Monday, December 26, 2016

Silent Night: Maxwell's View, Part 4

Maxwell's View, Part 4

On December 29th, The ISLP Congress met in Paris, and voted overwhelmingly in favor of a General Strike, to commence on January 8th, when the law was to take effect in Germany. The Maxwells listened to the BBC radio announcer with dismay when it was announced six days later that the German government had rounded up several key leaders of the German Socialist Labor Party. European leaders from Britain to France to Italy condemned the actions being taken by the Junkers. America championed the new anti-Union bill as a brave stand against aggressive Euro-socialism. On January 6th, the European Congress voted to formally condemn German actions and begin the measures to put sanctions on the German state for its violation of the European Civil Rights Charter, which guaranteed the right to form Unions and to strike and use other tactics of collective bargaining. Berlin vowed defiance.
            The fateful day arrived. January 8th, 1945. The economy of Europe ground to a halt, as the General Strike went into effect, to last a minimum of one week, possibly longer. Massive rallies were held in London, Paris, Rome, Madrid, and elsewhere. In Germany, the police and army had been called out in advance of the General Strike, with orders to disperse any demonstrators. However, they were totally unprepared for the sheer numbers that took to the streets. All the major German cities were shut down with protestors. In Berlin, it was estimated that nearly half a million people clogged all the major city thoroughfares. Near the Reichstag building, a major standoff developed between the police, army, and the marchers. Those in uniform continued to order the marchers to disperse. Finally, someone gave the order to open fire, and total pandemonium ensued. Many of the protestors fled, but some charged forward to attack the soldiers and policemen. In the chaos, others started looting government buildings as they fled. By nightfall, hundreds were dead, and the city was on fire. Similar scenes played out in Hamburg, Cologne, Bonn, and Munich. The German Revolution was about to begin.
            On January 9th, as Jack sat at his desk at work, the BBC announced that German Socialists in Frankfurt had proclaimed the German Workers Republic, and Jack felt as if the whole of Europe was now holding its breath, waiting to see what would come next. That evening, shortly after he arrived home, it was announced that French delegates in the European Congress were calling for “more concrete” actions against the German Junkers. Earlier that day, the French government had already announced their full support for the German Workers Republic. Byron asked his father, “What do they mean, “more concrete actions”? Are they talking military actions?”
            Jack sighed, “I think that is exactly what they mean. And from what I’m hearing at work, there is definitely support in our own government to send forces in and oust the Junkers.”
            “All this over union rights? A war over unions?” Byron was baffled.
            “Worker’s rights are important, Byron. And this also has to do with European unity. If Germany goes off on such an independent course, all we’ve worked for the past thirty years could unravel.” Samantha said, with much conviction.
            “But aren’t we about to toss the Pax Europa out? Isn’t that what we were just in Strassburg celebrating?” Byron expressed frustration at the world of the Adults.
            “I won’t disagree with you son, it is crazy. The Junkers knew that the rest of Europe wouldn’t just sit by and watch. And if they hadn’t ordered their troops to fire, we wouldn’t be talking about military action. But the murder of hundreds…”
            “Thousands!” Interjected Samantha.
            “thousands, you’re right, the murder of thousands is unacceptable. We can’t just sit by and do nothing.”
            And indeed, Europe did not sit by and do nothing. On January 10th, The European Congress voted to condemn the actions of the Junker government in Berlin. It stopped short of full military action, but stated that the Junker representatives were being expelled from the Congress, to be replaced with representatives from the new Frankfurt government. Then, on January 12th, the French People’s Assembly voted to send military aid to assist the German Worker’s Republic in “putting down anti-Worker rebels,” and called on the European Congress to call on the rest of the members to do the same. Vigorous, heated debate erupted in Parliament, the results of the daily deliberations being the hot topic everyone listened to on the BBC. Would Britain heed the call to arms to protect the German workers from the Junkers, and indeed protect the system of a united, socialist Europe from unraveling at its center. When the Junker government declared war on France on the 14th, that pretty much settled it. At just before noon on the 15th, the BBC carried a live address form Prime Minister David Landsbury, Jr., announcing that the United Kingdom was declaring a state of war against the “German Empire,” and officially recognizing the socialist government in Frankfurt. Three Days later, on January 18th, the European Congress voted to call for a “united military action,” to intervene in the German Civil War, on the side of the Worker’s Republic. Russia voted against, as did Spain, and neither nation would commit troops. Austria, eager to placate socialists in their own country, voted in favor, however would not commit troops for some time. The early days of the conflict, the European Coalition Forces consisted primarily of British, French, and Italian troops. On January 20th, the Russian Empire declared support for the German Empire and simultaneously pulled out of European Federation.
            At first, this seemed like it would be a relatively straightforward a short conflict, and one that would be confined primarily within Europe. But then in February, everything ballooned out of proportion. It was a Saturday morning. Saturday, February 17th. The Maxwells were returning from an afternoon outing at the park. Despite the war on the continent being declared, life was going on as normal. Troops were being deployed for France. Draft notices were going out. Discussions were being had about blackout and preparations for possible bombings. So far, very little actual fighting had taken place due to the cold, wet winter weather. As the family settled back into their townhome for the afternoon, Byron turned on the radio, and music filled the room, a popular new singer from Liverpool, followed by a song by Glen Miller. Before the second song finished, it abruptly stopped. Byron looked up to make sure the radio was still working, which it was. Then an announcer came over the airwaves, “Ladies and Gentlemen, this is a BBC breaking news report. Moment ago we received confirmed reports from our stations in Canada that a multi-pronged attack against the dominion was underway. It appears that American warplanes have bombed Vancouver, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal. There has been no official communique from the United States as of yet, but this appears to be a massive surprise attack. Thousands are feared dead.” The announcer went on, but the Maxwells just stared at each other in shock. The so-called “German Union War” was turning into the first-ever world-wide conflict.
            Later that evening, American President Horace Thurman addressed the U.S. Congress, declaring that America was standing “firmly behind our German and Russian brethren in the face of indiscriminate socialist aggression.” It was announced that Congress had voted in secret the night before to declare war on the whole of the European Coalition, and that America would fight the forces of Socialism in North America and abroad. Already there were reports of American troops streaming across the border into Canada, overwhelming the Canadian regulars. Most of Britain’s Imperial Forces had been pulled out to assist in Europe. It appeared as if the United States could have Canada’s major population centers overrun within weeks. Several days later, Japan bombed Darwin, Australia, launching an expansionist war in Asia to continue to build their Empire. By March, there was some sort of fighting on nearly every continent other than South America. In a speech made in April by King Edward VIII, the monarch declared, “Our World has devolved into a state of war, from Vancouver to Cologne, Bombay to Sydney. Our young men bear arms to defend our way of life, to defend the rights of workers everywhere. Gone are the days when the rich can have their way, unimpeded by concerns for the common man. We must stand firm and united in this Global War, and in the end we shall prevail.”

This concludes Maxwell's View. The next installment of the Silent Night Story will pick up and tell the story of the Global War.  

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