Drang Nach Osten: the History

September, 1939: Germany blitzes Poland in three weeks (US Entry: Germany declares war on Poland). After much debate, the British fail to hold to their promise to aid Poland. France is annoyed, but does not dare to antagonize Germany on its own. Delighted, Hitler orders full adoption of the Z-plan, and a moderate expansion of the military-economic infrastructure. The USSR invades Poland from the east, and Poland is partitioned (US Entry: USSR controls East Poland). Soviet-Japanese skirmishes occur along the Manchurian border; the Soviets clearly have the upper hand, due to superior armored tactics.

November, 1939: Russia attacks Finland (US Entry: USSR declares war on Finland). The small country is supported by the British government publicly; a small detachment of British troops are dispatched to defend Petsamo. Russia makes little progress against the Mannerheim Line north of Lake Ladoga.

February - March, 1940: Zhukov is placed in charge of the Finnish war. Armored penetrations across the frozen terrain unhinge Mannerheim's defenses. An early thaw stalls the drive short of Helsinki. Germany covertly sends some technical aid to Finland, including a number of Messerschmidt fighters and Stuka dive bombers. The BEF holds Petsamo, but central Finland is abandoned to the Soviets.

April, 1940: a tacit understanding, based on anti-bolshevism, between the CW and Germany begins to develop in their common support of Finland. Nevertheless, Hitler pursues a full scale build up of the German surface navy, to deter any change in British policy. France is worried by British leanings. Chiang Kai-Shek makes an open appeal to the United States to provide aid, or to allow 'enemies of the Chinese people' gain the upper hand in China. US advisers warn Roosevelt that the greater danger to Chiang is the Communist faction in China, not the Japanese.

May - August, 1940: the Royal Navy conducts a daring carrier raid on the Leningrad naval base, disabling most of the Russian Baltic fleet. Enraged, Stalin throws his forces headlong at the BEF in northern Finland and demolishes it. After reorganizing forces, the Russian army steadily advances on Helsinki, capturing it by late August. Plucky Finnish sailors scuttle the Finnish old battlecruisers Vainamoinen and Ilmarinen before the Soviets can capture them. Finland surrenders, and is incorporated into the USSR.

July, 1940: Japanese armed forces forcibly close down western concession enclaves in the occupied portions of China. The CW is shocked. The so-called Tien-Tsin crisis ensues, and a large British fleet is stationed in Singapore. German diplomats mediate, and keep the episode from escalating further, but bad blood remains. Britain intensifies her naval building program; special emphasis is placed on aircraft carriers, based on the successful raid on Leningrad. US Congress passes an Act of Friendship, providing for some technical assistance to the Koumintang (US Entry 11: Resources to China).

August, 1940: French agents are discovered sending aid to Basque separatists in northern Spain. High tensions between Spain and France develop, including a minor skirmish in the Pyrennes. The British distance themselves from French activities. Violent political reactions in Paris bring the socialists into a greater role in the government. Franco, worried about his defense against France, seeks and receives ongoing German aid.

September, 1940: the United States responds to Japanese offensives in China with economic sanctions, freezing Japanese assets in the USA (US Entry 15: Freeze Japanese assets). Sweden, worried about nearby Soviet tanks, sends feelers to Germany about an alliance.

October 1940 - February, 1941: concerned with aggressive Italian posturing, and worried about Soviet expansionism, the CW cozies up to Turkey. Extravagant military aid, including the sale of major warships (the BB Valiant, and CAs Cumberland & Berwick), and aircraft ensues. An alliance is announced in February, 1941. The USSR formalizes treaties of mutual assitance with the Baltic countries Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia; they are occupied (US Entry: USSR controls Nazi-Soviet Pact areas).

November, 1940: Roosevelt wins an unprecedented third term in office. In a departure from her traditional neutrality, Sweden joins Germany in a secret treaty of mutual defense, in the event that either goes to war with the USSR. Daladier tries his hand at Balkan diplomacy, attempting to revive the remaining two-thirds of the Little Entente by visiting Belgrade and Bucharest. The reception is warm, but both small nations are too wary of German influence in the region to be drawn into anti-German pacts.

January, 1941: Mussolini and Daladier meet to resolve all outstanding issues in a high profile summit. Progress is made. France is feeling abandoned by Great Britain and searching for allies; Mussolini enjoys the limelight.

February, 1941: Secret, year-long negotiations between the Commonwealth and Germany finally bear fruit. The two powers sign a neutrality pact. Chamberlain recognizes Germany's special interest in the Balkans, and Hitler acknowledges the continuance of the British Empire, and its importance to the balance of world power. Hitler promises to keep a reign on Franco's ambitions against Gibratler if the CW and her Turkish allies join the anti-Bolshevik Crusade against the USSR. Chamberlain agrees; he feels he has safeguarded the Empire. Curiously, the relationship of Italy to the CW is not discussed, nor that of France to Germany.

March, 1941: In Germany, work begins on the West Wall fortifications to defend the Ruhr. The USSR demands the repatriation of former Russian lands in Bessarabia; Rumania accedes to the demand.

May, 1941: CW agents get wind of a planned coup in Iraq to oust British and French presence and planning to nationalize the oil industry. Britain quickly organizes a strike force in Kuwait and strikes first (US Entry: CW declares war on Iraq.) The revolutionary regime is defeated before it can seize power, and Baghdad occupied by Commonwealth troops in early June. In response, Soviet tanks quickly move into position along the Turkish and Persian borders. France and Italy announce a non aggression pact, directly resulting from the January summit between the two nation's leaders.

June, 1941: seeking to regain the role of leading Fascist in Europe, Mussolini's Italy invades Greece (US Entry: Italy declares war on Greece). Corfu is occupied, but the small corridor of advance is blocked by fierce Greek alpine troops, and the war quickly stagnates. Stalin, alarmed by the British armed forces build up in Iraq, invades Persia, and it is occupied by Soviet forces with little resistance (US Entry: USSR declares war on Persia). Germany begins to pressure Yugoslavia and Rumania to form an alliance, or to face the consequences. At Roosevelt's urging, American aviators volunteer to fight the Japanese in China (US Entry: Chinese build aircraft). These "Flying Tigers" draw much attention to China's plight and increase public antipathy towards Japan.

July, 1941: The CW begins token shipment of weapons and other aid to the Greek government. Soviet and British forces meet along the Iraqii-Persian border; bad feelings persist, but an uneasy truce holds. Prince Paul is assasinated in Belgrade by Croat separatists, and the state of Yugoslavia devolves into civil war. Germany recognizes and supports the Independent State of Croatia, which in turn opens the border along Austria to the Wehrmacht. German tanks and dive bombers riddle the disorganized and divided Yugoslavian forces and Belgrade is overrun in two weeks (US Entry: Germany declares war on Yugoslavia). Rumania backs down and signs onto the Anti-Comintern Pact.

August - October, 1941: Hitler makes a famous speech at the Reichstag, proclaiming himself the defender of Europe against Communism. Stalin finally realizes that war with Germany is inevitable, and begins a full scale mobilitzation. Molotov's feelers towards the CW are coldly rebuffed, but Daladier begins negotiations with Stalin, resulting in a formal anti-German alliance in November. Experienced Russian advisors lead a reorganization of the French tank units into more effective fighting groups. Japan announces the formation of a puppet Chinese government, headed by Wang Chei-Wei, in Nanking. US Congress, worried about Russian, Japanese, and Italian agression and the shifting alliances in Europe, passes a Two Ocean Navy act and increases production of tanks and aircraft (US Entry: Gear up production).

October, 1941: in an attempt to outflank the quagmire in northern Greece, Italian forces invade the Peloponnesian Penninsula near Pyrgos. Frantic cries for help come from the Greek King George II. British thoughts of sending troops to mainland Greece are quashed by Britain's Turkish allies. Instead Britain occupies Crete, and Turkish forces occupy Greek islands in the Aegean Sea, allegedly to support them against further Italian invasions. Italy sweeps the penninsula by the end of the year, and beseiges Corinth.

November, 1941: Japan, alarmed by American jingoism, and the USSR, concerned with German intentions in Europe, conclude a peace treaty of mutual defense (US Entry: Japan and USSR sign neutrality pact). Franco visits Berlin, and promises to join Hitler in any war against France, providing French colonial African territories are transferred to Spanish control; Hitler accedes to the requirement, and submarine bases at Cadiz and Cartagena are developed for German use.

December, 1941: France confirms her alliance with Belgium, and the two nations begin staff talks on mutual defense against Germany. The Netherlands is invited into the talks, but avoids any binding agreements.

January - February, 1942: Italian and CW naval units skirmish near Cape Matapan, Italy loses 2 destroyers to friendly fire. Mechanized units reinforce Italo Balbo's eastern Libyan army; border incidents with British and Egyptian forces increase. Elite Siberian troops are recalled from the Manchurian borders and, along with Zhukov's tank army, begin to take up positions in the western Ukraine, White Russia, and the Baltic States, in response to German tank and aircraft build-ups along their common border. After USAAF officials tour French air fields, deals are struck to begin the construction of heavy, long-range bombers. Roosevelt publicly announces that this is the best way the US could hurt Germany would be to "bomb it to cinders."

March, 1942: After intensive pressure for months, the Netherlands refuses to sign a Joint Defense Plan with the Japanese Empire. Japan immediately invades the Netherlands East Indies, quickly seizing the vital oil fields and subduing the light resistance in Batavia (US Entry: Japan declares war on Netherlands). The British and Americans are outraged, and begin to coordinate Pacific defense plans against Japan. Dutch officials at the Hague seek and obtain full American support (the Netherlands aligns with the USA). Roosevelt orders the Pacific Fleet to take up station at Pearl Harbor in early March (US Entry: Relocate fleet to Pearl Harbor). The main battleline of the British fleet is based in Singapore by April, to balance the American presence in Hawaii. Greek resistance in northern Greece collapses, and the Italian forces stream southward. Athens is declared an open city in late March, and Greece surrenders to Italy; King George II is evacuated to Egypt safely by HMS Queen Elizabeth. Japanese troops begin to mass in Borneo and New Guinea along the British borders. RAF squadrons begin to arrive in force in Malaya and New Britain. Siam signs a Mutual Defense Pact with Japan, formally declaring war on China, and is also occupied (US Entry: Siam declared in the war for Japan). Zhukov persuades Stalin to allow the main body of his armored forces in the Ukraine to retire behind the Stalin Line (ie, Dnepr River), but Stalin insists a large Citizen's Border Army of infantry be left to guard the frontier.

April, 1942: German tanks roll into Denmark in a bloodless war. Copenhagen is seized, but King Frederick IX escapes in a French submarine (US Entry: Germany declares war on Denmark). From Paris he denounces the occupation. The powerful High Seas Fleet, led by the new flagship the Grossdeutschland, sees to the occupation of Iceland, but an attempted landing in Greenland is called off due to bad weather. Roosevelt is outraged by fascist threat to the western hemisphere, but British acceptance of the German move ties his hands. Events in both Europe and the Pacific lead Congress to pass a Selective Service bill to increase the American standing army, in case of further trouble; American aircraft output is ordered to treble in three months (US Entry: Pass War Appropriations Bill). Roosevelt and Daladier (aboard the new battleships Washington and Richelieu) secretly meet in Dakar, Senegal, to discuss joint measures against Germany. Chamberlain is not informed of the meeting.

May, 1942: Japan launches a massive, surprise airstrike with ground based naval bombers on Singapore, along with a simultaneous carrier based raid on Honolulu (US Entry: Japan declares war on Commonwealth and USA).

Germany declares war on the Soviet Union (US Entry: Germany declares war on USSR). German forces pour into eastern Poland under the protective rain of Luftwaffe bombs. Soviet infantry units are encircled in numerous pockets.

Worried about oil supplies and seeking revenge for the defeat of the BEF in Finland in 1940, the CW also declares war on the USSR, and armored forces led by Wavell attack towards the southern Persian oil fields (US Entry: CW declares war on USSR, use Poland/Spain/Turkey line).

France confirms her Soviet alliance and declares war on Germany (US Entry: France declares war on Germany).

American interest in European affairs is on the rise rapidly. Roosevelt immediately announces full American support for France and makes conciliartory remarks about the Soviet Union. A declaration of war on Germany bill is introduced to Congress....

Norway, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, and Switzerland all proclaim their neutrality.

The Second World War has begun.

Here is the War Situation, including starting set ups and the build policies from SO '39 that led to them. The "required" activities of MJ '42 are listed in the War Situation, as are the minors able to be activated, initial setups, and some player's notes.

Back to the front page