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Cold War Grim

Something that is often overlooked in AH is that for every possible alternative that gives the US/UK a better position for the start of the cold war, there is at least two alternatives that do the exact opposite – placing Stalin in a much stronger position.  Here is perhaps the least unlikely, short of starting a USSR/US/UK war in 1945.

In 1944, Stalin could confidently predict the defeat of Nazi Germany.  The USSR had massive superiority in all categories of weapons, the western allies had (at last) invaded France and Germany’s position was decaying beyond repair.  This is perhaps the best place for the soviets to grab as much territory as they can before the west’s positions and attitudes harden. 

Start with Finland.  In OTL, Stalin took back his gains from 1940, but left the rest of the nation alone.  In ATL, he invades Finland and crushes the nation with ease, which allows him to impose a communist dictatorship on Finland.  Most of the remaining Finns go underground as the Finnish government planned.  This gives Stalin a chance to grab for Norway as well, which he does towards the end of 1945.  The Germans did not have very strong forces in Norway, so the Soviets should be able to pose as an army of liberation.  The USSR occupies Norway and has one of the show elections that somehow always go the USSR’s way.  Norway becomes communist. 

Next change is in Germany.  Historically, the soviets wasted millions of troops destroying the German ‘fortress cities’.  In ATL, let’s have the soviets lay siege to the cities instead of fighting for them, while pushing the western borders as far back as possible.  The soviets might manage to occupy Denmark before the Americans get to meet the soviet forces. 

The soviets refuse to allow the west inside the borders they’ve taken, pointing to the ‘elections’ as the ‘will of the people’ and claiming that it’s theirs by rights.  They’ve liberated more territory than the west, or so they claim.  The soviets also refuse to leave their portion of Iran, in which they impose a communist regime and establish military bases. 

Finally, the soviets launch the OTL invasion of Manchuria.  The soviets occupy all the territory they took in OTL plus Korea.  They officially hand it over to the ChiComms, but real power lies with the red army and Stalin’s goons – Mao goes to Moscow and never comes back.  The Chinese will not be allowed to break ranks. 

Japan surrenders when the Americans drop atomic bombs on two cities and there are rumours that the soviets are preparing to invade.  Truman accepts their surrender and quickly moves US navy units to Japan – intent on heading off a soviet invasion.  The soviets don’t pull the trigger, but they make their displeasure known. 

Potsdam comes as OTL.  Truman is seriously annoyed at the Soviet actions.  On the other hand, American public opinion won’t move against the USSR and the mood is to bring the troops home as fast as possible.  Stalin’s domination of Eastern Europe, two-thirds of Germany, Finland, Norway and Chinese Manchuria is tacitly confirmed.  Stalin demands a share in the government of Italy, which Truman refuses, and Stalin refuses to allow the French any part in the governing of Germany unless they allow their communists ‘equal’ shares in government. 

Problems continue.  The Indian Communists don’t launch their 1946 strike.  Instead they arm themselves and pour fuel on the fire of Indian ferment.  The British withdraw rapidly as any form of peace becomes impossible when Gandhi is murdered and the British are blamed.  Behind them, India collapses into civil war and the communists eventually take over.  Meanwhile, the position of the Chinese Nationalists is weakening as the communists are extending their influence and undermining Chiang.  American support for the nationalists is only making them more unpopular.  Chiang’s people had no clue how to govern in any case. 

The French head rapidly towards a civil war.  The communists are claiming that the Americans deliberately armed the Algerians who are fighting for independence, while the DeGaulle government blames soviet stooges.  French participation in any form of NATO-analogue becomes impossible as US personal in France are attacked by French nationalists and communists. 

Truman tries hard to put together an anti-soviet coalition.  He makes loans to Britain and offers to cancel all the British debts if they continue to work with America.  Atlee accepts the offer and the US is able to base troops in Britain and British territory.  The British can’t do much to help as their empire is collapsing bit by bit.  American also annexes the Danish territories and the French Caribbean islands. 

Summery:  We have the USSR dominating most of the European continent.  We have a state of near civil war in France.  We have a bankrupt Britain, dependent upon American aid.  We have Korea, Manchuria and Northern Iran in soviet hands.  We have the rest of East Asia slowly gravitating towards the USSR.  The Cold War is on…

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