Author Topic: World War II Project: Political-Economic Variables  (Read 8686 times)

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Offline MWDabbs

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Well, I was debating whether to start a thread for this and whether to include it here or in the hobbies section.   I'm working on a war game project that requires examination of a lot of political-economic and other variables as relates to WWII/The Patriotic War.

It is by no means just an ordinary game a la Axis and Allies.  My first project for The Operational Art of War III (TOAW) was completed last year, the War in Europe from 1942 - 1945.   This was fairly easy as by 1942, most of the lines had already been drawn and only a few variables remained.  Scale involved 15 km per hex (270 x 300 hexes), weekly turns (over 150) full historical orders of battle with tables of organization and equipment for every unit down to the squad/heavy weapon/vehicle.  This maxed out the game engine.  MatrixGames, however, appears to be dedicated to upgrading TOAW for radically expanded game parameters (map size, # of units, # of events, etc.).

This project will be much larger, over 300 turns long, and much more complex - as it will attempt to cover ALL of WWII (Europe, North & East Africa, Madagascar, Middle East, Burma, Far East and as much of the Pacific as possible).  It should come in as the 1st or 2nd largest wargame of its kind ever created - likely the most detailed, likely the easiest to actually play but an order of magnitude more difficult to master.

The map may end up not being big enough without having to abstract a few things.  If printed out at scale, the map will end up being about 21 square meters.   The map requires a lot of work yet.  I have complete or nearly complete OOB/TO&E for all participants -- and am making good progress defining them as much of it was defined in the first project.   Still a lot of work to do, but these are all fairly easy.

What is not as easy is defining the events which work a lot like If/Then statements.  It's currently projected that up to 10k of them will be possible, where the current limit is just 1k (and easily maxed out).  Events range the gamut of changing supply levels, withdrawing units, generating storms -- within certain limits just about anything can be done "one way or the other". 

The setting here will be starting in May of 1939, just before the Nomonhon engagement between Japan and Russia.  In between this "spectacle" and September of 1939, players will be deciding their "diplomatic options" --- and that is where a lot of help is needed, to define in effect the possibilities open to each side, what their effects and consequences would be - in fairly simple, historically viable terms.   Natural Resources, especially Oil, factor very heavily into the framework

The "diplomatic engine" will be run by giving each player a limited number of options - with a recommendations for applying them to achieve "historical results" - relative to whether a country goes pro-Axis, pro-Allied or remains neutral (and subject to a DOW). 

Examples -

Hungary and Romania were effectively enemies.  Romania was essentially "Allied" during World War I and had strong diplomatic ties with the French.   What could the Allies have done to shift Romania from pro-Axis to pro-Allied?  Ploesti oilfields accounted for a very large portion of Germany non-synthetic oil imports and production.  An Allied option like this could easily end the war before it started -- and thus force Germany to invest its diplomatic efforts into Romania. 

For signing onto the Tri-Partite Pact, there was not very much cooperation between Germany and Japan -- and with seriously negative consequences.  Within the game, the historical parameters of Japan's attacks/peace with Russia and on Pearl Harbor can be enforced.   However, if there was a diplomatic investment on behalf of the Axis Player to coordinate strategically - the Winter of 1941 could easily have turned out very differently without Siberian troops under Zhukov relocating to defend Moscow. 

Similarly, we have everything from Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Turkey, Spain, the Lowlands, China, Thailand and even the United States subject to historical variations depending upon how much effort is invested. 

Turkey is frequently a matter of speculation as it relates to the Axis, however -- Germany aligning with Turkey would have consequences in its relations with Italy and Bulgaria (Italy having been pro-Allied in WWI and while fascist in WWII - was not without considerable internal friction with the Royalists/Communists). 

Same with Spain -- or so it would seem, an Axis Spain would see Franco wanting control over at least parts of French North Africa, leading to a possible war with Vichy... but then, the Allies did apply significant pressure on Spain to prevent it from going pro-Axis by way of an oil embargo with the end net effect of Spain remaining neutral and supplying its resources to both sides.  Axis Spain though = Axis Gibraltar potentially tipping the balance in the Mediterranean.

So, these are the kinds of things I'm looking at -- the relative difficulty of shifting just about any country that participated in WWII from its historical position - and the probable consequences of it.   In a way, this game would be very similar to Hearts of Iron - but on a "Turn basis" -- and without a real "tech tree".  World War II in a sand box. 

Is this in any way practical?  Not really.  Is it productive?  Not really - playing this game will involve about 600 hours from two people spread out over a year or two.  Is it entertaining?  For those who like monster war games, it will be "the game you always wanted to play - but didn't have space for".  This is a pretty ambitious project, but the 1942 - 1945 scenario was pretty ambitious unto itself, plays better than expected, and even gets good reviews from some retired personnel of various TLA's. 

So... if anyone's game to discuss and help define the parameters of what could be the largest WWII war game ever created -- I'm more than happy to hear your thoughts on any given country you would like to comment upon or even possibilities you would like to see explored.   


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Online Fraucha

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Re: World War II Project: Political-Economic Variables
« Reply #1 on: 17:02 26-Feb-2013 »
Most excellent! This sounds like the if/then statements will finally drag us from the predetermined starting scenarios that plagued the Europa series where we were forced into historical alliances even if we didn't want them.

It is good that Matrix is looking at updating TOAW which I am guessing you will be using. I have often wished for ..... well 52 years of wargames have left me wanting something as ambitious on a world scale as People's Wargames' (Jack Radey's original) Korsun Pocket or Black Sea Black Death, excellent games long since gone :-(

Will this involve tracking not only oil production but rubber and metals? Naval supply routes and convoys also?

Naval battles not only in the Pacific but in the Med too?



 
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Offline MWDabbs

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Re: World War II Project: Political-Economic Variables
« Reply #2 on: 21:27 26-Feb-2013 »
Presently, we're waiting to see what the new naval rules (if any) will include.  If they are included... and work as intended, the naval component will be expanded considerably.  Right now it is something of a sideshow -- as developed as it can be, but a shadow of what it could be. 

Supply, unfortunately, likely will not see much of anything new from version 3.4.  But, if the cap is lifted on the # of events, many more factors can be added to the mix.  Right now it's still all measured by a "global supply" which considers both fuel and ammo, modified by lots of variables including distance from a rail line, terrain, proximity to an airfield and/or friendly HQ, weather and shock.  However, each supply point can be adjusted mid-game via events.   England might get 30 points, Egypt 25, Russia 22... and Tobruk, if cut off 12.  Each formation has its own supply proficiency and both supply/readiness levels of each unit are impacted by movement and # of combat rounds.  With 3.4 a number of other parameters could be adjusted by events that could help model fuel shortages.   

Material resources will be sort of abstracted out as it relates to Fuel, Production, Supply Radius, Air/Naval/Rail transport, etc.   This will have a major impact upon the Axis by way of capturing national oil reserves and resource areas.  The Axis will need to balance their military agenda with their oil reserves far more carefully than most games I've seen, excepting perhaps Hearts of Iron. 

The strategic warfare (allied bombing) component is already working well in 42-45, but was sort of summarized for running out of events.  A lot more detail can be added suffice that some play tests were showing aircraft losses by period coming in within 10% of historical.  Part of the flak system is broken now as AA fire won't count unless the unit actually has the AA icon.  Otherwise, the combination of the Allied bombing effort plus the battle and loss of industry from losing the Ruhr Valley can culminate in a rapid deterioration of the Axis in the late war.   

The predetermination however is almost completely out.  Nik was just here for dinner and we discussed some of the possibilities.

Idea is to provide both sides 9 "diplomatic moves" at the beginning of the game - to assign as desired, with each move representing a 1 point shift of a country from their historical position.   Historical positions are being defined as:

Core Axis - Pro-Axis - Neutral Axis -- True Neutral -- Neutral Allied - Pro-Allied - Core Allied

Some countries will have a capacity on how far they can go in either direction.  For example, I'm considering the US with its isolationist policy starting as a Neutral-Axis that won't be able to be influenced to be Pro or Core Axis.  However, Germany (the only Core Axis) could spend 2 or 3 points to offset the 3 points "considered" to have been applied by England to get the USA in the war.  But... without spending additional points to solidify diplomatic/strategic cooperation with Japan (also presumed to have been countered by the Allies), Japan would still end up signing an armistice with Russia and attacking Pearl Harbor at some point in late 41/early 42.   

All 9 diplomatic moves probably won't be decided "all at once".  Some decisions made by each player may not be made immediately known and in some cases may not be 100% certain, but news events can foreshadow some.   There are enough events to where some diplomatic efforts may require satisfying additional requirements to realize full effect.   Some decisions will naturally preclude others like a Pro-Axis Turkey being exclusive of a Pro-Axis Italy.   

Aim is to make this as realistic and interesting as possible, a game within a game feeding into other aspects of the overall picture - where resources, logistical considerations, frontage, military capabilities, and regional accessibility (rail/sea/air transport) all play as factors.  If it plays anything like 42-45, it won't be a disappointment.  Hopefully, should be even more interesting to play.

The hardest part really is defining 3 - 5 "options" per country excepting England, the Soviet Union and Germany.  Neutrals are of course subject to DOW's otherwise no movement by either side; Pro-Axis neutral would be no movement but some other form of cooperation (Spain for example would equal 1 or 2 supply points - tungsten/iron - plus 250 Blue Division).  Bulgaria however, might be pro-Axis but only partly -- allowed movement through the country, but only offered up 1 Army and 2 Corps for occupational activity in Greece/Yugoslavia. 

Also need to define whether additional diplomatic events can be earned or allocated during the war -- as Romania, Bulgaria and Vichy were definitely influenced from their positions with significant effect.  The Far East... haven't even begun to touch on that, still need to do the map, but China alone should be interesting.
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Offline Claus

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Re: World War II Project: Political-Economic Variables
« Reply #3 on: 21:35 26-Feb-2013 »
Mark, it seems to me that you have a 'life-long' thing developing/growing  :)

Good luck with it!

Can't help you much; but, if you want info about Denmark, Norway, Sweden in your chosen period I can tell you or find out for you.
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Offline MWDabbs

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Re: World War II Project: Political-Economic Variables
« Reply #4 on: 03:40 27-Feb-2013 »
Thanks, Claus,

Yes, definitely have questions on all three countries. 

Denmark and Norway give the appearance of having been staunchly neutral up until being invaded.  Was there anything within the range of reason that would have prompted either country to go pro-Allied or pro-Axis before being invaded? 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Invasion_of_Denmark - for those interested details the German invasion of Denmark and Norway.  Denmark made a better accounting for itself than Yugoslavia did.  Churchill had Plan R4 which could have seen a pre-emptive invasion of Norway to secure Narvik - a major source of iron for Germany.   

Of the three, Sweden seems the most subject to being influenced - as coal from Narvik had to be transported via Swedish rail lines, Sweden also sold its iron to Germany, there was at least one case allowing German troops passage across Swedish territory, and Sweden provided not only volunteers, but armaments to Finland during the Winter War with the Soviet Union.  What kind of conditions would have forced Sweden into going pro-Axis or pro-Allied? 

For Denmark, the two other considerations involve the Faroe Islands and Greenland. 
For Norway, the Tromso heavy water facility is represented as a strategic target. 

Everything aside, it sounds like the Axis occupation of Norway was practically a leisure assignment.  Most of the divisions there were garrison type divisions on coastal defense duty -- but 20 divisions or 300k troops is a massive investment.  In this context, I don't see a lot involving large-scale resistance efforts after the British intervention/withdrawal, so if there were any -  those would be important to highlight, too.   
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Offline Claus

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Re: World War II Project: Political-Economic Variables
« Reply #5 on: 15:38 01-Mar-2013 »
All right, Mark

Start of the Baltic contribution  :)

Sorry for late response, but I have a life (even in my age)
Let's start with what I'd call Baltic geographic, historical, and political reality, and then go on from there.

Simplified, of course ? or I'd spend the rest of my life to elaborate.

The starting point of the game is 1938, if I understand it right.

In 1938 it was like this:

Sweden:A former power; having lost its Baltic empire to Russia (long before USSR). Hated everything Russian and saw no real difference between Russia and USSR; therefore inclined to like Germany, whomsoever ruled it.  Kingdom and democracy, social-democratic government, geographically huge; but not so well-armed as myth has it.

Finland:Never a power, a part of Swedish Empire (known as ?East Sweden?) for centuries, lost by Sweden to Russia in the Napoleonic wars, becoming independent (not again) during the WW1, with the support of the German Empire. They liked Germany, in principle whoever ruled it, because Russia/USSR was the bogey and Germany helped them in their wars for liberation. Republic, eventually a democracy (after severe civil wars). In 1938 what I?d call an ?armed democracy?, and ?not to be Forked with.?

USSR:A former power (remember, we talk Baltic situation). They (the Russians) sent their Baltic fleet to Tushima, and Japan sent it to the bottom; in 1938 USSR was not considered a Baltic power. Soviet union of soviet republics; well I won?t have to elaborate on that.

Estonia:Never a power; been part of Danish Empire, Swedish Empire, Russian Empire. Fascist dictatorship since 1934.

Latvia:Never a power; been part of Danish Empire, Swedish Empire, Russian Empire. Fascist dictatorship since 1934.


No more time right now, Mark - celebrations coming up. ;D

Pls let me know if I add value (and should go on) or not.

Have a nice week-end  :)
« Last Edit: 17:50 01-Mar-2013 by Claus »
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Offline MWDabbs

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Re: World War II Project: Political-Economic Variables
« Reply #6 on: 20:19 01-Mar-2013 »
Thanks Claus, very good information -- I understand it's a summary, no worries there - definitely useful and much appreciated!    No worries or hurries. 

I knew Sweden didn't care much for Russia, wasn't sure how far that carried over - but even that short bit helps make the situation with Finland make more sense.  Same for Estonia and Latvia, especially in conjunction with the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact.   Both usually do get "some attention", but it's not very much as they are not expected to last long following the pact.   Will examine that agreement at much greater length then.
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Re: World War II Project: Political-Economic Variables
« Reply #7 on: 21:14 01-Mar-2013 »
This would have had profound implications if Mr White had got his way more fully I suspect:

http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/138847/benn-steil/red-white?page=show

Nevertheless it answers some modern-day conundrums as to why the WB is traditionally US led and the IMF European led.

One wonders just how differently the diplomacy, support and geopolitical sway would have changed the war if Mr White had started to gain the influence he had some 10 years earlier.
"When surrounded by the dark void of the willfully blind, it does not excuse those that are a spark of light their duty to shine" - Me

Offline MWDabbs

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Re: World War II Project: Political-Economic Variables
« Reply #8 on: 09:03 02-Mar-2013 »
"Case White"... pun...  :D  - is too far forward on the timeline.   Both the Nazis and the Communists were active in US politics during the 30's.  The Communist Party in the States was a bit excessive in the demands of its members.   For 1932, Socialist Norman Thomas received over 2.25% of the popular vote compared to  .25% of the vote for Communist William Foster.   Militarily, Germany at least, had every reason to keep the US out of the war - and had it been successful at doing that, imagine the difficulties of either side launching an amphibious invasion across the Atlantic Ocean.   

Japan played spoiler though - though there may be some question as to whether it needed to.  I'm familiar enough with western natural resources, but not with their layout in the Far East.   Aside from not getting the Aircraft Carriers at Pearl Harbor, it's #1 mistake was not taking out the oil reserves on Hawaii -- the target was on the table, but Yamamoto was happy to take what he got from the initial wave.  Hindsight on that though... really, hard to model -- important enough to try to...

Nevertheless, say Mr. White did manage to more influential earlier on, the net effect would still have been something along the lines of the Lend Lease program.  For that, I do have the full list by line item down to the tubes of lipstick and nylons.   Japan never attacked US LL Convoys to Vladivostock.  For that matter, the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union collaborated (with a nod from FDR) to invade Iran (as Germany had a large share of its oil companies, Iran even had some 50 Czech Pz-35t's).  That opened up a second route, with the third defined as Archangelsk, Kandalaksha and Murmansk. 

On the Lend Lease program... there is still debate as to how much it helped the Soviet Union aside from the fact that they generally try not to acknowledge it and are sometimes outright dismissive of it.  Enough of them remember that America supplied an incredible amount of.... BEANS. 

Research indicates that 1) some raw materials were in critical need by Soviet industry; 2) military equipment was hit or miss - a lot of it went unused, but Shermans while generally disliked were used in quantity by at least two Guards Mech Corps for having more reliable transmission for breakthrough operations; 3) transportation & logistics -- likely the most profound impact given a mostly horse-drawn army -- jeeps, white cars, some halftracks, trucks, locomotives and train cars; and 4) specialized equipment, especially radios and land wire.   Overall though, Soviet weapon production was getting into gear from mid-1942 onwards and LL didn't really start arriving in sufficient quantity early enough to make a difference in 1941. 

But all that aside, one of the major questions re:  USA/USSR/UK -- is whether USSR would have allowed military from either country to operate on its soil even in extreme situations?  And if the USSR would allow for that, would the UK or USA have permitted that?   This needs to keep in mind the UK/USSR cooperation against Iran.  One major hypothetical is whether the Axis got within spitting distance of Baku -- either through Case Blue via the Caucasus or any combination of Africa Korps/Iraq Rebellion/early mobilization of Iran, Turkey as pro-Axis, or more of an extreme case -- some sort of Japanese expeditionary force. 

That latter one is far fetched, but there was enough concern over Japan that the English invaded Vichy controlled Madagascar to prevent it from being used as a forward refueling base.   For that matter.... German auxiliary cruisers and subs were attacking targets in and around Australia in 1941.

Anyways, where America is concerned -- one good question aside from Lend Lease assistance, and in absence of Pearl Harbor -- would it have eventually entered the War (Pro-Allied)? 

Balance wise, to make for a good game, it almost has to.  Utimately, the West pressed three major amphibious invasions in Europe and had three "plus" concurrent fronts ultimately -- Sicily-Italy plus Northern France and Southern France, with some English units in Greece.  The Commonwealth would have only been capable of holding 1.5 of these fronts... and this again skips over the majority of the Far East/Pacific.  Pull out the heavy bombers and Axis industry would have been humming right along...

See how much fun this is?   :D   And there's even more to it than this, as without the US - getting Vichy France to cooperate with England would be far fetched.  One could say that fighting the "good ole Americans" - for having a good reputation then, was a major catalyst to Italy's capitulation Mussolini's downfall. 

Still locking this into place as some kind of "inevitable mechanic for game balance" doesn't really fit within the sandbox concept.  By right, it should be guaranteed if the Allied Player exercises any diplomatic moves and they are not countered by the Axis. 

Fair play for not doing so?   

Is it a "necessary evil"?  or are there viable options?  Mass production of equipment still requires manpower to put into the field. 
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Re: World War II Project: Political-Economic Variables
« Reply #9 on: 10:08 02-Mar-2013 »
I think the US interests in China would have brought us into the Pacific conflict at some time without Pearl. Japan was making a play to sew up not only the little countries, but did put in a heavy hand in China. The Japanese we almost able to to subdue a fragmented China, but, Japan would never have accomplished this as eventually the Chinese would have crushed them with just sheer numbers alone. The question is how far were the Chinese willing to go (how long would they wait on their own) before they woke up?
Peace is the failure of the military to convince the government that it can and should kick its enemies ass.

Offline MWDabbs

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Re: World War II Project: Political-Economic Variables
« Reply #10 on: 03:35 03-Mar-2013 »
China won't be a quick study. 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Sino-Japanese_War#The_Republic_of_China

There's so much involved there it's difficult to know where to begin.   That's like a 3-4 sided fight which needs to be boiled down to 2.   At various times the Chinese were supplied by the Germans, Russians and Americans.   China's biggest problem by 1939 was most of its industry had been destroyed or was in areas controlled by the Japanese.  Solid defensive capability, but limited offensive capability and most of that would be limited to mainland Asia. 

For all that, it has all the makings of a much larger "partisan" force even than Yugoslavia.  Partisan units in TOAW have "free disengagement" and are "invisible" - until a unit moves adjacent to them. 

I'll keep studying this area, but welcome any and all ideas for it.
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Re: World War II Project: Political-Economic Variables
« Reply #11 on: 05:34 03-Mar-2013 »
China won't be a quick study. 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Sino-Japanese_War#The_Republic_of_China

There's so much involved there it's difficult to know where to begin.   That's like a 3-4 sided fight which needs to be boiled down to 2.   At various times the Chinese were supplied by the Germans, Russians and Americans.   China's biggest problem by 1939 was most of its industry had been destroyed or was in areas controlled by the Japanese.  Solid defensive capability, but limited offensive capability and most of that would be limited to mainland Asia. 

For all that, it has all the makings of a much larger "partisan" force even than Yugoslavia.  Partisan units in TOAW have "free disengagement" and are "invisible" - until a unit moves adjacent to them. 

I'll keep studying this area, but welcome any and all ideas for it.

I will dig into it.
Peace is the failure of the military to convince the government that it can and should kick its enemies ass.

Offline Claus

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Re: World War II Project: Political-Economic Variables
« Reply #12 on: 16:09 04-Mar-2013 »
Mark

Had a tiresome day, so here is the fraction:

Lithuania:
A former super-power, once the biggest country of Europe; entered into a commonwealth with Poland and became part of that sad story. But, a continental power, never a Baltic power, really. Democracy, but under very firm, authoritarian government.

Prussia:
What we today think of as the Kalingrad region; this was the original Prussia, subordinate to Poland. Never a power, but when the prince of Brandenburg inherited it (and later by the Habsburg Kaiser of Germany was recognised as, king in Prussia, not king of Prussia) became the root of Hohenzollern Imperial Germany.

My entries about Poland, Germany, and Denmark will follow as 1938 Baltic countries; and then Norway, which from a geograpic point of view never was a Baltic country.
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Peace is the failure of the military to convince the government that it can and should kick its enemies ass.

Offline Claus

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Re: World War II Project: Political-Economic Variables
« Reply #14 on: 15:16 05-Mar-2013 »
Mark, sorry if I move too slowly, clockwise around the Baltic.

But here comes, next scrap:

Poland:
Never a Baltic power; not because they didn't want to be, but because whenever Poland tried, all other Baltic powers stopped their wars to prevent it (we may discuss if the Baltic is Danish, Hanseatic (German), Russian, Swedish, but we all agreed, and temporarily united to ensure that it should never be Polish!).
Historically, a country no other country respected for hundreds of years, gradually and with arrogant calm (no war fought!) divided and devoured by its neighbours.
In 1938 Poland was a strong continental power; if you look at army and air force. Still shaken by centuries of disrespect, and only recently just escaping from Russia and USSR; having understood that their allies would not/could not stand for them. In an impossible position, really.
Not a democracy (at all!), but the dictatorship was not fascist
« Last Edit: 15:44 05-Mar-2013 by Claus »
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