Pseudo Historical baground

This fictional world history owes a great deal to Marc-André of Quebec. Most of the ideas and much of the writing is his. Any errors are of course entirely my own.


THE DECADE OF DESTRUCTION began with a brutal Italian attack on Ethiopia in January of 1936.  The campaign included gas attacks and mass elimination of populations in areas of resistance. After months of genocide, an emotional appeal from the Ethiopian leader during a special League of Nations session finally moved the western powers to act. The League of Nations' condemnation of Italy's invasion of Ethiopia was followed by an anglo-french ultimatum.  A total economic and commercial embargo against Italy would take effect on the first of March 1936, unless Italy announced the cessation of the advance of its armies from Ethiopia.  Mussolini vowed defiance, promising that his navy would sweep the seas clean of the "plutocratic pirates".  Battleships and cruisers of the Regia marina faced off against those of the Royal Navy and "La Royale".  The great war scare of 1936 was born.  As  tensions rose day by day, Hitler and the Japanese militarists saw an opportunity to act while the Western powers were otherwise distracted:  Germany denounced the Locarno treaty and reoccupied the Rhineland.  The German army was redeployed along the Rhine, to the wild enthusiasm of the German people.  France ground her teeth in silence.   In the Far East, Japan issued a humiliating ultimatum to China demanding concessions amounting to an unconditional surrender of chinese independence.  When the demands were rejected, an all-out war of conquest was launched.  Convinced by the enforcement of the allied blocade around Italy, that a mediterranean war was inevitable, the japanese Kwantung army crossed the border into China in february 1936, seizing Hopei province and thrusting South towards Honan and Shantung.  The rest of the imperial forces soon followed,  gambling that the West would be too embroiled by the world crisis, to take much notice of the "China incident".   Chiang Kai-Shek, equally convinced of the imminence of a world war, due to the growing international crisis, and also firmly convinced that the allies would have no choice but to back China against external aggression, decided to confront the invaders. Thus, the nationalist government of China declared war on Japan, reaffirming its commitment to the Charter of the League of Nations.  One month after the beginning of the invasion the Chinese army launched a full scale counter-offensive to repel the "dwarfs from the East".  In a series of battles for control of the Huang-Ho river, the Chinese armies met with initial success, breaking through an overextended japanese front, retaking Kaifeng and Tsinan and then marching to the sea, isolating six japanese divisions in the Shantung peninsula.  The Japanese northern relief effort, directed towards the mouths of the Huang-Ho,  failed, but the Chinese only repulsed it by committing all of their reserves to the Northern front.     This was the moment that the Japanese chose to launch their main effort, a massive amphibious landing around LienYung, three hundred kilometers to the South of the Huang-Ho.  A week later their troops reached Suchow,  effectively cutting off all of the Chinese armies to the North.  Now it was the turn of the Chinese to be surrounded, but this time it was their entire army which was rolled up.  In a gigantic pincer movement, Japan fought a Cannae on an enormous scale, an immense battle of envelopment during which seven chinese armies were destroyed.  In a matter of weeks the world witnessed the desintegration  of the chinese regular forces; all of their best armies, all of their modern equipment, as well as their entire air force were crushed by the Japanese.

Unable to face up to all these crises at once, the British/French allies nevertheless insisted on a cease-fire in Ethiopia to save face, and while they accepted the German/Japanese moves they announced a blockade of all Italian shipping to the african theater of war. Unwilling to risk a naval war in the Mediterranean, and running low on raw materials, Italy had no choice but to settle for minor territorial gains in Ethiopia.  So the world crisis of 1936 resolved itself.  Mussolini backed down.  Through the mediation of the Pope, a face-saving solution was found.  At the Conference of Castel Gandolfo, after a week of difficult negotiations, the independence of Ethiopia was guaranteed, but Italy was offered all of the contested border regions in the Ogaden desert and along the Eritrean frontier.  War had been avoided, but a cost.  If the world breathed a collective sigh of relief,  in East Asia the Japanese continued their relentless "normalization" of China.  All coordinated resistance had collapsed in South and Central China.  Shanghai, Nanking and Canton fell almost without a fight.  Nationalist China, deprived of its central army, had desintegrated into chaos.  The Japanese would slowly but methodically proceed to submit South and Central China, whether by force or by negotiation.  Only logistical difficulties, and renewed tension long the Soviet border prevented a complete japanese conquest in 1936.   In the Northern China, the communist Chinese, who had taken no effective part in the fighting, prepared for the coming onslaught,taking control of Sian at the very limits of the Japanese held territory.

By the end of the year, France and Britain began negotiations for closer military cooperation realizing that the world was a far more dangerous place then either nation had hitherto believed.  Italy and Germany also decided that they needed each other's support.

In Russia, Stalin's Great Terror ground to a spectacular halt.  Marshal Tukhashevsky was liberated by a group of patriotic officers he served with during the Polish-Russian war hours before his planned execution. Then Red army units loyal to Tukhashevsky, after a ferocious battle for control of the Lubyanka, seized NKVD files and revealed Stalin and Yezhov's plans for purging the party of its old bolshevik leadership.  The "New Men" of Stalin's politburo were unceremoniously liquidated as members of "an anti-party, anti-leninist  clique" guilty of " petty bourgeois leftist deviationism". A classic case of  'purge them before they can purge us.' While Zinoviev and Kamenev were posthumously rehabilitated, the post of Secretary General of the Communist party was abolished, replaced by a secretariat deprived of all power.  Nikolai Bukharin became President, the figurehead of the new collective leadership.  Karl Radek was named People's Commissar of External Affairs.  But it was the Red Army which now really ruled the Soviet Union.  Appointed Prime Minister of the USSR, Marshal Tukhashevsky initiated a series of reforms, a return "to the true principles of leninism", which were marked by a new spirit of pragmatism, and a taste for technical solutions over ideological rectitude.  The Soviet Union embarked upon a simultaneous course of, confrontation with fascism, declared to be the "supreme stage of imperialism", and of détente with the West.   Western reactions to the new leadership were positive and the image of the USSR dramatically improved abroad.

During 'the summer of crises',  an armed military revolt had been launched against the Republican Goverment of Spain. The failure of the attempted coup led to a bloody civil war which  seized the attention of the planet.  The Marching of boots could be heard all around the World.  Massive Fascist aid began to flow to Franco's forces in Spain.  Radek  persuaded the Cardenas regime of Mexico to support the beleaguered Republicans on Russia's behalf. A mexican volunteer force, entirely equipped by the Soviets, arrived in Spain.   Newspaper reports of Nationalist atrocities put increasing pressure on the 'Front populaire' government of France to alter its stand of neutrality vis-à-vis the Spanish Civil war.  However resistance from the French officer corps, fiercily anti-Republican, initially prevented this.

Nationalist China slowly collapsed into maelstrom of contending warlords who were methodically destroyed or co-opted by the Japanese.  Then the Japanese took the communist strongholds in Sian and Yenan.  When the Japanese armed forces forcibly closed down western concessions in China, Britain and France were shocked. A major crisis ensued, and large British naval forces were re-deployed to Singapore. Tukhashevsky initiated secret talks with Chamberlain to discuss a possible anti-Japanese pact. He also began something of a charm offensive vis-à-vis the United States, reminding a 'Time Magazine' reporter sent to interview the Marshal,  chosen "Man of the Year" by the magazine; that Russia had been  the first country to feel the effects of Japanese treachery and predicting that China would not be the last of its victims. An american best seller that year titled 'Yellow Plague' dealt with a Japanese plan for World conquest being put into effect. Public opinion in the US turned increasingly anti-Japanese, especially after an american gunboat on the Yang Tze Kiang was sunk "accidentally" by the IJN, with massive loss of life.  For in the Americas, also, the war scare had its effects.  As the world seemed to sink towards war, the USA began to nerve itself towards the coming struggle.  When President Cardenas of Mexico ordered the nationalisation of the petroleum industry, the gesture was interpreted by the Americans as a further threat to their national security.

During the crises in the Far East, Hitler once again took advantage of the situation and marched into Austria. As he was welcomed with open arms, and that he took care to organize a referendum on Anschluss, the Western Allies could not justify a war to their own peoples. Nevertheless tensions escalated even further in Europe.  Czechoslovakia felt more and more threatened as German propaganda regarding alleged mistreatment of Germans in the Sudetenland  began to pour out of the ministry of propaganda with ever increasing regularity. When Hitler demanded the Sudetenland in the late summer of 1938 to halt what he termed "Czech atrocities", Tukhashevsky personally flew to France to a summit with Daladier. A reluctant Chamberlain joined the talks in Paris. A formal three power guarantee to Czechoslovakia was issued and Britain deployed forces to France. Faced with a solid wall of enemies Hitler hesitated. In an effort to outmaneuver his adversaries he once again stunned the world by announcing a tripartite pact with Italy and Japan. In a forceful speech to the Reichstag Hitler declared this to be an extension of the Anti-comitern pact and proclaimed himself and his allies the defenders of the world against communism. The Western powers were unmoved,  merely reiterating their solemn promises to Czechoslovakia. In late 1938 Germany appeared to back down while secret talks took place to persuade Poland to join the Anti-comitern Pact.

The Soviets, convinced that a coordinated attack on the USSR was imminent, shifted the best of their army to the Manchurian border.  Alarmed by the Chinese collapse, the Soviet leadership demanded concessions and bases in Manchuria. This was meet by a blunt refusal. But in a lightning campaign, planned by Tukhashevsky himself and executed by Zhukov, the Russians fought and won a five week war for Manchuria. The Japanese, spread thin by their commitments in China and shocked by the inferiority of their armor, sued for peace, ceding Manchuria in the hope of preserving their Chinese conquests. Immediately, Tukhashevsky  moved his armies West, knowing war to be inevitable with Hitler. Following the Japanese defeat Hitler dispatched advisers to help Japan upgrade her land forces.

By early 1939 massive German/Italian aid had brought the Spanish Republic close to collapse when public pressure on the French Government from its own grass-roots became too great to ignore. French support began flowing into Spain, in the form of weapons, munitions and volunteers. But Daladier failed to persuade the British to enforce a naval blocade of Nationalist Spain. In reaction, Franco formally joined the Tripartite pact and bases were prepared for German U-boats in southern Spain

In march 1939, inspired by the heroic examples of Franco in Spain, Pilsudsky in Poland and Metaxas in Greece, a group of young, patriotic officers dedicated to purging the nation of the "depredations of the foreign plutocrats and their degenerate, oligarchic stooges"  seize power in Argentina.  Edelmiro Farrell was proclaimed President, but everyone knew that it was the bold young colonel, Juan Domingo Peron, minister of foreign affairs, who was the power behind the President. The new government immediately seized all foreign (read British and norte-americano) properties proclaiming a halt to the "spoliation of the argentine people".  The USA retaliates in April by declaring an embargo on Argentina.  In May 39, in a violent radio speech, Peron denounced the Monroe doctrine as an "intolerable affront to the dignity of argentine manhood" and announces a treaty of "amity and cooperation" with Nationalist Spain.  At the same time, Argentina decided to seduce the Vargas dictatorship in Brazil.  In june 1939 a highly publicized meeting of the argentino-brazilian leadership took place in a tent city set up at the spectacular Iguacu falls; after a day of banquets and an evening of torch-lit parades,  Argentina and Brazil solemnly signed a treaty of "immortal frienship and of mutual assistance" in the case of foreign aggression, and promulgated a "New Order in the Americas".  Moreover, secret clauses, the infamous "Iguacu articles", divided all of South America into spheres of influence.  Uruguay is declared to be within the Argentine sphere, Paraguay within the Brazilian one.  Brazil recognized all of "the legitimate demands" of Argentina vis-à-vis the British Empire (The Malvinas, South Georgia, Antarctica) and of its "foreign instruments" (Chile) as well as its "historical obligations to maintain the constitutional integrity" of Bolivia.  In return Argentina recognized Brazilian sovereignty over British Guyana, "last debris of European colonialism" as well as the "historical rights" of Brazil to the "cis-andean Amazon" (Read all the amazonian provinces of Peru, Colombia and Venezuela).  All of these secret clauses, however, would only become effective should Argentina and Brazil mutually declare "the dissolution of the international order" and decide to act to "prevent hemispheric anarchy. Hitler was, needless to say, delighted. He dispatched Ribbentrop to Argentina to persuade the Argentine Government to join the anti-comitern pact. Argentina agreed to provide direct support to Franco and prepare U-boat and naval bases for Germany in the event of war in exchange for considerable military aid from Germany. The newest Messerschmitts were delivered to Argentina.  Not to be outdone Mussolini personally sailed to Brazil aboard his new battleship 'Roma'. The USA proclaimed the so-called Roosevelt doctrine, by which any Latin american country which was the object of fascist aggression "whether external or home grown" would automatically benefit from american assistance.


Hitler, by now convinced that he had once again distracted his potential enemies renewed his demand for the Sudentenland, Poland demanded Téschen and Hungary claimed Ruthenia. The slovak nationalists embarked on a course of massive civil disobedience. Desperate to avoid a destructive battle on his own territory Tukhashevsky demand unconditional access though Poland and Rumania. A shocked Poland formally signed a military alliance with Germany.  Other states bordering Russia agreed to mutual defense agreements with Germany in response to the Russian move. When Persia attempted to sign, the Russian response was immediate. Russian forces occupied Persia in a matter of days, much to the anger of the British.  To secure their rear, Poland, Hungary and Germany issued a joint demand to Czechoslovakia for surrender of large territories.  The Baltic States mobilized. While tensions soared, Italy invaded Albania.  On the first of September 1939, Russia launched an all-out "preemptive strike" against Poland.


The world was teetering on the brink of global war waiting for someone to push it over.....

You may want to go on to have a look at the scenario itself.

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