Can You Tell Fact From Fiction, Folks? 1939

This is an alternative history of the Second World War written by James Kyler. James noted that many years ago he had written an alternate history for the Second World War. This was partly to amuse himself and the other members of his wargame club as well as provide a source for scenarios for games set within that alternate history. James noted that “During the 1980’s I wrote on a manual typewriter a 50 page diary of a reporter that reported events during World War II. It was a story about the military exploits of World War II, mainly battles and it included some members’ names from our club as well. 50 – is true and 50 – is false. Can you tell me the difference?”

James further noted that he’d “lost the first page of it. So we start on the second page.” The first page was later recovered and has been included here to keep the notes complete. Here we present August 1939 according to the alternate history. If you like this and wish to read further, then check here (right click to download) in Thomo’s Hole for a complete 1939. 1940 is being prepared at the moment and will be released in three parts. Also, the scenarios that can be played from this alternate history will also be published here in the future as well.

August 2, 1939 – Germany’s Foreign Minister Ribbentrop — in an almost casual conversation with the Soviet charge’ in Berlin — said, “from the Baltic to the Black Sea, there was no problem which could not be solved to our mutual satisfaction.”

Albert Einstein writes a letter to Franklin Delanor Roosevelt alerting him to the potential of creating an Atomic bomb. To indicate the power of such a device, Einstein said if the bomb exploded in a port, it “might destroy the whole port together with some surrounding territory.”

The Kriegsmarine unveils some new ships to be added to the fleet; the Pocket Battleship Zenker – sister ship of the Admiral Graf von Spee, Battleships Sachsen, Württemberg, Baden and Bayern (now modernized with new engines, new long range guns, and flak batteries), Light Cruiser Leipzig now has three sister ships — Gefion, Hela and Gazelle, the training ships Niobe, Amazone, Medusa, Nymphe, and Thetis are to be up gunned to have 10 x 5.9”/45, improved flak batteries and a brace of torpedo tubes. It is hoped that the training cruisers will be ready by the end of 1939.

August 4, 1939 – Poland informs the Danzig Senate it would begin arming its custom officials in two days and any interference with their duties would be regarded as an act of violence, to be met accordingly. This came on the heels of rumors that the Danzig-East Prussia frontier would be opened.

Generalissimo Francisco Franco assumes “absolute authority” in Spain, saying the he was “responsible only to God and to history.”

Spain receives a shipment of aircraft from non-aligned nations – the shipment consisted of 65 (Polish) Lublin R-VIII b.s. Reconnaissance Bomber Floatplanes; 90 (Czech) Aero A-32 Close support bombers; and 90 (Czech) Avia B-534-IV Fighters. With the help of Italian and German engineers, the Spanish navy begins raising the sunken battleships Alfonso XIII, which was lost over two years ago. The Battleship Jaime I, will be repaired as much as Spanish docks can accomplish, then will be sent to an Italian shipyard for further repair. A Spanish shipyard in the Mediterranean will start laying down keel to start building the warship Reina Victoria Eugenia, which the plans were discarded in 1919. The Eugenia will have modern guns, and heightened anti-aircraft batteries, top speed is 21 knots. It is hoped that this warship will make it sea trials in 4 to 5 years.

August 7,1939 – The Danzig Senate protested the arming of Polish Custom Officers.

August 8, 1939 – The German Press opened up a propaganda campaign against Poland, citing “criminal war agitation” by the Poles

August 9, 1939 – The Third Reich protested the Polish economic reprisals against Danzig, stating they would result in “serious economic loss to the population of Danzig.”

August 10, 1939 – In a tough note to Berlin, Poland rejected Germany’s Danzig protest and said it “cannot perceive any legal foundation justifying Germany to interfere” in Polish – Danzig relations.

A commercial adventure using deep-sea equipment begins exploring the possibility of raising the Spanish light cruiser Blas De Luzo, which after being refloated from striking the Centollo Reef off Cape Finisterre, sank in deep water in July of 1932. It is hoped that the recovery would mean new possibilities of other sunken vessels for this company. There are numerous ships sunk off Morocco due to the Spanish Civil War that can be a boon in recovered materials.

August 12, 1939 – British and French officers held their first formal discussions in Moscow on meeting the threat of the German Military.

Moscow informed Berlin that the Soviet Union was prepared to begin talks on outstanding differences between the two countries.

August 12 to 13, 1939 – In conferences with Chancellor Hitler and Foreign Minister Ribbentrop, Count Ciano said that Italy, drained militarily from its actions in Albania, Spain and Ethiopia, would not be ready for war until 1941 at the earliest. Ciano had been told War with Poland was “inevitable,” and the Germans were virtually insisting on direct Italian support. Part of Benito Mussolini’s concern, as relayed by Ciano, was the fear of Soviet intervention, but Chancellor Hitler assures him that “Russia will not make any move.”

August 14, 1939 – Foreign Minister for the Reich, Ribbentrop announces to the Soviets that he is willing to fly to Moscow “to lay the foundations for a final settlement of German-Soviet relations.”

August 15, 1939 – The French and British governments separately inform Berlin, that each will go to war “automatically” if a conflict broke out between the Reich and Poland.

The Soviet Foreign Minister Molotov asks Germany if it was prepared to enter into a non-aggression treaty and use its influence to improve Soviet-Japanese relations.

The Soviet Union breaks off military talks with Great Britain and with France today, stating that the Soviets could not get Polish approval to grant Moscow transit rights in the event of a German invasion of Poland.

Lord Halifax told the Poles that he believed Chancellor Hitler “is still undecided and anxious to avoid war.”

The Poles, meanwhile, kept refusing to grant transit rights to the Soviets. Smigly-Rydz summed up the Polish Altitude; “With the Germans we risk losing our freedom, with the Soviets we shall lose our souls.”

August 17, 1939 – The Wehrmacht is ordered to supply the SS with 510 Polish Army uniforms, which will be used as evidence of Polish Aggression in a faked border incident. Unknown to the Germans, the Polish Secret Service started a programme of training German-speaking Poles to be infiltrated behind German Lines, to assassinate key high-ranking German Officers in the units massing on the border and to assume their places.

August 19, 1939 – The Soviets sign a trade agreement with the Germans. Food for Technical skills.

August 20 to 25, 1939 – Soviet General Georgi K. Zhukov commanding the Soviet Far Eastern Army attacked the Japanese Kwantung Army positions in Outer Mongolia along the Khalka River. Zhukov’s thrust was massive, touching off one of the largest battles since World War I and until then the biggest tank battle in history. Zhukov hurled 600 armoured vehicles at the Japanese, with nine divisions of infantry and cavalry, supported by 15 artillery brigades and over 300 planes. After initial gains of 30 miles or more, a reinforced Japanese armoured division using new tanks from European nations, which set the Soviets into flight, held the Soviets. In one particular two-hour battle, the Soviets lost 150 armoured vehicles and over 30 planes. At one part of the battle, a Japanese line of 70 anti-tank guns and two divisions of infantry stopped then overran three Soviet divisions in a flank march at night. The outcome of the five-day battle saw the Japanese lose almost 18,000 casualties and 200 planes, but the Soviets lost between estimates of 500 tanks and 15 to 22,000 men and 270 of the Russian aircraft. Both sides lost heavily, and both sides suffered a major military setback in modern history.

August 22, 1939 – Soviet and Japanese naval forces duelled in the Sea of Japan. Soviets lost 3 destroyers and two of their cruisers were crippled. Japan lost 5 submarines and an obsolete armoured cruiser. Japanese aerial reconnaissance over the Port of Vladivostok reveals that the Soviets have two battleships and two heavy cruisers in their harbor. A Japanese consul reported two heavy warships nearing completion in the port’s shipyards.

Chancellor Adolf Hitler summons his top generals to Obersalzmund, Germany. He was in an expansive mood. Germany had just concluded its pact with the Soviet Union, and he felt he would win everything he wanted. Hitler delivered a lengthy monologue on how he reached his momentous decisions and how he planned to shape history in the future. A transcript will be preserved for future historians. One historian has called it “one of the great documents of our great century.”

Radio Berlin issues a communiqué on the forthcoming Moscow conference and said its purpose was to conclude a nonaggression pact.

Moscow stated the talks with the Germans were in “no way incompatible” with the ongoing military discussion with the French and the British on “organizing resistance against aggression.”

London announces the proposed Soviet-German pact would not change its commitment to Poland. Prime Minster Neville Chamberlain reiterated London’s pledge in a letter to Chancellor Hitler.

August 23, 1939 – In a move which electrified the world “Molotov and Ribbentrop” sign the German-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact in Moscow. Both sides carved out spheres of influence in eastern and central Europe. Russian Sphere is Finland, Estonia, Latvia, eastern Poland, Besserabia, northern Sweden, and Persia. German sphere is the rest of Poland, Lithuania, Berlin’s allies, Greece and Turkey. Italy and Japan were stunned.

Hitler responded to the August 22 message from the British Prime Minister Chamberlain by saying that Germany was fully prepared and most determined to go to war with Britain if attacked by her.

U.S. President Roosevelt cabled Hitler and Polish President Ignace Moscicki to negotiate, arbitrate differences between Germany and Poland, in order to avoid war.

Poland starts mobilizing its forces along her entire frontier, Polish naval forces begin mining all approaches to Danzig and Gdansk. Artillery emplacements in the Danzig corridor are strengthened.

Gauleiter Albert Forster is decreed head of Danzig by the Danzig Senate.

August 24, 1939 – Albert Forster is declared Danzig’s head of state, an act immediately challenged by Poland.

August 25, 1939 – Mussolini tells Hitler that Italy can’t fight France or Britain at this time. Her military did not have sufficient supplies. Her Air Force had fuel for only 3 months. Hitler orders the pocket battleship Admiral Scheer to bolster Italian morale by sailing immediately for Naples. The Scheer is currently off the northern coast of Spain on a training cruise. German Admiral of the Kriegsmarine – Raeder sends the light cruiser Leipzig and Emden to assist the Scheer.

President Roosevelt sends a message to Hitler as a second appeal for peace.

As a result of the day’s developments, Hitler cancels his order for the invasion of Poland which was set for the next morning. Some German army units don’t receive the stand down orders and attack the border and are wiped out. France urges direct negotiations between Germany and Poland to avoid war.

Japan formally protests the Soviet-German agreement as a violation of the Anti-Comintern Pact.

August 26, 1939 – Poland promises to consult with Great Britain and with France before pursuing any policy which might provoke Germany into military action.

August 27, 1939 – The Pocket Battleship Admiral Graf von Spee leaves Germany for the open sea, followed by the cruiser Nurnberg. The Pocket Battleship Zenker heads out of the Baltic into the North Sea with Battle cruiser Scharnhorst, cruiser Köln and 5 destroyers.

The first flight by a jet-powered aircraft was achieved by a German Heinkel 178.

Chancellor Adolf Hitler writes to France’s Premier Daladier that war appeared inevitable between German and Poland. “I see no possibility of persuading Poland, who deems herself safe from attack by virtue of guarantees given to her, to agree to a peaceful solution.”

Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain proposes Poland attempt to enlist the Pope as a peace intermediary and offer the Reich neutral observers and a population exchange.

August 28, 1939 – Poland calls up additional reservists.

Belgium and the Netherlands offer to negotiate peace between Germany and Poland.

A new Japanese cabinet is formed under General Nobriyichi Abe.

August 29, 1939 – German troops completely occupy Slovakia because of a request from Father Tiso who claims to fear a Polish invasion. Polish troops have crossed the frontier several times in the past weeks.

August 30, 1939 – Lord Halifax broadcasting from Radio Berlin urges Poland not to engage in any violent actions against the German minority and to halt inflammatory anti-German radio propaganda. Foreign Minister Ribbentrop told the British ambassador that Germany had 16 demands to present to the Poles, but he said the issue was academic since Poland was unwilling to send an representative to Berlin by midnight.

August 31, 1939 – Germany announces it considered its demands rejected by Poland: “The Fuhrer and the German Government have now waited for two days in vain for the arrival of an authorized Polish delegate.”

Germany cuts all communications with Warsaw, calls back the Nazi Ambassador to Berlin.

In Great Britain, London begins evacuations of school children.

September 1, 1939 – Germany invades Poland and touched off the European side of WW-2. Berlin claimed that Polish Army Regulars started firing on German civilians along the frontier and that local defense forces returned the fire, beginning at 0445 hrs. Most German divisions attacked across the Polish border except for 16 widely scattered units which refused to let other units to past thru them. Most of the Germans met passive resistance except at two points, The Danzig corridor and the Polish Silesia region of coalmines. Both areas were heavily fortified and the attackers were repulsed with heavy losses. All in all, Germany attacked with 52 divisions against a Polish Army a third that size. Germany unveiled the Blitzkrieg – highly mobile armour and tactical aircraft leading the ground forces through and around Polish elaborate defences. Large-scale pincer movements were executed to perfection. Great Britain and France notified Germany that all hostilities with Poland must cease or they would come to the aid of the Poles. Both countries ordered total mobilization. Danzig was proclaimed to be part of Germany by the German press. Polish forces repelled the German invaders and Danzig rioters at the same time in the corridor.

September 2, 1939 – Poland calls on France and Britain to begin military action against Germany as soon as possible. Long-range aircraft of the Luftwaffe destroy two Polish divisions as they moved up to the front. A Polish Cavalry Brigade is wiped out when its mounted lancers attacked a light tank Battalion in its rest laager. Ten Royal Air Force bomber squadrons are deployed in France. The first French Army Corps advanced into Germany, with a cautious advance at best. Ireland proclaims her neutrality. The British Royal Navy’s First battle squadron is sent into the North Sea with French naval units supporting. HMS Destroyer Ilex strikes a mine off Portland Bill.

French Battleship Paris hits and sinks by ramming the Kriegsmarine Submarine U-45 near Dogger Bank in a fog. French Air Force bomber squadrons bomb Frankfurt; lose 9 planes to Luftwaffe fighter planes. Hitler orders three divisions from Poland to block the French.

Germany told Norway that it would respect its neutrality but warned it would not tolerate any abuse of Oslo’s position by Great Britain or France.

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