"[...]This old Britain was defeated in its conflict with the progressive ideas of socialism, for it had given the people nothing that could serve as a successful alternative to socialism. She had failed to keep her people safe; she had failed to keep her spirit alive; she had failed in the context of the household, the town, the city, the nation. She had failed in the battlefield, too, which was not a cause of her misfortune, but a symptom. That is no surprise, nor is the British populace fully at fault. A people that has experienced all that the British have been through, naturally offers fertile soil for socialist extremists.
Having been led by the ochlocratic ramblings of a despicable few to threaten not only the lives of German citizens and others, but also the very foundations of the international edifice that had been painstakingly built over the past few decades, it may seem sensible at first that retribution should be sought. And yet, voices were heard from the United States of America which made it clear that the New World wanted a peaceful and united Old World as a basis for mutual cooperation. And, while it is undoubtedly easier for the victor than for the vanquished to advocate peace, and this peace could only be achieved through victory in the battlefield, we do not seek to see Britain resigning herself to the position left to her. Dues must be paid - but it is for the benefit of all, victors and vanquished both, that the spirit of international cooperation supercedes that of retribution beyond personal accountability."
-Gustav Stresemann, Victory Speech, 12 October 1929.
With a massive chunk of the British Grand Fleet eliminated, the Moltke
is safe to be relocated back to her permanent moorings. The old Valkyrie has served as a messenger of voctory one last time. Now, she gets to enjoy her rest once more.
And the good news do not stop there. The Oberste Heeresleitung
reports a major success! Operation Blücher
is a success. While the American forces are still laying siege to Hong Kong, the German
army has finally broken through the defenses of Singapore. On the 16th of September, the commander of the British garrison formally surrenders the province to German occupation.
However, Germany fails to squash all resistance and to cleanly disengage her troops. With war still raging in the overall region, British guerilla detachments still harry the German divisions and continually sabotage the Singapore infrastructure. Germany must maintain a significant military presence in the area. Thankfully, the two old Schlachtkreuzer
on-station are still more than a match than anything the Brits have, and any attempts to reinforce or resupply the guerillas by sea are doomed to fail.
Are you mad?!
The proposal from Military Intelligence catches Stresemann completely off-guard, and the reaction of both himself and the Kaiser is thunderous. You wish to introduce a socialist revolutionary
into the chaotic mess that is Bunsi Britain? You do realise that we'll be picking up the pieces of that
society five decades from now?
We have them by the balls and by their stomachs. It is only a matter of time before they are starved into submission. Let's not set fire to their house on top of that, eh?
The project dies, stillborn.
It's a good choice. By the 5th of October, submarine reports are one again streaming in. Two British patrol vessels have been smashed to scrap by U-Boot
4-inchers; in addition, twenty-three freighters have been sunk with minimal losses. Far from the glorious early months of the war...
...for the Brits to crack; completely and utterly.
The ensuing riots rage for days, with the Army first failing to suppress the violence and then joining in with wild abandon. Nearly thirty percent of London burns to the ground. Mosley escapes lynching by putting a bullet in his head; most of his cabinet and inner circle either follow him in suicide or are detained by the Army. Von Papen nearly
manages to make his escape to neutral Spain; he is, however, identified by the local British militia as he tries to reach the ship waiting for him, and shot dead on the spot.
It takes two weeks for any semblence of order to be re-established; and that only thanks to the opening of the submarine blockade. Meanwhile, Stresemann is already discussing victory terms with his Allies. Said terms are presented to the interim British government on the 20th of October 1929, following the unconditional surrender of most British armed forces. Stresemann wants to complete Mecklenburg's work and nothing is going to stop him.
First, this time there is nothing the British can do to prevent the Germans from claiming a war-prize. The HMS Cressy
, the pride of the Royal Navy and the current flagship of the fleet is ceded to Germany and renamed SMS Hela
She is a good ship - not specialised enough to operate as German Schlachtkreuzer
doctrine dictates, and her guns are clearly inferior to current German 16-inchers, but she has the speed and displacement to be a terror wherever she's deployed.
Stresemann has just
the place for her.
Malta and Cyprus had been left to Britain by Mecklenburg, who had prioritised the more strategic bases of Gibraltar and Alexandria / Suez. Stresemann will no longer tolerate a British presence in the German mare nostrum
. Both islands are ceded to the Reich
. They are closely followed by the Falklands, the first German base in the Americas. Out of the way, for now, and of apparently limited strategic use, they will still serve as a valuable asset in the future. They also serve as a slap in the face for the British, who are ousted from yet another
quarter of the globe.
Italy claims her own pound of flesh. Where Germany claims control of the Mediterranean, Italy plants her flags along the coasts of the Red Sea - and further south, in Africa.
And the USA are finally granted control of Hong Kong. You're welcome, 'Murica. Not like we carried your fat arses through a war, or anything.
Stresemann, however, will not enjoy the fruits of his victory. In what seems to be a chilling repeat of Mecklenburg's death, he suffers a stroke on the afternoon of 16 November 1929. He dies two days later, only 51 years old.
His funeral is a grand affair, and the nation, once again, mourns a capable Chancellor. The Kaiser, now entering his eighth decade of life is, once again, devastated. Stresemann had been a protege of Mecklenburg, and one of the few people Wilhelm could trust implicitly to act in the best interest of the Reich
and the Crown. "I curse the fates that seem to envy Germany,"
he bitterly remarks. "for they, like the Pharaohs of old, seek to deprive us of our greatest minds once their work is complete - so that it may never be repeated. Shall we pave the way to our final victory with the bodies of my
The Chancellorship goes to Julius Curtius, the Minister of Finances under Stresemann. The two men had become close friends during their collaboration, even though they were nothing alike. Whereas Stresemann was a friendly, diplomatic person, Curtius was much more reserved, a stickler for precision and rules, and a cold negotiator, with a penchant for legalese.
As a Minister of Finances, these traits had proven to be priceless. As a Chancellor...Curtius' career would prove to be distinctly average, punctuated by flashes of brilliance, but also several fiascos. After the brilliant stars of Mecklenburg and Stresemann and the black abyss that had been Von Papen's Chancellorship, most of the Reich
welcomed a return to a more restrained normality; but Curtius would never
succeed in capturing the German hearts like his predecessors had, or draw a bold line for Germany to follow.
He didn't make friends in the fleet, for sure.
It is worth noting, of course, that, with Britain at the brink of total economic collapse, even after the utter butchering
of the Admiralität's
budget, Germany spends the same as the Brits on her fleet.
It's still not enough to be spending it unwisely.
Especially when the Bismarcks
are at the verge of obsolescence. With the end of the war, they are immediately placed in drydock, for a full refurbishment of their engines and a modernisation of their fire-control systems. Sadly, there are no resources to spare for the replacement of their 14-inchers with better models.
Nor can the Zähringens
be upgunned to better 12-inchers. But they can be refurbished once again, and they receive the same fire directors as their Schlachtschiffe
the same systems are integrated into the new Schlachtschiffe
under construction. Now the German ships can fire more accurately than ever before.
Meanwhile, the Italians are building pocket battlecruisers with 14-inch guns and simple directors. Sure, Italy, whatever.
Goddammit, Russians. Lay off the bloody vodka
R & D delivers once again!