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The lead-up to the start date. SHORT SUMMARY OF MAJOR 1940: German ceasefire around Dunkirk with Britain/Western European allies April 1941: Operation Barbarossa begins December-March 1942: Great Retreat of Bolshevik forces and leadership behind the Ural Mountains

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WESTERN EUROPE:

Britain:

Things change in this alternate world around May 1940 with Dunkirk. The British go with Chamberlain and decide to sign essentially a "white peace" with the Germans. This agreement gives Britain its captured soldier and allows them to keep all of their colonies. The Netherlands and Belgium are freed from German occupation. A truce is also part of the arrangement, which the Germans require to allow them to invade the Soviet East unimpeded. While avoiding the bombing of London and massive war causalities has allowed Britain to retain its pre-war statute that it lost in the actual historical timeline, Britain still faces colonial unrest and an untrustworthy Axis. A Britain player will have to decide if it wishes to work with the United States and abandon much of its imperialist ways, continue its Victorian strategy and retain its massive empire, or instead enter the 'New Age' and embrace fascism to face modern challenges.

France:

Unlike Britain, France refuses to agree to an early peace and is defeated in the same way as in real life. Germany, after a brief military administration of France, sought to avoid wasting resources on French resistance and truce-breaking by Britain by letting France be 'independent', albeit with a new fascist government in place under Petain. By 1944-45, it becomes clear that this fascist France is not a mere puppet of Germany, but it is not yet prepared to retake A-L (or its natural east bank of the Rhine) alone. Additionally, the unrest in the French African colonies poses a serious problem and the current fascist government has no desire of letting them go free. In this mod, France will be able to choose whether to follow the historical route regarding its colonies or attempt to colonize them with settlers more effectively (and brutally).

Benelux countries:

Luxembourg joins Germany without much of a choice in the matter.

The Dutch government, fearing the aggression of the Japanese, has attempted to maintain close ties with both the German and British governments. However, the Dutch people seem not content with the current situation. A dangerous amount of citizens are turning toward fascism, viewing themselves as Aryans who should be incorporated closer with the German Reich. A smaller group turn to communism to address their woes. A Netherlands player can look to either follow the historical decolonization path, maintain the Dutch monarchy and its colonies, or become a fascist government that seeks to annex its southern neighbor Belgium and work with the German Reich. Similarly, a Belgium player can either follow the historical decolonization path or instead double down and reinstitute King Leopold's colonial policies.

Italy:

Italy, much like after its 'victory' in World War I, is not happy with its current situation. Italy protested the German white peace with Britain vigorously, hoping to capture Egypt, the Suez Canal, and potentially the Middle East. All Italy managed to get from Britain was a temporary 5 year lease on the island of Malta, which they demanded to prevent a British attack on Italian ports of Libya or Sicily. At game start however, Britain has the right to retake Malta, as the lease has come to an end. It is up to the Italian (and British) player if they are willing to risk war over the Mediterranean island.

Mussolini, determined to not sit idly during the Soviet-German War, recklessly waged war on Yugoslavia and Greece. While fortunately the British were not willing to reenter the war at such an early stage in 1941 to defend these states, Italy's army was not sufficient to take these states out by itself, and it relying on German intervention as in real life. However, Italy earned significant combat experience in these wars and in its participation in the German crusade against communism and spent serious funds on shoring up armaments and training. Furthermore, Italian funds have supplied armed fascist groups in British colonies, particularly in the Young Egypt group and the Golden Square in Iraq. With the Golden Square now in an open revolt against Britain's puppet Iraqi monarch, it is up to Italy to decide how much it is willing to put on the line to expand its empire. The Italian player has mulitple major decision options, including attempting to form a centralized Roman empire or a decentralized Mediterranean network of puppets.

THE THIRD REICH:

Germany manages to pull off operation barbarossa by being able to launch the attack earlier in the year and with more forces due to not being encumbered in Western Europe. This major victory leads to celebration--a natural baby boom occurs much like what happens in the US after WW2 in history. However, the German vision of the East is not even close to being completed. They have created Reichkomissarats to administer the new territories and run them in the way as discussed in historical documents. Russians and Ukrainians are treated as inferior and most work in forced labor camps. On the flipside, historically oppressed groups like the Baltic peoples and Tatars are empowered at the local level by the Germans, which often leads to cruel displays of violence. They are forced to make room for massive Germanic settlement colonies. The German leadership recognizes that birth rates must be high to achieve these goals, and thus strongly incentivizes large families to be produced in mainland Germany and promises them homesteads (based off of the American homestead act). These policies do not come without cost however; revolts are large and plenty.

A Germany player has many options. Upon Hitler's death (which will be a randomly generated event), major decisions can be made about the future of Germany and most of Europe by extension. This could include fully embracing Aryanism, leading to a complete rebranding of various "cultures" in states under the German SOF to racial types--"nordic," "alpine" etc to form an Aryan Empire. On the other hand, Germany, much like America in the 1960-80s, might de-radicalize their positions, feel regret for how they treated certain ethnicities and seek to create something akin to the modern European Union.

THE EMPIRE OF JAPAN:

Japan avoided making two critical mistakes in this time. First, they avoided getting sucked into the unwinnable total war with China. In this timeline, Japan made trade relations with the various Chinese warlords, monopolizing most of the Chinese market. However, China has slowly solidified as a nation-state and now poses a threat to Japanese interests. With the Chinese Civil War now raging, Japan must be careful to decide how it wants to intervene at all, as the Germans and Americans both have close relationships with the Nationalist Chinese government. At the same time however, Communist China is essentially a Russian puppet.

The second major mistake Japan avoided was declaring war on the British and Americans. Due to the German-Anglo Truce, Japanese generals no longer had a green light to assault Allied colonies and instead released their pent up energy on a larger invasion of Siberia. Not only was this a crucial element in the ultimate defeat of the Soviets, but recent discoveries of oil and minerals in these newly acquired lands have helped the Japanese economy.

A Japan player will have plenty of options, from attacking China, taking Allied colonies in Southeast Asia, or holding off the Soviet advance.

SOVIET UNION:

What was a great victory in our history was a catastrophic defeat in this timeline. Pinned down by the Japanese and Germans on both sides and a general apathy from Western democratic leaders, Stalin was forced to retreat after the sack of Moscow and the capture of Vladivostok. Driven by rage, Stalin engaged in a second purge of his government and officer corps, starting the Russians again from scratch. Stalin also implemented extreme communist policies on his population, including forced reproduction and mandatory military training. Think of the USSR after its defeat like North Korea essentially.

A Russia player will have lots of interesting possibilities. One is to show that Communism is not going down without a fight and seek to expand into India and China to form a large Eurasian communist empire that sounds like something from George Orwell's 1984. A second is to become fascist take over most of Europe and do to the Germans what they did to the Russians.

UNITED STATES:

Despite FDR's best attempts to get involved with the war, the joint Japanese-German invasion of the Soviet Union and Britain's desire to avoid casualties prevented the US from doing more than limited lend-lease programs. Additionally, he remained popular as president, as the US still became a massive economic powerhouse and a supply factory for most of the world.

However, FDR and his successors want to be the "city upon a hill" and combat the rise of authoritarianism across the world--by any means necessary. This includes grand plans to liberate and help cultivate "United States of Asia", "United states of Africa," a "United States of Europe" etc. a US player can take Korean and Vietnam wars to the extreme. Alternatively, a domestic fascism movement also has arisen in the US that one can choose. They want to prevent future immigration and feed the US's industry and expand US borders in an extreme view of Manifest Destiny.

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