Die Kaiserzeit : Chapter 6, Hanging On

Author: Mattekillert
Published: 2017-02-01

Part of the campaign:

Die Kaiserzeit

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Game: Hearts of Iron III

Die Kaiserzeit : Chapter 5, Grand Offensives

Images: 60, author: Mattekillert, published: 2017-02-01

Following the great victories of 1915 the situation seems to have stabilized. On the eastern front Austria-Hungary continues to lose ground while we maintain a stable line stretching from St. Petersburg to Galicia. In the west we also guard the Italian front along the Po River and maintain a long trench line with France. German troops are being spread thin.
Even so our allies are in deep trouble. Bulgaria who has taken heavy losses in the last few years has lost half its effective army strength and has lost Sofia to a French landing operation. The German Storm troopers or the ‘German Fire Brigades’ as the Advisor has taken to call them are heading for Bulgaria by railway.
In Italy some Austro-Hungarian cavalry crosses the Po River, Hofmann commander of the II. Armee decides to follow them up in the pursuit of a river crossing.
In France we have taken to bombing the French trenches with new ‘Bomber’ planes. Although they often miss every bit counts and most important is the psychological damage it does to the French troops.
The crossing of the Po ends in defeat.
Ludendorff arrives with his fire corps and begins dismantling the French spearhead. As the French troops plunder and rape Sofia our troops move to cut them off.
With our support the Bulgarians recapture Sofia; we let the Bulgarians decide the fate of the French POW’s.

Many were hanged, shot or beaten to death by outraged Bulgarian troops as they reclaimed the ruins of Sofia.
We have no time to execute drunken Frenchmen and instead continue on towards Salonika.
Which is quickly secured, leaving some 60 000 French and Italian troops trapped.
They continue to retreat south.
But end up in our jaws either way.
What followed the surrender of French and Italian troops in Katerini was a truly disgusting chapter of The Great War. Italian troops denounced the French as drunken rapists while the French returned the favor. Over 16 different camps had to be made to divide them up along army unit lines. As otherwise insults, fights and death followed. Salonika had also been hit hard by the troops of the Allies, knowing their doom was at hand acted like the last days of their lives.

When the Storm troopers left Greece they also left the POW camps in the hands of the Greeks.
The reason the Storm troopers had to leave so quickly was to put out another fire. The 5th or so Battle of Galicia was turning out badly for the Austro-Hungarians, who were just barely holding on to Lwow and parts of the Dniester.
The first of the new Panzerkampfwagen (Armored fighting Vehicle) the code word tank being quickly dismissed as not descriptive and ‘not German enough’.
Lwow changes hands, again.
Operation Krupp Shield is put into planning. A corps from the north and a corps from the south will work together to push the Russians out. Then we will establish a defensive line stretching along the Bug, Dniester and Prut Rivers.
The news that German troops have arrived puts the fear of god into the Russians who quickly retreat.
How our allies fail to hold back this bumbling giant is unknown.
The Ottomans continue the unorthodox attack everywhere, lose homeland strategy.
In Libya a solid line has been formed with three allied divisions holding back 7 Ottoman divisions.
The Russians are already collapsing as they try to escape our wrath.
Yet we cannot be everywhere at once. On the 10th of May British troops landed in Athens, Salonika and Crete. Our Greek puppet regime fell apart as the king evacuated to Sofia and Greek troops gave up. The British then went on a hunt for the POW’s from the previous Salonika offensive. All they found were the mass graves.
With the fall of Greece Bulgaria is once again facing collapse. We must hang on!
The first of our new Pz divisions are formed. The troops still lack speed as it is just infantry and armor bundled together.
The British rush towards Sofia hoping to force them to surrender.
And take it they do but the Bulgarian government has gotten very good at fleeing the capital and they greet our German troops marching to retake Sofia, like old friends the officers and politicians talk about the last few months.
We retake their home in a few days and the politicians see us off again.
Tired of the constant back and forth a southern guard command is formed to protect our weak allies in the area.
More POW’s for the taking,
The sighting of our new tanks terrifies the already broken troops who surrender en masse.
The Austro-Hungarians continue their suicidal offensives and we strike out in the hopes of saving the 21. Landwehr Division.
The British continue to put troops into creating another front.
It is clear that the light design we first created is inadequate. A heavier design is needed.
The British pour troops into defending Athens and our Panzer divisions get their first real test.
And they pass.
The Greek king is reinstalled.
And the British enter a POW camp.
Following the collapse of the Galician offensive and multiple failed attempts to retake St. Petersburg revolution flares up in Russia. The Tsar flees but the new democratic government vows to continue the struggle against Germany and to retake the lost lands. In America the news that the autocratic ally in the Entente has gone democratic is greeted as welcome news.
The Russians troops break the line of supply to the Persian advance by taking Iraq.
The Ottoman forces are collapsing.
The French attempt a strait crossing into a fortified city held by a panzer division. They sure are brave.
But also foolish.
Treachery is the only thing that can be said about the Swedish joining with the Entente. Led by Hjalmar Hammarskjöld they ignored the opinions of their rightful monarch and have cancelled all our trade. It is unknown what has been promised to the Swedish government but the telegram sent by the King to Wilhelm tells a sad story.

“What the government of Sweden has decided is a foul treachery of our years of friendship. They would ally themselves with the rabid dogs trying to kill the great German eagle, which has fought so heroically. What Sweden should take by the power of arms she instead intends to take by the foulest treachery. I denounce the elected government and hope to be free from the Swedish socialists.”
-King Gustaf V
The Swedish fleet gets a quick reality check as it tries to defend Swedish waters and is sunk en masse. We try to save as many of the Swedish sailors as we can who are as confused as we why they are at war.
The British navy is quick to try to protect Sweden and sails into Öresund, a path having been opened by the Swedish government. They are massacred by von Spee.
Their hopes of a blockade are crushed.
The French try to aid the British and are also greeted by von Spee. A foolish operation it runs into well planned ambushes using various Islands as cover.
The Ottoman Empire is reeling as their nation is split with the Entente seizing of Syria. Sadly we do not have the troops to save our beleaguered ally as they are busy defending all the other fronts.
More great victories in Öresund, when will they learn?
Never it seems, but even so our losses are mounting. Perhaps they will force their way through in the end?
The Grand Kaiserliche Marine has been reduced vastly since the onset of war.
Another attempt at taking Athens.
The British continue to put all their effort into destroying the Ottoman Empire.
It is clear that we cannot sit still while our enemies increase all around us. We must attack somewhere and Italy is chosen as the theatre of action as the Italians are seen as the weakest member of the Entente.
It will be the first large scale offensive that will have tanks participating.
Right on the onset of the offensive the elections of 1917 are held. The government is however quick to announce that most of the government will stay in place. The politicians in Germany know better than to mess with military affairs.
The Kaiserliche Marine has fought with heroic fervor as it repelled the greatest fleet in the world from entering the Baltic. Total losses are unaccounted for but German ships sink on average 8 Entente vessels before being sunk themselves.
Even so it doesn’t even come close to the resilience of the Deutsches Heer. It has bled and fought with iron will for years all over Europe. In the fields of France, in the Italian Alps, in the vastness of the Russian woods and the hot lands of Greece. Against all odds they continue to hold on. Outnumbered they continue to hold on. The real question remains, can the German Army give a final push? Can it provide the last straw to break the back of the Entente? Or will the pressure break open the cracks in the German Army and nation? Only one thing is sure and that is that there will be no mercy for the vanquished. Victory or death, believe in the Endsieg!

Next chapter:

Game: Hearts of Iron III

Die Kaiserzeit : Chapter 7, Die Kaiserschlacht

Images: 45, author: Mattekillert, published: 2017-02-01

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