of the world – and the colonial government from Krakow. While the situation calms down in the years after (i.e. the Poles assert control), overall harsh treatment and the constant specter of violence still linger.
Not far to the east, the Latins both get the upper hand in their colonial competition with the English and successfully annex the entire Sultanate of Betsimisaraka. General Fiorenzo Canevaro, whose name will live on in fame and infamy, “singlehandedly” leads his troops from one victory to another, marching halfway down the east coast of Africa as he also invades the Swahili Republic and the Sultanate of Sofala in short order and establishes Latin dominance across the region.
As the best spots in Africa are getting rather crowded, Moldavia – which has so far languished in the Mediterranean, conquering Socotra in the Indian Ocean but not really doing anything with it – gets its first real colony in India instead. The Pratihara Empire is invaded and the region around the port city of Karachi seized, possibly setting the stage for the renewed colonization of India after the previous attempts somewhat fizzled out. This also puts some pressure on the independent Indian states to the south.
Of course, India is rather inconvenient to reach from Moldavia. They’re not dumb enough to sail around all of Africa, no, but generally have to disembark in Egypt, move across the Suez isthmus on a purpose-built railway and then get on another ship. This wastes time and effort, is restricted by the railway’s capacity and obviously requires multiple ships. Inspired by the Kiel Canal, opened in 1890, and the still work-in-progress Panama Canal, Moldavia hires some Polish consultants to help it construct the Suez Canal – the holy grail of Indian Ocean travel, dreamed of for decades or centuries but now finally possible.
Even further east, as Wu continues to implode, Jan Chodkiewicz, Marshal of the Indies, is given permission to seize another treaty port for Poland before it’s too late. The Wu government is so weak and tired that it actually sends out boats to offer surrender before the Poles even make landfall. The city of Macao is made into a military base without a single shot being fired, complementing the Poles’ other base in Lüshun further north.
Premier Cyryl Zaworski was first propelled to power in an intra-party feud right before an election, and now in September 1890 he leaves the same way. While he has proven competent at his field of choice – foreign diplomacy – he's found himself hamstrung by Polish policies out of step with the rest of Europe, and distracted by domestic issues. His ousting isn’t about efficiency at his job, though, but a financial scandal: while the subsidy system used to be ripe with unchecked corruption, the vetting system introduced by Zaworski ultimately just tamed that corruption and let him and his associates decide where the money went. When a major newspaper exposes their abuses just as election campaigns are about to start, the party is left with little choice but to give him a vote of no confidence, lest they anger just about every part of their voter base.
Ironically, his replacement Andrzej Gabris is a well-connected businessman himself, but a supposedly very honest one, and most importantly one who promises to focus on economic reform and establish several independent organs to avoid similar abuses in the future.
(Despite the color, the top modifier is positive, though the lower two aren’t.)
Of course, whether he can stay there depends on the election. Even with the addition of free trade, the Coalition’s platform of “more of the same” is growing ever more outdated, insufficient to match the challenges of the day, and somewhat trite even for its actual supporters. Meanwhile, the party is struggling with the fact that its promise of never raising taxes or tariffs is, unsurprisingly, very restrictive, and “emergency” measures to balance the budget by making sudden cuts elsewhere have become the norm – especially as the country’s colonial projects and naval expansion have proven more expensive than originally thought. The constant barrage of anti-socialist attacks has only served to desensitize the people to their actually problematic aspects and, much like an oppressive parent, make the reds seem that much more attractive for anyone who only wants the opposite of whatever the Coalition is serving.
While the Crown has managed to keep rebellion in the streets to a minimum, it finally ends up occurring in the voting booth instead. The SDP (both wings included) ends up winning almost half of the popular vote, and a share of seats to match, becoming the largest party in the Sejm – but just barely short of a majority.
This seemingly gives the other parties a way to avert a communist takeover through political horsetrade: by refusing to join forces with the SDP and instead forming a coalition government themselves (with 51% of the seats), they give Wieslawa an opening to “accept” Andrzej Gabris as Premier and the Coalition as the de facto ruling party, albeit somewhat weakened by having to appease the Populists. The other option would be a communist government – albeit a minority one – and a communist Premier, neither of which are even remotely acceptable. The only reason an entirely new election isn’t called is that there’s no guarantee it would go any better.
Needless to say, neither the victorious SDP nor its supporters are very thrilled about this, and many otherwise on the fence about the socialists are also shocked that a party’s rightful victory in a fair election would be denied in such a manner. The government counters that besides being morally justified, the move is also practical – a minority government wouldn’t get anything done – and perfectly legal. There’s no rule dictating that the largest party must lead the government, if it’s unable to form a functional one, and besides, it’s important to remember that the Premier and the Sejm only serve at the High Queen’s leisure to begin with (a risky precedent the Coalition is nevertheless willing to set in this situation).
But whatever the rules say, the reality is that democratic ideals are firmly entrenched in the mind of the Polish voter, the Crown’s autocratic power tolerated only as long as it doesn’t actually wield it. Groups that were hoping for this election to finally make a difference are forced to realize that the establishment will never allow change within the system, and violence really is the only option.
Almost as a sympathy strike of sorts, the people of Benin – an extremely industrialized country where as much as 22% of the workforce is employed in factories – stage a massive uprising against their similarly conservative government. Socialism in Benin is in fact a Polish “import”, though the timing here is just a coincidence. Much as was done in Bavaria, the nearby Polish army is invited in to stop the revolution, where some of the colonial troops gett a little too excited and treat the Beninese like they do those other Africans in their own territory. This is a risk the Beninese government accepts in order to keep its own people in check. Poland is rapidly building itself a reputation (good or bad) as not only a cultural, but also a military bulwark against communist revolution across the world (or at least its own sphere). Other countries that have tried to contain the communist threat by compromise, many of them with success, have mixed feelings at best.
In Poland, too, the first real “uprising” after the election is one organized by the hardcore communists, but far from mobilizing the deep masses, it’s a stillborn attempt at a riot that is quickly put down by local forces. The leaders get a little overzealous and call for an outright communist revolution, something most of the SDP’s voters don’t actually want, alienating most of the potential rebels. Not even the most optimistic security officers dare assume that this is the end of it, though.
Indeed, the failed communist uprising actually helps legitimize the one that is yet to come. It shows that the other protesters do not seek a communist state or one ruled by any given party, but merely a fair, democratic one where everyone can vote and expect that vote to matter. Though their actual hopes and goals obviously differ, the various rebel groups have decided to put those differences aside and not only cooperate (as they did last time) but actually found a single united People’s Front against the oppressive Polish government. Almost half a century later, the republican movement is far more refined, defined and organized than it was during the Hungry ‘40s… and it is big. The election was in March 1891, the failed communist uprising in October; but the People’s Front is willing to build its strength for years, showing great skill in its creation of a countrywide network. The police and the Dwójka do notice this activity and make many raids and arrests, seizing thousands of guns illegally stockpiled or smuggled from abroad, but fail to make a dent in the wider movement. It is already too big to go down with anything less than a bang.
Although, the Sejm and the Crown do hold the power to end it before it starts. All they need to do is hold a new election and commit to the results. However, that means that if the SDP won again, they’d actually have to work with them, not just let them have the premiership and then block everything they do, which would only be seen as another betrayal and bring them back to square one. And even if the Sejm were to grit its teeth and accept some moderate reforms, there’s the High Queen. The matter is ideological, but also highly personal: the communists are openly and violently anti-monarchist and would happily have her head on a platter if given the chance. Of course, right now they’re on their best behavior, pretending to be innocent victims only interested in democracy, but the sheer cognitive dissonance displayed by the SDP’s voters baffles the mind. To many anti-communists, the fact that they’re falling for such an obvious farce is the best possible argument against mob rule in general.
Wieslawa doesn’t take the matter lightly, or blinded with rage. An unearthed letter from an official visiting Grazyna Palace in 1892 claims that after one meeting, she breaks into tears as the scale of the mounting conflict dawns on her. The fact of the matter is that while her subjects may have “failed” her, she has also failed them by letting them be led astray like this, and should the crisis continue on its current track, the mother of the nation may be about to kill hundreds of thousands of her own “children”. Crocodile tears, say the critics; she must be truly deluded to cry over horrors she herself is about to release and perfectly able to stop. But if bending to the rebels’ seemingly harmless demands would mean ushering communist rule into Poland, that’s just not an option.
Of course, the possibility of the Crown Army actually losing to any rebel uprising barely even occurs to Wieslawa or the rest of the government, making the People’s Front’s cause seem even more pointless to them. Going by the election results, the revolution ought to have the support of almost half of the voters, and then probably most of the non-voters as well. But as with any other movement, most of its “supporters” don’t want to resort to violence, and even fewer are willing to take up arms themselves.
The build-up to the seemingly inevitable uprising is as nerve-wracking as anything. The very real tension in the air afflicts every aspect of Polish society, even those that have nothing to do with the matter itself, not least the colonies. The first months of 1893 see a series of local rebellions on every end of the colonial empire: Senegambia, the Gold Coast, Malaya, Brunei, the Maniolas… the lattermost in particular is massive, involving more than twice as many rebel soldiers as Poland has troops in the region. These rebellions are all separatist in nature, resisting Poland’s increasingly harsh brand of colonialism adopted within the last decade, but a closer investigation also reveals a sizable Polish contingent among the rebels, either out of actual sympathy for the cause or just to distract and weaken the Crown by forcing it to divert its attention overseas.
Even more so than the typical colonial war, the Battle of Legazpi in September 1893 will go down in infamy. The smaller rebel groups are easily taken care of, but the main force takes Manila and then quickly marches out to try and disperse Marshal Chodkiewicz’ troops amassing nearby. However, sensing that the rebels are going on the offensive, Chodkiewicz makes use of the excellent terrain: Manila and Legazpi are on the same island of Luzon, but that island is long, hilly and very narrow, providing no lack of perfect chokepoints for his troops to dig in. With the Marynarka patrolling the sea and bombarding any rebels who so much as show up on the beach, they’re funneled right into the heavily entrenched kill-zone.
Such a battle would be one-sided at the best of times, with the Poles more than making up for their numbers disadvantage it in terms of positioning and artillery support. Chodkiewicz has constructed a series of trenches behind one another, allowing him to retreat to the next one in good order as the rebels slowly inch their way forward through devastating artillery, rifle and – the first time Poland gets to use such weapons in a large battle – machine gun fire. But his only priority is ending the battle as quickly and with as few Crown casualties as possible. That’s another “first” for Poland: the first practical use of chemical weapons.
The fifth day of the battle starts out like any other, with the Poles sitting in their trenches and the Maniolans considering their options while hiding in the jungle. And just like any other morning, the distinct thunder of Polish artillery fills the air, the rebels’ own captured cannons responding with a brave but pale imitation. But when the shells land, striking the terrain the soldiers are using for cover, something’s different: instead of shockwaves and shrapnel, the shells erupt into a rolling cloud of green gas that sweeps across the entire 10-mile front and crawls directly into the valleys and holes the soldiers are hiding in. The noise of the next incoming volley is covered by the screams of panic and pain that erupt as people all around go blind, start coughing up blood and collapse to the ground; those who can still run, do. The Poles, rather than walk through the gas, mostly just send them off with some more artillery fire and then sail around to meet them on the other side, rounding up the survivors with little resistance. And just like that, the way Chodkiewicz sees it, chlorine gas has done in minutes what might ordinarily have taken days and many, many good soldiers. Little does he know that in the eyes of many, this little incident will retroactively ruin his entire heroic career. And unless every great power suddenly grows a conscience, the trenches, machine guns and most of all the gas seem like horrible foreshadowing of the future of warfare.
Far from trying to cover it up, the Crown actually reports it far and wide as an attempt at intimidation. Chemical weapons are almost by definition something only the state can use, requiring both industry and heavy artillery to back them up, and the Crown Army apparently doesn’t see them as “unethical” in any way but merely effective. They ended the battle faster with fewer casualties – arguably on both sides. And though it isn’t explicitly stated, there’s an implied threat that their use doesn’t have to be limited to the colonial theater…
Poland’s years-long struggle with internal problems doesn’t do wonders for its foreign affairs. In the same way that Polish policies caused unrest in Bavaria and Benin, they’ve made Scotland veer farther away from the Polish sphere for a while now, especially as Poland vowed not to station troops in Scotland and failed to participate in the (short and silly) Shepherd’s War in 1880. England, growing increasingly rich and powerful on its African and Chinese colonies, has wasted no time filling that void, and what might seem like a sudden reversal to an outsider is actually a long time coming. In Scotland, apparently tired and somewhat scared of further feuding with its much larger neighbor, the Unionist Party is propelled to power by popular vote, advocating for closer relations with England – much closer, apparently. In a move mirroring the union of Novgorod and Chernigov, in 1894, Scotland and England agree to solve their disputes by forming a very Russia-inspired federation of sovereign kingdoms (de facto dominated by England, but letting the Scots keep some of their dignity). The Irish question is solved by making it a third kingdom ruled by the King of Scotland’s nephew, though as something of a double standard, Wales isn’t given the same treatment. As part of these reforms, most of Guyana’s recent autonomy is rolled back, but the Scottish colonies of Hibernia, Cascadia and Patagonia are given the option of independence, which all of them choose to take. It's hard to imagine that the new state could entirely smooth over centuries of mutual grudges, but Russia has already shown that it might be possible when the practical benefits are great and the alternatives terrible enough...
Poland isn’t entirely blindsided by this, of course, but unable and almost unwilling to do anything about it. It loses a medium-sized ally, but one that had already become a liability and never seemed to pull its weight. England was never really a Polish enemy, either, but a Scottish one. If England and Scotland have really made up, perhaps Poland can actually have better relations with this new great power of Britannia.
Miraculously, Poland manages to make it through the Sejm’s entire 5-year term without the long-awaited revolution ever coming, but that’s the thing: the rebel movement hasn’t actually gone anywhere, and its mere presence is enough to paralyze the country. The Sejm writes new rules requiring 51% of all deputies, rather than merely votes given, to support any new legislation, so that the SDP stands no chance of sneaking something through when enough people happen to be absent or abstain – but this also makes it even harder for them to pass anything themselves. And as the 1896 election approaches, a committee is found to be analyzing and manipulating voting district borders in order to ensure a non-socialist victory regardless of the popular vote. Even the SDP and the press discovering this does nothing to stop it from occurring anyway.
And yet, much as the others feared, the SDP ends up even more successful than last time, even after the government resorted to outright fraud. This leaves Wieslawa and the Coalition in the exact same position they were in five years ago, with the Sword of Damocles hanging over their heads: accept the people’s misguided will, or annul it once again and knowingly march into the bloody civil war they were given every opportunity to avoid?
The nation waits with bated breath…
Spoiler: Meanwhile, ElsewhereNewspaper Gallery
Apparently trying to stop Moldavian India in its infancy, the Maratha Confederacy has doubled its efforts to hem it in and unite India under its own flag.
In the end, no one bothered to intervene in the Alfish civil war, leading to Mikmaq victory.
Spoiler: CommentsBritannia, huh… I even made it so that they had to sphered and allied to form it, but they pulled it off, so I guess they deserve it?
The communist situation is bizarre indeed. I’ve tried to include some subtext of an unreliable narrator, where the government and the people’s views of the communists are vastly different and only hindsight will show which one was actually right. It would feel somewhat jarring for so much of the country to be supporting openly murderous revolutionaries in the Sejm, and the idea of the communists using the more peaceful SDP as a cover helps sell the idea, I believe… though the election mechanics make it a bit weird. The “coalition” effect is only applied to the end results, after seats have been distributed and the ruling party needs to be determined; during the voting process, the SDP and the communists are effectively competing as two separate parties, even though narratively speaking they should be only one. We’ll just glaze over that.
In the interest of not dragging things out, I’m taking opinions. I’ve been legitimately torn over how to handle the decision, be it from a narrative, mechanical or in-universe point of view, and to be entirely honest, I’ve actively started pushing the damn rebellion to fire. It’s been sitting at maximum power for years now! When/if it does fire, I won’t lose to it on purpose – but before then, I’m willing to compromise if y’all think I should. The roleplaying restrictions I’ve placed on myself have been a lot stricter than a typical game, or any AI country for that matter, but I don’t necessarily want to spend the rest of the game waffling over this or anything. Accepting the results of this election won’t necessarily avert the rebellion, but not doing so will only ensure it fires and possibly make it even bigger. Appointing a new ruling party raises the entire country’s Militancy by 2.
Dunno if I the writer am just in a bad mood or something, but our Poland really hasn't been the best country recently, and while that's better than always being the perfect paragon of virtue, I wouldn't mind some corrective maneuvers.
To nitpick myself: I’m using Kongo to refer to the kingdom, and Congo to the river and thus the geographical regions named after it. Mostly because they just happen to be named that in-game. In their own language, the Poles call both of them Kongo anyway.
Last edited by SilverLeaf167; 2022-03-24 at 02:37 PM.
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Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs
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The only way I could see the communists being allowed power is with a set of harsh restrictions on what they're allowed to do...
Which when I think about it, the Sejm already pretty much has? Since they can't effect the Crown Council, and they can't put anything through without crown and council permission, they can change voting rights for the Sejm but nothing else.
I think there's really two options that make sense here, and neither of them involve just saying the communists don't have the Sejm.
The first is two use the historically not enforced restrictions on the Sejm to allow them to "take power" but effectively have full veto on anything they want to do from the crown and council, and the second is to abolish it entirely as a failed experiment and change the government back to being a monarchy. The second one is probably practically insane, but we've seen monarchs losing their grip do crazier things to maintain it, and the High Queen is potentially losing faith in the public.
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This isn't a long break by our standards or anything, but the next bit is taking longer than I expected. There's big things happening, and I decided I should play a couple chapters ahead to make sure I keep things consistent, don't hype up the wrong thing etc.
Chapter(s) should be up by the end of next week.
Last edited by SilverLeaf167; 2020-08-23 at 07:20 AM.
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Okay, so obviously that wasn't true, and the next update's been delayed a bit. Lectures, other hobbies and whatnot starting up again has drained me of time, but more importantly, productive time worse than expected. You know how it goes. Since the next couple chapters are almost done, I hope to push them out the door soon before I forget altogether, but we're in for another slower period at the very least. Stay tuned.
Last edited by SilverLeaf167; 2020-09-14 at 06:55 AM.
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I'm glad to learn another update is on the way!
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Chapter #67: Their Own Gravediggers (1896-1903)
Spoiler: Chapter2nd of April, 1896
The communist-led Social Democratic Party has won another election, and a narrow majority of seats in the Sejm, leaving the other parties without even the feeble excuse they used last time. Denying the SDP this victory, reached despite the others conspiring against it and defrauding the election – making it doubly difficult to claim any foul play from the SDP – will take nothing less than an outright dismissal by the High Queen. A new election under the current conditions could only be expected to give them even more votes, which leaves a minority government or an arbitrary redivision of seats as the only options should the government insist on keeping the National Coalition in power.
High Queen Wieslawa need only say the word, and it will be done – and legally at that. But legal isn’t the same thing as legitimate, and crimes against the Polish people and their sense of justice will be judged by the man and woman in the street. Poland doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and seeing in great detail just how much progress every surrounding country seems to be making only makes the feeling of betrayal and being left behind that much more painful. All the technological development in the world – telephones, radios, groundbreaking medicine, even the first commercial tractors within just the last decade – can’t make up for moral stagnation, especially when the regular people can’t afford it… or when it also creates new and inhumane tools of violence. For most of a millennium, the people of Poland could believe that their relatively tolerant and reasonable nation possessed not only material but also moral superiority over its opponents, and for the first time in history, they’re not so sure. The Crown doesn’t seem to care about anything other than its military, prestige and new colonies, at great cost to those being conquered and the regular Pole alike. Much as happened during the previous wave of revolutions, nationalism itself has begun to turn against the state: people value not only their own rights but also the “nation” over the “Crown”, and are willing to go against the regime that treats them as “subjects” if that means doing their duty and claiming their place as “citizens”.
Wieslawa’s inner circle of advisors – this is too sensitive to trust even the Crown Council with – is basically tearing her in three different directions. No one, not even those who agree with them on some policies, is willing to openly endorse the communists. Some want to do the above and keep them out of power no matter what, even if it means war: even if the communists could theoretically be contained, their control of the Sejm is something that can’t be accepted as a matter of principle. Others suggest a middle-of-the-road approach, not “accepting” the communists but also not dismissing them: symbolism aside, them sitting in the Sejm doesn’t need to affect national policy in any way that Wieslawa doesn’t want. One could argue that this is just the worst of both worlds, but it has the best chance of avoiding bloodshed. And finally, a small but increasingly persuasive group suggests that the Sejm has become too far removed from its original purpose and an outright threat to national security. If the High Queen and the nobles are losing sleep over it, the only reasonable answer is to accept parliamentarism as a failed experiment, roll back voting rights, turn the Sejm back into a purely noble institution and restore Crown authority. The only “platform” that traitors deserve is the executioner’s.
In some sense, of course, one can sympathize with Wieslawa for not wanting to accept a party that she has good reason to believe wants her dead. The exact ideology of the SDP is hard to grasp at this point, but the secret police in the Dwójka and through them Wieslawa are convinced that any pretense of peaceful socialism is nothing but a cover for their anti-monarchist revolutionary goals. A trickle of news from distant Tibet, under communist rule for 15 years now, tells that the party has purged the nobility and pagan clergy, sent disloyal citizens to labor camps to feed the rest of the country and seized absolute power for itself. Naturally Poland is not Tibet, plus the people spreading these rumors are mostly anti-communist exiles themselves, but the already paranoid atmosphere doesn’t need much pushing to get worse. Of course, other democracies like Lotharingia have had no trouble electing socialists and then peacefully voting them out a term or two later like any other party, but in Krakow, the line between social democrat and revolutionary is frighteningly hazy.
A week after the 1896 election, the Crown comes up with a set of reforms later named the Wieslawan Restoration, passed by the authority of the High Queen without requiring Sejm or even Council approval. Though there’s no hiding that the Restoration is a direct response to the SDP, it only makes ominous side references to it and is wrapped up in a thick layer of monarchist, nationalist or even seemingly humanist rhetoric. Painting a horrid picture of the civil discord and culture wars that Poland has fallen victim to, in her speech to the Sejm – after the SDP has been pushed out of the room – Wieslawa refers back to the times when the Crown and the Sejm could complement each other to provide civilized leadership without having to worry about appeasing demagogues or the political fads of the day. She handily sidesteps how the Sejm was originally created as a check on royal power, and clearly prefers the Crown to be the dominant side in this relationship, seemingly even borrowing many Royalist Party talking points.
By her decree, the Commissions Act of 1856 is repealed and the vote once again restricted to the upper classes. Behind the scenes, leaning on laws that are already in the books but usually not applied, she plans to concentrate far more power under the Crown and her personal appointees. On paper, other liberal laws like the freedom of press and right to organize remain untouched – for now – but the Crown gets much more aggressive in applying its anti-treason laws to any and all activity it considers subversive or revolutionary. White Guard divisions in all but name (so-called Citizen Patrols) are made into auxiliaries of the Crown Army so they can operate and be armed by the state, while at the same time, even ostensibly peaceful left-wing groups come under great scrutiny. Reds and their sympathizers are arrested, threatened, beaten and in some cases even “disappeared”. The Crown has clearly given up any hope of appeasing the left and started digging in for an armed conflict it has accepted as inevitable. The period quickly labeled as the White Terror has begun.
Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, the Free Nations are appalled. Their alliance with their former oppressor Poland was already awkward at times, but made possible by a mix of cultural closeness and geographical distance. More recently, they’ve been eyeing Poland’s behavior in the colonies and at home with growing anxiety. The Wieslawan Reformation is the last straw, condemned by all major parties but especially the socialist lobby. Whatever hope there was of liberal development in Poland seems to have been dashed, and the Free Nations no longer wish to be seen fraternizing with it. More cynically speaking, having “used” Polish help to assert their dominance over an Amatica almost completely free from colonial rule, they feel secure enough even without that alliance. In the rest of the west, the reaction tends to be more cautious, apathetic, or just eye-rolling as the Poles once again show their true colors.
Due to alleged abuses by the SDP, the results of the election are declared null and void and a new one called. Wieslawa makes it clear, though, that either an acceptable party will win, or she’ll make it win. At the same time, Premier Andrzej Gabris retires from his post – citing his deteriorating health, thanking the High Queen for being able to serve, and quickly getting way, way out of Krakow. Apparently he and Wieslawa have had some disagreements behind the scenes, though she still would’ve preferred to keep him on to maintain at least some kind of continuity. He is replaced by Karol Lechowicz, Baron of Rybnik, a young and energetic cousin of the High Queen appointed directly by her to be her trusted lackey.
Even out of those still able to vote, people on both sides have good reasons to fear going to the polls – either the riots popping up all over the country, or the Crown making it unusually clear what it considers the “correct” choice. The middle classes demand an immediate reversal of the Wieslawan Restoration, having found themselves back in the same boat as the lower classes they used to scoff at. The Crown monitors these protests closely and doesn’t hesitate to get violent the instant they seem to cross the line – firearms are avoided for now, but cavalry with long clubs seems to be fair game to break up an unarmed crowd. Although, even the support of the soldiers themselves can’t be taken for granted: the influential officer corps has suddenly found itself voteless as well, and they are increasingly at risk of siding with their subordinates. However, the officers also hold great personal authority over their troops, and so the Crown starts buying their favor with “raises” and other promises bordering on open bribery to hopefully keep them under control. There are also plenty of examples to show that a revolution usually brings with it a thorough purge of the military, meaning that the officers have a strong incentive to remain loyal.
Yugoslavia, an already very autonomous vassal state kept around for its geopolitical value and manpower, has had a mutual understanding with Krakow to avoid entangling it in Poland’s internal problems. However, not only are they still closely connected, it’s also not immune to international trends: in July 1896, a major communist uprising takes place in its capital region near the Polish border. Though Yugoslavia has a sizable army of its own, the Crown Army hesitantly dispatches some help from nearby Prague and Vienna, the latter a hotbed of rebellion in itself, to make sure that Yugoslavia is ready to help if – or when – the same occurs in Poland.
Over in Poland, the first ones to go – lose their nerve, perhaps – aren’t actually the People’s Front but the German patriots of Bremen and Holstein, who have been plaguing the region with intermittent terror attacks and street violence for a long time now. The Bremen Voivodeship is one thing, but Holstein (meaning Hamburg and Lübeck) has never been part of Germany proper and ethnic Germans are actually in the minority. Nonetheless, they rise up against the Crown Army and even their civilian neighbors, whom they see as occupiers and colonizers. As many as 260,000 people (with varying levels of weapons and training, obviously) are estimated to participate in the uprising that begins with the rebels trying to storm military bases in Bremen and Hamburg.
The intense fighting on Poland's own streets proves a tough nut to crack for Crown Army soldiers used to relying on artillery support. Most of them have never seen a real battle either, despite the Army trying to cycle officers back and forth from the colonies for that very reason. Still, the Germans being out of sync with the other rebel groups allows the Crown to bring in troops from nearby regions and box them into the narrow North Sea Corridor, ultimately stamping them out through sheer numbers and firepower.
While the fighting is still going on, the results of the election come in, producing few surprises: a clear Coalition victory. Although, despite Crown crackdowns, the opposition still maintains a small presence in the form of the newly founded Polish Unity Party. It is composed largely of conservatives and liberals turned socialist sympathizers by recent events, and is determined to present at least some sort of dissenting voice in the Sejm, but also wise enough to not be too blatant about it now that the Crown has shown just how harsh it is willing to get. Officially, the PUP focuses on reconciliation, negotiation and compromise – and however honest this programme may be, it seems to fly for now, at least as long as it’s in the minority. Some level of tolerated opposition can be a good way for even an autocratic state to steer rebel sentiment in a controllable direction.
If other rebels were ready to rise up, the failure of the German uprising seems to put them on the back foot for a while. More time passes. At this point, the People’s Front has spent many years preparing itself almost in broad daylight, gripping the Crown Army and civilians alike with a feeling that the revolution could start at any moment. That in itself may have been one more chance for the state to redeem itself – a chance that it threw away, and knowingly went in the opposite direction. The rebels can only shake their heads and sharpen their axes. It’s not a decision to be made lightly, and indeed, waves of people who have lost their faith in Poland are choosing to leave the country entirely; but a committed core of revolutionaries are willing to fight for the cause, be it out of assurance that they will win or bloody-minded determination to fight no matter the odds.
The White Terror is clearly having an impact: on one hand, as the Crown’s abuses escalate, the People’s Front only gets more and more support from the general populace – people whose usual first instinct is to hate any rebels and do as the Crown says. On the other hand, as the repercussions of supporting the rebels become more severe and the number of armed militias in the streets grows by the day, the fear for their lives and livelihoods drives many people to simply hunker down and wait for the storm to pass. The Crown keeps repeating the mantra that it’s all in order to protect them from the rebels and good citizens have nothing to fear, which in a sense is true enough; but being a good citizen in this case means submitting to no representation, no aid, unbridled corporate exploitation and no improvement in sight.
And, surprisingly for both sides, that radicalization seems to be driving members of the People’s Front into the arms of the open communists, the revolutionary wing of the SDP (which is now outright banned from the Sejm). Disgraced by their failed uprising some years ago, they are back with a vengeance. The communists’ core claim that any “rights” given by the bourgeoisie can be retracted at a moment’s notice once they are no longer convenient obviously rings very true at the moment. Liberal democracy where all parties are supposedly allowed will just fall victim to the hegemony of the oppressors and end up driving their interests. While the liberal People’s Front would be willing to team up with them against a common enemy, the feeling doesn’t seem to be mutual. Instead of vague promises of winning first and then letting the people decide what they want, the communists are saying loud and clear what they’ll give the people – or rather, what the people can do for themselves after they’ve formed a true proletarian state.
Given the peculiar length of this gap in between – Long Revolution indeed – people will disagree, in rather semantic manner, on when and where the Polish Civil War truly began. Certainly the street violence starts almost immediately in response to the White Terror in 1896, but it has its less and more intense periods: Red Guards and the People’s Front fighting both Crown forces and (legal or illegal) White Guards, either to raid and harass them or to defend against the same. Despite their disagreements, the rebels mostly resist the temptation to fight each other, but as the Red Guards’ popularity waxes and wanes, the People’s Front becomes increasingly aware that it faces another potential enemy on its left. Due to the underground nature of both movements, no one is entirely certain about their balance of power. But still, while commonplace, these outbursts of violence are ultimately local, and don’t see any attempts by the rebels to take or hold any actual territory; outside these hotspots the rest of the country does its best, and partly even succeeds, to live in relative normalcy.
Outside Poland, the relative peace of the world (besides East Asia) is broken first by a colonial conflict between Asturias and Britannia. Moldavia has formed something of a Mediterranean power bloc to compete with the Latins, extending its influence into Asturias and the UAS, and thus gotten itself involved in this war as well. The real target of the fighting is the same old Asturian claim on Southern Africa, but there’s also fighting in other regions where the two sides’ borders meet, such as the Arabs invading British Central Africa and the Brits marching on Asturian Indochina. After a lot of hassle, the war will end in another white peace with a lot of death but only nominal concessions on both sides.
Once again, though, even if all the fighting is colonial, it seems to have opened some sort of mental block among the European great powers. In March 1900, the newly elected warlike government of the Latin Federation takes advantage of Poland’s situation to basically declare the treaty of the Congress of Charleroi defunct and end 25 years of peace between themselves and Germany. A big war for a tiny border adjustment; basically a war for its own sake. After all, military might is the Federation’s entire raison d’etre, so much like Poland, it needs to flex it every now and then. Since the strike isn’t directed at the Polish sphere itself, Wieslawa takes the hit to her personal prestige and only issues a public denouncement of the Latin government. Not that her words here carry much weight. Luckily for everyone, the war is already over by June of the same year, Germany deciding to cut its losses rather than face the Latin Legions, actually the largest land army in the world. Out of some strange mercy or compromise, Germany is allowed to keep its access to the sea in Udine/Weiden, but forced to give up nearby South Tyrol instead.
Peace in Europe. Just in time for a much more important war to finally begin.
The People’s Front sure has kept the nation waiting. As it has taken over 9 years from its inception to this fateful day, some were already starting to wonder whether the real uprising would come at all, if it’d flame out, or if the current skirmishing was just going to last indefinitely. The Terror on the right and the Red Guards on the left have made it increasingly difficult for the Front to organize, stretching things out even further. On Kupala Night 1900, echoing the Kupala Coup of the Meczenniks in 1745, a coded message is distributed country-wide on the pages of Nowy Polak (New Pole), a popular and seemingly moderate newspaper that the Crown had failed to suspect – in an innocuous article about a football match between Krakow and Lwów. Even if someone fails to receive the message by the designated day, they need only look out the window. On 28 June, almost simultaneously across the country, people put on their arm bands, take out their flags and go to war.
Symbolizing its demands for liberal democracy and nothing else, claiming to take no side between left and right, the flag of the People’s Front is a simple white-red design. The Crown Army has been on “high alert” for almost a decade now, and while it isn’t caught entirely off-guard, it certainly doesn’t know to expect anything today of all days. The main bases in the major cities hold out against the initial attacks, but as people take to the streets with clubs, axes and guns, their arsenal grows with every additional soldier they manage to overpower. Many of the smaller garrison, police and gendarmerie units throughout the rest of the country are taken by surprise and overrun, and often unenthusiastic to shoot their neighbors anyway. At least the feeling is mutual, and the People’s Front is willing to take prisoners wherever possible, or even convince the enemy to join them. Though the numbers and definitions are once again hazy, it’s estimated that as many as 1,550,000 people take part in the uprising – empire-wide, that is.
Indeed, the rebellion isn’t limited to Europe: the People’s Front has also made contacts in the colonies, especially Kongo, which hasn’t really experienced the White Terror but was already suffering regardless. Though operating in Africa is rather difficult due to geographical factors and the locals’ understandable distrust of Poles asking them to take up arms, the rebels promise an end to exploitation and even independence should they succeed. Thus they manage to recruit a decent number of locals, especially in the more remote regions. The order to begin the uprising takes a while longer to reach Africa, but the same goes for the Crown Army’s communications, so it evens out. Unlike in Europe, even regular gendarmerie units are equipped with machine guns; but on the other hand, a lot of those weapons end up in rebel hands once they get overrun.
Even more distant, and exhausted by previous struggles for independence, the East Indies only see comparatively small but still noteworthy uprisings, mainly in the Maniolas. They will be quickly put down by the forces there. To their credit, though, the rebels at least succeed in assassinating the elderly Marshal Chodkiewicz as revenge for the slaughter at Legazpi.
Krakow is one of those places where the local rebellion is contained in its early stages, and High Queen Wieslawa is hurried from Grazyna Palace into the city, believed to be the safest place in the country. She gets, or has, to stay in Wawel Castle – just like in the old days. Now 65 years old, the last few years have been the most active of her already lively 39-year reign, but mostly occupied with maintaining order. Hearing more and more reports of the mayhem that has overtaken the country “despite” her best efforts only fills her with more determination to win – for Poland to win. She has no way to lead it in person, though, besides written messages that are printed in some still operating newspapers or distributed as pamphlets, urging all who care about their country to enlist in the Crown Army. The Citizen Patrols are even more closely integrated into the army, basically treated as expendable but especially vicious shock troops and enforcers.
On paper, the rebels actually outnumber the Crown Army. No region is truly spared, but some of the largest rebel concentrations are in Byelorussia, Slovakia and Ruthenia. Many of the people now fighting under the red-white flag used to be part of their own rebel movements, only to wise up after what happened to the Germans and join forces with the republicans for better odds of success and promises of future compensation. Most of them are still organized into smaller bands scattered across the countryside, though, and after the Crown Army secures its current positions, it will likely start expanding from there and clearing them out, should they fail to regroup and consolidate.
Well-prepared or not, when a People’s Front warband and a proper Army meet in the field, the fight tends to be rather one-sided. As such, the rebels usually try to stick to the cities, towns and villages that they’ve already overrun, having learned that this is the best way to counter or at least reduce the Crown’s advantage in heavy weapons. However, the Crown once again incriminates itself in some of the larger battles by using chlorine gas against its own citizens. The Battle of Mogilev in mid-July goes down as the first, but not the last example. The gas doesn’t care about cover, and leaves the buildings remarkably untouched too, but is obviously even more merciless towards civilians who have failed to evacuate the battlefield. Then again, the rebels are also quick to adapt: though their homemade breath protectors are of limited use, they find much more success with new tactics. This might mean moving into close quarters combat, or – after realizing that the gas floats close to the ground – fortifying themselves on the upper floors of buildings now surrounded by an impenetrable moat of green. Still, merely surviving the gas is not enough to triumph against the better-trained, better-armed and better-organized Crown Army.
By the start of September, roughly two months into the uprising, there is still some ground-level fighting, but the People’s Front has already all but collapsed. Due to the Crown Army holding onto its strongpoints throughout the country, it has been able to stop the rebels from securing any given region as a base of operations. Perhaps even more importantly, though, someone is notably absent: the Red Guards. With a few scattered exceptions, they’ve been less visible than at any point during the Terror, having apparently chosen to go into hiding while the others fight it out. By first undermining the People’s Front and then abandoning it to its fate, they might have doomed it altogether – but might also have blown their own chance to overwhelm the Crown. At least the Yugoslavian communists stage another uprising now that the army is busy helping in Poland, which allows them some early gains, but only until the army comes home again.
In October, the fighting comes to an end – or a pause. Due to the communists looming in the background somewhere, the Crown still can’t quite relax, and Wieslawa remains sequestered in Krakow, only making a short public appearance to show that she is in good health and declare victory over the traitors. She even says some things that could be generously interpreted as conciliatory. However, despite this early show of confidence, it takes until April the next year for the last battles to finally end and villages to be reclaimed in Kongo.
To put the whole thing behind her and show just how completely Poland is back to normal, the High Queen insists on starting the election in May 1901, right on schedule (but again with heavy interference). Whether this is a principled decision, a fatal mistake, only accelerating the inevitable, or all three is a question for the ages, but as soon as campaigning begins – in a historically depressed atmosphere – massive crowds pop up almost out of nowhere to protest and riot once more. The so-called election serves as a stinging reminder of just what the short but still traumatizing fighting last year was all about. The riots aren’t entirely spontaneous, though, but actually provoked by communists taking advantage of the volatile situation.
Indeed, though retrospect will find many practical and even personal reasons behind the Red Guards’ tardiness – ideological disagreements and infighting, for instance – at the moment it also seems to have been a highly strategic decision. Instead of having to compete or share power with the People’s Front, their rivals were taken out by the Crown Army; and after that was over with, the Red Guards’ own ranks were quickly bolstered, not just by survivors from the Front, but also even more civilians outraged by the Crown Army’s conduct during the war. One can only assume that they feel at least a little smug reaping the rewards.
Photographs from 25 May 1901 of the Red Guards rolling into Krakow’s market square on hijacked buses stacked to the brim with guns and literally throwing them into the crowd become an iconic image of the era. The June Uprising was (causing some chronological confusion) an elaborate, bloody setup for the May Revolution.
The Civil War has only just begun.
This second, even larger uprising includes a mind-boggling 3,000,000 rebels, ragtag in nature but becoming more organized by the day as the war continues. The Crown Army in Europe numbers around 1,150,000 on a good day. In contrast to the People’s Front, the Red Guard’s flag is just solid red, and soon it will fly over a number of major cities: due to their excellent timing, and having focused on the urban regions from the start, the Red Guards are immediately on the verge of overwhelming the troops in Gdansk, Poznan, Wroclaw, Warsaw… and Krakow. The capital is both swarming with rebels and completely surrounded by them, ensuring that any relieving force has its work cut out for it. While the army remains admirably loyal after all, and also maintains its clear advantages in organization and equipment, Poland’s military service model means that many if not most civilians have at least basic military training. The rebels are also able to scavenge more equipment from every outpost they take and battle they win.
Still sheltered at Wawel, Wieslawa herself is trapped in the eye of the storm. General Zofia Grzymala throws together a multi-tiered defense of the medieval citadel hiding the High Queen. Meanwhile, her colleague Agnieszka Wend – General of the Army of Prague, a city mostly spared by the rebellion – finds what she believes is a relatively lightly-defended path through rebel territory and immediately goes for it. Telegraph and telephone lines have been cut, and she has no way of knowing the situation within Krakow, but can only assume it’s not good.
At nearly 3 million people, Krakow proper is already one of the largest cities in Europe; and it sits at the center of a vast metropolitan area, its urban sprawl blending seamlessly into neighboring cities like Tarnow and Katowice to form a Greater Krakow of 8 million, more populous than most countries in the world. Needless to say, it’s absolute hell to fight across, and even though distances are short, the map of Greater Krakow with its distinct White and Red-occupied districts, blocks and even individual buildings is an entire theater of war in itself. The Crown Army obviously can’t dig many trenches, and its bases within the city are mostly just administrative centers meant for peacetime organization, not actual frontline fighting. With the exception of a few sections left as monuments, Krakow’s old city walls have been long since taken down as obsolete. Both sides are forced to use buildings as cover, but the urban environment also provides no shortage of flanking routes, and as the city has grown gradually across the ages, some of its streets are almost randomly laid-out mazes while others are wide open and perfectly straight kill-zones.
The machine guns come out right away and are put to deadly use, but whether the Crown Army would use chlorine in the capital or not, it hasn’t been dumb enough to stockpile chemical weapons inside the city in an era of rampant terror activity, and thus doesn’t have any on hand. Causing even more confusion and paranoia is the fact that the Red Guards have no standardized uniforms and can easily disguise themselves just by taking off their red pieces of cloth. The Crown Army tries to impose a strict curfew or evacuate areas under its control, but to little success, as the Red Guards have the city encircled and will not let anyone leave (both to thwart these attempts by the Crown Army, and to stop anything or anyone from being smuggled out).
General Grzymala and the Army of Krakow, the most elite fighting force in the country – officially, anyway – are the only thing standing between the High Queen and the regicidal hordes, and they know this. Yet they do it, the crazy bastards. They manage to hold back the Reds and, after almost a month of fighting, push them out of central Krakow altogether. But rather than fall willingly on top of their bayonets, the Reds make a tactical retreat, joining the besiegers with free rein of the rest of the metropolis. Help is incoming, but the fight is far from over.
Not everywhere is doing so well. The eastern, western and southern regions had comparatively smaller uprisings and can benefit from Yugoslavian and Frisian aid, and Gdansk seems to be holding out for now, but central Poland is going down. Warsaw sees the first major defeat for the Crown Army: after a heroic defense lasting over a month, Bozydar Dnistri and the entire force under his command are overrun and captured or killed. While even the Red Guards don’t just execute prisoners by default, in the heat of the revolution, they show no mercy to those they can identify for “crimes” committed before or during the fighting. This includes Dnistri himself, held collectively responsible for everything done under his command, and publicly executed in front of his former headquarters. Whereas the Crown has held onto its ancient tradition of beheading traitors by axe, the Reds prefer the more matter-of-fact and impersonal method of a firing squad.
(The numbers on the rebel side are incomplete, not showing how many there really were.)
General Wend’s reinforcements cut a bloody swath through the rebels to reach Krakow, only for the hole to close up behind them. She and Grzymala both hole up in the city and strengthen the perimeter, but other generals keep roaming as much as they can to catch stragglers, seek out battles they can win and stop the Reds from capturing any more ground. The Reds, meanwhile, are already trying to set up some kind of competing government in the area around Warsaw. Random wandering Guards are easy pickings for the Crown Army, but it feels unready to assault this region where the rebels are strongest and which might take the combined force of multiple Armies to penetrate.
(Situation on 1 July 1901. Number of Red troops in order from lightest to darkest: any, >30 K, >100 K.)
Poznan falls in late July. Albert Dnistri follows his cousin Bozydar into Wyraj, but manages to drag down many, many godless Reds with him. Let them explain themselves to Weles in person.
The second battle for Krakow begins in mid-August. Not content to simply besiege the heart of the nation and risk getting surrounded themselves if they waste too much time, the Reds build up their forces for a massive assault that can only be described as a human wave. So massive are their numbers that potential Crown reinforcements actually face the painful choice of whether to rush in to protect the capital and the High Queen no matter what, or stay out of it and be more likely to fight another day. Lambert Razicky, commander of the Army of Berlin and noted loyalist and glory hound, chooses the former. His bravery will be remembered.
Poland ill needs a martyr, though. Zofia Grzymala is killed in the fighting, struck by a sniper while observing the front from the window of a residential building. The Red who kills her, a housewife handed one of the better rifles after she showed a sharp eye and a stable hand, doesn’t even know who she was. She will go the rest of her days thinking she only shot some random officer poking her head out a little too far, not the recently promoted Marshal of the Realm.
Agnieszka Wend takes over the defense, and Razicky arrives just in time to join the fray – the generals and their troops can be rather competitive, which also shows on the ground, but this is no time for petty rivalry. Experience shows time and again that one Crown soldier is worth a dozen rebels, and indeed, an engagement often starts out with the Reds taking casualties at almost a 10-to-1 ratio; but as the bodies pile up, they just keep climbing over them, and the difference starts to shrink. When one falls, there’s always someone to pick up their gun and carry on the fight. Hell on Earth for everyone involved, but both sides only become more committed by the day.
On October 9, there’s a glimpse of light in the darkness: reinforcements from the eastern front win a massive victory near Przemysl, inching one step closer to the battle still raging in Krakow.
It turns out that glimpse was just the headlight of an incoming train.
At the same time that more and more excited proles join the revolution, the Latin Federation chooses to once again exploit a Poland at the verge of collapse and invade Calais. This should be a major historical event, yet the nation has, in all honesty, better things to worry about right now.
Meanwhile in the east, the Russians seem eager to prove that Wieslawa was always right about them: as Poland has fallen from grace and power, the King of Russia has declared himself the “protector of all Russians”, including rather questionably the Ruthenians and the Byelorussians. Now Russian troops are already crossing the Dniepr, initially into the border city of Mogilev.
As the fighting rages on in Krakow, High Queen Wieslawa has no way to respond to these undeclared acts of war or actually even hear about them. However, putting their own careers and lives on the line for what they believe is the best of the nation, the local authorities choose to try and spare Poland from utter destruction by giving up willingly. In return for a truce and an acceptance of more limited demands, both the Latins and the Russians get to occupy Polish territory without a fight. If Poland only survives, it can settle things later.
And not a day too soon, as Germany decides to follow suit and do what the rebels couldn’t: reclaim the North Sea Corridor. Here the decision to surrender is less obvious: the North Sea is far more critical for Poland than either Mogilev or even Calais ever was. Germany was probably hoping to attack while Poland was distracted with two other great powers, but with them appeased for the moment, the Polish commanders – acting on their own initiative – actually decide to try and fight this one out, or at least wait and see before just bending over. Maybe the Germans will take out some Reds on their way in.
German troops start marching into Frisia, Yugoslavia, Lotharingia and Bavaria – the latter two of which have been remarkably unhelpful against the Reds – but in Krakow, there’s a Midwinter miracle on December 23. After pushing through a wall of corpses and corpses-to-be, more relieving forces manage to squeeze the Reds between an internal ring and an external one, snatch victory from the jaws of defeat and turn it into a near-annihilation of the enemy force. The battle is very bloody for the Crown as well, but including all the dead, captured and wounded, the Reds lose more than half a million troops in this single months-long battle for the nation’s soul. The war might not be lost yet. Also, notably, the way is now open for the High Queen herself to be evacuated south to Yugoslavia – a blow to her pride, but after almost half a year under siege in Wawel, one she is willing to take.
The war is just getting messier, but hopefully approaching its end. The Reds have lost a lot of people, not to mention ground, and the Crown is marching on Warsaw next. However, the remaining Reds have regrouped and become concentrated in such a way that they’re rather difficult to approach. The Germans have in fact ended up fighting some of them, but that’s just getting rid of mice by throwing in snakes, and they too will have to be dealt with.
(Situation on 1 January 1902. Red presence in order of lightest to darkest: any, >30 K, full occupation.)
The first half of 1902 is a long series of hard-fought victories for the Crown. As it tries to put new recruits in arms and replenish its numbers, those fresh troops on their way to join the fight are easy prey for Reds and Germans alike, but all in all it’s clearly on the way to success. The Crown Army even finds some time to push back the Germans alongside fighting the Reds. Poland’s allies and vassals, who weren’t too eager to wade into the civil war, acquit themselves much better in the defense of their own territory. It’s a testament to Polish bravery or German cowardice when, in May, they agree to cease their offensive and go home empty-handed before the tide turns against them.
The civil war proves remarkably difficult to end, though. Even if the Reds lose ground, they don’t necessarily get weaker the way a conventional enemy does: in addition to guerrilla warfare, they can even raise entirely new units behind Crown lines. Several new “waves” of rebels rise up throughout 1902, even if they keep getting beaten back down; and they become increasingly willing to simply escape and join the next wave rather than go down fighting. The worst thing about this is that the Crown can never know how many more soldiers or suicidal peasants might still be hiding in the woodwork.
Almost to the day on 1 January 1903, after two and a half years of nearly constant fighting (if one includes the People’s Front), there’s finally a point where there are no rebel forces active in the field or controlling any territory. Some of their leaders have been killed or captured, but others have gone into hiding – as they tend to do – and the sentiment in the street is clearly that this isn’t really the end of it. As long as the root causes aren’t fixed, it will repeat next week, next month, next year or maybe next decade, but it will repeat. The Crown has made enemies of its own people; and as it happens, it kind of needs its people.
The Hungry ‘40s ended on a similar note: a tired truce, but not a true lasting peace. And much like Nadbor III back then, High Queen Wieslawa – finally returning to a half-ruined Krakow – is under a lot of pressure from all sides to try and forge one. The reforms initiated in Nadbor III’s time ended up stalling, and then reversing course thanks to Wieslawa. By now it should be clear that whether she wants to or not, she must seize this brief window to do as much as she can to modernize the country – politically. She probably can’t save her reputation, but maybe she can still save Poland, the Poles… and herself. The Long Revolution has already lasted 60 years; it’s about time it finally ended, if it ever can.
Spoiler: Meanwhile, ElsewhereNewspaper Gallery
For at least a couple chapters, world information will be brought up as it becomes relevant.
Spoiler: CommentsAn extremely difficult chapter to write. Practically speaking, sure, but also in how I (as the government of Poland) feel like I'm definitely "in the wrong" – and somehow in a much more visceral way than before in this AAR, as we move from relatively distant and abstracted power struggles closer and closer to the modern day, and the stuff of real civil wars that still scar the psyche of many countries. This unplanned break definitely helped put some mental space between myself and these couple chapters, though, and I don't really feel that strongly about them anymore.
Not to mention the other reasons this chapter was stressful. A real nail-biter, for me anyway. Whether I’d win or lose (I would’ve if the rebels had better timing), whether the damn revolts would start at all, or if the game would just screw with me and make them evaporate at the last moment. How long can you sit at like 20% revolt risk!? Isn’t that supposed to be monthly? Also, more so than ever before, I’ve been making actively poor decisions putting roleplay first, gameplay second, and that always fills me with constant doubt over whether I’m doing too much or too little. Definitely overthinking what’s supposed to be just a lighthearted narrative I write for fun… but I’m of the school of thought that feels like events in an AAR should arise at least somewhat naturally instead of the player deciding them ahead of time. When it comes to those written by myself, anyway. I really don’t judge anyone else’s.
Not wanting to end on a cliffhanger and then immediately get derailed by the game being silly, this turned out to be another candidate for the longest chapter so far. I mean, up until the last minute it seemed like the Reds were going to be a tiny sideshow to the People’s Front, but suddenly some switch flipped somewhere, and the rest is history. As of the end of this chapter, there are supposedly still millions of rebels ready to rise up, but who knows with this game. I also played through the next chapter before publishing this one, just to make double-sure I didn’t spend too much time writing a setup for something that ends up not happening.
Anyway. No matter how I mulled it over, none of the half-hearted options – sticking with the status quo, or accepting but kneecapping the SDP and thus pretty much sticking with the status quo – really felt right, so I went the other way, and this is where it got me. Abolishing the Sejm entirely felt unfeasible, but why should or would Wieslawa tolerate one that insists on electing the communists over and over again? In-universe there really wasn’t a pleasant option here, and this one also required modding to work, but at least it moved us somewhere, and in a way I considered roughly plausible. Obviously the narrative side of the situation was kinda engineered by me, and the game went out of its way to try and derail it, but I’m still impressed with Vic 2 for letting it emerge to begin with. Anyway, as implied at the end, Wieslawa’s going to take this little… show of displeasure as motivation to finally go “ugh, fine.”
Some mechanical notes, if anyone familiar with the game is curious/skeptical about the rebels’ odds of victory:
- PDM reduces the enormous +4 combat boost from gas attack to +2, and as usual it’s removed once the enemy unlocks gas defense.
- I’m not otherwise using the mod-mod PDM: Divide by Zero, but before this chapter I nabbed the events that give rebels new military tech at certain intervals – otherwise they’re at zero tech forever, contributing to those battles where the rebels lose by an order of magnitude. They’re still a few tiers behind the typical country though, these techs don’t include gas attack or defense, and as the numbers show, proper troops still have a huge advantage. Just smaller than vanilla.
Last edited by SilverLeaf167; 2022-03-24 at 03:38 PM.
- Join Date
- Feb 2016
- Earth and/or not-Earth
Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs
I'm delighted to see this AAR updating again - and wow, what an update!
I think Wieslawa might go down in history as the worst monarch in Polish history - deliberately bringing about a massive civil war only to change her mind and give the rebels what they want after millions of deaths is pretty hard to top. And I can't help but notice that Poland has basically inflicted an entire Great War's worth of casualties on itself just as the era of Great Wars is starting to get underway. That doesn't bode well for the future.
- Join Date
- Jun 2010
- Helsinki, Finland
Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs
Chapter #68: Red-Stained Band-Aid (1903-1905)
Spoiler: Chapter1st of January, 1903
Krakow is a city of ghosts. Usually when people say that, they mean that it has a lot of history; but if someone could look at the spiritual sediment of the years 1900-03, they would find a lot of grudges and blood. Every street has a crater, every wall its bullet holes – every home a tragedy. Even historical buildings, temples, churches and synagogues have taken great damage as the Reds have gone out of their way to use them as bases, and with a heavy heart, the Crown has had no choice but to shoot anyway. Of course, the implication that they’re grieving the buildings more than the people is part of the problem for many.
Since the June Uprising of 1900, which led to the May Revolution of 1901, Poland’s total population has actually shrunk by 6 million. This includes many who simply left the country, but obviously those who died in the fighting, either as participants or as collateral damage (from a stray projectile, a months-long siege or simple political persecution). And of course, statistically speaking, those who “should” have been born but weren’t. But though the war is currently on break, if nothing is done to prevent it from heating up again, that number will only grow. The thing with civil wars is that even if they begin as political disagreements, they quickly become as personal as can get once the killing starts.
The People’s Front and the Red Guards had (or still have – they haven’t gone anywhere) different approaches, but were ultimately fighting for the same reason: the regular people are not well. They lack many things that the Crown has the power to give, and are exploited by people the Crown has the power to stop, but when they tried asking, the Crown only doubled down and got even worse. Some wanted to fix this by winning themselves the vote, and thus the ability to change their own fates; others by simply skipping the middle man and taking what they wanted, which, after decades of parliamentary reform going nowhere, actually proved the more popular idea by far.
If High Queen Wieslawa really wants to end the revolution, the only thing she can do is lean into reform. It’s a hard pill to swallow after seemingly "winning" the civil war, but there’s a point where “not negotiating with rebels” has to give way to the realization that not only do those “rebels” and their sympathizers include the bulk of the country, the only thing that proud bullheadedness will cause here is more and more death, possibly or likely her own. She has finally acknowledged this, and while she can hardly pretend to have had a change of heart – convincingly, anyway – she can at least go through the motions and seek a fresh way forward. In a republican system, or if she were anything less than the High Queen, she definitely would be expected to step down or worse; but abdication is not in the cards, and she’s in good health for the time being, so uneasy compromise is the best anyone will get. As her personal image has been bathed in blood, though, she is forced to retreat somewhat from the public view and leave more space for other politicians, lest those vital decisions be also tainted by her touch.
The May Revolution began just as another heavily manipulated election was getting under way, and as Krakow itself became a warzone, no one thought twice about suspending the election and extending the previous Sejm’s term until peace could be restored. Of course, the Sejm couldn’t actually function anyway: as leaders hid in their fortresses and communications were cut, what government there was left basically had to improvise and fend for itself, and now everyone is trying to compare notes on what even happened during that lawless time. Not to mention that as a result of the war, many of the Sejm’s 300 deputies have died, been jailed or simply decided to retire, inevitably ushering in backbenchers or even a whole new generation to fill their seats.
Wieslawa pushes the decimated Sejm to act while it can, i.e. allows it to reverse some changes that she herself dictated. There’s no option here that would make her look good, but at least she gets to try and claim some credit for this, which might actually fly with less attentive citizens. The clunky Commissions Act isn’t reinstated; instead, for the first time, the Sejm goes all the way and officially expands its voting franchise to… everyone who pays a certain minimum in taxes. This basically includes the middle classes, but still not the manual laborers who form around 80% of the population. A lot of countries have used something similar as a transition towards universal suffrage, though, and many people are at least willing to wait and see if this finally leads to real change. Meanwhile, even though the lower classes are still voteless as ever, this causes at least a temporary disruption in their alliance with the middle classes, which includes many leaders and organizers of the various rebel movements.
The Sejm takes the risk of repeating history by calling an election in this confused atmosphere, but it has little choice. While that’s underway, the National Coalition aims to undercut the Reds (in the Sejm and in the streets) by finally passing some of the most demanded legislation, ranging from general civic reforms to seemingly esoteric but actually critical things like education. Although a well-established tradition of religious, tutor and parent-to-child teaching has technically achieved almost full literacy in Poland, anything other than basic reading and math – especially post-primary education – has been pretty much restricted to the rich and well-connected. Some of these laws introduced in 1903 aim to make higher education and thus a higher standard of living more attainable to the regular people as well, but most of this new schooling will still be organized by various religious organizations (whatever kind of pagan or oddani they might be). This is partly because they’re the ones best equipped to provide it, but also a conscious decision by the Coalition to try and prevent undue socialist influence. The rapid expansion and maintenance of these schools will also require quite a bit of state funding.
With these individually modest changes but a steady stream of more to come, the country lets out a collective sigh of relief and the immediate risk of renewed rebellion seems to all but disintegrate. There’s still trials, unrest, heated polemic and grudges that will last for a century, but they’re all “tolerable”. The People’s Front is well on its way to getting exactly what it wanted, whereas the remaining Reds are left floundering with greatly reduced support from an exhausted nation: even those with no illusions regarding the Crown are in no mood to keep fighting for the rest of their (potentially very short) lives while there’s any chance of a peaceful alternative. In fact, the most frustrated are those who fought on the side of the Crown, especially the White Guard and other right-wing groups, who are now seeing their glorious – but alas, illusionary – victory turn to bitter compromise.
While it seems – and is probably true – that the Crown could’ve avoided a lot of horror by simply doing this in the first place, as critics and adversaries have been saying all this time, the mental and cultural hurdles that had to be overcome to officially turn the noble Sejm into a popular parliament of the people should not be entirely dismissed with the benefit of hindsight.
Meanwhile, Poland’s foreign policy must also be revived. After its ugly breakup with the Free Nations and the “loss” of Scotland, and the loss of Calais and Mogilev in the chaos of the past few years – a great humiliation for the invincible Poland – it is in dire need of European allies. The old pact with Moldavia is remade once more, creating a distinctly “central” alliance of Sweden, Poland and Moldavia (plus various smaller nations) stretching from the Arctic to the Indian Ocean. Poland and Moldavia have both tried seeing other countries, but history and the realities of geography just keep bringing them together again.
The election season of 1903 isn’t easy for any of the parties, trying not to stoke up any new hostilities, but especially the National Coalition, which has to commit to its new direction and adapt its rhetoric to a more sensitive time and expanding voter base. The 7-year ban on the SDP is lifted, but while it makes a respectable comeback at the ballot box, in terms of actual seats it fails to squeak out the all-important majority in a single district. Instead, the cobbled-together Polish Unity Party is looking to become a major player in its place, quickly transforming from an uneasy “official opposition” to what is best described as a populist, relatively hardline socialist party that is nonetheless committed to reform rather than revolution.
Which is good, because once the results come in, Poland finds itself in an awfully familiar situation. The PUP wins the most seats in the Sejm, but falls short of a majority. The last time this happened with the SDP, they were sidelined in favor of the Coalition, leaping down the slippery slope towards civil war. At least the government has learned from its mistakes and agrees to step aside to let the PUP take the reins, which Wieslawa also grudgingly accepts. The PUP has enough support from the social-liberal wing of the Populists to form a shaky majority government, but the liberals are also expected to act as a moderating influence and retract their support should the PUP try anything too radical. All in all, it’s perhaps the best possible way for a pseudo-communist party to come to power in Poland. From the ashes of the Restoration and bloody Revolution, it’s time to start a Reconstruction.
Wieslawa’s relationship with the PUP’s choice of Premier is awkward, but workable. The journalist and political author Mikolaj Rusin used to be a deputy of the National Coalition, but mostly because it was the default choice for a political greenhorn still getting his footing; after his actual views solidified, he joined the newly-formed PUP in the 1896 election. While there are in fact revolutionary elements within the party, he is clearly on the moderate end of the spectrum, and while his goals are ambitious, what matters is that he wants to reach them legally and legitimately by working with the Sejm. He has an ambivalent history with the civil war, but no personal involvement (he fled to Bavaria for the duration), and his preferred way forward is clear.
The core of those ambitions is simple: after recovering from the devastation of the war, Poland remains the greatest industrial power in the world, and that wealth should also be enjoyed by those who produce it. This inevitably means taking away from the oppressors who have been hoarding that money until now, and as the PUP tries to take almost total control of the country’s economic policy – heavy regulations, state-owned enterprises, progressive taxation – many are rightfully wondering if the Reds won the civil war after all. Those who’d rather keep that war from reoccurring have no choice but to reserve judgment until these economic policies have at least been tried in practice, though it certainly seems like the PUP is driving headfirst into a degree of economic planning that it has no ability to handle. Industrialists are none too happy, and the noble landowners also see the specter of major land reform down the line.
The PUP finally legalizes trade unions, organizations through which the workers of a given factory, company or entire industry can join forces and demand better treatment from their employers, be it by collective bargaining or direct action such as strikes. Until now, these have been specifically banned and sometimes violently dispersed, but this only led them to move underground and provide manpower for the Reds. Indeed, there are worrying traces of Red militancy within the now emerging unions as well, but the argument goes that they’re going to exist anyway and legalizing them is the only way to regulate them. Of course, the PUP can hardly deny that it sympathizes with the unions and wants to use them to do from below what the Sejm can’t do from above.
In the same vein, the PUP wants to continue on the path begun before the last election and keep expanding voting rights until they cover the entire adult population. Only thus, the party argues, can the root causes of the civil war be addressed and true parliamentarism achieved: to avoid them taking to the streets, the people must be led to the ballot box instead. Of course, to old-school nobles who never wanted “true parliamentarism” to begin with, this is quite hard to swallow, not to mention fears that many of the additional votes will end up going to the left wing and solidifying their control of the Sejm. However, after much passionate debate, the Representation Acts are passed over the course of 1904-05. While quite radical by Polish standards, it’s really just the bare minimum that’s been enjoyed by almost every other country in Europe for decades now – not so much breaking new ground as catching up. But, as long as it took to arrive, the speed of reform in the PUP's first term has been immense.
All these reforms are achieved in the shadow of another wave of revolutions sweeping the rest of Eurasia, heightening anti-socialist sentiment among some but also serving as a reminder of why compromise is the lesser of two evils. In March 1904, Yugoslavia sees another major uprising by groups trying to achieve a communist state, independence from Poland, or both. The PUP is noticeably more reluctant than the Coalition to send in troops to put down the rebellion, which many see as a damning revelation of the party’s true sympathies, but luckily the Sejm doesn’t control the Crown Army – the Crown does. Multiple armies march into Yugoslavia to maintain control of the Principality, and while the rebellion is ultimately defeated after more than half a year of fighting, it feels like the civil war has merely moved to new fronts.
To the east, two major countries with no merciful overlord to protect them are defeated by such uprisings and join Tibet in the ranks of communist “dictatorships”, as they are quickly branded. Uralia provides a much closer-to-home example of what such a nation looks like, and is certainly a cultural threat if not a military one. Manchuria, on the other hand, is one of the most populous countries in the world (even the most, depending on how you count certain countries' colonies), and its fall to communism – should it last – is a radical shift in the power balance of the already tumultuous region. Its long-standing alliance with Japan is broken, for one, and the largest independent country in China is no longer a republic (even an authoritarian one) but an outright revolutionary state that aims to spread its dangerous ideology.
These revolutions happening abroad are actually rather inconvenient for the PUP, as they seem to undermine its own attempts to establish itself as a peaceful and democratic party. As a result, Premier Mikolaj Rusin often has to try and denounce such movements in an awkward display of ideological gymnastics: peaceful reform under the threat of revolution is preferable over mutually destructive conflict, and thus any country where one actually occurs has already failed and been forced to take an inferior alternative (pushing aside the fact that a revolution that’s never expected to occur isn’t very threatening). This rather contradictory doctrine, smoothed out over time and eventually dubbed Rusinism, will join the likes of Sternism and Zhaoism as a major school of socialist thought born out of Poland’s unique circumstances.
Speaking of dangerous ideology, though, the Coalition’s hopes of controlling the expanded school system by tying it to religion are dashed by the PUP continuing to pump more and more money into it. The initiative is arguably rather clever in that it doesn’t attack the current or up-and-coming institutions that are tied to religious groups, and in fact gives them more money as well; but what it does is allow the founding of more and more schools without religious ties. It’s rather difficult for anyone to make a convincing argument against, if they ever want the lower classes to vote for them.
But as Poland’s eyes are still focused inward, many feel confused or even angry that neither the Sejm nor the Crown has made a serious effort to address what they view as the elephant in the room: Calais and Mogilev. They were handed over to the Latins and Russia in a moment of weakness, and in a manner that was in fact illegal: while probably a wise decision, it was still made by local authorities without the actual right to make peace treaties ceding Polish territory to a foreign power. There are calls for Poland to either demand them back, or otherwise prepare for war to reclaim them and its position as the unrivalled global power. The Crown Army has had its hands full replenishing its ranks after the civil war, training the soldiers hastily conscripted during it, and arguing with the PUP over the role that the White Guards should or should not play in the military. But if Poland is working with the assumption that it can freely bide its time until it’s ready, it might well see war come to its doorstep once again.
March 1905. The Crown Army has once again been deployed in Yugoslavia, this time to put down a separatist uprising in Bosnia. Ethnic and cultural lines are notoriously messy in the region, the puppet government having tried and mostly failed to create some kind of united Yugoslavian identity. Even after the Pannonians to the north, Croats to the west and Serbs to the east were recognized as distinct groups and given certain pseudo-federal rights, the less numerous Bosniaks (around 8% of the population) fell through the cracks, leading to continued unrest in the mountainous center of the country.
However, this isn’t just a regular rebellion, which Yugoslavia seems to have every other week. While the other great powers obviously didn’t hesitate to exploit openings created by the communist uprisings in Poland and Yugoslavia, they also had no interest in actively supporting them and potentially encouraging similar movements within their own borders. This separatist movement, in a region the Latins have great interest in no less, is a different story. As the ragtag Bosniaks are defeated by Polish and Yugoslavian forces – the latter even more exhausted than the former – it becomes clearer and clearer that the Latin Federation is providing them with not just moral but also economic and military support, smuggled in across the Adriatic. When High Queen Wieslawa publicly accuses the Latins and demands that they stop meddling in the Slavic sphere, they don’t in fact back down, but rather double down and start questioning the very legitimacy of that sphere in the first place.
The very state of Yugoslavia started out as nothing but a Polish power project, a puppet to control the Balkans and act as a buffer against Italy, and that’s what it still is today. After a few surprisingly stable centuries, in more recent years, greater autonomy from Poland – an admirable idea – has only led to unrest as the puppet state proves fundamentally unable to keep itself together. Most of the population remains staunchly Christian, too, and be they separatist, republican or communist, freedom from Polish influence is a goal they can all agree on.
It doesn’t help that the Latins have been dredging up their old claims to the region, denouncing the Treaty of Rome of 1737 that supposedly established the present borders but which they claim to have never fully accepted. When the Latins bring border disputes to the table, it doesn’t take long for the much more acute issue of Calais to be raised in turn. With both sides demanding something from the other and refusing to back down, the situation quickly develops into another major international crisis, and no one seems to be in the mood for another congress.
There are some crises that start out small and routine, that no one expects to balloon out of control. With relations at a long-time low and the Latins not even bothering to hide their aggression, the combined Calais-Mogilev-Bosnia crisis isn’t one of them: leaders on both sides basically set out with the assumption that war is coming, and they’ll be surprised if it doesn’t. The real question is who else will stick their nose into it and who will support whom. For what it’s worth, Moldavia has Poland’s back right from the start, much preferring the current status quo in the Balkans and having committed to the alliance for now. Precedent implies that Russia will once again side with the Latins, an implication that proves to be correct. With the Free Nations and Japan expected to stay out of European disputes as usual, the real wildcards are Britannia and Germany. Within the month, Britannia declares its intent to respect and, if necessary, protect Slavic sovereignty – it too is worried about this trend of Latin revanchism and growing power in the region. Germany, however, seemingly hates and has recently gone to war with both sides. Nobody knows if it’ll support either of them, stay neutral, or try another high-risk gambit somewhere down the road.
Within Poland, the government does its best to highlight the other side’s provocations and emphasize its own striving for peace. Though there are awkward differences between the Crown and the PUP regarding Yugoslavia and foreign policy, the need to defend against direct aggression is at least something they can agree on, as can the otherwise divided populace. Whatever their politics, they still want Poland to remain strong and independent. Calais and Mogilev for that matter are ancient Polish territory, and they are under illegal occupation, though the opinions of the people actually living there are strongly divided and hard to accurately gauge – both sides have spent a while publishing bold claims of which country those cities belong or “want to” belong to. Their fates will be decided by others.
It’s not easy to bring together a nation so shortly after a civil war, but in return for the Crown supporting certain popular legislation like long-awaited restrictions on child labor (loudly opposed by the industrial lobby), the PUP agrees to throw its full weight behind the propaganda effort. The totally-not-Reds try to balance between acknowledging Poland’s past sins and driving home the point that right now, the Latins and Russians are trying to push the country back down right as it’s on the brink of true progress. They and their associated papers make much noise about the conservative and reactionary forces in those enemy nations, but also veiled references to such groups within Poland itself that would surely exploit any weakness among The People. Thus, contemporary and future critics will argue, the PUP is also enlisted in the effort to maintain Poland’s imperial hegemony.
Of course, though they can’t afford to show any hesitation, it’s not like either side has decided to go to war yet: as unlikely as it seems, achieving the same goals with much less bloodshed would still be the preferable option. As they each gauge the other’s strength, sanctions and offers aplenty are thrown around through the summer and fall of 1905. To stop the Bosnian insurrection, Italian shipping is banned from Yugoslavian ports, quickly escalating into an outright embargo and trade war between the two blocs. Poland demands back Calais and Mogilev, even making some vague promises of a revised colonial treaty in return, but is instantly shot down. The Latins demand that Poland retreat from Frisia and Yugoslavia, while Russia seems to want as much of Byelorussia as it can get, an utter non-starter. In the end, all these demands are impossible to reconcile, and already by August, it has truly become a matter of who will fire the first shot where and when. Even if inevitable, PR still matters and the diplomatic repercussions for the perceived aggressor could be severe. Germany, too, grudgingly slips into the Polish bloc, having decided that its Latin border is more critical than the Polish one.
In late October, High Queen Wieslawa – with the backing of the Crown Council and the Sejm – orders the mobilization of Poland’s reserves. All men and women of service age are ordered to report to their local military station, from which some of them will be sorted straight to the border, some to training camps and most back home until they’re needed (even if Poland is one of the few countries to include women in the draft, the percentage of the population actually put in arms remains roughly the same and mostly male). Officially, this is only to put the country on high alert in case of attack, but everyone knows that it’s also a provocation in itself: if one side mobilizes and the other doesn’t, it’s only shooting itself in the foot. Thus, while officials try to deal with the flood of people and paperwork, Wieslawa’s order sets off an instant chain reaction all across Europe as other countries rush to do the same.
8th of November. The Latin monitor RN Sagitta passes right outside the port of Pula, Yugoslavia. After their hails are ignored, the coastal batteries fire several warning shots over the ship. A shot that was allegedly supposed to miss strikes the deck, killing one sailor and seriously injuring two. The Sagitta finally retreats.
11th of November. A diplomatic summit convenes in Tunis, United Arab States. There’s little neutral ground to be found in Europe, but the UAS and Asturias form one of the only pseudo-neutral blocs in this entire quarter of the world, hence the meeting in such an out-of-the-way place. Its original purpose was to reaffirm certain agreements on civilian shipping “in case of” war, but the recent and still fuzzy Sagitta Incident has sidetracked the whole thing. It is attended by some of the top officials in the region, namely the Latin Admiral Lettieri and some of Poland’s ambassadors to Yugoslavia. The sailor killed on the Sagitta was the first actual death in these myriad border incidents, the Latins demand reparations, and so and so on. No progress is made. Suddenly, the show is stolen by a gunshot. Lettieri falls to the ground, soon to take his last breath. He has been assassinated by Yugoslavian soldier Ilija Šimek, “mad with the lust for vengeance” (as the papers put it) for his brother’s death fighting the Bosniaks. He saw his chance to lash out and took it. Šimek is quickly tackled and restrained by his fellow soldiers, but needless to say, panic ensues and the negotiations break down entirely. The two parties barely make it out of Tunis without starting to fight then and there.
13th of November. Lettieri’s assassination is the convenient last straw. Who is actually to “blame” for everything has been thoroughly scrambled, but the Slavs have literally and figuratively fired the first shot, and as soon Rome gets the formalities in order, the declaration of war rings out across the continent. The opening salvo is fired upon Wieden, Germany, immediately making sure that the entire awkward coalition has no choice but to commit. It is quickly followed by more in Lotharingia, Switzerland, the Dniepr and elsewhere, and as soon as the artillery quiets down, the infantry starts to advance. In one move, nearly the entirety of the Old World from Ireland to Mongolia, from Norway to Namibia, has been dragged into war.
Of course, no matter how large the war might seem, many people – whether naive or in fact cynical – believe that it might still end quickly and rather painlessly. Being home by Midwinter might be a bit much, but true, many wars between the great powers have started off with similar bravado, only to fizzle out a couple months later when one side's bluff is called and a modest peace treaty hammered out after all. But the thing is, when viewed in retrospect, the last century in Europe hasn’t seen a single true agreement so much as one bitter armistice after another. Every so-called peace has sown the seed of a new war or several. It might turn out that those grievances have finally piled up to the point that they can only be settled by overwhelming force and unconditional surrender.
Whatever the case, for now it certainly seems like a Great War has begun.
Spoiler: Meanwhile, ElsewhereNewspaper Gallery
A major update regarding the belligerent countries is coming next.
Spoiler: CommentsOf course it’s the frickin’ Balkans.
Those numbers seem pretty one-sided, but who knows how it actually goes. There are more allies on my side, but the Latins and Russia haven't called in theirs, both have larger armies than I personally do, and the AI also has a habit of only building up to force-limit after the war has started. PDM also adds a complicated system and unique events for great wars to potentially drag in more and more countries on either side. I haven't played forward yet.
The popular narrative of the real-life Great War is one of a long peace broken by a random individual act, and a deadly domino effect that took everyone by surprise but was nonetheless “inevitable” in hindsight. This timeline is rather different, in that the continent has basically been stumbling from one war and crisis to another for a good while now and this is only the biggest one so far. For better or worse, I can’t really borrow many of the usual clichés, and as a history person, it’s almost weird how alien it feels to me. It felt difficult to write without being melodramatic or getting ahead of myself, too, and I obviously left out most of the civilian reaction to things since the political and military side was already a lot of raw text. More of that should be brought up along the way as the war gets going from here.
I’ll also wholeheartedly agree that it feels quite odd for us to rebound from the civil war this quickly, but alas, that’s how the game has decided to work and I’m not going to intentionally gimp myself again. Only the future will show whether the great war really becomes a heroic story of a healed nation coming together, or the thing that tears open those fresh wounds. The victors will write the history, I suppose.
Some other notes I wrote during the making of this chapter but that feel very trivial next to current events:
Turns out that PDM does have a “Constitutional Crisis” event that fires after a few months if a “banned” party comes into power, and doesn’t give you the option to keep them even if you wanted to. Since I had already committed to keeping the PUP for now, I had to manually bypass the event. Good to know that it’s there, I guess, since I previously grumbled about the bans on certain parties not really working properly.
The sheer popularity of the communists really is a weird situation that the game has pushed on me, but rather than spend the rest of the game fighting an endless civil war, I have chosen to blur the edges a bit – which is also what happened in-universe, with the communists rebranding themselves as a legitimate party and the higher-ups having no choice but to play along. This gives us the strange situation of a monarchy with a totally-not-communist party in power, though at least the Populists are there too.
Wieslawa will receive her verdict of history when the time comes, but I pretty much agree.
Last edited by SilverLeaf167; 2021-03-20 at 07:57 AM.
- Join Date
- Feb 2016
- Earth and/or not-Earth
Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs
As I was reading the first part of the update, I was thinking "Okay, so long as we don't have some militant reactionary nutjobs that try to 'save the realm from the Communist scourge' by a coup of some sort, things might actually be going in a good direction." Then the Great War happened.
I do think the odds are in your favor in this conflict. The major players on your side are all adjacent to each other, while the Latins and Russians are basically fighting in isolation. And even if the other side does have the ability to even out that numerical disadvantage, doing so would take time - time they might not have, given how outnumbered they are.
Edit: Also, in an amusing coincidence, the other Poland megacampaign AAR I'm following also posted an update today in which a socialist party comes to power and the first Great War begins.
Last edited by InvisibleBison; 2020-10-21 at 05:25 PM.
- Join Date
- Jun 2010
- Helsinki, Finland
Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs
The real question is how many great wars we're going to have before we even reach HoI4.
Last edited by SilverLeaf167; 2021-02-01 at 12:57 PM.
- Join Date
- Jun 2010
- Helsinki, Finland
Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs
Special #8: At the Dawn of War (1905)
(Click for full size)
Spoiler: IntroductionAt the moment, the war is just getting started, and while it’s been a long time coming, no one really knows what to make of it quite yet. However, already in a few weeks’ time the two sides of the war will come to be known as the Treaty Powers and the Coalition. The Treaty, consisting mainly of the Latin Federation and the United Kingdom of Russia, is named after the Treaty of Valletta they signed in August, officially recognizing each other’s territorial claims (against other countries) and vowing to join forces should war break out in Europe for any reason. The Coalition, on the other hand, is quite simply all the other countries that have joined forces against this unusually bald expansionism, be it due to an alliance with Poland (the current target), as an actual principled stand, or just out of self-interest and the need to contain the Treaty Powers before it’s too late.
While various groups still try to dress the war in religious terms here and there, tapping into that age-old struggle for Europe’s soul, the briefest look at the map reiterates the well-established point that religion has long since faded into irrelevance in terms of realpolitik and is only brought up where convenient. The Coalition includes a great mixture of pagan, Christian, Muslim and multireligious nations, whereas the Treaty consists of the staunchly Catholic Latin Federation and just as staunchly Slavic Russia. The related moniker of East and West doesn’t really work, either, as the Treaty Powers are actually located on either side of the “central” Coalition. Although, religious divisions are still relevant in how they're used as shorthand for the distinct cultural spheres in some contexts.
Whether this means that the Treaty Powers “have the Coalition surrounded” or are in fact “helplessly separated” is a matter of perspective, and will be decided in retrospect by how the war goes. Outside of Europe, though, there is less doubt about the fact that the Treaty is hopelessly outranked in terms of colonies and colonial allies, and its own holdings in Asia and Africa will probably be mostly a distraction – unless it can enlist more help from the currently neutral powers. As for Alcadra, the British and Latin colonies mean that there will probably be at least some fighting, but if Sweden’s Nordic Union (still on the fence) decides to join in, that will mean another continent-wide war between them and Santa Croce.
If it seems hard to discern the red thread of this war as it begins to unfold, that’s because there really is no grand clash of ideologies, except the big one that all the major participants follow: imperialism. Expansion is by definition a zero-sum game, and too many militaristic powers in the world eventually have no one to fight but each other. Alliances are decided by whose immediate interests align with yours, or who you hate less than the other. And as men and modern weaponry are arriving to the front in unprecedented numbers to fight a war for war’s sake, the Great War is poised to be both the bloodiest and grimmest in history – even though most are too busy remembering the more limited wars of the past to have grasped that yet.
Spoiler: Treaty PowersPopulation numbers include direct colonies but not subject states. Army size only represents the situation on 13 November 1905 and also doesn’t include mobilized citizens.
Capital: Rome & Paris
Government: Republic (Federal)
Ruling Party: Partium Populi Latinum (Latin People’s Party, Conservative)
Population: 110,320,000 (#5)
Army Brigades: 571 (#2)
In 1898, the Federation held a referendum and got a healthy majority to finally abolish the already gutted monarchy for good, flicking off that remaining scab of its past as the Italian Empire. The imperial family had already been so thoroughly sidelined that this caused almost no change to the actual political system. The Alfieris were made into regular citizens and left to live their lives, some of them going into politics. It shouldn’t be assumed, though, that this dedication to republicanism has made the country or government any more liberal or moderate: if anything, conservative and Christian values have only been growing in importance as something to hold the diverse country together. Even if religious ties seem to mean little when it comes to foreign relations these days, being the greatest “Christian nation” in the world still has both internal and international relevance. On the other hand, the socialists lost the last general election by only the narrowest of margins, meaning that the conservatives might well be grasping at straws – such as this war – to assert themselves.
At the same time, the Federation has ridden its large population and economy to global influence and many a military adventure, including this latest period of revanchism that has made it so many enemies and – arguably – plunged the world into the Great War. Though it can manifest in a number of ways, there’s an underlying idea popular across the nation that the Latin Federation has the right and the might to take its place as the dominant great power, the only guarantee of peace and prosperity in Europe. Some openly call for the reclamation of all formerly Italian, Francian, Christian or perhaps Roman territory, whatever old empire they’re identifying with today, while some explicitly cast aside such historical baggage and look forward to some utopian future instead.
Neither of these extreme goals, nor the more realistic ones somewhere in between, are attainable without a showdown on the field of battle. An already likely war was made inevitable by the time the Latins invaded Calais. But despite the militarism that has been deeply implanted into Latin culture and society, there are still those who question either the philosophical basis of the war or the military arithmetic that has the government so convinced that it will win. Against Poland and its puppets alone, the Latins and Russians would probably be about equal; but in the months leading up to the war, the Coalition standing against them has grown a little beyond their expectations.
Honduras, Santa Croce and Aotearoa have been granted autonomous dominion status, but are still highly subject to the Federation’s whims, whereas other territories like East Africa, Indochina and Taiwan are still only “federal colonies” where the locals have little say in their lives.
Government: Constitutional Monarchy (Unitary)
Ruling Party: Konstitutsionalisty (Constitutionalists, Conservative)
Population: 84,530,000 (#6)
Army Brigades: 442 (#3)
Ever since Novgorod and Chernigov were joined by royal marriage in 1864, they’ve been more or less a single country, slowly creeping its way across the Central Asian steppe until it sprawled all the way from the Baltic to parts of China and the farthest tip of Mongolia. Today, Russia is one of the largest contiguous countries next to the Free Nations. The Lechowicz-Artamonovich rulers saw the writing on the wall and decided to reform from within before it was too late, turning the country into a constitutional monarchy with universal voting rights, first for Slavs and then gradually for others. However, old power structures still make it so that the people sitting in the Duma come overwhelmingly from the 40% who are pagan Slavs. The Khazars who form 17% of the population have an established role as second-class citizens, but the rest often feel like they’re practically third-class; the farther from Moscow, the lower on the totem pole.
Though the much-celebrated railways have helped tie together Russia’s vast land empire, as well as Uralia and Siberia – the former of which recently fell to a communist revolution and is currently in a state of flux – the bulk of Russia’s industry is in the old Slavic heartland. It’s also sorely lacking in sea access, having zero ice-free ports in the Arctic, a single-digit number in the Baltic, and the rest mostly in the Black Sea where they are heavily restricted by Moldavia’s control of the Bosphorus. These economic realities are surely part of the reason that for the last few decades, Russia has embraced its own version of the Pan-Slavic philosophy and started infringing on Polish territory. Even if, within Poland, the east is viewed as the least prosperous region, from Russia’s point-of-view Byelorussia and Ruthenia, and why not the Baltics, are extremely tempting prizes.
However, even though the conservatives just happen to be in power right now – they call themselves Constitutionalists, and the new Russian Constitution happens to say that it is the nation of “all Russians” – the political field is actually very closely split between them, liberals and different socialists. The success of the PUP in Poland and especially the revolution in Uralia have raised the specter of something similar happening in Russia, whether at the ballots or at gunpoint. Much like the other great powers at the moment, the Constitutionalists’ answer to most of their problems is military power. They expect Poland to still be weak from the civil war, where they were able to march into Mogilev with no resistance, and are approaching this war with grand ambitions of Russian unity, an image boost for the party, Eurasian hegemony – and maybe even some overseas colonies.
The Latin Federation counts Navarra, Sardinia and Malta among its allies (basically dependents), while Russia has a strong grip on Siberia. However, all of these are minor countries with nothing to gain and much to suffer during the war, and have yet to officially announce their participation – which, if it happens, will be entirely due to pressure from their great power patrons.
Spoiler: Coalition Powers
Government: Semi-Parliamentary Monarchy (Unitary)
Ruling Party: Partia Jedności Polski (Polish Unity Party, Communist)
Population: 142,740,000 (#3)
Army Brigades: 426 (#4)
The primary defendant in this unfolding conflict. In addition to the more fundamental root causes of how Poland has maintained its hegemony across Europe and the world and put pressure on the other great powers, it was also Poland’s arrogance and policy of always answering one provocation with another that – arguably – plunged the world into the Great War. Of course, in more material terms, the Latins also point to Polish repression of Frisia or Yugoslavian minorities and many other casus belli, accusations which definitely aren’t unfounded, even if they all feel rather hollow in the face of their own behavior.
The Poles’ confidence in their own country certainly has been shaken, even if they still prefer it over the enemy’s. On paper, Poland retains its unusual status as a technically absolute monarchy where the sovereign delegates some duties to the Sejm, but in practice, it has been shown time and again that popular opinion can only be resisted at one’s own peril. Many believe that the current system – a monarchy with a social-liberal coalition in power – must inevitably veer one way or the other. The war finds Poland in the middle of great societal shifts following a frankly indecisive civil war, and though the official representatives of both sides – the Crown and the PUP – are seemingly working together, people wait anxiously to see whether the nation’s current experiment in left-wing republicanism will be accelerated, stalled, reversed or thrown off course entirely.
Poland is in a precarious balance where the leftists “tolerate” the Crown as long as it keeps its hands off, the Crown and most centrists “tolerate” the PUP as long as it does nothing to prompt a new civil war, and an extreme corner of White Guards and other anti-socialists (including nobles and capitalists) hates the PUP and feels betrayed by the Crown. Even ignoring that last one, a situation where both sides only grudgingly tolerate the other is easily blown up by any disturbance, which a large war qualifies as. It’s definitely true that High Queen Wieslawa and her loyalists see a certain silver lining to the war in that the Crown Army and Marynarka are still in service to the Crown, and should receive a boost in the arm from this conflict, general mobilization and justified state of emergency.
Poland’s very essence as a country is somewhat contradictory, as it rules over a great variety of peoples yet tries to present itself as a “Slavic nation-state” under the circular reasoning that being part of Poland makes you a Slav. Credit where it's due, those different communities do have great cultural, religious and “everyday” autonomy, but in the past couple years, the PUP government’s economic controls and even some more positive things like public education have had the unfortunate side-effect of interfering with that self-rule. The system has been successful enough in that political disagreements have so far overshadowed ethnic ones, but they also come up on a regular basis, sometimes violently so. No matter how the meaning of the word is twisted, it’s hard for groups like Germans, Hungarians, Lithuanians, Khazars and Danes not to feel somewhat second-class next to the “real” Slavs. They’ve been held together mostly by the lack of a better option, especially as the Crown Army seems impossible to defeat by armed rebellion. At least life in Poland has still been relatively decent – most of the time.
The far-flung and quiet Nowa Straya is an autonomous voivodeship, Ligor is a vassal sultanate, and the other overseas territories are direct Crown colonies – the East Indies, especially the Maniolas, being a major nest of separatism. The Grand Duchy of Frisia is a relatively prosperous nation-state, but de jure and de facto bound under Polish control, while Yugoslavia – one immediate cause of this war – is an artificial homunculus of a puppet state. In sheer size, the Crown Army is currently surpassed by Japan, the Latin Federation and Russia, but the Marynarka remains the largest and one of the most modern navies on the high seas, with the Imperial Japanese Navy (Kaigun) as a distant second.
Government: Constitutional Monarchy (Unitary)
Ruling Party: Konserwatywni Demokraci (Conservative Democrats, Conservative)
Population: 60,420,000 (#10)
Army Brigades: 232 (#8)
Out of all the great powers, Moldavia has the most trouble presenting a unified national identity, and doesn’t necessarily even try. As Moldavia proper is only a small region and basically a former Polish frontier settlement, and even the core provinces of the country are massively diverse, it really maintains the spirit of an early modern empire ruled by loyalty to King Nadbor X Movilesti, his officials and the threat of military power, not so much the “ideal” of the Moldavian nation. Despite this, much effort has been put into democratizing the country in order to keep it together. The end result is basically a more extreme form of Poland’s situation, with the Moldavian Sejm officially getting its power from the King while the reality is almost the opposite. The main difference is that the King of Moldavia really is almost a figurehead, unlike the High Queen who still (stubbornly) holds the reins in her own country.
Despite the capital staying in Belgorod for historical reasons, its location can be rather inconvenient, and in practice the country is built more around local power centers, most famously Lechogród (former Constantinople) and Adana (the Ruman capital). Moldavia’s control of the Bosphorus – the narrow strait passing right through Lechogród itself – has great strategic importance. While a treaty was signed some decades ago to forbid Moldavia from gathering passage fees from the other signatories, that same treaty put great restrictions on military vessels using the strait, and during the trade war leading up to this real war, Moldavia has hamstrung Russia’s whole economy simply by closing it to all Russian shipping. Similarly, Moldavia’s control of the Suez Canal is a great problem for the Latin colonial empire, which has already grown to rely on the canal in the mere decade that it has existed.
Depending on how you fudge the terms, Moldavia’s overseas colonies are rather modest – only the island of Socotra and the Indus estuary – but looking at the map, it has extended its contiguous empire all the way from Central Sahara to the Caspian Sea. Yes, in terms of area, much of that is basically just sand and unhappy people, but North Africa and the Levant are still valuable territories in themselves. Although, they’ve also fallen behind due to meeting the same fate as most other colonies: while the world around them industrializes, the colonies’ resources are only extracted and sent to factories in the metropole. No one south of the Mediterranean is allowed to vote, either. Arguably, the sheer diversity and disparity of Moldavia’s conquered regions is one reason that it has no real hope of becoming a federation of any kind, as the staunchly pagan Moldavians and their colonial Muslim subjects for instance have little in common, and all the more against each other.
Government: Constitutional Monarchy (Unitary)
Ruling Party: Allmänna Valmansförbundet (General Electoral League, Conservative)
Population: 7,410,000 (#27)
Army Brigades: 57 (#23)
The Kingdom of Sweden, Finland and Norway is one kingdom with three regions, but still a unitary state with power concentrated in Stockholm, even though the Inger dynasty has been reduced to a ceremonial role next to the Riksdag parliament. Despite its small population, military and economy, the state is of great strategic importance due to its sheer area and access to the Baltic, North and Arctic Seas. However, that size also means that it could become a liability tying down a lot of troops on the Finnish-Russian front (Karelia). Indeed, within the country, there has been much debate between those who want no part in this war (especially Finns, who have the most to suffer) and those who consider the Polish alliance invaluable to prevent Russia from targeting Sweden next. There are even fringe groups on the militant right who would’ve preferred to join the Russians and finally “liberate” Denmark from Poland. However, the ruling center-right party has made its choice.
Sweden is really a vestigial empire, no longer even the hub of its own colonial network: the countries of the Nordic Union, all located in and around Alcadra (as Alfmark was lost to the Mikmaq), are geographically better suited to trading with each other instead, and while they might be less developed and wealthy than the homeland on a per-capita basis, Sweden lacks the power to hold them in against their will. They’ve only stayed in the Union under the condition that they’re practically equal with Sweden, and even in this war, it’s not immediately obvious whether they’ll actually join the fray or not. On one hand, even if they do, they’re rather distant from where their help is most needed; but then again, their distance from the danger could mean that they’re free to send more of their forces to the aid of others. After they’ve dealt with Santa Croce, the most populous colony in Alcadra, of course.
Capital: London, Edinburgh & Dublin
Government: Constitutional Monarchy (Federal)
Ruling Party: Conservative Party (Conservative)
Population: 159,840,000 (#2)
Army Brigades: 417 (#5)
In contrast to Sweden, Britannia consists of three kingdoms with three kings, their political system being closer to that of the Free Nations. Born only 11 years ago as a union between England and Scotland, it understandably took most people by surprise – British unification had been a dream for almost a thousand years, but it looked perhaps farther from fulfillment than ever before. The nuanced reality is that the vendetta between England and Scotland was ultimately a petty one from a modern perspective, and more importantly, Scotland had fallen hopelessly behind England in just about every way. As opposed to being conquered, voluntary unification meant a great deal of autonomy and economic support for both Scotland and Ireland. Indeed, Ireland was the other major issue, as the Scots were outnumbered in their own country and only propped up by Polish support, support which was quickly disappearing. Unification, approved by both rulers and parliaments, seemed like the best way to stop being used as pawns by foreign great powers and let Britannia become one in itself.
The plan seems to have worked, but it may be too early to judge. While the Irish have received new autonomy, it’s still a far cry from their desired independence, and a constitutional monarchy with a Scottish king is not the same thing as a republic. Matters concerning the whole union are decided in London, officially or not, and the “colonization” of Ireland has only accelerated with the introduction of free movement from England. Wales too had a briefly successful rebellion in the 1850s, yet was given no real recognition in the new Britannia. And finally, the Yorkish region remains divided between England and Scotland with no political recognition, though it's more of cultural borderland than a clearly defined nation anyway.
The peaceful secession of the United Lordships, Hibernia, Patagonia and Cascadia hasn’t really slowed down the British colonial empire, which is still one of the main players in Africa, the Pacific and South China. China in particular is a source of great pride and wealth (not to mention inflated population numbers), and for the time being, relatively far from any real fighting. The Three Kingdoms Army is one of the largest in the world, but (fittingly enough for connoisseurs of Chinese history) mostly drawn from China under a mix of professional and conscription schemes, meaning that it’s often tied down dealing with local matters. The Royal Navy, basically all English, is the fourth largest and relatively modern.
Government: Republic (Unitary)
Ruling Party: Konservative Partei (Conservative)
Population: 39,300,000 (#13)
Army Brigades: 234 (#7)
When, in the late 1850s, the Nationals and Liberals finally ceased fighting over the ashes of the Bundesrepublik, the Liberals had won and the cycle of violence ended. What was left of the federal system was gradually dismantled to a form a unitary Republic of Germany, both because decentralization was seen as a threat to the fragile nation and because many of those regions were in too poor shape to handle themselves anyway, being seen as almost lawless wilderness for a time. While democracy became more firmly entrenched than ever and the country recovered spectacularly well by most measures, the people and their government’s priorities shifted: rather than a beacon of liberal revolution, they at least aspired to be a nation state of all the Germans. Not too much to ask, surely. However, in the reality of Central Europe, this mostly served to unite them against those external enemies and put them on permanent war footing.
The old Lechowicz Germany was a middle-ranking great power for the longest time; but after the glory days of the Bundesrepublik lasted all of a couple decades, ended in bloody and painful failure and left behind a thoroughly disgraced nation, there’s a strong temptation to say that the Republic of Germany’s worst enemy is its own history. Rather than be content in its status as a middle power with a dense population, strong economy and highly respected arts and sciences, Germany is the one that keeps rubbing salt in its own wounds and always lingering on historical losses like the North Sea, Vienna, Bavaria, South Tyrol, Elsass-Lothringen, the Freigrafschaft, its former colonies and more. Of course, Poland and the Latins are far from blameless in bringing about this state of things – it’s easy for the victors to tell the loser to be a good sport – but Germany’s foreign policy has been jingoistic and opportunistic to the point of self-destruction in a way that simply can’t be defended from a practical point of view.
As a multireligious nation with a mix of strong Slavic influence and anti-Polish sentiment, Germany has no “natural allies” in the neighborhood but all the more enemies. Only a few years ago it tried to invade Poland in the chaos of the civil war, yet for the Great War, it has deemed the Latin Federation the greater common enemy. Germany considers itself the victim of Latin aggression in much the same way as Poland does, though on a much larger scale, demanding back its disputed territories in the same way as Poland demands Calais. It is telling, though, that both countries prefer to depict the alliance as a matter of “co-belligerents” fighting on the same side temporarily, not as any kind of reconciliation.
Other independent countries in the Coalition include Lotharingia, Bavaria, Kanem-Bornu and Abyssinia. All of them have great strategic value, but only Kanem-Bornu really has a major military, at 99 brigades.
Spoiler: Neutral Powers
Government: Republic (Federal)
Ruling Party: Partia Federalna (Federal Party, Conservative)
Population: 39,250,000 (#14)
Army Brigades: 242 (#6)
The Free Nations’ unusual political system has led to unusual problems, such as the fact that having two separate parliaments – and not one but three chief executives – means it’s very hard to do anything even slightly divisive unless all of them are controlled by the same or similar parties. Given their disparate electoral systems, this is less than assured. The idealistic assumption back in 1847 was that the members of the Trojka would avoid associating with any given party and instead act as a unanimous, impartial tiebreaker, but that illusion was crushed within a decade or so. Nevertheless, the citizens – or at least the politicians – have been persuaded to accept this as a moderating influence rather than a hindrance, and while electoral gridlock is a routine occurrence, it’s also routinely resolved one way or another. Important issues tend to achieve a wide enough consensus “eventually”, even if that means being highly contentious in the meantime.
That brings us to foreign policy, where non-interventionism has been the easiest and most popular position for everyone but a few fringe groups. The Free Nations are by far the greatest power in the western hemisphere, geographically distant from both Europe and Asia, and perfectly happy to maintain a large army as a deterrent – 6th largest in the world – while staying out of unnecessary wars and expanding their Amatican hegemony by economic means instead. This mentality has only deepened ever since they formally cut ties with Poland in 1896 as a protest against the High Queen’s autocratic policies. While Poland’s new direction under the PUP has been promising, the Free Nations have been burned too many times to put much faith in Poland or in fact anyone in Europe, especially as long as they think they have nothing to gain from it. Their attitude towards the starting Great War seems almost indifferent, apparently convinced that whatever the result, it won’t really concern them. The most they’re doing is getting their bureaucracy ready for a potential flood of refugees, to be welcomed with open arms.
Government: Constitutional Monarchy (Unitary)
Ruling Party: Rikken Kaishintou (Constitutional Reform Party, Conservative)
Population: 261,970,000 (#1)
Army Brigades: 624 (#1)
The Japanese Empire, arguably the first constitutional monarchy, has been very stable and prosperous all this time, social reforms proceeding a bit slowly but in good order – with the notable exception of minority rights. This difference was already visible but far less striking a hundred years ago, when voting rights were rare and things like chattel slavery still the norm around the world, but by now, even Japan’s fellow empires are drawing attention to it. One could argue that Japan is merely treating Korea and China the same way that Poland treats the East Indies, but it’s still highly unusual that everyone not Japanese enough is categorically barred from gaining citizenship and discouraged from even moving to the islands. Everyone except perhaps the ideological socialists pretty much accepts this, too, taking it for granted that in the Japanese Empire, the Japanese nation leads its less-enlightened neighbors.
Japan proper already has a large population of 52 million, but 73% of the total population is in China, living under – indeed – roughly colonial conditions. Japan’s massive army, too, is mostly drawn from China, and kept from rebelling en masse by divide-and-conquer tactics: after all, the Chinese haven’t been a united people for a long time, and there are plenty of local differences to exploit. Korea, on the other hand, has been swamped with Japanese settlers and is already considered 15% Japanese. The northern wilderness regions of Hokkaido, Karafuto (Sakhalin) and Kamchatka haven’t received that much economic or military attention, being mostly important as a matter of principle and little else.
The Home Islands are an industrial powerhouse, and typically a forerunner in advanced technology such as shipbuilding and electronics. Much like the Free Nations, Japan has been able to keep to itself due to being so distant from all the other great powers. It has, however, had to compete with them for influence over the rest of Asia, even if both sides have resisted the temptation of open war for the simple reason that it wouldn’t be worth the effort. As Japan and England both exploited the Chinese Chaos to carve up the region, they managed to cooperate for a long time, but recently they too have had violent clashes over the matter. With its old friend Manchuria suddenly turning communist, Japan has no allies left other than the Shan Empire, and might do well to keep its cards close to its chest and stay out of this distant Great War.
Government: Constitutional Monarchy (Unitary)
Ruling Party: Unión Liberal (Liberal Union, Conservative)
Population: 43,060,000 (#11)
Army Brigades: 171 (#11)
After yet another foreign policy disaster and the cascading loss of most of the nation’s colonies – the Union of South Amatica, Tayshas, Caliphania, Alaska and eventually even Juliana – a country-wide revolution in 1874 reached a settlement with the royal government and, far from a feeble compromise, founded a full-blooded constitutional monarchy. The Cortes parliament sits in Toledo and still maintains the country’s remaining colonies in the Zanaras, Esperanza and Indochina, but has mostly continued its policy of neutrality in great power politics. After all, while somewhat more receptive towards Moldavia for instance, it has obvious grudges towards the Latins, Poland, Britannia, the Free Nations and more. The closest thing it has to an ally is the UAS of all things, both sides putting religion aside for a moment to form a defensive pact against those who would disturb their neutrality.
Ever since the revolution, Asturias has done a decent job modernizing its military and industry, coming right behind the great powers while still maintaining respectable colonies in the eastern hemisphere. The confusingly named Unión Liberal, a conservative party, actually has a much stronger majority than most of its equivalents in other countries, and the country seems remarkably stable for the moment. All the less reason to get mixed up in this war between its bitter enemies.
Capital: Mecca & Medina
Government: Democracy (Federal)
Ruling Party: Hizb al-Muhafizin (Conservative Party, Conservative)
Population: 33,090,000 (#16)
Army Brigades: 126 (#12)
While the official capital in name is still Mecca, it is inconvenient to say the least that Islamic law forbids non-Muslims from entering the city at all. Because of this, most of the functions of a capital are performed by Medina, also holy but less so. The republic can’t be too strict about religion – almost half of the country is something other than Sunni, after all – but clearly prefers Sunni Islam on the federal level while technically leaving the choice to the individual states. Many of them are only “Arab” in the sense that they were conquered by Arabs at some point or another, but of course, like every similar country in the world, seceding from the federation is forbidden.
Especially after its most fertile lands in Northern Egypt were conquered by Moldavia, the UAS tragically hasn’t been blessed with natural resources or a dense population, making it hard to grow an independent industry. As such, it’s reliant on imports, and can scarcely pay for them except by handing over control of what little industry it does have. It’s been having what could be called a rough patch recently, economic woes heightening tensions both in the border regions and in the capital; however, within the Majlis parliament, the opposition has been too divided to pose a viable challenge to the ruling conservative party. The country might be heading into another period of instability.
Spoiler: CommentsThis is already quite a lot of words, and I figured that it’s best to save the rest of the world for when something relevant actually happens there, rather than waste a lot of time to say “not much”. You can see from a couple screenshots, though, that China has had yet another reversal between Manchuria and Yan. I’m frankly kind of tired of putting too much faith in anything that happens over there, though.
The social effects are really the most important part of a big war, which is why I wanted to lay some groundwork on that side of things to see how it might be affected by the war. As a side note, I manually changed the Latin Federation from a constitutional monarchy into a full republic, just because that was bugging me and kind of messing with the narrative I made up. There’s little mechanical difference between the two, anyway.
I kinda ended up tearing into Japan there, but it just stood out to me that they’re the only major country that actually has “Oppression” selected under minority rights. Needless to say, there is a bit of a double standard in the way that I discuss their colonialism and everybody else’s, but it’s partly because I haven’t been talking about them much during the game so far.
Last edited by SilverLeaf167; 2021-01-23 at 03:06 PM.
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Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs
So at the start of the war the Coalition has three times as many soldiers as the Treaty Powers, but only twice the population and just 30% more industry. In the long run, those numbers might actually favor the Treaty Powers. Assuming, of course, that there is a long run and the Coalition's initial massive numerical superiority doesn't carry it to victory.
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Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs
Speaking of attentiveness, I, uh... literally didn't notice until now that when Russia took Mogilev, it also took the nearby Pastavy province, which is part of the same weirdly shaped region but not adjacent so I missed it in all the hassle. Pastavy has more population than Mogilev and everything. Just assume that when I say Mogilev, it's actually shorthand for both of those cities due to its greater historical importance or something.
Last edited by SilverLeaf167; 2020-10-24 at 03:41 PM.
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Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs
Chapter #69: Not Nice (1905-1906)
Spoiler: Chapter14th of November, 1905
When the war starts, most people in Poland learn of it the next morning. Papers across the nation print fairly simple and uniform front page articles with headlines like “WAR!!” – which they’ve probably had templated for a while – telling how Wieden was shelled by the Latins yesterday, soon followed by reports of shootouts all across the many fronts. Most people don’t get this directly from the papers, of course, but from their family or just people in the street shouting about it. While some publications go for something more specific, such as “POLAND INVADED”, that isn’t quite true: the enemy hasn’t yet taken a single step into Polish territory, or even really attempted to do so. It’s been less than 24 hours since war was declared, though, and forces have been amassing on the fronts for weeks now: there will be plenty more fighting to come.
In the west, Poland has a large buffer zone against the Latins – but that doesn’t mean that the Crown Army should sit on its hands until its allies are beaten and the Legions on its doorstep. Rather, it’s better to keep the fight on other people’s land and never let it reach Poland itself, not to mention that Poland abandoning those allies is exactly what the Latins want. There’s no question that the Crown Army will defend Frisia and Lotharingia, and preferably use them as a launching board for a counter-invasion, but as it happens, everyone involved has been less enthusiastic about stationing Polish troops in Germany – even at the time the war breaks out, some of the German army is actually watching the Polish border out of sheer paranoia.
As such, once the initial offensive begins on the long Latin-German front, Germany is largely on its own and underprepared. Wieden and Switzerland are targeted first, both because of the shape of the border and because the Alps are best taken before the Germans can mount a strong defense there. The Crown Army is already spread thin elsewhere, and so it may take a while before Poland (or other Coalition members) can reinforce Germany.
In the east, on the other hand, Poland faces a long, long border with Russia. For some 500 years, the border between Poland and the Russian lands – before Russia was even a unified country – has been defined by the Daugava and Dniepr rivers, with the main exception being a short gap between the towns of Vitebsk and Orsha where the rivers don’t quite touch. That river border was never precise: several important cities like Riga, Kiev and the disputed Mogilev actually straddle their respective rivers, extending on both sides, yet this was never an issue and there was a clear understanding of which country they belonged to. Until recently, when Russia seized Mogilev on nonsensical grounds – and is now trying to go even further. The rivers provide a natural barrier for the Crown Army to defend, of course, and have also been heavily fortified, but the length of the border – and the fact that there’s no buffer zone to rely on – means that most of Poland’s forces are tied up trying to cover all 1,000+ miles of it.
As people absorb the news, some may also have choice words on the political side of things, but right now, most are only thinking about their daily lives and their loved ones. The Crown does have some tricky political questions to settle, such as what to do with the White Guards: the Reds have been fully disbanded, of course, but in secret Crown meetings, the Whites are also seen as a threat to internal stability despite operating with the Crown’s permission. Sending them to the front might cause clashes between them and their more left-leaning comrades, but on the other hand, drafting the leftists and not the rightists would raise protests from both and also leave them free to cause trouble on the home front. Instead, the Crown chooses to simply give them no special treatment, but scramble them between regular units and forbid the display of any political symbols in the Army. The ideal, which the Crown and the Sejm agree on even if their reasons may vary, is to make Red and White stand side by side and focus on fighting the enemy rather than each other.
Premier Mikolaj Rusin, head of the PUP and arguably the most powerful socialist in the world – whatever his revolutionary credentials – has spent a while preparing his party for this day. And for the time being, his message that Poland may have fallen behind the times but is now progressing faster than any of its increasingly reactionary opponents seems to be getting across. Though he doesn’t put it in such brazen terms, he’s a firm believer in substance over form and doesn’t mind working within an on-paper oppressive system such as the Polish monarchy if he can get his desired results (and eventually, preferably, cast aside that system when the time is ripe). As Poland is the only nation in Europe with a democratic socialist party in power at the moment, a loss for the Crown would be a loss for the workers, and thus every Pole must fight to defend their nation no matter what. This message is implicitly aimed at the former Reds and Red sympathizers he knows are in the party’s ranks – he is one, after all – who might otherwise have mixed feelings about serving.
Whether it works in the long run or not, and whatever Rusin’s ultimate role in it, the war is indeed taking priority over everything else.
Though it is November, in the equatorial colonies there is no worry of winter, only the rainy season. Luckily the Crown Army in the colonies is almost all professional soldiers, trained and accustomed to the climate. The civilian population hasn’t been mobilized – both for lack of need and because no one wants to put guns in the hands of the still rebellious natives – but the regular armies have been waiting at the borders of Latin Africa to secure that large region before it can become a thorn in the side of Kongo. It is in fact larger than the Latin homeland itself, but relatively sparsely defended.
Serra Leoa (Sierra Leone), the smaller Latin outpost in West Africa, will be seized without much trouble by the end of the year, denying the Latins the use of that particular port.
In the East Indies, it’s a matter of launching naval invasions into Latin Indochina and Taiwan, which may take a moment. Aotearoa, often spared from fighting due to its sheer remoteness, must be secured for the same reason: to deny the enemy any and all bases from which they could harass the Polish colonies. The forces and invasion fleets in the East Indies are limited, though, which is why it’ll have to wait, unless Nowa Straya is capable of handling it on its own. In the past, it has shown worryingly little enthusiasm to fight Aotearoa, one of its only neighbors in this distant corner of the world.
Back in Europe, though, the coming of winter is a major concern. The first snow might quite literally freeze the Alpine and eastern fronts in place. On one hand, winter should favor the defender; on the other, doctrine favors the first strike, plus the protective rivers could also freeze and become easier to cross. In the first days of the war, the Latins seem to be focused on Germany and the Russians unready to launch a wide offensive, so the Crown decides to seize this opportunity. The so-called Step Forward Order, given by Wieslawa herself and passed down the chain of command, orders that all fronts move forth across the border, even if only a few dozen miles. From there, the armies can either hold position or keep moving if an opening remains, but the point is to take the fight to the enemy, deny them their border fortifications and not simply wait for them to attack on their own terms. Of course, that also means stepping past Poland’s own defenses, but at least plans are made to fall back to them if necessary. About a week after the declaration, the war begins in earnest.
The Step Forward Order already brings Poland within striking distance of both Mogilev and Calais, in the east and west respectively, and is met with modest resistance as the enemies are still getting their own operations running. Most of these first battles are concentrated around the southern Dniepr: even though Chernigov is no longer the enemy capital, it is basically “a” capital, and it falling into Polish hands is a great sign. The initiative clearly lies with Poland. The Poles also don’t hesitate to use gas weapons wherever applicable, just to speed things up as much as they can. Unfortunately, it turns out that the Russians have learned enough from their own experiments and observing the Polish Civil War to develop quite passable gas masks and tactics. Chemical weapons in general will go on to have a relatively negligible effect on the war as a whole, but all the more tragically, will still be used as a harassment and terror weapon throughout the conflict.
In the west, the terrain is much less forbidding and the fighting more localized, but the main spearhead of the offensive is aimed at northern France in order to cover the recapture of Calais. True to form, the Latins are more focused on taking out Germany, letting the Poles proceed almost unhindered.
These first victories are highly encouraging, and more reminiscent of Poland’s mid-century wars as opposed to, say, the Civil War or just the last few trench-riddled wars against the Latins. While the idea of being back home by Midwinter is only uttered as a joke – it’s already November when the war even starts, after all – the sense of optimism is palpable, making many people feel like the war really might end in just a few months. At this rate, surely it can’t take longer than maybe a year, total.
Regardless, though, towards the New Year, the war expands onto two new continents: in Alcadra, the signs are positive, the Nordic Union deciding to join the Coalition in an almost surprising show of unity, declare war on the Treaty Powers and help with the fight against Santa Croce. Well, just the outlying province of Amapa for the time being, but they’re only getting started.
Meanwhile on the other side of the world, the simultaneous invasions of Indochina and Taiwan make landfall just as planned, and start securing bridgeheads for a full occupation.
In less positive news, the Nowa Strayan navy – carrying an invasion force as well – is intercepted by the Aotearoan one and sent packing with grievous damage, successfully deflecting the attack on Aotearoa for now. The island colony may be small, but it sure is plucky.
In Europe, though – the theater of war that really matters – 18 January 1906 brings the first major milestone towards victory, as the last defenders of Mogilev are defeated and the rightfully Polish city in the Crown Army’s hands once more. Fittingly, Calais falls only days later. The citizens of both cities welcome their liberators with cheers and open arms; or if anyone dares think otherwise, they at least have the wisdom to keep their opinions to themselves.
Alas, this war will have a few more twists in store.
For decades, centuries even, basically ever since the European powers first started establishing themselves in Asia, the Japanese have been eyeing their growing empires uneasily at best. Of course, after the immediate fear of being colonized themselves proved mostly unnecessary, it became a matter of simple competition. As the most technologically and “societally” advanced country in Asia, the Japanese Empire views itself as the rightful hegemon of the entire continent. So far, it has mostly been able to bite its tongue and even make some cordial “alliances” with the Westerners to partition China for instance, and direct conflict has been avoided. However, it has always been simply biding its time.
In February 1906, the Japanese Empire joins the Treaty Powers in the Great War.
Naturally, Japan couldn’t care less about either the Latins or Russia, but the Polish landings are just a reminder that should the Coalition grow too strong, perhaps gorge itself on the Latin colonies in the region, that would be just another blow to the Japanese sphere of influence. Confident that the Coalition won’t be able or willing to commit enough troops to the far east to defeat the numerically largest military in the world, Japan is basically expecting to run this whole Asian theater as a separate war and walk into Coalition territory almost unobstructed.
It’s not the only opportunist around: within the week, the UAS declares war on Abyssinia. As Abyssinia is both a Polish ally and a participant in the Great War, Poland obviously declares war on the Arabs in return, but it’s not in the most convenient location right now. This will likely be a distant second in terms of priority, to be dealt with once the Latin colonies are fully under control. For now, though, the Arabs don’t speak of throwing their lot in with Treaty Powers per se.
However, the UAS is actually supported by Asturias in this bold endeavor. Asturias must be expecting Poland’s distraction with other matters to mean that this so-called war is basically a non-issue leading to a quick peace; why else would they be throwing their lot behind this invasion for no real gain? Time will show if they’re correct in their judgment.
Even as the war expands, the Polish Unity Party seems more concerned with driving its own agenda in the Sejm, to the derision of many. Armed with the argument that modern war requires every part of society to work to the fullest, not just the military but also the economy, the PUP makes great expansions to the freedoms and powers of trade unions, which soon start making ever greater demands of their employers. Of course, laborers across the nation are working overtime and meeting harsh quotas to meet the demands of the war, and it is only fair that their own rights be secured. But, the counter-argument goes, is the PUP seriously taking the risk of undermining the war effort just to appease its own voter base?
At least not every declaration of war is against Poland or its allies: the Karnata Kingdom takes this opportunity to finally try and grab Russia’s last colonies at the tip of India. It makes no statement of joining the broader Coalition, but is de facto on the same side.
Whatever else this global war might be, it sure is a bloody mess. As 13 May 1906 rolls along and the war turns 6 months old, the already wide-spanning conflict has only grown larger, expanding to include even many of the ostensibly neutral powers – really just the Free Nations have stayed out for now, knock on wood. Although, with the Zanaras entering the war alongside Asturias and Ingerland actually invading Latin Honduras, there really is active fighting on every continent at once, for what might be the first time in any one war in human history. Perhaps the moniker of the Great War is indeed deserved.
(Click for full size.)
The semi-anniversary also brings one of Poland’s first real “strategic” defeats: after painstakingly making its way through the unfamiliar, jungle-covered terrain of Indochina and engaging the Latin defenders waiting farther inland, one of Poland’s East Indian armies finds itself crashing head-first into a much more disciplined and well-entrenched force than expected. General Boris Mokronowski is forced to beat a desperate retreat, but not before losing most of his troops. Even though the survivors make it back to the coast and get evacuated, this is a major setback for the Asian theater. While humiliating, the colony is actually not that important (the Poles tell themselves), and the occupation can wait.
At almost the same time, the small fleet supporting the invasion of Cape Verde off the coast of Senegambia is caught by the Latin navy (Classis Militum), leading to a sizable naval battle between similar numbers of ironclad ships on both sides. However, the Latins have more light vessels supporting them, and the Poles decide to retreat to nearby Dakar before taking too many losses for no reason. They only lose a few “empty” transport ships (not counting the crew onboard), but this is basically the closest the Classis has come to contesting the Marynarka, even in a colonial theater. Back in Europe, the Marynarka still dominates.
The African theater for the most part is still going in the Coalition’s favor, just very, very slowly, though actual pitched battles have been rare. In the early stages, the Coalition lost more troops to disease than to the actual enemy, forcing it to slow down even further and make sure it had proper supply lines in place.
In Alcadra, the fighting between Santa Croce and the Nordic Union seems relatively even for now. Only in China is the colonial war turning sour: after what seemed like a deceptively easy march into Japan’s half of China, the British forces (mostly Chinese conscripts) are finding themselves flanked and overwhelmed by, well, a small part of the largest army in the world. It might not be long before they’re completely surrounded and overrun.
At least Europe is, the Poles like to think, on the way to total victory. The Latins have indeed seized most of Switzerland, but failed to proceed north of the Alps; and while the Coalition has been less than eager to engage them in the mountains, a real strange-bedfellows mix of Polish, German, Lotharingian and Frisian forces has been able to dominate northern France. Paris has fallen, and there seems to be nothing to stop the Coalition from continuing this counter-clockwise sweep across France to eventually "go around the Alps" and strike the Italian homeland itself.
The eastern front stands in stark contrast to the west in terms of size and terrain, covering vast swaths of forest, swamp and overall wilderness and stretching from the Baltic to the Black Sea. Luckily it is still going well, just seemingly more slowly due to the distances involved. Even the comparatively small Swedish army is finding modest but, well, proportionate success on the Karelian front. Both Nyensants (St. Petersburg) and Novgorod are under siege and constant bombardment. Of course, the United Kingdom of Russia is incredibly large; best not look at a map, you’ll only depress yourself. This westernmost part of the country is the one that really matters, anyway: they won’t hold for long once it is taken.
Farther south, the entrance of the UAS into the war – technically a separate war, but that makes little difference – has opened up a new front and added some complications for the Moldavians caught in between them and Russia. Moldavia is making progress into both their territories at once, but at the same time, they’re also both sending spearheads into Moldavian territory. Kanem-Bornu’s contribution to the African fronts, both here and in Latin East Africa, deserves some mention. Some of it is in fact a conscious attempt to try and earn the respect of the great powers, who still have some clear trouble treating them as equals.
The big “pleasant surprise” of this war so far has been the delightful lack of the trench warfare that everyone observing the wars and developments of the past few decades had grown to fear. The Crown’s magnificent Step Forward Order was clearly instrumental in averting it right from the start. However, the summer of 1906 starts showing glimpses of what it might be like: the reason that trench warfare hasn’t become an issue has been that, indeed, the Polish fronts so far have been relatively mobile, giving neither side time to truly dig in. When it comes to assaulting those sorts of well-entrenched positions, it’s perhaps worse than anyone could’ve imagined.
The Poles’ first hands-on experience comes in the Battle of Kolmar in July, trying to dislodge a sizable Latin force from a part of Elsass-Lothringen that they have occupied almost since the start of the war. What looks like a rather extensive trench system is actually infinitely worse than it seems, with more trenches and bunkers hidden in every cranny around, behind and even under each other. Worse, Latin arms technology is just about equal to the Poles’, a large portion of the Polish troops involved are conscripts, General Sedzimir Lechowicz is an impatient and classically educated man going against a much superior commander, and the terrain itself favors the defender. The Battle of Kolmar will go down in infamy as a horrendous meat-grinder, the Poles taking losses at mind-boggling ratios as Lechowicz sends his farmboys straight into withering machine gun fire, even against the advice of his peers.
(That's a -10 dig-in penalty on the attacker, largely due to insufficient numbers of cavalry.)
It isn’t until more experienced troops arrive that, three grueling months and almost 170,000 Polish casualties later, in early October the Latins are finally forced to retreat. All over a random German town with no special significance to either side. At least the whole thing teaches the Crown Army some much-needed lessons about doctrine, especially officer training… from the ground up. As generals commanding tens of thousands are liable to miss or neglect the reality on the ground and start thinking purely in terms of numbers, no matter their moral backbone, it makes sense to ensure that unit-level officers can look after their own troops and are given the authority to do so.
The one-year mark of the war comes and goes, but it is not unremarkable. With a long trek behind them, on 19 November 1906, Polish-Moldavian troops are finally able to break through the defenses of Moscow and secure a front all the way to the Uralian border, dealing what should be a death blow to the remaining Russian troops trapped between here and Sweden. While the Russian royal family and most of the government have long since evacuated the capital, it is still the largest city in the whole country, a major industrial and logistical center, and of course, an important symbol. The end of the war didn’t quite make the one-year deadline, but it should be near. For that matter, perhaps the Coalition should get together to actually discuss what the end of this war might look like…
The Russian army with its ample conscripts is still far from destroyed, of course. If anything, its new “fortress” strategy is proving quite a tough nut to crack: by fortifying itself in one central location, one massive force can avoid being defeated in detail and make itself basically unassailable, at least without the attacker also taking absolutely horrendous losses. The so-called Bryansk Fortress, for instance, has been consolidating in the forested region south-west of Moscow for months now. It might not be able to move anywhere, but it’s tying down a huge number of Polish troops who also can’t move deeper into Russia without leaving these 320,000 enemy soldiers to run wild behind their lines. Truly, the siege warfare of the Middle Ages has come back on a whole new scale.
A similar pocket has also formed in Mariupol, on the Black Sea coast.
Maybe it’s best not to be making any premature declarations of when the war will end after all…
Spoiler: Meanwhile, ElsewhereNo newspapers, unfortunately.
At the same time that Moldavia is invading the UAS through Egypt, Syria and India, the Abyssinian front is still anyone’s game. The Abyssinians are making good use of their mountainous home turf, while the Arabs are forced to divert most of their troops elsewhere.
There’s even fighting deep in the Sahara – between very small bands of roving cavalry, including some on camels.
Having apparently realized that the Coalition’s promise of aid for Abyssinia wasn’t just empty talk after all, Asturias has wisely decided not to actually do anything in the war – in Europe, Africa or Asia – and is seemingly just waiting for it to end.
After more than a year, Polish, British and Bornuan troops have finally all but seized continental East Africa… but that still leaves Madagascar.
Over in Alcadra, Santa Croce was making decent progress into Paraland and Vanaland for a while, but the arrival of more British troops has turned the tide decisively against it.
Unlike Honduras, the Zanaras have been spared from invasion for now, and much like Asturias, haven’t taken a very active role in this war besides harassing some Nordic shipping.
With fresh reinforcements, the Poles have chosen to take another go at Latin Indochina after all, now looking much better.
The invasion of Aotearoa is also making progress, with Strayan and – surprisingly enough – New Svean troops spearheading the offensive.
In its own separate war, Karnata has occupied the Russian colony on the Indian mainland, and now has little else to do but sit around and wait for the Russians to collapse at home. It has yet to make a go for the Maldives.
Spoiler: CommentsHello there. Been a while… again. This was a pretty intimidating chapter to approach for reasons that should be obvious, and then I ended up having a bunch of false starts with technical issues and events not firing and such, which just made me punt it forward into the future. In the end, I decided that I just need to push it out and keep moving.
As expected, the fighting is pretty one-sided for the most part, but at least the other theaters of war add some spice. A turnaround seems impossible, but a slowdown might still happen (see: Russia). Ironically, it seems that in terms of this AAR, the Great War will end up being something of a breather episode compared to all the politics and civil war at home. I’m fine with that, though, looking at those colossal and pretty heavy last few chapters before this one.
Pretty straight-forward chapter, as I have my hands full just keeping track of the war itself. More politics are sure to follow in the future, of course.
Spoiler: What awaits the Latin Federation and Russia should they lose this war is “dismantlement”, a mechanic added by PDM. They won’t be totally taken apart, but the winners will divvy up their colonies, take any cores they might have, and maybe release a couple states here and there – in addition to the usual war reparations and “disarmament” limits on army size.
Last edited by SilverLeaf167; 2022-03-25 at 01:54 PM.
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Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs
It's back! Hooray!
Looks like the Coalition's superior numbers are proving decisive after all. It's going to be fairly bloody dealing with those Russian doomstacks, though. I'm kind of surprised they're being so quiescent, but I guess the AI is aware that while it might be able to defeat any one of the surrounding armies it can't defeat all of them. And dealing with Japan is going to be difficult.
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Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs
I'm kind of curious how late-game dig-in bonuses affect AI behavior, really. Does it know it needs to stand in place to use them, and if yes, does that make it stand around even when it shouldn't?
Last edited by SilverLeaf167; 2021-01-25 at 03:51 AM.
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Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs
Wooo! Just wanted to say thanks for continuing, we appreciate your work.
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Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs
Chapter #70: The Two Fronts (1907-1908)
Spoiler: Chapter1st of January, 1907
The Great War between the Treaty Powers and the Coalition, which started on 13 November 1905, has lasted a little over a year and expanded to cover even more of the world. There has been bloody fighting on every continent, and as Poland and its allies (or “co-belligerents”) have successfully invaded the Latin Federation, Russia and most of their colonies, the biggest unknown right now is the Japanese Empire. Other than that, victory should be only a matter of time – but as the Coalition’s demands escalate, so does the Treaty’s willingness to fight to the bitter end, or at least a better bargaining position. The Coalition seems determined to make sure the Treaty Powers can’t pose a threat again anytime soon.
Having apparently seen the writing on the wall, the UAS and Asturias approach the Coalition with an armistice. Moldavia is marching deeper into Arabia, while Coalition troops in France are almost at the Asturian border, and they both want to avoid getting (more) mixed up with the broader Great War or its ensuing peace treaty. Poland has no interest in the UAS and Asturias has done a good job avoiding direct hostilities, and although Moldavia does protest against a white peace, it is also glad to free up more troops for the fight against Russia. This sideshow of the Great War – the Desert War – is brought to an end with only nominal concessions.
But as one branch of this sprawling conflict is cut off, another sprouts in its place. The Maratha Confederacy has gone through something of a liberalizing streak recently, as the initial military dictator’s heirs decided to compromise rather than be overthrown, but the country’s rivalry with Karnata hasn’t changed. Now it’s clearly hoping for the Great War to serve as a distraction: though the Treaty Powers have no real forces active in the area, Karnata’s own army has actually headed east towards Latin Indochina, leaving its flank wide open. This is just another separate war, though, and doesn’t involve the Coalition in any way.
Which is good, since the new year seems to have also brought the Treaty a new shot of energy. Germany may have “gone around the Alps” and marched down the Rhone River valley to even reach the Mediterranean coast, but this also served as a wake-up call for the Legions to get to work before the Federation is at a point of unconditional surrender. The Latin counterattack is fierce, and Poland’s Crown Army isn’t really there to help yet.
At the same time, the so-called Fortresses in Russia make some probing attempts to break out of their encirclement, but “probing” in this case just means hopeless attacks for little real purpose that are always forced to retreat back inside. Unfortunately, the Fortresses still remain strong enough for the Poles to be rather nervous about assaulting them in return. Some forces in the Mariupol Fortress actually attempt an escape by sea, but those hopes are dashed by the Black Fleet showing up off the coast.
The Swedish army is cleaning up the last scraps of the Russian army in the extreme north of the country.
And for what it’s worth, the so far rather sleepy behemoth of the east seems to be finally stirring somewhat. Japan starts a massive and rather one-sided push into British China. It could’ve started doing this a year or so ago, though.
From a certain perspective, of course, the Treaty’s war is as good as lost and has already reached its most pointless point: death before dishonor…
For Poland, the Great War has been more or less a march from victory to victory, becoming “Great” in the other sense of the word as well. Among the people willing to consider a war great to begin with, of course. Compared to, say, a century ago, far more people are opposed not just to sending Polish citizens to die, but even to killing the enemy. This is partly because the Great War has been unprecedentedly industrial and all-encompassing in nature, harnessing not only the entire economy but also the population: beyond the 1,400,000 or so professional soldiers in the Crown Army, some 600,000 have been drafted, and more are taken by the day. Though most commanders prefer to use conscripts in support or garrison roles or just to “fill up the ranks”, they’re not always so discriminating when an attack really demands those few more bodies to throw at the enemy. And that’s before getting to the elephant in the room: that the Great War is following right on the heels of the Polish Civil War.
Materially speaking, Poland was quick to recover up and above its pre-Civil War situation, but the jury’s still out on the spiritual side. Morale is boosted by the fact that this war was, as far as anyone is concerned, started by Poland’s enemies who had already occupied Calais and Mogilev a few years prior. Polish propaganda emphasizes that its enemies were the ones to attack it and massively underestimate its strength and tenacity, and that no real fighting has taken place on Polish ground as of yet. The success of the war has kept it far more popular than it could be, at least, but plenty of people are opposed to serving the Crown or the Crown Army just as a matter of principle. And the real question is when the war will end.
Britannia has made an official decision to focus on the global conflict and keep its army out of continental Europe, but the most enthusiastic of its young men have been allowed to join the Polish Crown Army as volunteers. This option has been especially popular in Scotland.
Most of the rationing introduced near the start of the war has already been slackened since then, though, and people on the homefront have started to see their quality of life rebound somewhat. The wartime economy and the PUP's economic programs ensure that there are jobs for everyone, and on better terms than before the war. Once the war ends and the troops get back from the front – whenever that might be – Poland will go on to have a massive post-war baby boom, almost making up for the massive loss of life. Numerically speaking, of course.
And the Crown’s partnership with the Polish Unity Party still holds for now, both supporting the other’s agenda in return for the same.
Throughout the first half of 1907, France remains the most mobile and active front of the war. In the east, the Fortress strategy and, again, vast distances mean that proper battles are rare and interspersed with weeks of maneuver or simply maintenance. France on the other hand is under constant counterattack by the Latins, slowing down the Coalition advance while working hard to push the enemy out of Italy as well.
The Crown Army leadership is convinced that a deep push into Italy is exactly the knockout blow needed to force the Latins to negotiate on desirable terms (i.e. accept the ones dictated by Poland). To that end, in June 1907, a Polish-Bavarian-German force finally launches an offensive through the Wieden corridor, somewhat less hellish than fighting across the Alps.
The attack gets off to a good start, as the Latins are a bit distracted in France, but at the cost of many Polish lives: the Battle of Avignon, remembered as the second-worst of the entire war so far right after Kolmar, isn’t even a trench-filled meatgrinder but almost a return to the open field battles of old… with all the bloodshed that entails. Far worse battles are only on the way, though.
Motivated by the human horrors on the front, the Poles make great progress in the field that is their love and pride: artillery. More efficient, more accurate, more deadly artillery is expected to end battles quicker, or at least with fewer frontal charges, and more than save in terms of blood what it might cost in iron. Bring Down the Thunder!
Armed with some of these new railway guns – and a purpose-built railway from thankfully nearby Polish Crimea – the Crown Army in the east decides to show it means business as well and finally close the Mariupol pocket. At the same time that the Black Fleet and its Russian counterpart fight it out in the Sea of Azov, the besiegers of Mariupol close in from all sides. The fighting doesn’t end in the trenches, though, but continues well into the suburbs and city center of one of the largest cities in the Black Sea. The Poles keep tightening the noose, not letting any soldiers escape. Surrender, of course, is always an option, but not many take it until the very end. And Geneva Conventions be damned, when push comes to shove, Polish soldiers matter more than enemy civilians, and many of them die in the heavy shelling endured by the city.
One way or another, the entire force of 282,000 Russians is taken out of the equation – but with similar losses on the Polish side. At least the lock to the east is now open, the Bryansk Fortress having also disintegrated in the meantime.
If the Poles, the clear winners, are starting to get tired of this war, then one can only imagine what the mood might be like on the other side…
The 2-year mark of the war in November brings yet another needless distraction: the Republic of Benin, opportunistic like all the others, has decided to align with the Latins to invade its neighbor and timeless enemy Kanem-Bornu. This isn't entirely suicidal, as despite the difference on the map, Benin is very dense with a population almost half as large as Bornu’s, and the Bornuan army is busy on another continent. Of course, as an ally of Kanem-Bornu in the current war, Poland promises to defend it, which puts the adjacent Polish colonies in peril as well. Some of the forces in East Africa will need to be sent to take care of this.
Poland would have better things to worry about. The Italian offensive ends in disaster, nearly a hundred thousand soldiers (mostly conscripts) lost as their initial success makes them overextend and allows the Latins to cut off their supply lines – and escape route.
Despite making such terrible mistakes at times, the Crown Army – effectively in charge of governing millions of civilians in the occupied territories, not to mention each front and theater of war more or less running its own show – is increasingly resembling a state of its own. Perhaps that's the reason they make such mistakes in the first place. It should be temporary, of course, only for the duration of the war, and there doesn’t seem to be anything to worry about politically speaking; but despite ostensibly working with civilian authorities, the Crown Army can be a little heavy-handed on the locals. There’s also a noticeable difference in how the occupiers get along with their Slavic pagan neighbors in the east, as opposed to the Latin Christians in the west.
Early 1908. Gradually but undeniably, even though the eastern front is moving faster than ever – the Crown Army has officially crossed over into Central Asia and the Caucasus – the Coalition is losing momentum in the west. Not just mistakes on the Coalition’s part, but also the sheer tenacity of the Latins have allowed them to push back into France, even threatening to retake Paris, which has been under occupation since the very first months of the war. There isn’t so much a front line as several opposing armies running around, occasionally into each other, and all the Polish ones are terribly, terribly understrength, forced to clump together in order to operate at all.
The Crown Army in the west is at a major strategic crossroads: fight the Latins wherever they pop up and keep going for that knockout blow to end the war as soon as possible, at the risk of repeating the Italian disaster on a much larger scale, or retreat to a safer position, take a breather and replenish its forces for a more organized offensive. The Latins are fighting on their own turf, giving them shorter supply lines and a much more cooperative population that allow them to reinforce their armies much faster than the Poles can, which means that an unrelenting push-push-push approach is actually in their favor. On the other hand, the Poles have been bragging about their successes – and concealing their problems – so much that even a temporary, limited retreat is seen as a moral defeat. The decision is far from clear-cut, either strategically or politically.
High Queen Wieslawa is 73 years old. Her diminished public role since the Civil War has helped conceal how fast she seems to be aging in these past few years. All her appearances are triumphant, defiant and encouraging, but increasingly few and far in between. After spending the Civil War holed up in Wawel and fearing for her life, she now rarely leaves her luxurious Grazyna Palace. Instead, the High Queen has been addressing the nation in text, through monthly written missives published in public spaces and loyal newspapers. Despite being carefully crafted and arguably quite high on rhetoric but low on substance, these texts do reveal the occasional glimpse of a tired sovereign, jumping between melancholic and mad, who in private still struggles with the question of whether her subjects truly betrayed her or vice versa. She never did marry, and the only people around her are her servants, advisors and government officials; some of them have been around for decades, even becoming the closest thing she has to a family, but even they can’t really speak with her on equal terms. She isn’t on her death bed or anything, but there are already plenty of whispers about her “fading days” and the eventual succession.
As the generals can’t reach an agreement on their next course of action, they decide to ask Wieslawa directly and give legitimacy to (or shift away blame for) whichever choice she makes. As their go-between they choose Sylwester Kujawski, Marshal of the Realm. His predecessor Zofia Grzymala was killed by a random sniper in the Civil War and became a national martyr, whereas his role so far has been more administrative. The Army of Krakow under his command hasn’t left the capital during the entire war. Someone needs to stay behind, coordinate all the various fronts and safeguard the capital, after all.
Perhaps Marshal Kujawski just catches the High Queen on a more depressive sort of day, but she turns out to be more acquiescent than anyone dared expect. Given the high-risk high-glory option and the more cautious one, she goes for the latter, giving a royal order for the Crown Army to fall back to the north and reconsolidate. Paris and especially Calais must be kept at all costs, for both strategic and PR reasons, but the rest of France is expendable for now. Since the eastern front is looking rather stable now, some reinforcements can actually be sent from there. It might be that Wieslawa simply realizes how much worse a massive defeat and loss of life would look, as compared to a temporary retreat.
Even if it’s the lesser of two evils, the northward retreat becomes another catalyst for the rapidly worsening mood and falling enthusiasm among the Polish people. The Crown has been telling them that the Treaty was decisively beaten for over two years now, so how come the enemy is still refusing to negotiate? Calais and Mogilev were recovered almost immediately, so what is this war even about at this point?
The High Queen doesn’t really care about “politics” these days, or at least acts like she doesn’t, but the year 1908 is definitely shaping up to be a trying one. It’s an election year – the first one since universal suffrage was introduced, and thus the very first one for almost 80% of the voters. Many in the government and especially the more conservative parties are hoping for low turnout among the lower classes, but after voting rights were such a high-profile issue for so long, there’s little chance of that, and there’s little they can do to actively suppress it without causing massive outrage. For similar reasons, and to keep up the appearance of decisive victory, there’s no hope of using the war as an excuse to delay the election either.
It is unsurprising that the war should dominate the campaigns, debates – more important and publicized than ever before – and of course unofficial speeches given on the side. Even though the actual fighting is up to the Crown Army, the Sejm is deeply involved with it on the homefront, and regardless, the Sejm not actually being in charge of something has never stopped anyone from arguing about it anyway.
Premier Mikolaj Rusin and his Polish Unity Party are in an awkward spot: on one hand, they’ve done a great job driving their main policy goals, and their success has even propelled their sister party to victory in the Yugoslavian Sejm. On the other hand, they have the rare pleasure of being perhaps too successful for their own good, as the reforms they’ve passed in the Sejm have already alleviated people’s suffering enough that some of them no longer see such an acute need to vote for the socialists, especially if they still feel uneasy about them for some other reason. And last but not least, many of their most hardcore and left-wing supporters feel betrayed by the way that they’ve formed a coalition government with the Populists and thrown their, cordial or not, support behind the Crown and the “White" war effort.
Then again, the National Coalition – the main opposition – has had a rather lackluster term. It too has supported the war, obviously, but the war has also kept it from disrupting the Sejm too much and being seen to be undermining national unity. Who knows how much it’ll benefit just from being the main alternative people turn to after the PUP, though.
Both parties expend a lot of oxygen debating not so much military strategy, but how they’d improve people’s lives on the homefront. Over the long summer, however, the cautious approach chosen by the High Queen ends up paying dividends, as the Crown Army is indeed able to hold on to northernmost France, reinforce, and then start pushing out again with much better casualty rates. Of course, the Latins are also growing more and more exhausted – personally speaking, and in terms of material. The frontline in the Alps is still quite stale, or rather moving a short distance back and forth, but the Coalition has at least managed to secure South Tyrol and liberate some of Switzerland.
In the east, the main opponent is still geography. No one thought it would need to come to this point, but over half of Russia has indeed been occupied by the Coalition. The Crown Army has reached as far as Baku in the Caucasus and Samarkand in Central Asia. Although, there are still some quite brutal battles happening in Anatolia between Russian and Moldavian, Yugoslavian, or Bornuan troops.
Japan ended up getting bogged down in China after all, perhaps due to being a little too paranoid of a Polish naval invasion (which Poland has neither the resources nor the enthusiasm to do on a sufficient scale) and keeping most of its army on the Home Islands. It has more or less occupied the British territories, but not even tried to take Taiwan for instance. Britannia, to its credit, has fought fiercely to protect its by far most valuable colony, and there are still British soldiers evading the Japanese forces to harass them in the back. It helps that the local inhabitants aren’t much fonder of Japan than they are of Britannia.
Santa Croce is nearing total defeat, mainly at the hands of Britannia.
And the fighting in Benin is technically still ongoing, but it’s more or less clear where it’s going, and Benin accepts a white peace in July.
So Japan is alright, but not really contributing to the war as a whole; Russia’s total occupation is only a matter of marching speed; and thus, the Latin Federation is the real lynchpin of the Treaty Powers. Perhaps due to the Poles also getting a dose of realism and lowering their demands a bit, and the Latins themselves suffering from the war a million times worse, tentative approaches for peace are actually made throughout the year. At first, the Latins still reject them, perhaps out of principle or just as a haggling strategy, but as the Poles start sweeping across France again and even gearing up for another invasion of Italy, the government finally buckles and comes to the negotiating table for real.
The official armistice between the Coalition and the Treaty Powers is signed on 1 September 1908, just short of three years into the war and less than two weeks before Poland’s own election. Though sporadic fighting still takes place for a while, especially in the colonies where the message doesn't even reach the troops immediately, both sides are just relieved to finally stop. This is only the armistice, though: the agreement to put down arms and take up pens. The actual contents of the peace treaty still need to be hashed out, and even if the Latins in particular may still be defiant, it seems they have little choice but to sit down and hope for mercy. The Coalition has won the Great War, and now the Treaty must pay.
Spoiler: CommentsFunny how this war has mirrored the real Great War for me as a player/writer. I legitimately thought it was going to end quickly and uneventfully, but they put up a surprisingly strong resistance and also required like 93% warscore before they’d surrender. At no point did I play badly on purpose, either. The war became a lot more interesting to me when I realized it wasn’t going to be quite as simple as I thought.
I think I’ll make the treaty/treaties another special chapter. I’ve handcrafted the capitulation events for both the Latins and Russia, rather than rely on the default PDM ones, and mine are quite harsh but honestly still more merciful. In terms of real-life Great War, think more Germany and less Austria-Hungary. Japan gets off easy with only the regular capitulation and no loss of territory, though.
Last edited by SilverLeaf167; 2022-03-25 at 02:10 PM.
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Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs
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Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs
Special #9: The Three Treaties (1908)
Russia, of course, has been completely brought to its knees: all its major or even medium cities are occupied, the Crown Army is halfway to China, and the remaining Russian troops stuck in Anatolia are trapped with nowhere to go. As for the Latin Federation, the Italian half of the country might be mostly untouched – but that’s glossing over the amount of men and resources that have already been expended, not to mention the fact that with the Coalition dominating the seas, there’s a worsening shortage of basic goods. People in the occupied regions are arguably eating better than their countrymen farther south. The Latin people are growing angry, first and foremost towards the Coalition, but also their own government: why did they start this war, how dare they lose, and why are they still prolonging their suffering?
The fact that the Federation still holds Italy can easily give the illusion that it has some room to bargain, but from a practical point of view, it too is at the Coalition’s mercy. It can’t survive another year of this war.
Under the self-assumed leadership of the Polish Crown, the Coalition starts finalizing its demands. The peace will actually consist of three separate treaties with the three main enemies: this is to keep each treaty manageable in size (two of them are already almost 200 pages long), but also to isolate the enemies from each other, and force them to take responsibility for their own treaties so that, say, the Russians can’t come back and claim that they weren’t given a choice in the matter. That final and otherwise quite reasonable goal is somewhat undermined by the way that the Coalition handles its own side of the “negotiations”, though.
The Treaty of Macau is a rather straight-forward white peace between Britannia and Japan, restoring and setting in stone their pre-war borders in China. Britannia is the only one to have had a single battle with Japan. The Empire is quite reluctant to “surrender” after what seems like a string of victories, but it can also see that the war isn’t really going anywhere and the long-term economic harm is simply too much to be worth it. It seems to be only now realizing how heavily dependent it is on trade with the Coalition Powers. The Coalition demands only minor reparations, but shortly after the peace, Japan’s economy will fall into a depression all on its own and its army be downsized anyway.
The other two are quite different. The Latin and Russian delegates summoned to Poland are expecting to sit down and work out an agreement, even if from a position of weakness. Instead, they are basically handed their respective treaties, barely given time to read through them, and told to sign if they don’t want the war to resume. They do get to consult with their governments back home, but despite their best efforts at haggling, it’s “take it or leave it”. In the end, the Latins sign the Treaty of Grazyna and the Russians the Treaty of Ryszarda with only the smallest of adjustments.
Before getting into the contents of the treaties, it may be worthwhile to note what the Coalition’s actual or at least stated “goals” were:
- To work towards peace in Europe, namely by ensuring that the aggressive Treaty Powers will not or can not start a similar war again.
- To punish those who would shamelessly invade Poland and Germany, and meddle in the internal matters of Yugoslavia, bringing on this mutually destructive war entirely by their own actions.
- To split up the Latin colonies between the victorious powers, both as reparations for the war but also for the benefit of the colonies themselves and in order to minimize global flashpoints.
- To, truth be told, “settle” some long-standing border disputes while they have the chance. In order to stave off future wars, of course.
That being said, there are some things the Coalition negotiators themselves deem a bridge too far. For instance, large-scale annexation of European territories with no historical basis is simply not on the table, but neither is completely dismantling the Federation or the United Kingdom into their constituent parts, which would basically require an indefinite occupation of those territories to enforce such a breakup and stop them from joining back together. Such an occupation is opposed from a practical and, believe it or not, moral point of view, especially since the Coalition doesn’t want to end up looking like the villains here. New states can thus only be created in places with actual local support for such a move. But, as something of a double standard perhaps, the Coalition Powers also can’t support any independence movements that would threaten their own stability. This is mostly relevant for Poland, which absolutely cannot have an independent Khazaria or Byelorussia in the neighborhood. The Dniepr border will stay right where it used to be.
With all that in mind, the treaties include pages upon pages of diplomatic and economic protocol – ranging from bureaucratic arrangements in the colonies, to the return of individual pieces of art looted from the occupied regions – but the territorial changes are explained below.
Speaking of protocol, all the peace treaties include Frisia and Yugoslavia as signatories – who really made an impact in the war and deserve recognition – whereas Ligor and Nowa Straya are nowhere to be seen, not for lack of participation per se but because Poland is a bit paranoid about any implications of colonial autonomy given some of the things in the treaties. Frisian and Yugoslavian autonomy, to the contrary, has proven diplomatically convenient in the past (partly to bulk up the “Polish” representation at any given event). Similarly, all the members of the Nordic Union insist on being listed as equals of Sweden.
Spoiler: Latin Federation – Treaty of GrazynaThe Latin delegation, having taken the long way around by ship – for reasons of both pride and security, it refuses to travel through either Germany or Yugoslavia – disembarks in Szczecin and is taken straight to Grazyna Palace by rail. These meetings being held here of all places could be an honor under some circumstances, but right now, it’s just a show of dominance by the Poles. Though the Latin diplomats are shown the usual courtesy, there’s no doubt in the air that as long as the treaty is unsigned, they are still representatives of the enemy, and a humiliated one at that. Strangely enough, despite this being the High Queen’s house and her name being on the papers, she actually doesn’t show herself during the proceedings, which are handled entirely by the foreign ministry and the Crown Council (under her instructions, of course). At Premier Rusin’s request, the Sejm has been allowed to send in a Crown-approved observer, but no press is allowed inside before the final public ceremony.
Diplomatic, monetary and other reparations are made to every Coalition member, but obviously only some of them can benefit from actual transfers of land:
The province of Calais, whose illegal occupation was perhaps the very first prologue of this war, is of course returned to Poland. Poland has already held it since the start of the war and long since reintegrated it, so this is merely putting it on paper. Technically it never legally left Poland, which is why the treaty itself only speaks of the Federation renouncing its claims to an already Polish city. On that note, though, Calais really is in a strange position: it’s been held by Poland since the Middle Ages, used to be part of Francia and then the Grand Duchy of Frisia, and has a Walloon majority, meaning that everyone and thus no one has a clear claim to it at this point.
Out of the Coalition Powers, the Republic of Germany has suffered the most by far. In addition to Southern Germany as a whole taking a lot of damage, the Alps and everything south of them are basically still smoking. Many places there are only connected by a single pass, mountain road or even tunnel, and those have been blown to bits by one side or another as battles over a single footpath might go back and forth for weeks. But Germany also contributed hugely to the fight against the Federation, and has the most territorial disputes with it anyway, so even with relations between it and the rest of the Coalition being rather cold, it can’t really be denied its rightful part of the peace deal.
South Tyrol is a no-brainer, being both historically and culturally German. Germany’s demands for the rest of the Venetian region are shot down by its co-belligerents, though. Franche-Comté/Freigrafschaft is more contentious: it is quite markedly French, and has only really been part of Germany during its short territorial peak as the Bundesrepublik, but its claim is at least strong and insistent enough that given the situation – and the fact that it already occupies the region – it can hardly be denied. With the return of South Tyrol and the Freigrafschaft, Germany has now reached and exceeded its size during the Bundesrepublik (not counting the various sister republics, of course). However, even if the surrounding monarchies still don’t like strengthening it, they don’t see it as such a major threat anymore, and also care more about weakening the Latins. This also makes up for the fact that Germany isn’t getting any colonies out of this deal, no matter how it wanted them.
The one new country carved out of the mainland Federation is the state of Brittany. It has been safely occupied for most of the war, has a long-standing even if not very powerful separatist movement – seeing itself as culturally distinct from the Latins – and already had a brief bout of independence after the Mad Year of 1840. Not to forget, of course, its highly strategic location. It will be organized as a constitutional Kingdom of Brittany – the “King” part being seen as an important status symbol – under the official “protection” of Britannia until its independence is deemed secure.
The Latins’ three “settler” colonies – Santa Croce, Aotearoa and Honduras – are granted the right to hold a referendum for independence from the Federation. Very noble, although something of a double standard given the handling of the other, non-white colonial subjects who are quite casually thrown around from overlord to overlord. Out of these two, Honduras and Aotearoa both end up with a firm majority for “Leave”, Honduras because its population is actually mixed Asturian-Andalusian and Aotearoa because it’s tired of getting dragged into European politics on literally the other side of the world.
Santa Croce, however, ends up voting “Remain”, for a few big reasons: because its more prolonged role in the war actually fostered a deeper kinship with the Latin cause, because it has the closest relationship with the homeland to begin with, and because the outraged Santanans see the whole treaty as illegitimate due to the fact that it also includes the secession of Amapa to Paraland. Santa Croce will thus stay as one of the Federation’s only two overseas territories. As discussed above, there’s little the Coalition can do to force independence upon those who refuse to take it.
The other overseas territory the Latins are allowed to keep is Cape Verde. While deceptively similar to a colony, it houses at this point half a million Italians, Frenchmen and Andalusians and is in fact a fully-fledged state in the Federation, leading the Coalition to conclude that, despite the Polish occupation of the islands, trying to annex them as a colony is more trouble than it’s worth. Nearby Serra Leoa, though, is handed to Britannia, which did most of the work in occupying it and also has fewer colonies in the region than Poland does. The topic of Poland previously wanting this land in order to secure a connection for its colonies does come up, but Britannia promises free access – or even a wholly Polish-owned road through the colony – and the matter is settled with a handshake.
This brings up another of those double standards, though, regarding Kanem-Bornu’s presence (or lack thereof) in the negotiations. Despite committing to the Great War just as hard as anybody else, even sending its troops to fight and die in Anatolia or Italy, it gains precisely no territory from this peace treaty. The Sultanate also submits its own request for Serra Leoa, trying not to be too blunt about the fact that the European colonies are the very reason it currently has no southern ports whatsoever; but the very idea of handing a colony “back” to an African nation strikes the others as anything from silly to uncomfortable, and the suggestion is pretty much ignored. It doesn’t take long after the treaty is signed for the outraged Bornuans to officially sever ties with most of the Coalition.
Continental East Africa goes to Britannia, while Madagascar is handed to Moldavia, hungry for any bases in the Indian Ocean but running low on options for where to get them. Despite being some of the largest transfers of land and population in this entire treaty, East Africa and Madagascar are treated rather as an afterthought, as the matter is quite clear-cut diplomatically and they’re “just” colonies with no local autonomy anyway. Then again, it might also not matter to the natives which Europeans are the ones exploiting them, as there’s really no discernable difference between the Federation, Britannia and Moldavia in that regard.
Latin Indochina, containing parts of Siam and Cambodia, is taken by Poland and placed under the administration of its vassal Sultanate of Ligor. Ligor and Poland have proven to have a surprisingly good “working relationship”, and advisors stationed in the East Indies suggest that this is probably the most efficient way to deal with this piece of land that isn’t otherwise especially important. The unspoken truth there is that Ligor is also relatively more prosperous and, perhaps, more competently run than the Crown colonies. In any case, Indochina saw some of the most vicious fighting of all the colonies, and stripping the Latins of their global bases is half the point here, so it’s not like it could just be left alone or anything.
And finally, as expected, Taiwan goes to Poland. This is actually Poland’s third base in China, alongside Dalian and Macau, which don’t get a lot of attention – the fact that they weren’t even invaded in the Great War is further proof of just how anemic Japan’s offensive really was. However, Taiwan is actually something of an oddity, compared to the other Polish colonies: it’s rather heavily urbanized and industrialized in a way that the adjacent Maniolas for instance definitely aren’t, the Latins clearly having run some sort of experiment with this particular colony and boosted its population by inviting settlers from mainland China. Poland chooses to keep it that way for now rather than actively impede its development.
The peace also includes some smaller border adjustments with Lotharingia and Germany, amounting to all of a few villages that don’t really show on a map or matter to anyone but themselves.
All in all, however, Poland’s own gains from the Treaty of Grazyna are limited to Calais, Indochina and Taiwan, which some believe is an outrage but those with knowledge of the geographic situation mostly understand. At least it makes it harder – in theory, anyway – to paint Poland as an aggressor, or claim that it’s abusing its leadership position in the peace talks. The truth is, there’s little more that could be taken from the Federation – apart from the massive reparations and military restrictions – that wouldn’t be simply asking for trouble, not just internationally but even within Poland. What would Krakow even do with, say, Sicily? What matters is that through the loss of their colonies and other bits of territory, the Latins have been greatly weakened, if not lost their great power status altogether. Even in the case of any future war, the Coalition will be able to focus more and more of its strength in Europe.
Spoiler: United Kingdom of Russia – Treaty of RyszardaUnable to escape to the west and denied entry into either the UAS or Communist Uralia (more on that country at some point), the Russian royal family and government-in-exile have been forced to operate out of Siberia of all places. After traveling across more than 3,000 miles of Polish-occupied territory – by train, by car, and even horse cart when the car breaks down – their delegates are finally housed in Ryszarda Palace, a separate building at the edge of the Grazyna estate.
The Treaty of Ryszarda quite closely mirrors Grazyna, except that Russia’s more complete defeat, sheer size, and perhaps lack of colonies to play with all lead to a larger loss of “home” territory. First things first, Poland of course takes back its illegally occupied provinces, but rather than move the border any further from there – and simply bring a lot of angry Russians into the country for no real gain – chooses to make something of a moral statement by reaffirming that the Dniepr is the rightful border between Poland and Russia. The only other piece of land it takes is the Daugavpils region, to be integrated into Polish Latvia. That ties into the next item on the list.
For its great contribution to the war, Sweden gets Nyensants – a major port city with a substantial Finnish population, now integrated into Finland and renamed Nevanlinna – and an independent Kingdom of Estonia. Comparable to Brittany in the west, the Estonians have not appreciated the loss of the minority rights they used to enjoy as part of Novgorod, nor the active Russification that replaced them. From Sweden and Poland’s point of view, the loss of Nevanlinna and Estonia greatly weakens Russia in the Baltic Sea or even in general, which also makes their own borders more secure. Sweden requests that Estonia be placed under its protection for the time being, and Poland sees no reason to disagree.
Way down south, Anatolia – its population a mix of Greeks, Armenians, Arabs and Kurds – has been awkwardly split between Moldavia and the Russians ever since they partitioned the Christian and Muslim states there. For a long time, neither side really minded this arrangement, but in the last century that they’ve turned from friends to enemies, it has become a hotly disputed and extremely deadly battleground. That was true in the Great War as well, and not even by the end of it, when Russia had already basically lost, had the Anatolian front calmed down. With so much of their blood soaked into the ground, it’s only right that the dispute be settled and Anatolia finally unified under the Moldavians. This is by far the largest land transfer in the Treaty of Ryszarda – to any of the Coalition powers, that is.
Indeed, to the far east, actually in the only part of Russia that the war didn’t reach, it is forced to grant independence to the Khanates of Mongolia and Uyghuristan. It has only ruled these regions for a few decades, and it isn’t even too hard to find direct descendants of their previous rulers to form the basis for modern, constitutional monarchies with European-style government. Although the main point is to weaken Russia (and stop it from expanding into China), there’s also some hope that this introduction of “solid but civilized” monarchy in the region will act as some sort of buffer against the spread of communist ideology. Again, though, despite the size of the areas involved, these far-flung countries are really just pawns in a larger game and probably mostly forgotten about after this.
On a side note, trivial to anyone in the west but absolutely critical to these countries and Russia itself, the Trans-Tartarian Railway it has worked so hard to build will be nationalized by the Khanates to do with as they wish. This easternmost part was the most difficult, too, with all those damn mountains in the way.
(The main completed parts of the Trans-Tartarian Railway, intended to connect Eurasia from coast to coast.)
Finally, the war between Karnata and Russia ended up with the transfer of mainland India but not the Maldives. Partly because Karnata’s distraction with the war against Russia ended up costing it the war against the Maratha Confederacy, and quite a bit of land, the Coalition has some sympathy for Karnata despite it not being a member per se. In the end, rather than pick a fight with Karnata, the Coalition agrees to include it in the treaty and throw it a bone in the form of the Maldives. Japan has been supporting the Confederacy and throwing a lot of investment its way, so it makes sense for the Coalition to try to maintain relations with Karnata instead.
In the Treaty of Ryszarda, the United Kingdom of Russia actually loses about a third or more of its land area and almost a fourth of its population. Even if neither those lands nor those people were really “Russian” per se, some of them had been part of the country for centuries, and it certainly stings. The independence of Central Asia was also discussed, actually, but ultimately put aside both for being “overkill” and for worry of giving the UAS – not exactly a friend of the Coalition – a potential avenue to exploit.
Russia’s near-total occupation also seems to have crippled its economy even worse than it did for the Latin Federation, and people are definitely eager to write off Russia as spent and nothing to worry about. As the final cherry on top, the Russians are even obligated to rewrite their constitution and remove the part implying that “all Russians” should be part of the country. That’s what they get for trying to claim a huge chunk of Poland, though.
A total peace for a total war. Now all sides deal with the aftermath.
Spoiler: CommentsI didn’t really need to make that mockup of the actual real-life Treaty of Versailles, but then again, when do I need to do anything? I think a glimpse of the text used at the time adds a little something.
The treaties here were based on a mix of what would make sense, what would look nice on the map, and maybe the fact that I would’ve felt weird about using these custom events to give myself too many benefits. And of course, from a meta perspective I don’t actually want the Latins and Russia to be completely crippled forever, but that’s neither here nor there. In-universe, it really is rather simple: this is already the largest and most wide-spanning peace treaty in history, and it’s funny to assume that the victors “should” or “would’ve wanted to” make it even larger. To their contemporaries, what happened here was already quite an overreach compared to anything that has come before, but of course, so was this whole war. Who knows what the future might hold.
The real-life treaties actually included a clause banning any kind of political union between Germany and Austria, which was seen as necessary, but always struck me as kind of funny and obviously didn’t work in the end. That was another reason, though (besides the meta one), that I didn’t do something like a forceful separation of France and Italy, or Novgorod and Chernigov. I would have trouble explaining why they don’t just reunite or at least ally the moment they get the chance. There are some actual good reasons that Austria-Hungary, already crippled by separatist movements, was totally dismantled into (messy) nation-states, while relatively homogeneous Germany wasn’t. Though that was suggested too.
Also conspicuously lacking is something like the League of Nations, which IRL was founded at the end of the Great War. Just didn’t feel appropriate here.
There’s still 27 years of Vic 2 left, so I wouldn't be surprised if we get another Great War in that time. The post-war effects disable most casus belli for a bit (10 years for the Latins and Russia, 5 for everyone else), but not that long. Who knows if it’ll be big and dramatic enough to be called that, though, like this was. I won’t force it to happen, but I also won’t force it to not happen.
Last edited by SilverLeaf167; 2022-03-25 at 02:44 PM.
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Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs
So it looks like my preliminary assessment was pretty on-point: Once they sort out the inevitable economic and political chaos the war and the peace will give rise to, both Russia and the Latin Federation are going to still be powerful nations, and they're going to want revenge. I'm fully expecting another Great War a couple decades down the road.
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Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs
Chapter #71: Look Left, Look Right, Look Left Again (1908-1912)
Spoiler: Chapter2nd of September, 1908
The Great War is over. That bit of news is received with great celebrations across Poland and the rest of the Coalition – even more so than the fact that Poland won, though that of course is also a plus. Unlike the creaky, insecure end of the Civil War, this can really be seen as a moment that the entire nation is united in joy, though perhaps more bittersweet for those whose homes feel a lot emptier than they did just three years ago. In the Treaty Powers, too, people and governments alike take the news perhaps less happily but also with relief; on this day after the armistice is signed, their humiliating peace treaties, not to mention political and economic reckoning, are yet to come, and the main thing on everyone’s minds is that at least the war is over. They’re not going to be very enthusiastic about any more of those for a while.
Needless to say, this also has vast implications for the Sejmic election now only a week away. No one can quite agree on what those implications are, though, especially with the ideological free-for-all that Poland has become since the previously unimaginable rise of the Polish Unity Party. On one hand, the PUP can now boast of a successful war; on the other, with the country finally at peace, some people might feel more willing to vote their conscience without needing to heed any arguments about solidarity or whatnot. All parties have been assuming that the war would keep going for a while longer, and formed their campaigns and talking points accordingly. The returning soldiers themselves are also seen as something of a political wildcard: though the Crown Army has done a commendable job working with the Sejm to make it possible for soldiers to vote on the front in this historically significant election, those circumstances were still expected to lead to a lower turnout and perhaps also affect the votes themselves, given the low level (i.e. lack) of voting secrecy in the Polish system so far. Whites and Reds ended up proving very capable of fighting side-by-side, but would they have been able to vote side-by-side, or would one or the other have stayed away from the polls?
In purely material terms, Germany and Moldavia saw a fair bit of fighting in their own territory, but Poland and Britannia got off “relatively unscathed” in that they only pumped a huge amount of resources into fighting on other people’s land for the past three years. The PUP has done its job well enough. From a cynical enough point of view, the country even achieved nearly full employment for a while, if only because everyone was called in to either make guns or shoot them. The worst economic shock Poland is likely to see is some temporary issues as it moves back to a civilian economy, military industries need to downsize, and a lot of people coming back from the front have to get back in the workplace, but most people foresee an economic boom if anything. On a side note, the already relatively high employment rate of Polish women has risen during the war – since fewer of them were sent to the front – but the social impact there is far less dramatic than in other countries where this wasn’t already the norm before. The expansion of the vote, given to all adults regardless of class, group membership or taxes paid, has also had a direct impact on women’s suffrage, as they used to be less likely to fulfill those criteria even if gender was technically not an issue.
For any of the reasons discussed here and previously, the election ends up swinging far in the National Coalition’s favor, earning them a large majority in the Sejm all on their own. To many people, this marks a reassuring return to normalcy. They “only” get 37% of the popular vote, but then again, the Populists take a historical beating as voters upset about their cooperation with the PUP defect to other parties. What this means for the PUP is that it’ll be stuck in the opposition for a while, but far from condemned to stay there forever, a situation it can live with. Party chairman Rusin is still a very influential speaker and writer in socialist circles, too, and will continue to dominate the PUP-loyal part of the electorate. His biggest problem is actually the resurgent SDP: with the PUP and the SDP quite difficult to tell apart in terms of politics, the split between them seems to be mostly about personal opinion regarding Rusin’s party leadership and some philosophical differences that non-socialists have trouble grasping. The problem, of course, is that they’re splitting the vote too. If they were just one party, they could’ve actually won the majority of districts here.
More so than any petty drama on the left, interesting – or concerning – things are happening on the right. The relationship between extreme conservatives and the Crown that used to be taken for granted, and is still represented by the Royalist Party, has been fraying since at least the 1870s, accelerated even if not started by Crown “failures” like the Congress of Charleroi. It saw a turnabout during the Civil War when everyone right of center rallied behind the Crown, but that proved to be temporary, and things only got worse after the war came to an unsatisfying end and the Whites felt more betrayed than ever. Unhappy with either the Coalition or the Royalists, the most radical Whites have been shaping up into a movement of their own.
Unlike socialism, what will come to be known as primacism is not a grand global ideology, but an informal grouping of eerily similar movements in different countries. As implied by their name, primacists are all about putting things before other things. State before citizen, security before liberty, order before options, unity before diversity – "us" before "them". However, their rhetoric is most strongly defined by the things they hate: capitalists, socialists, democrats, communists, internationalists, pacifists, heathens, the genetically inferior and more. All these groups are marked as enemies of the state that must be either controlled or eliminated, lest they destroy it from within. Of course, the focus on protecting one's own nation means that primacism is by definition a very local phenomenon with many variants – fascism, falangism, national socialism, integralism, you name it – with a tendency to adopt whatever policies will attract the local voter, yet they share the same core attitudes and may also be willing to work with fellow primacists against mutual enemies.
Whether they support or oppose monarchy depends largely on their local situation, but some sort of absolute leader is a must. They lean towards strong religious values and always, always a strong military to safeguard the nation and subjugate its lessers. One thing must be made clear, though: despite having the trappings of a conservative or reactionary movement, primacist ideology at its core is neither of those things, but first and foremost revolutionary, stopping at nothing short of total reconstruction of the state in its own image.
Poland's own primacists similarly call for a sanacja, healing, the removal of rotten elements from the "national body". They are the culmination of White frustration, and the way they see it, treasonous Reds have been allowed to infect the Sejm and even the Crown right there in the open. Their public focus is on fighting against government corruption and communism, but they also draw some tenuous connections regarding what kinds of people those enemies might be, and their cure of choice is to dismiss parliamentarism as a failed experiment and return to the days of authoritarian rule. They look back to some imagined golden era centuries ago, or perhaps even before 1444 and the Moscow Pact. Indeed, on the fringes of the movement, they even promote a new wave of Pan-Slavic ideas of uniting all Slavs under one nation, and what they consider traditional paganism cleansed of any real or imagined Abrahamic influence.
In the 1908 election, the Slavic Sanacja party wins some 5% of the votes and none of the seats, but that’s already more than the Royalists for instance. The movement is still new, and still finding its footing. None of the other parties, except maybe the socialists, really make much of them at this point in time, and the question of how to deal with them is not yet relevant. Many conservatives might even think it’s possible to work with them. But while not a lot of people can make the connection yet, primacist movements may well end up seeing far more success in other countries that are, say, going through great humiliation, unrest and disillusionment in their democratic government.
During the war, the National Coalition needed to do some soul-searching to find itself a passable leader. Their last Premier, Andrzej Gabris, was basically forced to flee in 1896 over differences with High Queen Wieslawa. His successor Karol Lechowicz was openly Wieslawa's personal appointee and not theirs, before being replaced by the PUP’s Mikolaj Rusin in turn. Due to the party’s indeed coalition-like nature, finding a clear ideological leader has always been difficult. In the end, they have settled on Borys Piela, a well-spoken and well-liked party elite from a businessman background. Many similar deputies (and not just voters) have defected from the Populists to the Coalition lately, but he’s a staunch conservative who’s been there since the start of his career. He’s expected to provide a strong contrast to Rusin’s socialist policies.
(Mechanically I’m unable to change Premiers right now, but just take my word for it.)
Speaking of Coalitions, since the war’s over, what will be done with the international Coalition is up in the air. While it certainly started out as more of a ragtag grouping, it did in fact become formalized in a number of ways to coordinate everyone’s militaries and economies for the war effort. The central alliance between Poland, Moldavia, Britannia and Sweden likely isn’t going anywhere for now, but Kanem-Bornu has already left, and soon after the war Germany does the same. Despite fighting together against a common enemy (and witnessing Poland’s full military might firsthand), it still holds onto its old grudges, and refuses to maintain any formal alliance with Poland as long as it still holds the North Sea and Vienna.
Germany being Germany isn’t very surprising. What happens to the east in December 1908, though, takes everyone off guard: when the Russian royal family and government-in-exile finally make their way back to Moscow, the people don’t want them back. In their absence during the war, the local authorities – Russia is a constitutional monarchy with a robust Duma, after all – have set up a provisional government, and while it was supposed to be a temporary arrangement, after reading the mood in the capital, it’s become clear that the Lechowicz-Artamonovich king has lost popular support. After their suffering during the war, the citizens are not in the mood to watch their failure of a king return from his little vacation (in Siberia, but still). In its first peacetime assembly, the Duma almost unanimously votes to abolish the monarchy and fill the executive branch with an elected president instead. After only existing for 44 years, the United Kingdom of Russia has decided to keep the Russia but ditch the Kingdom. The royal family is forced to leave the country, and neither they nor their descendants are allowed to enter Russia again. For lack of better options – Siberia is far too isolated – they seek refuge in Paris. A bloodless and disturbingly easy revolution… with worrying implications for the Coalition as well.
The Coalition was expecting to hem in, weaken and keep the Treaty powers preoccupied, but they would’ve actually much preferred that the Russians keep their government. All the countries in the Coalition are monarchies, even if mostly constitutional ones, and that does still hold some ideological relevance (not to mention personal, for the rulers themselves). A republican Russia, dislodged from history, seems like it could be unpredictable. Hopefully still hemmed in and weakened, though.
A more subtle revolution happens in Poland’s own sphere: the Grand Duchy of Frisia has been getting increasingly autonomous for a long time now, both by its own efforts and by what could best be described as benign neglect on Poland’s part. In the wake of the Great War, and especially Frisia’s admirable contribution to it, this has reached the point that it’s basically independent. This isn’t formalized in any papers, but at this point, it’s only cooperating with Poland on its own terms; the day that it doesn’t feel like doing so, Poland will discover that it has little ability to force it to.
(Becoming a great power by any means automatically removes you from any vassalage and sphere of influence.)
One reason that Frisia doesn't get much attention is that Russia’s situation is actually degrading rapidly. The bloodless December Revolution seems to have failed to solve the question of how Russia should be ruled: the Constitutionalists try to cling to power, but seeing as they were the ones in charge during and before the war, their legitimacy is just about as low as the monarchy’s. The devastation done to Russian infrastructure, communications and of course the army – basically nonexistent at the moment – leaves the Duma with little way to keep track of local unrest, and the lead-up to the first presidential election only raises tensions further. The March Revolution of 1909 erupts nigh-simultaneously all across the vast country, actually consisting of all kinds of disparate militias armed with more cudgels than guns: a few communists, a few republicans, and Kazakh, Turkestani, Bolghar, Cuman, Dagestani, Georgian, Armenian, Azeri and Finnish separatists. Most notable, however, are Russia’s own primacists under General Yegor Zavoyko, one of the last commanders to keep fighting at the end of the war and now a national symbol for “Ryszarda revisionists” to rally around.
This sudden explosion of violence is actually shocking enough that Poland requests permission from the provisionary government to move troops into Russia and help put down the unrest, but in the wake of the last Polish occupation, this genuine offer of help (or attempt to manipulate Russian politics, depending on how you see it) is swiftly denied. Seems that the Duma would rather go down with the ship than let the Poles into the country again. Poland can’t invade by force, either, without jeopardizing the peace treaties it wrote. All it can do is watch, and try to evacuate its last representatives from the country.
Zavoyko and his thugs (“The Greenshirts”, for they’re basically the only ones still in military uniform) take control of the capital and place every government official under arrest. Given the situation unfolding around the country, they’re perhaps not entirely unjustified in declaring that the democratic government can’t maintain control and the presidential election will obviously not be held. Until stability can be restored and more permanent arrangements made, Zavoyko names himself Vozhd, “Leader”, the supreme political and military head of Russia. However, that Russia is at acute risk of getting a lot smaller. His Greenshirts will fan out to enforce military law, first in the capital region, then elsewhere as soon as possible.
His Vozrozhdeniye – “Russia Reborn” – movement never had time to participate in an election or even really form a party, making even its stated ideology a bit of a mystery. It will later be seen that it fills all the criteria of primacism, and of course, its ultimate goal is to overturn the Treaty of Ryszarda, restore Russia’s territorial unity, and expand it into a grand Pan-Slavic union. That last bit is obviously in conflict not just with Poland, but even Poland’s own Slavic Sanacja.
Right now, though, none of that is clear to Polish observers, who only know that one of Russia’s most famous generals has established an emergency government. Most of them even wish him luck in keeping Russia together, as opposed to letting it fall apart into a mess of squabbling states… or even worse, communism.
As it turns out, he succeeds. It’s a low bar at the moment, but he and his fellow officers – and their soldiers turned personal warbands – are the best organized and equipped military in Russia. Slowly but surely they are able to march into the countryside, suppress the populace with great prejudice, and violently disband the rebel governments that have already started to form. Due to the shortage of cars or even functioning railroads, they actually tend to move around on horses, most of them confiscated from the horse-raising Khazars and Kazakhs as they come across them. The Greenshirts have the broad if not enthusiastic support of the ethnically Russian parts of the population. The situation gives Zavoyko an excellent pretext to crack down on the political opposition and cultural minorities, extend the state of emergency indefinitely and not even bother to restore the Duma. And while many of his allies are probably only thinking of a bog-standard military government, to the Vozhd and his inner circle, this is a major head start towards the creation of a monocultural, monoreligious, monolithic Russian state where the other half of the population is assimilated, exploited or at best “endured” more so than tolerated.
Still, no matter how he might deny the legitimacy of Ryszarda (and refuse to pay the reparations demanded there), Zavoyko’s takeover doesn’t change the fact that Russia is physically in shambles, and will take time to rebuild. And that’s if it doesn’t get carved up by other countries after all.
(Russia doesn’t have and cannot build an army for another few years; the various other uprisings just evaporated on their own after the primacists succeeded.)
No one in Poland really makes the immediate leap to “blaming” the Treaty of Ryszarda for this, as the treaty was actually seen as pretty merciful and the Russians brought it upon themselves. The most heartless even scoff at the whole mess, calling it good riddance. But that doesn’t change the fact that its consequences are probably not positive for Poland either.
Russia isn’t the only post-war country having problems: the Kingdom of Brittany, whose populace already elected a socialist party in the country’s first independent election, faces a violent communist uprising in the fall of 1909. As Britannia is being slow to react, Poland is once again forced to request permission to move troops into the country. It takes some coaxing, but unlike Russia, Brittany is ostensibly a Polish ally, and finally agrees. The Marynarka docks in the capital Naoned (Nantes), carrying an army to help the legitimate government restore order. Arrangements are made for the troops to stay in Brittany for a while, which is of course a blow to the young country’s independence.
Across the Atlantic, the Free Nations actually makes some attempts at breaking out of its isolation. Radziwill is sending out feelers for, if not quite membership in the Coalition, then at least a bilateral alliance with Britannia. Both have had conservative parties in power for a while, and they share many interests geographically speaking, but in the end, their military and “personal” differences (especially in regards to Poland) prove too great for a formal alliance to be viable. The Free Nations will remain a strictly Western Hemisphere power, only associating with Amatican and Alcadran countries for now.
On that note, though, things are happening in their backyard as well. In September 1910, Ingerland of all places falls to a primacist coup. Alcadra, generally seen as perhaps the sleepiest corner of the world, has clearly been stirred awake by its participation in the Great War, where Ingerland for instance saw a fair bit of fighting against Honduras and Santa Croce. This coup isn’t a popular movement born out of the desperation of a ruined country, though, but just an opportunistic attack by a small military elite, and it remains to be seen if it can consolidate its power; then again, there are also no countries especially likely to interfere from the outside. Making no effort to hide its takeover, the so-called Nordic People’s Party leaves the Nordic Union, changes the name of the country to Solmark (Inger being the Swedish ruling dynasty), declares it a folkstat (as opposed to a republic) and gets to work bringing all non-Nords within the country to heel.
The success of the coup in Ingerland also inspires their colleagues in neighboring Paraland to rise up, but despite making a lot of noise for a while now, they’re ultimately rather small in number and easily put down by the Parish army, forced to retreat into the jungle. Vanaland on the other hand is dealing with an already rather long-running communist insurrection which regularly breaks out into open fighting, but the communists too are unable to overthrow the democratic government.
The Latin Federation has been a cause for anxiety as well, given what happened in Russia. Its devastation during and humiliation after the war was a lot less total than Russia’s, though, and it’s also been able to maintain at least the semblance of stability – until now. February 1911 sees an attempted primacist uprising in Italy, for the Latin people are outraged and looking for alternatives to the federal government, but the Federation has just enough of an army to keep order for the time being. Still, the so-called Firenze Uprising is large enough that it’s probably too early to bury the issue just yet. The Fascist Party is gaining in popularity, and is expected to have its first chance to prove itself in the election a couple years from now.
Aotearoa doesn’t fare as well as the Federation: struck with crises of identity and economy, it’s unable to put down an openly advertised primacist march into the capital Accardo (Auckland). The marchers force the government to bend to their demands and abdicate to make way for a primacist dictatorship. Among these very different countries to fall for the allure of primacism – Russia, Solmark and Aotearoa – one common thread is starting to emerge: they are all strongly multiethnic states, post-colonial or otherwise, seeking national unity and finding it not in cooperation but in oppression, division rather than solidarity.
Then again, the Federation isn’t out of the danger zone either: soon after putting down the primacists, it faces a much larger uprising by Occitan separatists who would rather run their own independent country again than be subject to the whims of Rome. Should they succeed, the whole Federation would be cut in half like it was during the time of the Bundesrepublik.
That proves to be a double whammy: as the Latin government declares the Occitan rebellion a state of full-blown civil war and starts conscripting civilians to form emergency militias, these efforts are met with widespread protests and resistance, coming only a few years after the conscription drives of the Great War. This unrest and the army being busy elsewhere provide the Fascists with the opening they need to strike again and perform their now nearly unresisted coup in Rome. In a pattern that has become all too familiar in the last few years, and with much the same excuses that Zavoyko used in Russia, the Fascist leader Felice Fanti declares a state of emergency and himself “Dux”, with basically dictatorial powers. With the power of his own followers, the Blackshirts, the Occitan uprising is in fact defeated; but as expected, he shows no interest in stepping down, and instead gets to work consolidating the federation into a unitary Latin Empire.
At the same time, the original primacist power finally faces its first failure at the hands of the Bolghars: for all of Zavoyko's boasting, Russia's in such a poor state that it can only scrounge together a few divisions’ worth of militias, unable to match even the small republic of Bolgharia. Zavoyko’s forces – now rebranded as the Liberation Army – put up a good fight, but by late 1911, they’re finally forced to accept the loss of a large Bolghar-majority region, right about doubling the size of the republic. Just one more wrong for Russia to avenge.
So… how about that firm, just and durable peace…?
Spoiler: Meanwhile, ElsewhereNewspaper Gallery
Despite deciding to stick with the Federation in the referendum held after the war, Santa Croce has no interest in dealing with Felice Fanti or his dictatorship, and has unilaterally declared independence. The Dux, of course, will not recognize Santa Croce’s independence either, and has declared it another rebel province that will soon be pacified. Given the actual state of the Latin military and especially its navy, though, this war is expected to be a rather cold one.
The fallen Pratihara Empire has finally, well, fallen to the point that the Emperor has been overthrown by a popular rebellion and replaced with a democratic government. The rump state of Rajasthan is now a somewhat backwards but reasonably “modern” republic. Although, despite being called a rump state compared to its past as the largest land empire in world history, it still has a size and population comparable to Germany. Not the economy to match, of course. At least the Marathas and Karnata have stopped kicking it around for now.
The Uralian People’s Republic has existed for roughly 8 years now, having first toppled the government through an uprising in 1904. As an avowedly communist country, it is designed to be governed by a hierarchy of overlapping “councils” representing the workers of various villages and regions, factories and industries, and so on. However, in practice, the Uralian population is so concentrated around a few major cities and the rest of the settlements so small and far-flung that this system has ended up becoming rather centralized after all. When it works well, it allows messages and feedback to be passed both ways up and down the chain – vital for the communist model of a planned economy – but most of the time, the capital will simply tell the provinces what’s best for them.
While very loud about its Sternist ideology and even rather dogmatic at times, the Uralian government actually hasn’t proven that authoritarian so far, allowing freedom of the press, assembly and independent trade unions to roughly the same extent as most countries in Europe, albeit with the expected level of oversight to weed out any obviously counter-revolutionary activity. The value of universal suffrage is rather undermined by the fact that the Bolshevik party is the only one allowed, though. Something of a cult of personality has also formed around the General Secretary, Gondyr Yamshanin, the leader of the original revolution. The capital Vladimir has been renamed Gondyr-Ola (Gondyr City) both to celebrate him and to “turn over a new leaf and step away from its imperialist Russian history”. Though many Russian influences still remain in place names, culture, language and so on, Uralia has been quite serious about reviving its Finno-Ugric heritage (even if that means making stuff up every now and then). This also includes deposing the previously dominant Slavic Church to make way for state atheism with hints of "Uralic cultural paganism".
Comrade Gondyr, as he is called by the nation, is so far committed to the idea of “communism in one country”, believing (probably accurately) that any aggressive action on Uralia’s part would only lead to its doom at the hands of the imperialist powers. The best way to spread communism to the workers of the world, or at least maintain it in Uralia, is to focus on building up a good example of a workers’ utopia and not pick any fights. The country still needs a decent military as a deterrent, though, especially given the zealously anti-communist government that has emerged in Moscow only 100 miles from Gondyr-Ola. Uralia has also made an alliance with its fellow communists in Manchuria, but given their geographical separation, this cooperation is mostly moral and cultural in nature.
Russia’s, uh, fall happened far faster than I thought. As did the spread of primacism in general. This chapter largely consists of me gawking at the chaos.
The original reason I renamed fascism to primacism (a term I made up, as far as I know) way back when I made this conversion was that there was no guarantee Italy would have anything to do with it in this timeline: it wouldn’t have made sense to name a, say, Polish movement after a Roman symbol. It was also to separate them somewhat from real-life fascism and its well-deserved baggage, especially in case Poland somehow ended up going primacist and I found myself having to roleplay them. I just personally feel more comfortable using it as an umbrella term that includes fascism and national socialism, but isn’t synonymous with either, and those two might not be identical to their real-life equivalents either.
Speaking of not the exact same, Sanacja was also the name of the actual movement that led Poland from 1926 forward. While not fascist, and I don’t want to claim it was (especially given Poland’s quite well-known invasion by Germany), it was in fact authoritarian, anti-democrat and anti-communist. Most importantly, though, its name is just a little too perfect not to borrow. Another reason to coin the term primacist is that it lets me use that sort of inspiration without having to directly call them fascist. I think. Anyway, the reference there should be taken as only name deep.
If we’re still thinking about the real-life WW1, the Treaties of Grazyna and Ryszarda should’ve taken almost another year or two to be finalized and come into effect. But that would’ve caused some weird situations in-game, so instead I made them happen immediately and just acted like they took some indefinite amount of time. That probably helped accelerate the whole primacist thing, but only by a few months, which is how long the events normally take in-game.
Last edited by SilverLeaf167; 2022-03-25 at 05:31 PM.
- Join Date
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Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs
That's kind of an odd election result. I would have expected the party that won the war to be able to benefit politically from doing so, though the election coming so soon after the end of the war might change that. And looking at the 1903 election, there's been very little shift in the ideological makeup of the country; it looks like people then and/or now are voting for parties that they ordinarily wouldn't support. Perhaps the surge of pacifism and war exhaustion has something to do with it?
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Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs
The pacifism boost might actually have caused that small uptick in Devolutionist seats, now that you mention it, since they're the only outright pacifist party on the ticket.
EDIT: I mean, looking at it again, ideologies and party vote counts have started matching each other quite well. Who adopts what ideology is still kinda weird, though.
Last edited by SilverLeaf167; 2021-02-01 at 08:04 PM.
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Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs
Chapter #72: Crash and Burn (1912-1918)
Spoiler: Chapter28th of August, 1912
In the less than four years since the end of the Great War, four countries – Russia, the Latin Federation, Solmark and Aotearoa – have come under new primacist leadership. Despite the outward differences between these regimes, this is a clear enough pattern to cause some anxiety anywhere in the world. Perhaps surprisingly, though, they haven’t actually been flaunting their most aggressive rhetoric towards other countries so far. Be it because they’re small and weak or because they need to recover from the Great War, they all must focus on consolidating their position within their own countries before possibly turning their attention outward. After all, it’s not like their people are very enthusiastic about anything war-related just yet. And much like was the case during the long German Civil War, many in Poland and elsewhere are thinking that at least the primacist dictatorships might be more “stable” and even possible to work with in the long run. Clearly their democratic predecessors weren’t very peaceful either, so it might not be immediately obvious whether this is really such a bad thing.
To reiterate: Yegor Zavoyko, Vozhd of Russia, was one of the last Russian generals to keep up the fight during the Great War, facing Poles and Moldavians alike as they progressed into the Caucasus. His takeover of the Russian state mere months after the war was quite straight-forward and organized, as the fall of the monarchy and the weakness of the transitional republic gave him and his military friends the perfect opening to take what was left of their armies and simply place themselves in the power vacuum. His Vozrozhdeniye movement – Russia Reborn, or simply Rebirth – is so far focusing mostly on post-war reconstruction, material and spiritual alike. The former is, of course, fair enough and also good for his image, whereas the latter comes with a side of military law, political repression and steadily emerging cultural oppression. In Zavoyko’s ideology, Russia belong to the Russians, Russians belong to Russia, and Slavs should systemically settle all of inner Eurasia. The current Russian living space is, in his view, small and cramped; what are the mostly empty southern steppes and northern woods if not wasted space and untapped potential? The various non-Slavs comprising the local population will be either subjugated, “gradually reduced to insignificance”, or maybe in some cases assimilated. However, the Vozhd isn’t really going into the specifics of his plans towards other countries, only Russia’s own territories for now, even trying to maintain some level of plausible deniability.
In contrast to Russia, the Latin Federation doesn’t really have major non-Latin or non-Christian populations, besides some Andalusians on the outlying islands. As such, Dux Felice Fanti doesn’t put as much emphasis on purity of race or religion, though insufficient devotion to Christianity is still a major talking point. He was a relatively young, zealously conservative, upper middle-class journalist from the Tuscan countryside when he got conscripted to fight in the Great War. After a severe leg injury that troubles him to this day, he spent his time in the hospital writing his polemic magnum opus Ruina (“Ruin”) about the moral decay infesting the Latin military, government and society as a whole. Basically all of the Federation’s problems were explainable by its commitment to democracy and liberalism, or “popularity politics” and “decadence” as he calls them. After the end of the war, he was one of the founding members of the Fascist Party (borrowing the Roman symbol of the fasces, an axe tied into a bundle of wooden rods), consisting of like-minded revolutionary thinkers or simply frustrated youths.
Fanti’s natural charisma and well-written speeches propelled Ruina to become a smash hit, regardless of how many people actually read it, and already within a couple years, he found himself at the top of the young movement. However, his expected path to power, or at least the first step, was still through the Senate election to be held in 1913; although the fascists did organize violent marches, his sudden rise to Dux in the spring of 1912 was simple opportunism made possible by the Occitan rebellion, but a chance he took with no hesitation. In terms of rhetoric, he is perhaps more subtle and roundabout than his Russian counterpart, and tries to present himself as more of a Julius Caesar; but his underlying ideology, presented in Ruina for all to read, is primacism at its purest. He has great vision and the zeal to make it reality, although no political or really even military experience. He’s keeping the Senate around, but basically powerless, and starting to pare back the rights of the federal states. Abroad, he actually seems to be seeking reconciliation and better relations with the Latins’ fellow Catholics… mostly Asturias and the various small countries in Southwest Europe.
Meanwhile, Poland has been able to watch the rest of the world with a sense of, shall we say, nervous complacency, everyone making a conscious effort to point at how nice and stable and wealthy Poland is to distract from all these problems directly or indirectly caused by the Great War. Even the National Coalition and Premier Piela’s term have only slowed down, not entirely stopped, the rate of social reforms, an area in which Poland is still lagging behind the rest of Europe but at least catching up. There has been the occasional labor conflict as the Coalition has either taken a more hands-off approach than the PUP or sided with the employers, but after the Civil War, at least the military knows better than to get involved. Despite having no need to compromise with the opposition per se, the Coalition feels that the best way to keep the masses on its side and not drive them back into the arms of the socialists is to pass the occasional piece of popularly demanded legislation, such as increased state pensions, minimum wages, and especially pollution controls. Funnily enough, environmental issues are actually hugely personal for religious circles in many pagan countries. After all, the Slavic Church speaks of gods and spirits everywhere in nature, and no one wants to see the trees in their sacred grove turn yellow.
1913 is an election year for Poland as well, and by all accounts it’s expected to be a peaceful one. The Slavic Sanacja party has failed to grow, while the left wing is indeed reorienting itself: the PUP is definitely falling out of favor and giving way to the SDP. Mikolaj Rusin’s awkward, noncommittal attitude towards both the Civil War and communist dictatorships abroad is coming under greater scrutiny, and his old message of “reform under threat of revolution” seems hopelessly outdated if not outright offensive in the current atmosphere. This decline is only accelerated by well-timed scandals, even if a bit hazy in their veracity, regarding the sources and uses of the party's funding. Those actually interested in peaceful parliamentary work are seeing the writing on the wall and switching over to the SDP, which is welcoming them with open arms. It seems that in response to the chaos in other countries, Polish politics are becoming less polarized on left and right alike, and moving towards the center.
As a sign of that, Poland actually gets its first true two-party Sejm in a while. Having had a rather successful term, the National Coalition only grows its majority further, while the SDP becomes the sole opposition party. The PUP, the Populists and various other hangers-on fall off the map entirely. Of course, it might once again be premature to draw any strong conclusions from this, seeing as the Coalition and SDP’s support on the ground is closer to 35% and 27% respectively; but to many, this two-party set-up feels nice and simple, especially as both parties are seen as comparatively moderate. The Polish voting system has its quirks, but there isn’t actually a lot of support for a switch to a more “proportional” model among any but the smallest parties. The general perception is that it would just distract the Sejm and grant a voice to the worst disrupters without really adding anything of value.
After such a strong showing, Premier Piela is obviously allowed to keep his seat for a second term. As a strongly traditionalist businessman, he has been able to strike a good balance between the socially conservative and economically liberal wings of his party.
The Coalition does have certain problems, though: the treasury has been running a large deficit for a while now, having greatly increased social spending and maintained industrial subsidies while still trying to keep taxes as low as possible. Poland’s strong economy has been able to handle it until now, but one of the first things the party is forced to do in its new term is hike up taxes and tariffs, as quietly as possible, before that buffer starts running dangerously low.
All in all, the post-war economy that has emerged in Poland has been very strongly defined by Coalition policies: mostly free enterprise, but with limited government intervention and oversight in the name of stability and common welfare. The overall goal is to prevent wild speculation and short-sightedness from becoming too detached from the real physical economy with potentially disastrous effects. The opposition claims, though, that the Coalition isn't in practice committed enough to these otherwise fine ideals.
The rest of the world remains in flux: after already being dismissed as small and marginal, the Paraland branch of the Nordic People’s Party manages to overthrow the government in Belsby (Belém) after all, seemingly with active support from the Solmark regime. Paraland also leaves the Nordic Union and starts working towards closer cooperation with its primacist neighbor instead. The remaining Union members to the north and south, and obviously in Sweden, are growing increasingly panicked and reportedly even considering military intervention, but that fails to manifest. Every primacist victory is also a morale (or even funding) boost for similar groups in their own countries.
In November 1914, Britannia throws its own spanner in the post-war order: the Treaty of Macau may have “settled” the border dispute between Britannia and Japan, but Japan isn’t the only country in China. Britannia has decided to turn its eyes south towards the Shan Empire, which just so happens to be allied to Japan. Japan proclaims that it will not tolerate this, but Britannia forges on anyway, and soon they are indeed at war. Poland reluctantly accepts Britannia’s call to arms: while still quite reluctant to start any major wars, this should be a purely colonial one, with no need for general mobilization or anything like that.
Rather than face the Japanese head-on, the Poles decide to invade the Shan from the south and go for a target they themselves have been considering ever since the last war: the expansion of Ligori Siam.
However, while the Poles make good progress, the Chinese front is – as might have been expected – a total disaster. The Japanese sweep all over British China with little difficulty, even invading Polish Macau this time. As soon as it becomes clear that this whole war was a terrible idea (was there ever any doubt?) the Brits and Poles start seeking out an armistice, but at first, the Japanese seem unwilling to grant one. They want something as reparations for this unprovoked aggression.
It takes a while, but in August 1915, the war is finally settled with an uneasy return to status quo. Still, this little venture has served to demonstrate that the peace in the region is not likely to be very lasting.
Albeit relatively limited and brief, this military adventure’s effect on the economy is less than desirable after all. The upward curve of the post-war boom was about to bend anyway, and the disruption of trade in Asia is the last straw that it takes to put investors on the back foot. The Polish economy doesn’t outright crash, but is definitely headed into a rougher period again.
The war also serves as a reminder that, if anyone was still living under that illusion, the Great War didn’t solve all the problems in the world and Poland will not be at peace forever. The Crown Army has learned from some of its mistakes in that gruesome conflict, though, and is hard at work exploring solutions to avoid them in the future: namely new methods of mobility, breakthrough and reconnaissance to avoid getting bogged down for years at a time. Of course, the power of horses and men being limited, these solutions are increasingly sought in new technology instead. Fast, winged aircraft – “airplanes” – are only now starting to emerge as a viable form of transportation, opening up a whole new dimension of movement, and while their civilian uses are of course many, the Crown Army is sponsoring their further development specifically to explore their military potential. On land, automobiles have been evolving even more rapidly, and the boldest are thinking of ways to stick some armor and guns on them to use them as a new form of cavalry, bunkers on wheels, or perhaps even “landships”.
All of these are still only in the planning phases, though, and there is neither an acute need, finalized designs, nor the means to produce any of them.
(I literally can’t make tank or airplane units because no one in the world is producing tanks or planes yet, and thanks to Interventionism I can’t build said factories either.)
This latest peace in Asia doesn’t last long, either, as Japan refuses to let a good mobilization go to waste and ends up invading the People’s Republic of Manchuria. Their partition of Korea, arranged in good spirits in the times when Manchuria was not yet communist, has proven less tenable now that it is. The Chinese Chaos really seems to be just the natural state of things at this point.
On 16 November 1916, two big things happen on the same day: first off, Russia has finally begun serious efforts to rebuild its military might, and as a show of this, now declares war on Bolgharia. The supposed goal is to retake the lands annexed by the Bolghars in their surprise invasion some years ago. Seeing as Bolgharia was the original aggressor, it’s hard to blame Russia too much, but there are hints that it might not stop at merely reclaiming what it lost.
However, the much more shocking thing hogging the front pages… is the death of High Queen Wieslawa. She has been even more secluded from public life ever since the Great War ended and she stopped sending her regular messages to the nation; and as she is already 81 years old, her passing is of course a long time coming. Still, it never fails to surprise when it actually happens. At least her courtiers report that she slept away peacefully during the night, and does not seem to have suffered.
Wieslawa’s long reign of 55 years leaves behind a colorful legacy, but it is tragic that one of the more prominent things to bear her name is the Wieslawan Restoration of 1896, basically an attempt to restore royal authority that started the White Terror and was a direct cause behind the Civil War. Wieslawa took the throne with the stated goal of “nailing down” the power of the Polish crown, a goal that she fought tooth and nail to reach even while the spirit of the times turned decisively against her. While an active and competent leader in her younger days, most of the lasting, positive reforms of her reign were done despite her, with or without her grudging acceptance. Fading away from public view for the past ten years was perhaps the best thing she could do to try and salvage her legacy, since it allows more people to view her as simply “the High Queen”, without her personal baggage, and cry genuine tears over her death. Still, even if people on all sides have done their best – with surprising success – to reconcile the nation after the Civil War, her role in it is far from forgotten, and there are many who privately bid her good riddance.
Of course, she still receives a massive and grandiose royal funeral in Krakow, which also becomes the first such event to be captured as a cutting-edge moving picture and distributed across the nation for all to witness. Already during the funeral, though, people are wondering what comes next. While she of course had long since cloaked her chosen successor, and his identity isn’t any kind of secret, he hasn’t been much more visible in the past ten years than she was, and the nation has many questions.
High King Lechoslaw IV Lechowicz, crowned a week later with all the usual proceedings, is 34 years old. He has spent most of his adult life at court, performing some ceremonial tasks and meeting with the occasional foreign dignitary, but not really in any meaningful capacity. At first glance, he ticks all the boxes of a pampered aristocrat, not especially driven or ambitious, even if a decent enough speaker and all that. The future will show whether he can shake off that perception. In many ways, though, he could be symbolic of this new era: despite Wieslawa’s best efforts, Poland’s monarchy has become parliamentary in all but name, and near the end, she basically handed over even her rubber stamp for others to wield in her place. Perhaps it would be fitting for the new High King to formalize his role as a ceremonial even if still respected father of the people, as has long been the case in most of Poland’s allied countries such as Moldavia, Sweden and Britannia.
However, both the Crown and the National Coalition dismiss such suggestions out of hand. There will be no change to the legislation surrounding royal power at this juncture.
This quickly becomes a highly divisive and defining issue in Polish politics, or has in fact been brewing for a while. Whether or not the monarch personally decides to wield that power, Poland can not be considered a truly democratic country (who said it should be?) as long as the Sejm can be overruled at will, the Crown Army explicitly serves the Crown and not the people – yet can still conscript citizens by force – and there is the overall concept that everyone in Poland lives at the High King’s mercy. The left wants a formal constitution and real division of power; the moderate right wants to keep the status quo, maybe with some polishing; the Sanacja, obviously, has its own ideas entirely.
Primacism claims yet another victim: in August 1917, a military strongman seizes power in the tiny kingdom of Vietnam, most of which is actually controlled by either Asturias or Britannia. As the old royal government has long floundered and failed to do anything about the foreign conquerors, or even cooperated with them, the coup-makers have a pretty solid argument to make that a change of leadership is needed. Well, not that they can actually do anything to make their tiny country a match for the great powers.
The competition for influence is unusually intense in Europe as well, though. Bavaria and Lotharingia, both highly strategic allies in Central Europe, are being pulled in several directions by the Germans and Latins alike. After long being taken for granted, they are being drawn out of Poland’s orbit by a generous mix of gifts and pressure. Poland, of course, answers in kind and tries to remind its allies of who they’re dealing with on the other side, but that proves surprisingly difficult. Indeed, Bavaria might even have some genuine support for reunification with Germany, as they’ve moved a lot closer together politically speaking and most of the reasons they broke free in the first place have been rendered moot, or at least insignificant compared to the potential upsides of joining.
These country-sized bidding contests in the heart of Europe, with the great powers competing to see who can throw the most promises, privileges and investments at the same few countries – channeled mostly through the private stock market – probably don’t cause the events of 1918, but they certainly don’t help either. Having received a windfall of colonies in the Treaty of Grazyna, the British government has ended up badly overhyping them and attracting tons of unsuspecting investors (private citizens and corporations alike) who all expected their money to multiply within a few years at most. This “colony bubble” soon expanded to affect every part of the British economy, considering how they were all either dependent on or also eager to benefit from the colonies. And, because of how intertwined the free stock markets of the west have become – especially in this decade since the Great War – the direct and indirect effects of the bubble haven’t been just limited to Britannia, but also touched every country doing trade with it, not to mention entirely new bubbles being created in other countries as well.
When the colony bubble finally bursts in March 1918, it having become apparent that those profits aren’t going to manifest – at least in the amounts expected – it’s like an earthquake has hit the Atlantic, and a great tsunami starts rolling all over the world. The chain reaction of stock prices collapsing across the board sees a large chunk of the entire world’s so-called wealth disappear into thin air, and even if Poland has been “relatively” careful in this regard, neither the treasury nor the savings of its citizens are spared. As people rush to the banks and stock markets to take out their money while they still can, those banks and markets more or less fall apart, and many of those people are left empty-handed as the institutions don’t actually have enough money to pay back everyone at the same time.
As the other likely option would be mass unemployment and riots, the Polish government has no choice but to keep throwing money at companies that suddenly find themselves insolvent, many of them really built on foundations of sand from the start. However, that money can only come from a combination of a.) more loans from sources that both sides know are actually broke, b.) sales of state property at a time when prices are extremely low and c.) higher taxes on the very wages those subsidies are supposed to go towards. And on top of that, the Coalition with its “right to work” policies has been directing its social reforms at workplace regulations, minimum wages, pensions for the elderly and so on, rather than literally any kind of safety net for the unemployed. Then again, even if that safety net did exist, it would also have to be funded from the state budget. Every aspect of this crisis is a vicious cycle.
Of course, not literally every part of the economy collapses, nor is the collapse quite as complete as it might sound, but it is by far the worst on record. Considering how wide and deep these problems go, their effects are expected to be felt for a while, too. Better yet, it’s not hard or entirely inaccurate to present the whole thing as the result of capitalist and colonialist profiteering, and the SDP wastes no time jumping on that particular bandwagon. 1918 happens to be another election year, and though the idea of a full “planned economy” is both beyond the SDP’s ambitions and probably still unpopular, it blames the Coalition for blindly propping up moneymaking enterprises through a combination of subsidies and low taxes without enough state controls and supervision to go with them. As experience has already shown, workers who now find themselves either unemployed or working more for less prove very receptive to socialist campaigns.
The SDP urges people to show their displeasure at the polls and not on the streets, but that means surviving for almost half a year until said election. Despite Lechoslaw IV’s urging (a nice little PR boost), for the aforementioned budgetary reasons, the Coalition has trouble agreeing on any kind of unemployment fund. The fact that it’s somehow still finding the money to throw at industrial subsidies gives the opposition a lot to talk about.
Perhaps the only countries that don’t feel the shockwaves from London are those sufficiently primitive, secluded or communist to not be so closely tied to the international stock market. For those that do, one of the methods available to “deal” with the lack of funds is to simply create more money; a blatantly unwise move with immediately predictable results, yet still tempting to a desperate enough government, be it autocratic or democratic. While this can take care of budget deficits and debts for a short while, those deficits soon come back again, and if the country doesn’t change course, it’ll just keep pumping more and more cash into its own economy until hyperinflation strikes and money becomes less valuable than the paper it’s printed on. Communist and primacist countries can feel vindicated in their anti-capitalist agenda, but especially Russia and the Latins are still highly dependent on international markets (and financial trickery) to fund their recovery, and really can’t afford this kind of disruption.
Poland also ill needs a distraction, but has to deal with some anyway. The only major foreign policy project it’s been engaged in lately is the creation of a “bulwark” east of Russia, to discourage Zavoyko from doing anything reckless in that direction. The so-called Altay Pact is a rather simple guarantee that Poland will defend the Uyghurs, Mongols and Siberians in case of war, in addition to more general support and cooperation in peacetime. Geography would make it challenging for Poland to deal with an attack from the direction of China, but in the case of Russia – the real target here – this deterrent should prove rather effective.
Russia may be busy elsewhere, but Mongolia apparently also has enemies within. Despite seeking closer connections with Siberia and Uyghuristan – the other options being hostile Russia, unstable China and communist Manchuria – it’s still highly reliant on Russian trade along the Trans-Tartarian Railway, and highly susceptible to the slightest disruption. Relatively poor Mongolia finds itself without anyone to buy its raw resources, which provides the impetus for its homegrown (but likely Manchu-sponsored) communists to stage a country-wide uprising that the Mongolian army might find itself unable to handle.
The further spread of communism in Asia is something Poland wants to avoid, and Mongolia calls for aid, but the thing is, as mentioned, Poland doesn’t exactly have a lot of ways to move troops over there. It takes several months for the East Indian armies to negotiate passage through China, understandably distrustful of any European incursions, and while they eventually get through, this gives the insurgents plenty of time to entrench themselves in the western, mountainous parts of the country. In the end, the problem is “solved” and the rebels defeated, but this demonstrates, if nothing else, how much work it takes to maintain Poland’s global influence.
As feared or expected, the Coalition’s popularity does indeed nosedive given its lackluster handling of the financial crisis, while the SDP’s grows in similar measure. It actually seems like all the other parties’ popularity remains rather stable, but those parts of the working class who previously voted for the Coalition feel themselves betrayed and turn directly to the main opposition party.
The resulting boost for the SDP, though, is actually even larger than anyone dared predict, its popularity among the working class – the largest class – propelling it to win almost every district with pretty strong margins. The Populists do make their own return to the Sejm, but only due to the Coalition’s weakness and not any strength of their own, and not in any significant numbers. In a historically sharp reversal, the SDP finds itself with an even larger majority than the Coalition did in its previous term. For the Coalition, the humiliation of losing 70% of the Sejm in one fell swoop is similarly massive.
Now the SDP just needs to prove that it deserves this trust placed upon it. One of the very first and most urgent things the new Sejm does is lay the groundwork for the much-demanded unemployment fund, cutting military spending somewhat to make space for it. In many ways, though, the SDP needs to show how it differs not just from the Coalition, but also the PUP. After all, it’s often hard to describe the SDP as anything but a more moderate PUP, which – while the PUP was also forced to “play nice” during its reign – isn’t the most appealing to some. Secularism instead of outright atheism, supervision instead of micromanagement, material welfare over grand ideology, more conventional anti-war views instead of “safeguarding the revolution”. Very tangible differences, on paper, but still in need of a bit more demonstration.
Luckily, the dynamic head of the SDP and the new Premier – Bartlomiej “Bart” Stawicki – seems like he should be more than a match for old Mikolaj Rusin in terms of presence. The cult of personality that has started to form around him in the past couple years, even more so the last few months, has been derisively compared to those of Felice Fanti or Gondyr Yamshanin, but that insult is also a back-handed compliment (and of course, they aren’t actually much alike in terms of policy). The voters apparently see in him some sort of saving deity. May he – and Poland – have a peaceful and successful term ahead of them, despite everything happening in finances and world politics alike. For what it’s worth, he immediately starts building a warm public relationship with Lechoslaw IV to put at ease anyone who might think him another Red… but he hasn’t yet dropped the SDP’s insistence on that new constitution.
Spoiler: Meanwhile, ElsewhereNewspaper Gallery
The situation in China has, at long last, started to “stabilize” into a number of larger powers, at least enough that people are finding it worthwhile to actually pay attention.
With all the other claimants to the title having vanished off the map, the state formerly known as Yan is more and more often called the Chinese Empire – in contrast to all the non-empire Chinas and non-Chinese empires, that is. The Empire, which only controls a relatively small chunk of the region, is a constitutional monarchy more similar to the European than the Japanese model, with the Emperor serving in a still significant but severely restricted role while most of the actual work is done by the National Assembly and its powerful Premier. The country and especially the current liberal government have been investing heavily into infrastructure and industry, seeing them as the key to modernization and international recognition, but with relatively slim progress so far. It’s also apparently rather unstable, struck with rebellious Mongols, communists and even some sort of primacist movement within its borders.
The resurgence of the Empire has put Manchuria in an awkward spot, with its inland provinces isolated from the rest and none of the countries in between wanting to cooperate. This just means a lot more smuggling and subversive activity between the two halves, though. These inland provinces have also been given increased autonomy and even formed the so-called People’s Republic of China in the process, contesting the Empire’s claim to the name. Despite the relative stability of the region, compared to its much, much worse periods that is, the Manchu-PRC union has still had two separate and inconclusive wars against the Chinese Empire and the Shan Empire within just the past ten years, in addition to the recent one against Japan (which it lost). Very much like Uralia, the People’s Republic of Manchuria was created by an uprising in 1904, but as opposed to a popular movement, it is seen by history (in other countries, at least) as just another bunch of warlords, which China has had no shortage of. The party leader Kang Xinyue is an avowed Zhaoist, but much like his neighbors in the Empire, a great believer in industrialization as the pathway to prosperity.
Right next door is Tibet, the “original” communist country (not counting the Zhenhua People’s Republic, which never really got off the ground). Comparatively small and not exactly well-placed in terms of building a modern economy, it’s at least managed to keep itself together, but the general perception abroad is that it’s also the most authoritarian of the bunch and the People’s Commissars just the new priestly caste, there to preach (or enforce at gunpoint) the word of Zhao. Zhao Qiang himself, the so-called first communist revolutionary, inventor of “communism on the Chinese model” and the founder of the country, is long dead, and the country has seen a far more rapid succession of leaders after him. Tibet is actually somewhat diplomatically isolated from the rest of the communist sphere, partly because the People’s Republic of China refused to accept Zhao as its leader and his heirs still carry this grudge.
One more country even smaller than Tibet joined the communist ranks just recently: Honduras. With only some 740,000 people living in a relatively small area, the so-called council model seen in the Uralian government might prove a bit more workable over here. The Honduran government is actually the most liberal and idealistic one, even taking on some supposedly anarchist ideals, but that may well be just because it’s still rather new and untried. Many of its neighbors have even shown willingness to work with it, which is good, because Honduras as a recently freed colony is basically an overgrown sugar and coffee plantation – not exactly self-sufficient. The primacist government in Solmark is cause for concern, though.
Speaking of primacists: after an embarrassingly long two years, Russia having clearly overestimated its readiness and rushed things a bit, the Russian-Bolghar war finally seems close to ending in a Russian victory. To many people worried about Zavoyko’s revanchism, this fumbling mess is actually quite a relief to witness. The Uralians appear to be bothered by any conflict in their neighborhood, though.
Hit with a budget crunch following the London crash – and the burst of its very own colony bubble – the Asturian constitutional monarchy recently granted Esperanza’s requests for self-government, which the Cortes had resisted until now. A semi-independent “white” country in southernmost Africa is something of an oddity in more ways than one. It’s also highly unindustrialized and reliant on cheap manual labor for raw resource production rather than manufacturing, still very much a slaver colony in spirit. People, including some in the Cortes, have their doubts whether the Ciudad de Esperanza (Cape Town) government will use its new autonomy to improve or in fact worsen the lives of its native population; the Nordic Union provides plenty of examples of the latter.
Spoiler: CommentsI wanted to add some detail to the main primacist leaders, since they might well be future antagonists and their ideologies are highly leader-centric anyway, but because their takeovers happened quite early, there’s a good chance they might die well before HoI4. I have it so that I get notifications for any “death of leader” events, though, so I’ll know whether or not that happens. If not, well, they’ll just be kinda old, but not implausibly so.
Yan was able to form the Chinese Empire through a decision when no more independent Chinese states existed (neither Manchuria nor Tibet counts). The main effect there is that all the Chinese cores across, well, China are now theirs. Having a lot of unowned cores leads to a rise in primacism, though…
Last edited by SilverLeaf167; 2022-03-26 at 05:19 AM.
- Join Date
- Feb 2016
- Earth and/or not-Earth
Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs
In the early 20th century, Poland is arguably at the most powerful it's ever been. Its internal troubles have been if not resolved at least made manageable, its foreign enemies have been smashed flat. And yet - it finds itself lurching from problem to problem, unable to resolve them all. It cannot halt the rise of primacism, it cannot preserve the economy or balance its budget, it cannot defeat its enemies and can barely keep its allies from being defeated. So if this is the height of power, is power even a thing? Or is the world simply grown too large for any one nation, even the mightiest of the mighty, to be able to control it?
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Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs
Great to see that this is back! I need to refresh my memory, probably will reread all of Victoria II (if not the whole thing), then I'll have more comments.ithilanor on Steam.
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- Jun 2010
- Helsinki, Finland
Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs