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Chapter II, Part 1: Operation Dreizack

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Operation Dreizack, June 17th, 1944

Although the Soviets had started Operation Bagration, Operation Dreizack, devised by the German navy was executed; its aim to severely hurt the Soviet and British fleets.

As the Royal Navy had for all purposes ceased to exist in British waters, the British Admirality was keen on gaining new ships as fast as possible. One source was the Italian modern fleet interned at Bitter Lake. Churchill had acted fast and confiscated the teo battleships and two light cruisers against the protest of the other Allies and the Italian government, the only consolation the latter received an official note with the promise that any ship damaged or destroyed would be replaced and that one would later negotiate a “compensation” as well. What this could mean was left vague, though. Rumours were circulating about Italy possibly keeping Istria or Libya.

In anticipation of aforementioned move, the German military had planned a strike on the now British fleet at Bitter Lake. However, as Bagration was under way this part of the attack was not carried out. The British Mediterranean fleet would have to wait. As there were no own amphibious or naval action planned, indeed most ships still needed crews, there was no need to hurry.

In Italy doubts grew that Britain would keep to its promise of replacing the lost ships. Some officials were even going so far as to publicly regretting switching side to the Allies and were even advocating to switch sides again. They were only few, though, and soon silenced. Another change of allegiance would paint Italy as rouge nation and many believed that the Germans – having been victim of Italy switching sides twice now – wouldn’t accept Italy as an ally anyway.

As Operation Dreizack was twofold, the second part was an attack on Kronstadt where the Baltic fleet laid. This was the only part executed. The Soviets, keen on threatening Finland into surrendering, were desperately scrambling to get every of their ships repaired. The day after Operation Bagration started, the German strike came as a surprise to the Soviets. Tornados bombed and sunk the smaller vessels while the bigger battleship Sevastopol was sunk by Taurus missiles. Additional bombs managed to damage the Petropawlowsk. After this attack only a single destroyer, the Strashnyi, remained undamaged as well as several motor torpedo boats, minesweepers and 12 submarines; a force which could not hope to fight and win against the Finnish fleet, which had been reinforced by the Schleswig-Holstein, the Schlesien, the Emden and several torpedo boats as well as some ASW helicopters. For Stalin, this was a shock, but at the same time the successes of Bagration managed to push that defeat to the back of his mind.
 
Chapter II, Part 2: Operation Bagration, Part 1

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Operation Bagration, Part 1, June 16th to August 7th 1944

Operation Begration would turn out to be a huge success, at least in the eyes of Josef Wissarionowitsch Dschugaschwili also better known as Stalin, of that he was sure. Countless hours of work and Mother Russia´s brightest minds had been put at it and it showed. Their starting point had changed, though, as had Germany which had new and great war machines they could use to wreak havoc across the whole of Russia as they had shown when they had destroyed several hydro plants, Tankograd and some other factories. Production was down by 20%, but it would only reach the soldiers on the frontline in early 1945 in form of a massive reduction of weapon supplies. Time was running out for them, therefore they had to act decisive and destroy the German war machinery to the West. They had little to show for numbers and would therefore be steamrolled by the Soviet colossus. If it meant losing more men, well, Stalin shrugged, their sacrifice would help to further the cause of the people. There still was risk, of course, but war was never without it.

That his Baltic fleet had been sunk still made Stalin bristle with indignation, but in the great scheme of things it mattered little. The war would be won on the ground and Berlin could only be reached on boots anyway. Their estimated that it would take a whole year to reach that blasted city and until then they needed to mitigate the shortfalls of their weapon production and there was only one source Russia could turn to: The Western Allies. And, indeed, they had already promised to deliver more tanks and weapons. They still needed to be careful and cautious about Germany´s new ‘Wunderwaffen’ but even they wouldn’t be able to counterbalance the huge number of soldiers at his disposal.

The dices were thrown, the board was set and so Stalin ordered the attack to commence.

From June 16th on the Red Army began her attack with two armies attacking the Heeresgruppe Mitte with 178 artillery guns per mile firing upon the German positions. The Germans, however, had already started to draw back from these lines in a strategic withdrawal, using a flexible defence to stop any breakthroughs. The UT Luftwaffe helped greatly with that endeavour as they scouted the enemy positions and destroyed enemy air fields and artillery positions as soon as the offensive started. Yet, the number of functional modern planes was low and they couldn’t be everywhere. While being able to strongly contest Soviet air superiority and cover the German retreat, they weren’t able to do more.

In rapid succession the Soviets took Witebsk, Mogilew, Brobuisk and Polotsk. Stalin´s sources in Germany – of which he had few – told him that the Germans retreated in order to have less to defend. Soon, he reckoned, they would either have to give up the Baltic states or defend them. It was also helpful that this new Germany was led by this Merkel character, a woman who apparently had no abilities to maneuver her country through these hard times. The morale of the former Wehrmacht forces was low, the officers there despised her and soon they would putsch against her, of that Stalin was sure.

On August 7th the Red Army reached Minsk.
 
Chapter II, Part 3: Admiral Talks

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A command bunker near London, June 18th, 9:36

Sir Henry Ruthven Moore, commander of the Home Fleet (HF): The situation is catastrophic. We have lost most of our ships. Only the Eastern Fleet is still a potent battle force.

First Sea Lord Viscount Cunningham of Hyndhope (FSL): Yes, it is. The US send their navy to defend us.

HF: That will save us- for the moment. If the Germans attack us again with such a force...

FSL: I know. Then there won't be much left from Britain.

HF: And I can't do anything against that. It is shocking to see Yanks defending us!

FSL: True, so true.

HF: Not only the Luftwaffe is a nightmare. Their ships as well.

FSL: What is your opinion in regards of the new ships the Germans are reported to have?

HF: Well. The Kriegsmarine ships we know. There's no real problem. The Tirpitz is damaged, as is Gneisenau. The first we should destroy as soon as possible, the latter is reported to be at Gothenhafen.

FSL: And the other ships being reported by our agents?

HF: The new modern ships are dangerous, Very dangerous. They can destroy a ship from a distance of over 100 km in short time. Long before one knows the enemy is in striking range the own ship is sunk. This is true for all ships up to a battleship. Against armoured ships they have problems.

FSL: I think the sailors on the USS Arkansas would disagree.

HF: No, that was an old battleship. A modern armoured battleship is a problem for the ships. They use for them planes or torpedoes. The only good thing is the Germans have no carrier and only a few modern submarines.

FSL: And the reports on new ships? These super carriers or this battleship they just returned to Germany?

HF: I don’t believe them. I just can't think the Germans can build battleships or aircraft carriers without our knowledge.

FSL: Yes, indeed. I don't believe that they have those big ships either. It is simply not possible. The Germans need all the metal and other resources they can get for other war material than great ships. Our sources agree. They have stopped constructing anything bigger than a destroyer.

HF: The Germans know what happened to the Bismarck and they would not be irrational enough to waste supplies on more big surface ships. I think these reported ships are just replicas of surface ships to let us think they are stronger than they are indeed.

FSL: That would fit. This is the German strategy in this moment. I will advise that the ships be overlooked and other objectives of more significance be attacked.

HF: Yes. These modern ships are a danger. And unfortunately they are designed to cope with massive attacks. Any attack on them will be costly. We don't have the means to stop these guided rockets.

FSL: That means any attack will be costly.

HF: Yes, indeed. However, with sufficient numbers we can overwhelm them. Even if we lost one such battle a second they would not be able to win, as they would lack the spare rockets.

FSL: But we don't have these forces at the moment.

HF: Well, I did not talk about us. The US Navy should start to fight seriously.

FSL: I agree. We should make a plan. It won't cost us much. However, that particular reason won't be written though.

HF: Of course not!

FSL: It is still a scandal to have to rely on US protection. The Royal Navy should do this task.

HF: Yes, it is. However, we can't retreat the Eastern Fleet as we would weaken our position in Asia.

FSL: That's indeed no option. Also I would like to keep as many ships as possible away from the British islands to keep them in safety.

HF: True. But still we need some ships here. Just to show we are still able to defend Britain.

FSL: Give me a list of possible reinforcements that can be kept permanently home-based so that the Americans don’t get all the recognition for defending the state.
 
Chapter II, Part 4: Operation Bagration, Part 2

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Operation Bagration, Part 2, August 8th to 22th 1944: The Battle of Minsk

During the Operation Bagration the German army withdrew and only fought when necessary or inevitable, thus avoiding massive loss of life and preventing the Red Army from breaking the German lines. However, the Red Army – with its numerical superiority – forced its way towards Minks, the original goal of the operation. Here the German plans called for a stand against the Soviet forces, a fact which surprised the latter greatly as they had expected the Germans to withdraw behind their pre-war borders.

Minsk, meanwhile, should be defended by the newly formed 13th Army under Generalfeldmarschall Model which soldiers consisted of the Einsatzgruppen, Totenkopf-SS and special Gestapo officals. Additionally, there were also die-hard neo-Nazis who had volunteered for fighting against the Russians. The 13th Army had the orders to hold Minsk at all cost. It was clear, that this order fell short of an actual suicide mission, but most of the men had been lured with the promise of reduced prison sentences as it was abundant clear to Chancellor Merkel and her staff that the German juridical and penal system was ill equipped to handle the sentencing of ten thousands of people. The compromise that was finally reached was that high ranking officials would be tried while the lower levels would be given the option of being sent to the front. Those who didn’t were to be tried according to the usual procedures. In the end, the 13th Army reached the number of 130,000 soldiers.

The fighting was heavy, even more so when the Red Army realised that they were fighting against the same men that had come to invade their country and ruthlessly massacred their people. Neither side did take any prisoners and the death toll grew higher and higher with each passing minute. If one thought Stalingrad had been hell, then they were taught better by what was happening in Minsk. The Germans had had time to prepare, using bobby-traps, tunnels, attacks in the rear and so on to inflict severe losses on the Soviet troops.

However, on August 13th, the Red Army finally managed to enclose Minsk totally and force the Germans back. Only the remnants of the 13th Army were now holding the city, thus binding a whole Soviet front. On August 17th the Soviets took over everything east of the Swislatsch, an attack on the German pocket on August 19th however failed. The next day, though, the Red Army managed to cut the German pocket into two smaller ones, on – the bigger one – in the quarter of Leninski, the smaller one in Frusenski.

On August 21st the Soviets took the last helicopter landing place, thus cutting off the last supply line to the Leninski pocket. The situation for the German troops was without any hope, but the next day Operation Tannenberg, the German counter offensive, would start.
 
Chapter II, Part 5: Operation Tannenberg, Part 1

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Operation Tannenberg, praeludium, August 22nd 1944

HQ Mauerwald, near Rastenburg, East Prussia

The former Wehrmacht HQ was completely changed compared to what it had looked like a few months ago. The SS forces had left, the Nazi insignia had been torn off and the equipment had been replaced with UT one. Even the coffee had become much better, at least according to Generalfeldmarschall Manstein. On the digital maps on the screens in front of him he could see the position of every unit – even contact every single platoon. At least theoretically as many units were still not equipped with the means to communicate digitally.

“Herr Feldmarschall, the operation can be started now. We await your orders,” Oberst Römer-Hillebrecht told him.

“Indeed,” Manstein murmured. “Or as Frederic the Great once said: ‘The fox left its lair, now I want to punish his arrogance.”

“Or Murphy´s Law of Combat Operations: If your attack is going well, it´s an ambush.”

Manstein laughed at that. “I don´t know who this Murphy is, but he´s goddamn right. Let´s do it then! The artillery barrage will start on 22:30 and the attack on 22:50.”
 
Chapter II, Part 6: Operation Tannenberg, Part 2

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Generalmajor Hellmuth Becker to the troops of 13. Panzerdivision "Totenkopf" prior to the Battle of Minsk:

Soldiers.

We have done a hard thankless job that needed to be done yet today the "new" Germany have no need for us. Worse they condemn us for the service we have done and intend our destruction either here in the field or in a so called court after the war. Like me you have elected to come here, to Minsk. Not because we fear the judgement of the weakling new Germany but because above all else we serve the Fatherland and Minsk is what the Fatherland needs us to do.

Men, while the Fatherland might have turned it's back on us we will never turn our backs on it. There might not be anything left for us back there but we still have Minsk. We will be the rock on which the red wave breaks, we will be the example to the people of new weakling Germany of what they have lost and our example will inspire future generations to follow in our tracks and one day to restore a National Socialist Greater Germany to it's rightful place in the world!


By CJvR
 
Chapter II, Part 7: Operation Tannenberg, Part 3

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Operation Tannenberg, Part 1, August 22nd-23rd 1944

Near Wileika, 1. Panzerdivision, Leopard II tank of Feldwebel Kurt Knsipel, 21:54

Knispel (K): Alright, folks, we got orders. We´re to attack Ivan from here and then try to capture Baryssau this night.

Rudi: That are 80 km. In one night? Are they crazy?

Mehmet: Well, we´ve got night vision goggles, they don’t. Once we´re past their lines, there shouldn’t be any organised resistance anymore. Ivan´s defence positions are here, here and here. We can push right pass them and leave them for the Grennis*.

Wilhelm: Mehmet, why do you have a Swabian accent?

M: Because I´m from Stuttgart…or, rather a village nearby. Why do you wanna know?

W: Well, your name isn’t all that Swabian. Laughs

M: Yeah, you´re right.

All laugh

K: Alright, we´ll see how much we achieve tomorrow, probably not as much as these eggheads want. These beasts are outstanding, but I still have some doubts.

Half an hour later the engines roared to life and another half an hour later – after a short but effective bombardment of artillery and planes – the attack commenced.

K: I´m really glad we have these night vision goggles, otherwise we wouldn’t see anything in this darkness. There, one o´clock, the Soviet first line. Gunner, target Pak, distance 3.600 meters. Load HEAT.

W: HEAT.

It was a full hit. The other tanks of their formation joined the attack as well, targeting several Soviet positions. Even though the German tanks were still too far away for the Soviets to recognise them, they still fired blindly in the dark. As they expected the German tanks to be nearer than they actually were, the Soviets didn’t manage to hit anything. Meanwhile, the German MBTs fired multiple times into the Soviet lines, thus creating even more havoc. Then finally, the Soviets artillery fired star shells; however, their light did also illuminate their positions. Mortar positions were attacked by the German tanks while the bigger guns fell victim to German planes.

The advantage lied on the Germans’ side, but that should not last. Soviet fire became more accurate, even managing to hit Knispel´s tank.

K: Fuck That was a full hit! Everyone alright?

Everyone acknowledged. A second shell barely missed them.

M: And I thought someone was knocking on the tank.

All loughed.

K: The gun is over there! Gunner target Pak, 800 meters, 11 o´clock.

W: HEAT away.

Knispel saw yet another Pak explode. They were aiming at a tank when it was destroyed by one of their fellow tanks. Finally, they were at the Soviet lines and even though Knispel used the coaxial MG he tried to drive the enemy away instead of killing them. He wanted to give them a chance to surrender and survive, something that could not be said of everyone in the German tank command.

Soon, they were past the enemy lines and crossed into a small forest where they used the cover it provided them to rearm from their own small storage as 15 shells were spent rather fast. Behind the forest was a vast area of fields, long since abandoned by its owners who had fled with the war machinery on their heels. Knispel could make out several enemy tanks nearing.

K: Mehmet, full speed ahead. Willi, target T-34. 12 o´clock, 2.600 meters. Use HEAT. Fire at will at other targets.

The T-34 exploded as did other Soviet tanks. It was a massacre, with the Leopard 2 MTBs attacking with full speed and firing without stopping. What was designed as Soviet counter attack soon came to a standstill. Of the T-34s only eight managed to escape.

W: Kurt, we´re down to seven rounds, we need to rearm. I reckon the others have to as well.

K: Yeah, We…fuck! Soviet IS-2 tanks, two o´clock. We need to keep these bastards at bay until we get relieved. Rudi, load APFSDS, Willi, target the IS-2, 12 o´clock, range 4.000 meters.

R: APFSDS ready.

W: APFSDS on its way.

The DM63 was a kinetic projectile meaning it contained no explosives. The core consisting of tungsten carbide would penetrate the enemy armour and then copy the effect of a pump gun within the tank. The IS-2 targeted by Knispel´s crew stopped dead in its tracks after being hit. The next tank just behind was hit by the same dart and lost its turret. The infantry following the tanks was soon decimated by splinters and HEAT shells as well as even they were able to severely damage an IS-2 on distances of up to 2.500 meters. Seeing the carnage the Germans wrought upon them, the Soviets soon retreated, unopposed by the Germans who had no ammunition left to pursuit them.

A few minutes later they were relieved by a fresh unit of tanks which gave Knispel and his crew the opportunity to drive to the next provisional supply depot to rearm and to survey any damage the Soviets may have inflicted upon them. But despite several dents in the metal, Knispel could not see any damages that would have prevented them from continuing their mission, so soon after he gave the order to continue.

They made their way back to the front on which they came across several scattered Soviet units, many of which had lost any will to fight and just surrendered to the Germans. They also came across several Soviet tents, supply depots and even a full tank repair facility. While many of the former were destroyed, some of the supply depots and the tank repair facility could be captured intact, as well as several T-34 and IS-2 tanks.

After finally reaching the front again, Knispel could see his unit completely surprising the Soviet units in the hinterland. He didn't know that the enemy communication lines had been hit by bombs as well as being disrupted by electronic counter measures, resulting in chaos amongst the Soviet troops.

An hour before dawn they finally reached their objective, Baryssau. The other prong did arrive only little later. Surprised and attacked from both sides the few defenders were taken down quickly, but still the fighting lasted until noon when the last defenders surrendered. They even managed to capture a train full of intact Soviet tanks.

They had accomplished his mission and maybe, he thought, they would be ordered to either fight the pocket or to attack further. Instead they got the order to stay in the vicinity in high alert. He and his crew would use the time to rest.

********************************

Manstein's plan to close the ring around Minsk and thus trap two enemy fronts in a two pronged attack had suceeded. And although Schukow had expected such an attack, he had not expected the results. 30.000 of his men were either captured or dead, as well as hundreds of tanks and thousands of guns. His rear, which he had given his reserves for exactly such a case, had been destroyed. This meant facing the danger of being annihilated by the Germans. However, he also had a plan B, as the Third Belorussian Front had not yet fired a single shot. To receive help for them he needed to make contact with Tschernjakowski's 3rd Belorussian front

Whether the plan would succeed he had to see.
 
Chapter II, Part 8: Operation Tannenberg, Part 4

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Operation Tannenberg, Part 2, August 24th – 31st 1944

For Georgi Schukow, Marshal of the Soviet Union the German counter-attack per se was no surprise, but its effect was. He had expected losses, but not such a German success. Somehow he felt like Caesar at Alesia. Schukow had surrounded Minsk but was now encircled as well. He highly doubted in the figures he was given about the enemy´s strength, though; there had to be more modern tanks than the 200+ that had been reported to him. The fights at night had been a vile surprise, too, inflicting severe casualties on his troops, which left him hoping that their fortunes would turn during the day.

Schukow had ordered the Third White Russian front to follow the other two fronts, which were now enclosed. This front should be able to attack and destroy the German forces. Of course, he had ordered them to attack in daylight as a nightly attack would be pure suicide. His own forces would attack in the east in order to make contact with the Third White Russian Front. In a feint attack the 16th Army should be attacked by the 1st Baltic front. There they should be able to cut the German Army Group North from the other German forces, if it succeeded. If not, at least the Germans should have been forced to send fresh troops to rescue the 16th Army. That should give Schukow the needed relieve to break out of the encirclement.

The plan was delayed, though, when the Third Front was not within range to strike on August 24th, so it finally did start the next day. The Germans were prepared, though, as they had known about the Front when their satellites and recce planes had discovered them. Additionally, the new Soviet codes had been decoded with ease, making nearly every order known to the Germans at the very same time the Soviet officers received them.

At dawn on August 24th the Third Front attacked. The Germans countered with every force that was available to them: 100 Leopard I, 700 Leopard II, 120 M-1 Abrams, 120 Challenger II, 600 PzKw V Panther, 600 PzKw IV J, 150 PzKw VI Tiger and 64 PzKw VI Tiger II, 1.000 Marder IFV, 31 Puma IFV, 60 Warrior IFV, 300 Stryker IFV, ca. 1.000 APC, 700 assault guns and over 1.000.000 men as well as 130 Panavia Tornado, 48 EF 2000 Eurofighter, 96 F-104 G Starfighter, 32 Alpha Jets, 110 Bo 105 PAH-1 anti tank helis, 30 Tiger attack helis, 16 Mil-24 helis, 64 AH-64 Longbow helis, 1.000 DT planes and over 12.000 guns. On short notice 72 MiG 21, 24 Su-22 and 48 Fiat G-91 Gina were sent to assist the 16th army in Latvia. The Soviet used 3.000 tanks and assault guns, 20.000 artillery guns, 4.000 planes and nearly 2,5 million men in this battle. However, two-thirds of these forces were encircled.

The Soviet attack forces soon found themselves under heavy fire. While they were now able to shoot at the Germans more effectively than in the night, they were also easier targets for the Germans as well. On August 25th, they were indeed able to shortly break through the lines, but the German counter strikes stopped that quickly. After this day, the Soviet losses were so high, that a concentrated attack on German positions was no longer possible.

Furthermore, the Soviet forces in the pocket were no longer able to prevent the Germans from breaking through to Minsk and relieve the remnants of the 13th army on August 26th. The main body consisted of only 40.000 men and women under Model, most of them wounded. The smaller pocket was believed to be destroyed, but under the leadership of Colonel Skorzeny 2.500 men survived, nearly all of them wounded. Six Soviet soldiers had been taken as PoW by them, mostly high ranking officers. The Germans could only liberate four of their own that had been kept as PoW by the Soviets.

A day later the Germans started their counter attack on the Third White Russian Front. Having no supplies left and because of the high losses, Tschernjachowski gave the order to retreat. Finally, on August 29th, the Germans let him escape, only to concentrate their efforts on Schukows other two fronts. The situation became so critical for them that Schukow was ordered to travel back to Moscow for "urgent talks" and left the battlefield with the last plane. It was the commander of the 2nd White Russian Front, Army General Georgiy Sacharow, who finally surrendered the remnants of the two fronts to the Germans on 11:00 AM on August 31st.

The attack on Saucken's 16th Army had turned into a defeat for the Soviets as well. He had received hundreds of 8,8 cm Flak guns from the cities, several hundred DT tanks and planes as well as 144 jets and Milan AT missiles to counter the Soviets. With these forces, he was able to hold the position for three days when he would have been forced to start to retreat had the Soviets continued their attack. However, as it became clear the 1st Baltic Front would no longer receive any support, the offensive, which had been a kind of feint attack anyway, was terminated and the 1st Baltic Front retreated to its starting positions. Over 800 Soviet tanks and 200 planes had been destroyed and 30.000 men had died.

In the aftermath of the offensive the centre of the Eastern Front was de facto no longer existing. Stalin needed new forces soon if he wanted to continue the offensive against the Germans. However, he faced many problems: Would the Ukrainian Fronts be destroyed as well? Would he be able to build up new forces in time? And another problem was already looming on the horizon; Operation Sommersturm.
 
Losses since the beginning of Operation Bagration to August 31st

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Losses since the beginning of Operation Bagration to August 31st

German losses:

13th Army: 55.000 men dead or missing, 30.000 wounded and evacuated (as long as it was possible, note, that civilian helicopters were used as well), 25.000 wounded, 20.000 still combat ready.

16th Army: 5.500 dead or missing, 12.000 wounded.

Army Group Center: 25.000 dead or missing, 150.000 wounded, 40.000 PoW

___________________________________________________________________________


Soviet losses:

pre-Minsk: 250.000 dead or missing, 600.000 wounded

Minsk: 250.000 dead or missing, 750.000 wounded

1st Baltic Front: 30.000 dead or missing, 85.000 wounded

Tannenberg (without Minsk): 300.000 dead or missing, 1.100.000 PoW (incl. 500.000 wounded)
 
Chapter II, Part 9: Operation Sommersturm

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Operation Sommersturm, August 17th – September 15th 1944

The Operation Sommersturm was a strategic bombing offensive started by the Luftwaffe during Operation Bagration. Although the Luftwaffe had destroyed Tankograd and the dams, there still existed many targets that needed to be eliminated. However, due to modern jet planes urgently being required in different roles, the Germans had to rely on other planes, of which there were only few available, though.

Germany had captured several dozens of Allied bombers, but only seven B-17 and five B-24 were air worthy. Then there were some hundred He 177 ready, but that particular plane needed modifications because it lacked strong enough engines. In the end, only the last Ju 390, two Me 264 prototypes, eight He-277 B5-R2 and five Ju 290 could be added to the air force. These 28 bombers were added to the I. Gruppe of KG 200 and were modified to fit the German needs. The Me 264 and the Ju 390 got surplus Rolls-Royce-Tyne motors, which enhanced their abilities drastically. The He-277 and He 177 models had to be remodelled completely, so that this particular update wouldn’t work for them. Because of that a new plane was to be developed, the He 377. In the meantime, Messerschmitt got the order to build another 90 Me-264 for which the Jumo 022 turboprop motor was elected as engine, which had been developed in record breaking time.

Operation Sommersturm started with the KG 100 and the I./KG 200, which meant just 88 bombers. However, the Soviet air defence was patchy at best and ECM was easily able to jam the early Soviet RADARs. In some cases, the Soviets did not even know that there were enemy planes in the air until it was too late. With 1.540 km combat range the He 177 soon proved to be inadequate for this task, subsequently they were soon retired from that task. So only the I./KG 200 could continue the operation.

Due to modern equipment being added to the DT-bombers, they could easily attack targets up to the Ural Mountains if they started from Gerdauen air field in East Prussia. Targets even farther away could only be reached in shuttle bombing missions. These bombers would start in Gerdauen, fly to and attack the target and then land in Manchuria. There they would be refuelled and then sent home with goods and resources from Japan, which meant that no offensive action took place from Japan towards the USSR. The Nowosibirsk aircraft factory was destroyed using such tactics.

Although being a success the operation had to be halted in September 1944 due to the low number of battle ready planes. So far only three planes, a Ju 290 and two B-17, had been shot down. However, the nearly daily use without replacement parts to replace broken ones let the number of available planes drop to eight. Because of this the operation was abandoned. In the meantime, though, Messerschmitt was producing Me-264 bombers which should enable the Germans to start another offensive during the coming winter.
 
Legal Ordinance of the Introduction of Vehicle Registration Plates in the state of Prussia

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Legal Ordinance of the Introduction of Vehicle Registration Plates in the state of Prussia (Verordnung zur Einführung von Kfz-Kennzeichen im Land Preußen):

Angerburg: AGB
Altdamm: ALD
Arnswalde: ARW
Allenstein: AT

Bartenstein: BAT
Braunsberg: BBR
Beuthen: BTH

Belgard: BLG
Blankenburg: BLA
Ballenstadt: BLS
Bomst: BOM
Breslau: BR
Brieg: BRI
Bunzlau: BUN
Bütow: BÜT

Cammin: CAM
Cosel: COS
Crossen: CRO

Darkehmen: DAR
Deutsch-Krone: DKR
Dramburg: DRA
Danzig (Stadt): HDZ (Hansestadt Danzig)
Danzig (Land): DZ

Elbing: EL

Friedeberg: FDG
Fischhausen: FIS
Flatow: FLA
Falkenberg: FLK
Fraustadt: FRA
Freystadt: FRE
Frankenstein: FRS
Franzburg-Barth: FRZ

Gerdauen: GDA
Goldberg: GLB
Greifenhagen i. Pom.: GFB
Greifenhagen: GFH
Glogau: GLO
Goldap: GOL
Grünberg: GRÜ
Groß Strehlitz: GST
Grottkau: GTK
Glatz: GTZ
Guhrau: GUH
Gumbinnen: GUM
Guttentag: GUT
Gleiwitz: GLW
Groß Wartenberg: GWA

Heilsberg: HBG
Hirschberg: HIR
Heiligenbeil: HLB
Hindenburg i. OS: HOS
Habelschwerdt: HSW

Insterburg: IB

Jauer: JAU
Johannisburg: JOH

Kolberg: KLB
Königshütte: KGH
Königsberg Neumark: KNM
Königsberg i. Pr.: KP
Köslin: KÖS
Kattowitz: KTW
Kreuzburg: KZB

Labiau: LAB
Lauban: LBN
Lüben: LBE
Lauenburg in Pommern: LBG
Leobschütz: LES
Landeshut: LDH
Lebus: LEB
Lötzen: LÖT
Löwenberg: LÖW
Landsberg a.d. Warthe: LW
Lyck: LYK
Liegnitz: LZ

Mahlow: MAH
Marienburg: MBU
Mohrungen: MOH
Meseritz: MSZ
Militsch: MTS
Marienwerder: MWD

Namslau: NAM
Neidenburg: NDB
Niederung: NDG
Neisse: NEI
Naugard: NGD
Neumarkt: NMK
Neustadt O.S.: NOS

Oppeln: O
Ohlau: OHL
Oels: ÖLS
Ortelsburg: ORT
Osterode in Ostpreußen: OSO

Preußisch Eylau: PEY
Preußisch Holland: PHO
Pilkallen: PIL
Pyritz: PYR

Randow: RAN
Rastenburg: RAS
Ratibor: RB
Reichenbach: RCB
Reppen: REP
Regenwalde: RGW
Rothenburg a.d. Oder: RON
Rosenberg in Westpreußen: RSW
Rößel: RÖS
Rosenberg O.S.: RSB
Rothenburg Oberlausitz: RTO (only parts east of the Neiße river)
Rummelsburg: RUM

Saatzig: SAA
Sagan: SAG (only parts east of the Neiße river)
Salzbrunn: SBR
Schönberg: SCB
Schneidemühl SCN
Schweidnitz: SCW
Soldin: SDN
Stargard in Pommern: SGD
Schlawe in Pommern: SLA
Schlochau: SLO
Sorau: SOR
Stallupönen: SPÖ
Sprottau: SPT
Sensburg: SSB
Stettin: STT
Strehlen: STR
Stolp: STP
Stuhm: STU
Schwerin a.d. Warthe: SWW

Treuburg: TBG
Tilsit: TI
Trebnitz TRE

Usedom-Wollin: USD (only Swinemünde and Wollin)

Waldenburg: WBG
Wehlau: WEH
Wohlau: WLA

Züllichau-Schwiebus: ZÜL

NOTE: Sometime AH isn't so alternative. Most of these plates are real suggestions as of OTL. Only some had to be slightly altered, as they were used elsewhere.
 
Chapter II, Part 10: Death of a Political Officer

Tyr Anazasi

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Tarnopol, HQ of Soviet 38th Army, September 1st, 1944, 08:00 AM

The atmosphere in the HQ was tense. It usually was, as decisions were made and orders given or received. However, today the mood amongst the people milling around was even tenser than it normally was.. All preparations to attack the Axis Heeresgruppe Süd had been held on ice. Indeed, first orders were given to stay defensive when possible. Furthermore, Moscow had given orders to send the Ukrainian 4th Front back to the centre to form the 1st White Russian front. The Baltic 2nd Front had received similar orders to become the 2nd White Russian front. Since then no new orders had been given. To discuss the situation Marshal Konew had invited the commanders of the 2nd and 3rd Ukrainian Fronts to meet here in Tarnopol. Only Konew, Malinowski, Tolbukin and the commander of the 38th Army, Moskalenko, were present, even their lieutenants banned from attending the meeting.

Konew (KO): The situation is most dire. The Germans have destroyed two fronts, crippled another one and damaged a fourth heavily. We need to give up forces to stabilize the centre. With their new devilry, the Germans were able to cut through our defences like a hot knife through butter.

Moskalenko (MO): I haven’t received any new orders from Moscow, besides that we should ‘stay ready’. Did you get something?

Tolbukin (TO): No.

Malinowski (MA): Me, neither.

KO: Stawka is trying to fix the mess in the center. I guess it will last a while until we hear from them. And because of the mess we have found ourselves in I wanted to discuss the situation.

MO: I concur.

TO: Yes, we need to be better prepared. We already lost the 4th Front to the center. We won't get any help in case of a new German offensive.

MA: Yes, and if the German thrust turns south they might even encircle us.

KO: Indeed. The Pripjet Marshes are a good barrier, but if they can pass them or if they can go around and then turn south, shit really hits the fan. Currently we have no center at all, and with the loss of another three fronts, the whole war could be over very soon, especially if our forces are here and the Germans at Kiew.

TO: That makes sense. The Germans, after all, did stop their advance on Moscow in 1941 to turn south in order to destroy our forces there. Some may see it as a mistake, but so many forces at the flanks are too great of a danger. Thus, I think we should plan ahead for a retreat...

The door went open and a man entered the room, wearing the uniform of a NKWD general. The two soldiers accompanying the man wore apologetic expressions. Konew only nodded at them and then they closed the door.

Nowikow (NO): What´s going on here? Why have I not been informed of this meeting as I should have? This will have consequences, mark my words! And no one is going to retreat! We were ordered to prepare for attack and will do just that. We won't give up the territory so many of us have died defending.

MA (silently): So many of us? Good joke!

NO: Care to repeat that?

KO: General, this is an informal meeting of the commanders of the Southern part of the front, only discussing the strategic position. Nothing more, nothing less.

NO: I sincerely doubt that. You want to retreat in the face of the enemy.

TO: Yes, general. Everyone with at least a minimum sense of strategic planning...

NO: Are you implying I don´t possess such?

TO: You are reading sentiments into what I´m saying that are not true.

NO: What? I...

KO: Enough. General Nowikow, the situation is bad. God damn, we just lost the centre front!

NO: We have sent two additional fronts to stabilize it.

KO: Yes, but I don't think that will be enough. The Baltic fronts and we lost each one of our own. We won't get any support, regardless of being on the offensive or the defensive as everything we have goes to stabilizing...

NO: We have enough forces to attack the Germans and to stabilize the centre.

MO: Please forgive my crude words, but that´s bullshit!

NO: I...

KO: General Nowikow, we just don't have enough troops and material. We fear the Germans might either march through the Pripyat swamps or surround them and then try to enclose us.

NO: The Pripyat swamps can't be passed by heavy units and circumventing them is not possible.

A messenger entered the room and gave Konew a telegram.

KO, after reading: Nowikow, it seems you're wrong. ‘German cavalry amassed at Northern side of the Pripyat marshes.’ It seems the Germans do prepare another offensive.

NO: Impossible!

MA: They did that already once and will do so now as well.

NO: Even if I believe, what you said, you have enough forces to deal with them. After all, it's only cavalry!

KO: Sure. But then I´m tinning my forces even more, giving the Heeresgruppe Süd even more of a chance to break through.

NO: The Germans will be beaten. I demand you follow your orders or face the consequences.

KO: Nowikow! We need to retreat and save the forces...

NO: Enough. That will have consequences... What are you doing? You wouldn’t dare...

BANG

Konew's Tokarew smoked as he observed the man he had just killed: Nowikow's face wasn´t much damaged except the black and bleeding hole over his nose. The other part of the head was in much worse condition, as large parts were missing. These missing parts as well as large parts of the man´s brain and blood could be found splattered all over the floor.

MA: When war is over we need to clean our house anyway.

KO: Yes, but war isn't over and I fear that will have consequences when it finally will be.

In this moment, a young lieutenant and two guards rushed into the room.

KO: Lieutenant, General Nowikow has been hit by a grenade, such a tragedy. Report it to Moscow that we are in need of a new political officer.

The young lieutenant looked at the body understanding dawning on him. Together with the two other soldiers he lifted the body up and took it outside the room. Hours later it would be found at the front with the whole upper part of the body missing.

KO: Back to business then. We will retreat to the line Kiew-Odessa. With the shortened front, we will have forces in reserve, which can at least slow down any advance against our flank.

TO: I agree. But what was in the message of the telegram?

KO: Exactly what I read and nothing else.

TO read and laughed loudly.
 
Chapter II, Part 11: The Königsberg Speech

Tyr Anazasi

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Königsberg, Auditorium maximum of the Albertina, September 1st, 09:30

Angela Merkel stood on the auditorium maximum of the Albertina. It was a weird feeling being here; for her Königsberg had always been Kaliningrad and part of Russia. Now it was German. Again? Or always had been? The logical fallacies of time travelling were confusing to think about, so she just stopped thinking about it as she didn't want to get headaches – again. Indeed, Königsberg as set-up for what was about to come had been chosen with great care. It was time to write history; it was time for her speech, a speech, which would likely become as famous as “Yes, we can.” or “Ich bin ein Berliner” in their old timeline. For all her faults, Angela Merkel was well aware that she wasn't a great charismatic orator, so she had to rely on other things to make her speech memorable. Content mostly.

The hall was full. The German chancellor found herself not only looking at professors and students, but also reporters and several ambassadors from all over the world.

"Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.

This speech is directed to everyone on this planet, not only Germany and her Allies or only neutral countries – no, it is my desire to reach everyone, including the people of the Allies. I speak to everyone, be they children or adults; be they women or men; beggar or millionaires, presidents or soldiers at the front. I speak to you and hope that you will have it in your hearts to listen.

Five years ago, what we call the Second World War began. During that time, unspeakable and despicable atrocities have been committed, to an extend never seen on this planet before, much of it, to my great shame, by a Germany controlled by a man who thought that he alone could separate the people of Europe into the worthy on one side and the unworthy on the other.

I stand before you today to announce that I do not want to continue what this man has started. I stand here to extend my hand and the hands of the German people in a gesture of reconciliation and friendship.

Right in this city, only a few meters from where I stand one of the most fundamental works on the basic rights of human beings has been written by a man called Immanuel Kant. It was nearly 150 years ago, that he published his "Metaphysik der Sitten" in which he decreed that no man shall ever be regarded as object, to be used by others, but as subject instead, to which others are responsible to. He called it ‘pride of man’. This pride of man, a term that has been first used by another German philosopher, Samuel von Pufendorf, thus became the centre piece of modern legislature and public service.

Only mere weeks ago I would have never imagined to stand here and to talk about this. Mere weeks ago we still had the United Nations, despite its flaws still a powerful organization built on the ideals of peace and civil rights. Here, in this time, the UN is still only an idea in the mind of a few individuals, still taking shapes and forms. It is clear to all of us, though, that the old League of Nations has failed. But from its ashes something new – something better – shall rise:The United Nations. This organization shall be a place where the people of the world will come together peacefully like they did once before, in a time when peace reigned over vast parts of the world.

Therefore, I extend my sincerest and heartfelt gratitude to the Empire of Japan, the Estonian Republic, the Finish Republic, the Latvian Republic, the Lithuanian Republic, the Kingdom of Romania, the Kingdom of Hungary, the Czardom of Bulgaria, the Slovakian Republic, the Kingdom of Siam and the Kingdom of Croatia but also the neutral Kingdom of Sweden, the Helvetian Republic, the Republic of Turkey and the Spanish Republic for being here for this monumental occasion: The signing of the new Charta of the United Nations.

Again, I ask the Allied powers to accept peace talks. This war has dragged on for too long, has cost too many lives already, has destroyed too much. Let historians later tell the people of following generations that we were the ones to end this bloodshed instead of continuing it.

This is not a speech of war, but of peace. Mr. President Roosevelt, Mr. Churchill, Mr. Stalin, I beseech you to exchange weapons for words. Let us end this catastrophe.

Thank you."
 
Chapter II, Part 12: Thoughts on Königsberg

Tyr Anazasi

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Berlin, Café Einstein, September 3rd, 08:00

The Café Einstein had been founded in 1979 in the style of the coffee houses of Vienna Kaffeehaus. While it had never been the cheapest, it nevertheless had a certain quality and flair that could only be found within its wall. And although much of the foodstuff used in the Einstein was rationed and required food stamps, its kitchen still managed to prepare dishes that were equal to no other. You could start the day at the Einstein with freshly baked bread, homemade marmalade and the best coffee right of the Rhine, but you could also meet discreetly in one of its booths. That was the reason why three young men sat in a very quiet corner of the restaurant: Enver Öztürk (EÖ), member of the Turkish diplomatic corps, Christian von Lund (CL), member of the Swedish embassy and Diego Vega (DV) of Spain. For them Berlin had been the first station in their diplomatic career. They were all downtimers and would meet regularly, even before the Event had taken place, in order to talk about the current goings of the world. Of course, they would later have to report the content of their talks to the cultural attachés or however the chief spies were called in their embassies, but as long as everyone was aware of this it was a great way to get and share some informal information.

EÖ: So, how´s Königsberg been?

CL: Before the Event, I would have called it a normal German town in the province, far away from the problems of the world. Today, well, compared to what we have here, it´s like a time travel.

DV: Yes, true. And that is what worries me greatly. Should we ever go back to our countries, we will somehow feel the very same way as if we were visiting Königsberg. They, at least, will assimilate to the new Germany and its culture very fast, but our homes will not.

EÖ: Yes, very true.

DV: Any yet, all these new ideas won't be stopped by borders.

EÖ: Yes. And that frightens me a bit. Don't get me wrong, I am from a very liberal home, but my father will never accept gay marriages. He would rather shot me!

CL: Mine, too. The Germans, the UT Germans, are 70 years ahead, not only technologically, but culturally as well. I don't think they will make put great pressure on other countries, but even just knowing what´s happening here will irrevocably change our countries. I think it will take some time, but in the end, we´ll adapt to them, not the other way around.

DV: Don't you think the Germans will not become more, erm, conservative?

CL: Maybe a little. But the society will not change its core fundamentals.

EÖ: I guess there will be tensions between downtimers and uptimers.

CL: Of course, that goes without saying. However, it won't become serious in the case of a German victory. Then they will accept it.

DV: And if the Germans lose?

CL: Well, then they will have other problems to worry about than tensions between UTs and DTs. But I hardly think they´ll lose.

EÖ: Hmm, I have still some doubts, regardless of the last victories. They still face an enemy with numerical superiority.

CL: True.

DV: I think the Germans will still win, nonetheless. In relation to their numbers, they inflict so much more damage which the Allies can't sustain in the long run. I saw reports from Britain. They were hit heavily and only pressure from the US keeps them in the war.

EÖ: I am not so sure. Although, personally, I hope you're right. However, only if they can knock out one major enemy very soon they can win. They may have technological superiority, but once their stocks run out, they´ll have problems with producing more.

CL: That's true. Still, I think the Allies, especially the Soviets, won't be able to continue as long as needed to deplete the German military.

DV: I agree. I have something interesting to share with you, gentlemen: Our Caudillo has decided to exchange our foreign minister Sousa with Mr. Súñer. He´ll announce it tomorrow.

CL: Interesting, indeed. Mr. Sousa is anglophile, Mr. Súñer is germanophile. Will Spain send more volunteers to Germany again?

DV: It surely looks like it. That's why we were in Königsberg. Why were the Swedes there, though?

CL: Well, the new relatives of our Royal Family has been in intensive contact with ours. And of course, we are interested in economic ties to Germany.

EÖ: I guess the Allies are crying bloody murder about that, my dear friend.

CL: Damn right they are! However, what else can they do?

EÖ: I ‘came across’ new contracts with some German firms about ships you´ve made. Only civilian ships, eh?

CL: Of course! They don't carry guns, after all. And I heard you opened the Dardanelles for German shipping and even started to supply German held Dodecanese islands?

EÖ: We only deliver food and no contraband and the ships we allow through don't carry any guns. We never saw any.

DV: I see. Does a blanket suffice to hide a gun?

EÖ: Of course, it does. President Inönü is leaning towards Germany at the moment, but he is still undecided.

DV: It seems our governments begin to bet on a German victory. I received information that due to stronger pressure of both the US and the Soviets Chile will declare war on Germany soon. That will have consequences. Bolivia and Argentina are pro-German, Peru has some unresolved issues with Chile and in Chile there are many people of German origin. WW2 may still come to South America after all.

DV: We'll see. Ah, there is our breakfast!
 
Chapter II, Part 13: A Way to Hell, Part 1

Tyr Anazasi

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Somewhere between Minsk and Beresino, September 3rd 1944, 22:32

The war was soon to be going into its 5th year and even though Annika Schröder had been fighting for only a few months, it felt longer than that. First she had been involved in the battles against the Allies near Bologne, then she had been assigned to the Eastern Front.

Born in Buchholz in der Nordheide, Annika, now age 29, didn't have a very joyous childhood. It wasn’t that bad – certainly not as bad as the childhood of others – but her parents had been single-mindedly focused on only her younger sister while she and her brother had to make their way through life on their own. It was the reason why Annika had decided to join the Bundeswehr after her Abitur – a fight or flight response to the absence of any parental support in her life up until then. Maybe it was also the reason why she couldn’t hold on to the men in her life: Three she had had, and each of them left her, the last one mere hours before the Event.

And then they were suddenly transported into the past and the war that was wrought in it. Annika had made the mistake of walking the beaches of the Normandy after the Allie´s failed assault on the shores. The pictures of the suffering and atrocities she had seen had burnt themselves in her mind and wouldn’t let go of her, not even in her sleep: Human parts strewn everywhere – legs, arms, bullet riddled torsos – or corpses, eviscerated by German gunfire. Sometimes, when she closed her eyes she could still see the Allied soldier (He was a French, Annika thought, but the cries of the dying were a language understood by everyone) whose guts were oozing out of his stomach and who tried to shovel them back into his body with his bloody hand (She gave him the mercy of a quick death; at least that was what she told herself when the soldier came back to haunt her in her dreams).

At the Eastern Front Annika stayed at the back, shooting from safe distance. She only seldom saw what happened, where her bullets hit (or whom). She fought until she could barely stand anymore, because only then she was too exhausted to dream when she fell asleep.

“ Frau Hauptmann, Frau Hauptmann,” the Spieß, their company sergeant tore her out of her pitiful sleep. “We´ve got new intel. It seems, the enemy is attacking our front. We must…” The sound of several grenades exploding nearby drowned what he wanted to say.

Five minutes later, the company found itself in their Marder IFV.

“Frau Hauptmann, the enemy has broken through our lines,” Schneider, their radio operator, told her.

“Fuck!” she cursed. “How could they miss that?”

“Because reconnaissance believed they would retreat,” Schneider replied.

“We pulled that very trick ourselves and when the enemy does the same reconnaissance sleeps?” Annika exclaimed incredulously.

“Soviet tanks dead ahead!” Lehmann, her gunner, interrupted their squabble. Before she could even say anything, he had already launched the first MILAN missile. “JS 2 destroyed.”

"Where are these damn Leos?" Annike shouted. "We can't win a fight against tanks!"

At this moment, several enemy tanks were suddenly exploding. A group of Tiger helicopters had appeared and continued on to turn the tanks into scrap metal. But that was only the first assault and soon the helis were gone while the next wave of Soviet tanks was about to hit them.

"Frau Hauptmann, HQ says our MBT are needed elsewhere. We have to retreat to 2829." Schneider relayed.

"Okay,” Annika replied, furiously thinking about what to do now. “Two Marder and ours form the rear guard.”

In this moment, a Boxer AFV, a special tank accompanying them, with a curious small turret swung this turret eastwards. No shots could be heard and still only seconds later a Soviet night bomber crashed. A second one soon after.

"It seems Luke Skywalker had his first kills." Annika joked. She knew the tank was only here for some testing at the front. It should have never been so near to it, though.

"Luke who?" Meyer asked confused. He was new and young to the force, just having completed his training.

"Erm, Star Wars?" Annika replied, but Meyer was as confused as before.

"I am a downtimer." he finally said.

That explained much. After all, Bundeswehr had started to mix the forces, when it was possible.

"Ah, okay. It is an outstanding science fiction movie. Or better series of movies, where they use weapons, which bundle light so much they can destroy..."

"T-34 from the side!" Lehmann shouted. Even while speaking he had already targeted one and destroyed it with a MILAN missile. And although another tank was hit by yet another MILAN fired by her IFV, her Marder was hit by the only shot that T-34 had fired. Three other T-34 retreated.

"Fuck!" she cursed. "Get out of the tank! Go! Go! Go!" The IFV was burning and could no longer drive. She had to see to the damage.

"Shit! Their went straight through the motor bloc," Huber, the commander of her Marder, told her.

Annika, knew however, that they had been extremely lucky. The other two Marder had been utterly annihilated with six men dead and three severely wounded. The rest of the company had retreated to the west.

"Frau Hauptmann, six dead and three wounded. Yilmaz was hit in the stomach by the explosion. It doesn't look well, Medicus said."

It was no joke, their medic was truly called Medicus. It had been his family name long before when the name had been latinized. It was only coincidence that that one of his descendants had decided to become a medic again. What irony!

"I can carry him," Johnson, her Spieß, offered. He was 2,10 m tall and could be very well used as actor for an imposing black US sergeant, with his imposing built. He was strong enough to use an MG3 as assault rifle if needed. Annika trusted him blindly.

"Frau Hauptmann, it seems we are behind enemy lines. We need to move about five km to the west to reach our lines," Oberleutnant Huber said, the commander of one of the other tanks.

"Then we should not wait any longer. Take everything we can use and then we go. The tanks are to be thoroughly destroyed!" Annika commanded.

"Jawoll, Frau Hauptmann."

Soon after the tanks were nothing but burning wrecks. The company then retreated westwards, but after two kilometers they met resistance in the form of a battalion of Soviet infantry. Fortuna must have smiled down benignly on them on this day, though, for a pair of Hs 123 night CAS planes saved their asses, as they had been ordered to attack just this particular battalion. However, they had to turn south to circumvent the enemy fire and therefore couldn’t be of any further help to Annika and her soldiers.

After an hour, which felt like eternity to all of them their luck finally ran out as another company of the enemy stumbled upon them. It was a tough fight, but the technological advantage Annika´s team had let the enemy pay dearly for any attack. So, they were able to reach the last obstacle a small stream, which they could not pass, however, as the enemy was too close and would have discovered them.

"Okay, Huber, you lead the others to the other side. I will give you cover with Ernst and Schultz." she ordered. "Then you´ll cover us."

Their plan went through without a hitch. When Annika saw that the others had reached the other side, she gave Ernst and Schultz the order to follow them while she would keep up fire for a minute. As there were only 250 shots left for the MG, Annika´s plan was to spend the ammo and then to run as fast as she could. She waited until she could see the enemy soldiers again and then fired at them. While they ran for cover, she ran in the opposite direction.

However, before she got to the stream, five men, encircling her from the rear, attacked her. Two she shot quickly with her G-36, but then she was out of rounds. Her P8 got another one but then jammed.

Trying to evade the last two was not a possibility, as behind her the other Soviet soldiers would soon come. So Annika decided to do it the hard way and attached her SG2000 combat knife to the rifle as bayonet. Then she charged. The good thing was, that she completely surprised the two Soviet soldiers when she attacked them directly. Two shots missed her and a third one they could not fire. She slammed the bayonet into the stomach of the first, while kicking the second into the testicles. He went down, but her second attack with the Bayonet went through his chest.

In this moment, a ricochet hit her rifle and tore it out of Annika´s hand. She wanted to go after it, but twelve enemy soldiers were converging on her, forcing her to took cover behind some nearby streams. The only weapon Annika had left was her other combat knife which she wore hidden in her boot. The stream was near – she could see the dirty brown water, could hear the water flowing – but when she was about to make a run for it, two Soviet soldiers stepped in front of her, aiming their weapons straight at her. That was when Annika realized that it was either to die or to surrender.

She chose the latter.
 
Chapter II, Part 14: A Way to Hell, Part 2

Tyr Anazasi

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Somewhere between Minsk and Beresino, September 4th 1944, 07:12

Her captors made Annika walk back in the same direction she had come from. For hours she did nothing but trudge forward, occasionally helped along by a blow from the dull side Soviet soldier´s bayonet. All around her Annika could see the carnage the fighting was causing: The burning wrecks of tanks – both German and Soviet ones, but more of the latter – the corpses of German and Russians, alike, some having died during the fighting, some having been executed with their hands tied behind their backs. At dawn, she and her captors arrived at a farm, its original owners having fled long ago, where she was locked in together with another German soldier.

“Ah, very nice to meet a fellow country man, or woman in this case,” the man spoke. “I´m Heinrich Hoffmann.” He extended his hand in greeting which Annika shock.

“I´m Hauptmann Annika Schröder,” she introduced herself. “How long have you been here? Do you reckon there´s any way out of here?...”

As if they had heard it, the door was opened by Soviet soldiers. Without uttering a single word, they marched up to Heinrich, who was quivering in fear, took him between them and led him out of the barn, not before locking the door behind them. A few minutes later, one lonely shot rang through the silence. Soon after, the soldiers came back – this time for Annika – and led her into the nearby house where she was sat down in front of an imposing looking man.

“So,” he drawled. “You´re one of these German Amazons fighting us.” He spoke German fluently without any trace of Russian accent. If Annika identified it correctly, he seemed to be an officer (colonel) of the Red Army. An interrogator.

“Let me lay this out for you,” the Colonel continued. “I want information. You have information. I simply require from you to share what you have with me.” He smiled, all teeth, no warmth. Annika just stared at him. “If you don´t…” His gaze flickered back to the soldiers at the door and as if they had waited for the sign, they took Annika outside again, where they forced her to kneel next to Heinrich´s corpse. They pushed her head into the mud, Heinrich´s empty eyes staring at her as if he was silently accusing her of not having done enough to prevent his death. Then Annika could feel the cold metal of a gun pressing against the back of her head.

Click. No pain. Nothing.

Annika let out a deep breath. She was shaking like a leaf, adrenaline surging through her body like fire and a primal fear coiling itself around her lungs, trying to suffocate her.

“Next time it won´t be a mock execution,” she could hear the Colonel´s voice above her. “Take her back in.” A few moments later, Annika found herself back in the house, opposite of her the grizzled man.

“Now,” he spoke. “Are you ready to tell me something?” He arched his eyebrows at her.

“Why should I?” Annika replied, lifting her head in defiance. “You´ll shoot me no matter what. So, let it be an honourable death, at least.” And because she was so sure that she was about to die, she added: “You´re pathetic. Pathetic and unworthy of being an officer, even in the Red Army.”

“You dare to lecture me about worthiness?!” the Colonel bellowed at her, his face contorted into a mask of rage. “You, as part of the people who came to my land, pillaging, murdering everyone and burning everything in your wake? You, whose comrades butchered my family, every single one of them.”

“’One seeking revenge should always dig two graves.’ Confucius,” Annika said as evenly as she could. “What kind of man would you be if you return the atrocities inflicted upon you in same kind? Wouldn’t you be as vile then as the men you so despise?” He remained silent for a while.

“Here´s my hand. If you accept, you can keep your life.” Annika did.

“This is Fritz, a good man from Saxony,” the Colonel said and beckoned a nearby NCO to come nearer. “He´ll take you to the nearest PoW-Camp.” And without further ado, Annika was led out of the building towards God knows where, the young soldier trailing behind her with a tight grip on his submachine gun.

They met a few Soviet soldiers along the way, but the sight of the soldier accompanying Annika made them pass her by with hostile glances only. One soldier tried to do her harm. Fritz shot him straight in the face.

“Thank you.” Annika swallowed. “That mustn’t have been easy for you.”

“Order of the Colonel,” the man shrugged. “Besides, they´re scum, anyway.

Later, Annika could already see the outlines of the camp, when all of a sudden an armoured car came to a halt right next to them.

[“The woman, we´ll take her with us. Go back to Strelnikow and tell him, he must shoot his prisoners. The front has collapsed; the counter strike has started. The Germans will be here soon and then they won´t have any chance to retake any further prisoners. Do you copy, soldier?”] on the man spoke in Russian, which Annika was unable to understand. The Saxon soldier just nodded and saluted. Annika was manhandled into the car and taken to the next air strip where she was put into the only plane left. Direction: Moscow. What she didn’t know, yet, was that the men accompanying her were agents of the NKWD.

Colonel Richard Goldstein of the Red Army was killed a few hours later in the fighting that engulfed the whole sector. Sergeant Fritz Gerhardt didn’t relay the order of the NKWD, so that the PoW was later liberated by German forces. Yet, seeing the suffering the Red Army had inflicted upon the captured German soldiers, turned the already bad situation on the Eastern Front even worse, with atrocities committed on both sides, such as Red Army soldiers being shot even after they had surrendered. Gerhardt had luck: He was captured by Annika´s former unit and as he held vital information about her whereabouts, he was send on to a German PoW-Camp where he would sit out the rest of the war.

Annika´s fate, though, remained unsure.

[This story is based upon true events reported by a former German cavalry officer]
 
Interludium III: Meeting Donald

Tyr Anazasi

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Hamburg, September 20th 1944, 12:13:

Attorney of law Dr. Peter Voss was looking at one of the pictures he had received by post, showing young Anne Frank while writing, a picture which would become – or already was? Finding the right tense was difficult sometimes – quite famous. The handwritten addendum on the back was unique, though. “Thank you everything! Anne.” He had seen Anne and her family one time after their initial meeting. They had many problems, some running very deep, but after six sessions of mediation, they had found a modus vivendi on which they could all agree on, at least for the time being. While he was still contemplating where to hang the picture, the doorbell rang. Due to his secretary being ill, Voss made his way towards the door to open it by himself, all the while he was hearing two people heatedly discussing something outside.

“Sir, this isn´t Black and Lost, but a single attorney,” a woman implored.

“Nonsense,” a male voice replied resolutely, “I have an appointment with Dr. Voss and I shall attend it!”

“But, Sir,” the woman exclaimed. “This isn’t Mr. Daniel Voss, LL. M., from Black and Lost, but…”

Dr. Voss opened the door, abruptly putting a halt to the discussion outside, but when he saw who was actually standing there outside of his office, his jaw dropped to the ground. Donald Trump!

“Good morning,” Voss greeted he man and his…assistant?...not having realized that it was already noon, but working on an appeal to the Federal Court of Labour did funny things to your sense of time, but at least it was done after gruesome three weeks. “How may I be of help?”

“Ah, I´m Donald Trump and I´ve got an appointment with Dr. Voss,” Trump said. It´s indeed him, a voice halfway between panicked and amused whispered in his mind.

“I´m Dr. Voss, but not the…” Voss tried to say, but Trump interrupted him. “Excellent, we have much to discuss.” With a resigned sigh, Voss just stepped aside and allowed Trump and his assistant – who glanced at him with an apologetic expression – in.

“As you´re probably aware my grandparents on my father´s side were Germans,” Trump started when they were seated in Voss’ office. That explains why he´s here, Voss thought. Out loud he said: “No, I didn’t know that.”

“Due to that,” Trump continued, “I was also taken back in time. I´ve taken Chancellor Merkel up on her offer to a German passport, which is why I´m a German citizen now. To cut it short, I want to restart my business, both in construction and in politics.”

“Well,” Voss replied with slowly dawning horror. “I can advise you on both, constitutional and in merchant and private law.”

“Excellent!” Trump exclaimed. “You see, Germany may be great now, but I can make it even greater and to archive that I need to become president of…erm..”

“It´s Federal Republic, Sir,” his aide added shyly. “I wasn´t introduced before, but I´m Nadine Koops and it´s a pleasure to meet you.” Voss wanted to greet the young woman as well, but Trump was already continuing as if his assistant hadn’t said anything at all.

“Yes, whatever, I want to become president.”

“May I ask why?” Voss asked cautiously.

“Because Mrs. Merkel has to be stopped!” Trump nearly shouted. “She´s ruining Germany!”

“How so?” Voss wanted to know.

“Well, she could have nuked Moscow, for starters,” Trump replied. “I would have. I´d have made Germany great again and feared by the whole world. Then she should make a deal with the US and Britain and if they don´t agree, we can nuke them, too. And her economy politics…”

“Mr. Trump are you sure you want to become Federal President of Germany?” Voss interrupted the other man´s rant.

“Of course I am!” Trump replied without a second of hesitation.

“That´s gonna be difficult, though,” Voss told the man. “The next time the president is scheduled to be elected would be 2017…or rather 1947, barring no war by the federal assembly.”

“I have to wait until 1947?” Trump repeated incredulously.

“Indeed,” Voss affirmed. “And you can´t run on your own, anyway. You need to be sponsored by party.” He took a sip from the water glass on his desk. “Are you even aware that the presidency, unlike the American one, is representative? You wouldn’t be able to exert much influence on politics, because in Germany it´s the chancellor who has the actual power.”

“Then I´ll just need to become chancellor then, won´t I?” Trump interceded.

“But even then, you´d need the support of one or several parties,” Voss told Trump. “The chancellor isn’t elected by the people, but by the parliament which represents them.”

“Pretty crappy system, isn´t it,” Trump said haughtily. “The people should vote him directly. One man, one vote, as I say. Another reason to become chancellor then, to overhaul this undemocratic system!”

“Which the electoral college isn´t?” Voss shot back. “Bush had less absolute votes than Al Gore and yet he became president. Not really one man, one vote, isn’t it?” He paused for a moment. “Besides, it´s very unlike that one party alone has the majority to elect the chancellor, so you would probably also have to form a coalition with another one…or two.”

“You mean I´d have to enter a party?”

“Theoretically, yes,” Voss answered. However, he did not mention that this wasn’t a legal necessity, as Ludwig Erhard himself had only joined the CDU after he had been elected as chancellor. “Anyway, becoming chancellor candidate for a party requires a lot of inter-party connections and more or less hard work. Late comers usually don´t make it that far.”

“I´m Donald Trump, don´t forget that!”

“How could I?” Voss muttered under his breath. Out lout he said: “You may be, but you still need the sponsorship of a party.”

“Can´t I just found my own one?” Trump asked.

“You could,” Voss replied, “but it´s incredibly difficult to establish a new party. The last one to successfully manage it were the Greens. All other parties are as old as the Federal Republic itself, or even older. Many attempts have failed so far, the Statt party, PRO or the Pirates….”

“The Pirates?”

“Internet nerds,” Voss explained. “They´re all for freedom of the internet and civil rights.”

“Bah, liberal nonsense then,” Trump cursed.

“I rather thought so,” Voss said. “There´s also the Left Party…”

“Communists should be shot instead of being allowed to form their own party!”

“The Greens are too left, the FDP is too liberal,” Voss summed up. “The CDU is Angela Merkel´s home turf and the CSU, or rather its chief, would never allow someone to enter who could challenge him. Then there´s the SPD…”

“What about the AFD?” Trump interrupted.

“Well,” Voss gulped, “they certainly fit the profile of the US Republicans and they tend to criticise Angela Merkel a lot. There´s a lot of infighting there, though, between the liberal and the far-right wing, with the former fighting a loosing battle. They´re also tethering on the edge of still being constitutional.”

“But I could make it there?” Trump wanted to know.

“Certainly,” Voss replied.

“Well, I see I went to the right lawyer then,” Trump stated as he stood up and buttoned his jacket. “You´re hired. My assistant will give you all the documents you need.” And with that he turned around and left the office, not before – much to Voss’ shock – giving a squeeze to his assistant´s bottom. When she saw Voss’ expression, Nadine just shrugged.

“He pays well,” she said. “Much of my family has lost their jobs due to the Event, so I have to pull my weight.” She handed him over some papers. “Here´s your contract and your first assignment. Mr. Trump plans to build a skyscraper right here.”

“There´s Blohm & Voss yard on the site,” Voss pointed out. “He can´t build there.”

“Then tell him that,” Nadine shrugged. “By the way, you should definitely hire some additional staff. You´ll definitely need them.” And with that she was gone as well.

With a huff, Voss sat down and stared at the paper. He really, really didn’t want to do this, but with much of his business dried up due to the Event and with a pregnant wife and debts from the house they had bought, he clearly didn’t have much of a choice.

At least, Nadine seemed to commiserate with him.
 
Chapter II, Part 15: The Second Battle of Viipuuri

Tyr Anazasi

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The 2nd Battle of Viipuuri (Wyborg), September 5th 1944

On June 10th, the Soviet 21st Army attacked the Finish defence line. After heavy fighting they were able to crush the defence mounted by the Finnish and soon reached the second defence line – called the VT-line – soon after. Though the Fins were able to halt the Soviet advance at Siiranmäki, they lost the battle of Kuuterselkä, where the Soviets managed to break through the lines. At least the Finnish defenders had been able to stop the Soviet advance temporarily so that the majority of the Finnish forces could retreat behind the VKT line.

The Germans had send reinforcements in the form of two more infantry divisions (352. Infanteriedivision, 91. Luftlandedivision) and a Panzerdivision (21. Panzerdivision) which had been transported to Finland, but were not battle ready yet. It was predicted that the German forces could only intervene during the final stages of the battle of Tali-Inhalata. The same rang true for many equipment that had been sent to the Finish forces. So, in the end, the Fins had to fight mostly with what they already had.

However, while those restriction applied for the ground forces, it didn´t apply for the Luftwaffe, which did sent twice as many DT planes to Finland. Furthermore, it was planned that 24 Tornados were to attack from Estonia. With them the Germans and Fins could deal some heavy blows to the Soviets. Despite that, the Soviets were still able to capture Viipuuri on July 1st 1944. This, however, was their last offensive action, as the Soviets went on the defence due to heavy losses having been inflicted upon them, just after the battle of Tali-Inhalata was lost on July 9th. The Soviet strategy was to defend against Finland for the time being, as with the defeat of Tali-Inhalata they wanted to concentrate the forces against Germany. For the Soviet forces, this meant to build up own defence positions.

On September 5th, just before dawn, the Soviet defenders of Wyborg were woken up by heavy artillery fire. For the only time the Baltic Fleet – consisting of the old pre-dreadnoughts Schlesien and Schleswig-Holstein, the Finish Coastal defence ship Väinamöinen, the light cruiser Emden, the torpedoboats Möwe, Kondor, Falke, Jaguar, Löwe, Panther, Leopard and Tiger and S-boats – attacked Soviet positions from the sea, including amphibious assaults of German and Finish forces towards the rear of the Soviet positions. Tornado bombers conducted air strikes on Soviet strong points.

Soon after German and Finish forces attacked the enemy, which still held numerical superiority. However, modern equipment led to a severe defeat: Using drones and other modern equipment Viipuuri was retaken within the next 48 hours. On September 10th Finish forces were advancing past the VT-line and soon reached the Main Line again. The Soviet defending armies were ordered to retreat soon, as Stalin did not want to lose more units. Still nearly 50.000 Soviets were either killed or taken prisoners by either German or Finnish units. The 21st Army was hit worst, though, and many of its units were no longer able to conduct more than basic self-defence.
 
Chapter II, Part 16: Skirmish off Viipuuri, Part 1

Tyr Anazasi

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Skirmish off Wyborg, September 5th 1944, Part 1

Soviet Post Action Report

In the early morning hours, we received the order to attack German and Finish vessels that were harassing our positions south of Wyborg. Our seven boats, TKA 222, 223, 226-230 – British design but built in the US – set sail about an hour after the first reports came in. We were accompanied by several Soviet built TKS boats. As soon as we had left Kronstadt a group of enemy fighters attacked our boats with MG fire, bombs and rockets. All my boats were left unscathed, but two of the TKS boats were sunk and another was severely damaged.

After the air strike, it was clear that my task force lost the moment of suprise. However, we continued on our way in order to attack the enemy, as our orders had been strict and clear. At about 08:00 we met the first defence line, which consisted of eight enemy S-Boats. The German boats were much better armed than ours, but ours are much faster, thus we did not engage them but instead tried to break through their line. TKA 223 was hit by the Germans, but the boat stayed operational. TKA 230, however, was sunk, as the boat´s engine suffered a direct hit, slowing it down and turning it into easy prey. The TKS boats fared no better: Four were sunk and another three damaged and had to return home.

The losses were heavy, but at full speed we were able to break through the German S-Boats, which then turned around and followed us. We then conducted the attack as ordered in one amassed group of 36 boats. Soon after, though, German torpedo boats attacked us. TKA 223 finally lost its engine as the damage done before apparently hadn’t been noticed until then. The boat was hit by a single 10,5 cm shell and exploded. The very same fate met TKA 229 and six of the TKS boats.

By now I was the highest surviving officer and thus I ordered to split the force: Nine of the surviving TKS boats should engage the torpedo boats and then retreat, forcing the enemy to split their forces and hopefully disregard us. The TKS boats were, indeed, able to sink a torpedo boat and to damage another one. However, only three were able to return to their home port. The other boats were sunk by the torpedo boats and S-boats. We managed, however, to engage the enemy battlefleet: From great distance we launched our torpedoes, but one of the German helicopters reached us by then and fired six rockets at us. Five of them hit, sinking TKA 227, 228 and 226 as well as two of the TKS boats. As our torpedoes had all been shot and we had none left, we retreated. Luckily the gap from our earlier break-through was still wide open, so we could escape through it. One of our torpedoes hit and at least damaged a German Deutschland class pre-dreadnought.

TKA 222 and six TKS boats are still ready for action. The other boats were destroyed or are damaged.
 
Chapter II, Part 17: Skirmish of Wyborg, Part 2

Tyr Anazasi

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Skirmish off Wyborg, September 5th 1944, Part 2

German Post Action Report

On September 4th the 6th Schnellbootflotille took position to shield the landing forces against possible attacks from Soviet torpedo cutters. My boats were the S-39, S-76, S-79, S-90, S-91, S-97, S-114, S-132 and S-135. In the morning hours, we received intelligence about a group of enemy torpedo cutters nearing us. We were able to get into a position from where we could intercept the enemy boats, which were more numerous – I estimated at least four times as much – than the forces at my disposal. Nevertheless, the fight didn’t last long as the enemy attacked with great speed. The enemy torpedo cutters were in no way armed like the Schnellboote and thusly tried to evade us rather than fighting us head-on. The Soviets did not cause much damage, but still one man was killed and three others wounded by their MG fire. S-76, S-91, S-97 and S-132 were able to sink enemy boats, S-132 two. The other boats were able to break through, but were pursued by our forces.

The next defensive line, the torpedo boats, were another obstacle in their way. Some of them fired their eels from greatest range before retreating. In the following melee eight cutters were sunk – six by the torpedo boats, another two by S-135 and S-90. Another group was able slip through our lines and again fired their torpedoes before retreating. None of the enemy torpedoes reached their target, though.

In direct engagements our guns were effective. However, our boats seem to need more firepower in the future, either to fight such masses of enemy boats more efficiently or in order to be better prepared for enemy boats with upgraded hardware. Because of that, I support the decision to build the class 140 S-boats again.

Signed, Korvettenkapitän Obermaier
 
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