Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Airship President - Part 11

When this was originally uploaded to a forum that I was posting this on, after this update, it shifted from being called the "Airship President" to the "Airship Legacy" (you'll figure out why at the end of this update). I intend to do the same on this blog, so the next update will be entitled "Airship Legacy, Part 1."

Click here for Part 10


WARSAW, APR 4- Official reports from the Polish capital now confirm that the Polish Liberation Force has stormed the government district and taken control over much of Warsaw. Similar events have occurred in other major cities, especially in the east. The western half of Poland seems to be in support of the government that has now escaped to (insert town name here).
            As of yet, none of the major European powers have directly responded to this event. The German Ambassador to the United States said that his country wasn’t taking any action at the moment, so long as this remains an internal matter. From what we can gather from the Germans, the main fear among Europeans at this point is that the Soviet Union might interveen and assist the Communist Poles. As of yet, however, there has been no action taken by the Russians.
- “Revolution in Poland,” The Washington Post, April 4, 1950

BERLIN, APR 8- Western Polish authorities have informed the Imperial government that troops from the Soviet Union have crossted the Polish-Russian border into Poland, supposidly at the request of the Warsaw Soviet, which has assumed control of the eastern half of the country.
            The Republic of Poland has asked the German Empire to send assistance to prevent the Soviet Union from swallowing up Poland. As of yet, the Emperor nor any member of the government have issued any statement concearning the invasion. However, many in the capital believe that the Empire will go to war to prevent the Russians from being at our eastern border.
-“Soviets Cross into Poland!,” Frankfurter Zeitung, April 8, 1950

BERLIN, APR 9- War has broken out on the contintent of Europe for the first time in over 30 years as Germany declares war on the Soviet Union. Yesterday, it was confirmed that the Russians had crossed the border into Poland, stating that the revolutionary government in Warsaw had requested their assistance. Shortly there after, the Republic of Poland asked for assistance from Berlin, which was granted earlier this morning. At 5:00a.m. local time, Imperial Panzers and infantry men crossed over into Western Poland, heading to first secure the government of the Republic, which has relocated to Krakow. After the government is secure, the Reichswehr plans on launching an attack against the Reds at Lodz and then Warsaw.
            German troops are also being sent to secure Danzig, and troops already stationed in East Prussia have been put at high alert. Several german scout airships have taken of from East Prussia to get a better look at the Soviet troop movements.
-“War on the Continent!,” The Times (London), April 9, 1950.

            By May, German troops had Western Poland fully under their control, securing the government in Krakow on May 21, 1950. Soon thereafter, Luftwaffe pilots began bombing strategic military points in Warsaw and attacking Russian and Red Polish troops. Suprisingly to the Germans, the Russians had mobilized very quickly, and had a large garrison in Warsaw by May. It would come to light after the war that the Polish revolutionaries had informed Moscow of their intent to being a revolution, and so the Russians had mobilized their forces at the end of March.
            Things stalmated for a time, until in late August the Germans were able to push the Russians back and take Lodz. By the end of September, 1950, German troops were in the suburbs of Warsaw, and the city fell to German/Republican troops on October 2, 1950. The Warsaw Soviet evacutated to the Russian held city of Brest. Following the fall of Warsaw, the battle lines stabalized during the winter, with only slight gains made by the Germans.
            On March 9, 1951, the Soviets made a surprise push, and briefly retook Warsaw, holding the city up until May 1. In the interveaning time, the Soviets invaded the Baltic Republics, saying that they feared the Imperialists using those states as a base for launching invasions into the Soviet Union. Following this, the German Navy blockaded the Baltic states and the Russian-held portion of the Gulf of Finland, and launched attacks agains Leningrad (now Petrograd) from aircraft carriers. By summer of 1951, the Germans had pushed the Russians back, and took the town of Brest on July 30. The Russians began to pull back by September, and by the end of the year, most of Poland was under German/Republican control.
- Plaks, Dr. Jeffry, The Polish War and the End of Communism, Cambrigde, MA: Harvard University Press, 1987

DANZIG, FEB 28- The Imperial Army and Navy have reported that troops have crossed in to Lithunaia, and have landed troops in the port city of Tallinn, Estonia. The Russians, by all reports, are putting up a good fight, and the Reichswehr Command do not believe that the Baltic Republics will be fully liberated quickly. Their main hope is to have the Russians back in their homeland by 1953.
-“Liberation of Baltic States Begins!,” Berliner Morgenpost, February 28, 1952.

MUNICH, MAR 19- German authorities announced today that former political agitator and one-time head of the once feared National Socialist, or Nazi, Party Adolf Hitler will be released from prison today, due to failing health and what the warden called a “change of attitude.”
            Hitler ran for the office of German President in 1932, but was defeated by world-renouned Dr. Hugo Eckener. Within a year, Hitler would be in jail after an attempt was made on Eckener’s life that resulted in the death of the German Chancellor, and his Nazi Party would be banned. According to the prison warden and guards at the Bavarian State Prison, Hitler has given up on much of his former violent behavior and attitude, but still clings to his ideology that he put forth in Mein Kampf. Hitler has written a second book that will be released in April explaining his views on why the Nazis didn’t come to power back in 1932.
            Hitler will be moving to his sister’s home in western Austria, where he will spend the rest of his life in seclusion, and according to our sources, plans to pain during his ample free time. Doctors at the Bavarian prison do not believe Hitler will live long enough to see 1952.
-“Former Agitator Released,” The Times (London), March 19, 1950.

            The Baltic Campaign went better than expected, and by July of 1952, the capitals of all three Baltic States were under German control. In addition, a secondary campaign had been launched, aimed at taking the city of Minsk, which would happen on October 9, 1952. The Minsk campaign was a turning point in the cause of the war, where the goals shifted from liberating formerly free territory from the Russians to trying to put an end to communism.
            After the fall of Minsk, the Germans began using new experimental rocket technology, and by 1953, after making continued territorial advances, were being able to hit Moscow with the H-3 rockets. One of thes weapons would ultimately end the lives of both Josef Stalin and Vyacheslav Molotov on October 30, 1953. In July of that year, Germany launched it’s most darring attack of the war. On the 17th, German troops landed near Leningrad, and by the end of August, the city and surrounding area were in the control of the German army.
            In the aftermath of the death of Stalin and Molotov, NKVD Chief Beria took initial control of the Soviet Union, killing the head of the Red Army and declaring himself as the General Secretary of the Communist Party. However, at the beginning of 1954, things began to decintigrate. Many members of the Red Army were not loyal to Beria, and on February 19, 1954, Red Army troops stormed the Kremlin and killed Beria. Several military commanders took control of the Government, “until a more capapble leader can be selected,” and called for a cease fire with the Germans. Such a cease fire was granted on March 1, 1954.
-Plaks, Dr. Jeffry, The Polish War and the End of Communism, Cambrigde, MA: Harvard University Press, 1987

LENINGRAD, MAR 1- The Ruling Council of the Soviet Union, which was established following a Red Army coup agaisnt Soviet General Secretary Beria late last month, has asked for a cease fire with the German Empire, and that truce was granted last night by the Imperial Government.
            The Imperial Foreign Ministry is now trying to set up treaty negotiations with the new government, and hopes to put a more permanent end to the fighting before summer. Negotiations will likely take place in Leningrad.
            The main issue for the two sides to figure out will be what to do with the Soviet territory now occupied by the Reichswehr. Most in Berlin do not want to hand the occupied territory back to Russia, but incorperating it into the German Empire seems most unlikely. One suggestion that has been floating through Imperial circles is the possibility of making Grand Duke Vladimir Cyrillovich as the “Czar of the Imperial Russian Federation”, althought there has been no official comment on this as of yet.
-“Truce!,” Frankfurter Zeitung, March 1, 1954.

FRIEDRICHSHAFEN, MAR 14- Zeppelin-Goodyear International officials have confirmed that famed zeppelin-pilot-turned-statesman Dr. Hugo Eckener has passed away. Eckener had suffered a stroke in 1942 and has since been living in Friedrichshafen. In the interveening 12 years, he has suffered one more major stroke and two smaller ones. Last night, Eckener went to bed at his normal time, and did not wake up this morning when his wife went to check on him.
            Eckener is regarded as one of the most famous and influentual Germans of the 20th century, and it is expected that he will have a grand state funeral in Berlin. Eckener served as the last president of the German Republic from 1932 until 1939, and then went on to serve as the German Foreign Minister until his first stroke in 1942. Since then he has worked as a consultant for ZGI, but has mainly been enjoying retirement with his family. Born on 10 of August, 1868, gone to be with Christ on 14 March, 1954, the 85 year old Dr. Eckener was a giant among men, and will be sorely missed by not only the people of this nation, but the people all over the world.
-“Hugo Eckener Dead,” Berliner Morgenpost, March 14, 1954.

            The final years of Eckener’s life were filled with peace and rest, with a few excitign interruptions along the way. In 1949, Zeppelin-Goodyear International honored Eckener with the launch of the LZ-155 Presiden Eckener, the first of 5 Eckener Class airships built by ZGI. She was the largest airship ever built for passenger service (the other four Eckener class airships were deliberatley 10 feet shorter) at 1800 feet long. She could carry nearly 300 passengers in the height of style. Eckener took his last trip to America on the maiden voyage of the LZ-155 on May 1, 1949.
            In 1951, the ZGI company went through it’s worst accident in it’s history, when the American made GZ-40 crashed over Oklahoma en route to Los Angeles after leaving New York with 194 passengers. Luckily, the break up was slow, and so only 27 people died in what is to date the worst passenger airship accident in aviation history. Many thought this might damage the reputation of the company, and for a time it did. However, it was able to bounce back, and put an end to the competition practices between the US and German shipyards. Eckener made several public appearances to assure people that airship travel was safe.
            Eckener died on March 14, 1954, passing away peacefully in his sleep in his home on the shores of Lake Constance. His death was mourned by the entire German nation, and indeed by millions around the world. The loss of such an important figure in Germany put a damper on the triumphant mood of a nation that had just ended 4 years of tough fighting agianst the Soviet Union. His funeral on March 23, 1954, was the largest Berlin has seen to date, with nearly 300,000 people flocking to the city to pay their respects. His body was loaded into the LZ-155 on March 18, where upon it was flown direct to Berlin, where Eckener’s body lay in state in the Reichstag Chamber from March 19 until the Funeral.
            At the ceremony itself, held in the Berliner Dom, Kaiser Louis Ferdinand I gave a moving eulogy, where he said, “Dr. Hugo Eckener has earned his place in the great annals of history, where he stands in the host of some of the greatest Germans ever known. Bismark, Luther, Barbarossa, and Frederick the Great. He stands even higher still on the pedastl of world history, as famous as George Washington, Queen Victoria, or Abraham Lincoln. Germany would not be what it is today without the struggles that Dr. Eckener went through. He secured a bright and glorius future for his homeland, and for all of Europe, and the world. His life’s dream of world-wide Zeppelin travel has come true, and like he had hoped, the Luftschiff has become a symbol of peace and unity.  Dr. Eckener, as you stand today in the host of the angles of the Almighty, we say a humble and heartfelt thank you.”
            After the funeral, Eckener’s remains were again loaded aboard the LZ-155, which took a 4 day journey home, flying over all the principle cities of Germany before landing at Friedrichshafen. On March 29, 1954, Eckener’s body was placed in a temporary crypt, to await the completion of a masoleum that the Kaiser had ordered built for Eckener in Friedrichshafen. That masolem, which was built to closely resemble an ornate Zeppelin Hangar, but far more ornate, was completed in May of 1956, and Eckener’s mortal remains were moved to the memorial on August 10, 1956 on what would have been his 88th birthday. The tomb itself, built of granite and marble, sits on a hill overlooking Lake Constance, and has huge glass walls, resembling the giant doors of airshp hangars, that face the shore. These doors can be opened, and often are duirng good weather. The interior itself consists of one large hall, 4 stories tall, with massive marble walls that have carved into them the depictions of different events in Eckener’s life, from the 1929 round the world flight, to the 1941 Danzig Crisis. In the center of the hall is a large marble and granite replica of the Graf Zeppelin, inside of which lie the remains of Eckener and his wife. One interesting detail outside the monument itself are the two flag polls that are on the shore-facing side. The one on the building’s right, the one that would be the place of higher honor, flies not the Imperial Flag, but the Black, Red, and Gold flag of the German Republic, with the Imperial Flag flying on the other flag poll. This is the only place in all of the German Empire where the old republican flag is given such a place of honor.
            After Eckener’s death, he would become emortalized, slowly but surely, by the Imperial Government. Eckener’s face was already on the 5-mark bill, which was redesigned in 1960 to feature more airships and a new portrait of Eckener. On August 10, 1968, on the anniversary of Eckener’s 100th Birthday, Kaiser Louis Ferdinand I declared August 10 “Eckenertag”, which was to be an official public holiday with fireworks and all sorts of celebrations.  In 1978, the three towns of Zeppelinburg, Friedrichshafen, and Luftstadt were incorperated into “Eckenerstadt-Friedrichshafen”. In 1979, the archives of the old Zeppelin Company, along with the Eckener Library, came together to form the “Zeppelin Institute”, which serves as an archive of Eckener and Count von Zeppelin’s life, along with their life’s work, the rigid airships. The Zeppelin Institute building was opened on the 50th anniversary of the Graf Zeppelin’s 1929 flight around the world. Eckener’s name lives on all over Germany and rest of the world. Dozens of air harbors, parks, and public buildings have statues or busts of the famous aeronaut, along with the numerous streets, highways, parks, and public buildings that bear his name. in 1999, Time Magazine named Hugo Eckener the “most widely known man of the 20th Century”, followed closely by President Will Rogers of the United States.
- Liebermann, Dr. William. The Zeppelin President." Epilogue the Final Years and the Eckener Legacy.” Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2003

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