1635: The Eastern Front — Snippet 19

1635: The Eastern Front — Snippet 19

The meeting room was on the second floor, where most of the smaller meeting rooms were located, as well as the offices of the city’s CoC. The big assembly hall was on the first floor, along with the offices of various organizations affiliated to the CoC. Those included the city’s trade unions as well as the regional and national trade union federations; the sanitation commission; credit unions; life and health insurance co-operatives; the retirement insurance association. The smallest office held the just-launched employment-insurance co-operative.

The building’s basement, just as was true of the city’s official Rathaus, was given over to a huge tavern. And, just as with the one in the basement of the Rathaus on Hans Richter Strasse — or the now famous Thuringian Gardens in Grantville — that tavern was a social and political center.

German traditions of self-organization were already deeply-rooted. The up-time Americans, smugly certain as Americans so often were that their own customs were unique, had been surprised to discover the ubiquitous town and city militias with their accompanying shooting clubs. They’d thought the tradition of armed self-defense — not to mention the National Rifle Association — to be quintessentially American.

The up-timers could claim considerable credit for inspiring some of the rapidly-growing voluntary associations, true enough, especially the trade unions and the credit unions. Others seemed to them somewhat outlandish. Americans were certainly familiar with sports clubs, but they were quite unaccustomed to seeing such clubs — as with most of the insurance co-operatives — so closely associated with a political movement. But they would have been perfectly familiar to the German Social Democrats of the nineteenth century who had surrounded their powerful political party with such organizations.

****

Gretchen herself took the situation for granted, including the informal give-and-take between the CoC headquarters and the Rathaus. At any given time of the day or night, you were just as likely to find a city sanitation official discussing his business with CoC activists in their tavern as you were to find CoC activists in the tavern at the Rathaus wrangling over issues involving the city militias with one of the mayor’s deputies.

She’d experienced that sort of informal dual power before, during the siege of Amsterdam. There, too, the CoC she’d organized had been as much the center of authority as the city’s official government. And the reasons had been much the same: military weakness on the part of the official authorities combined with very real if often informal military strength on the part of the radical plebeians.

When Gretchen entered the meeting room and saw the uncertain and dubious expression on the face of the woman from the Vogtland, it was obvious to her that the Vogtlander did not know what to make of it all. Gretchen was not surprised. The Vogtland, because of its terrain and being part of Saxony, had been isolated from the political developments which had transformed most of the Germanies since the Ring of Fire. The region had shared in those developments, true. In some ways, in fact, the political struggle was even sharper than most places, especially since the Saxon Elector had placed Holk in charge of pacifying the region. But the Vogtlander rebels were programmatically limited — “down with the Elector!” pretty much summed it up — and were tactically one-sided.

Gretchen took her seat across the table from the Vogtland woman, whose name was Anna Piesel. She was apparently betrothed to Georg Kresse, the recognized leader of the Vogtland rebellion. Tata sat down beside her.

Gretchen had to be careful here. The Committees of Correspondence were the largest and best-known — certainly the best-financed and organized — of Europe’s revolutionary organizations. But they were not the only one. In Franconia, for instance, the dominant organization was the Ram movement.

The CoCs were the only revolutionary organization with a national scope, even an international one. So it was inevitable that they would overshadow the other groups, all of whom were regional in character. In times past, over-bearing attitudes by CoC activists ignoring local conditions had produced some bad clashes. Gretchen had had to intervene personally in one such conflict, in Suhl, when the local CoC tried to run roughshod over the gun manufacturers who, whatever their political faults, still commanded the loyalty and confidence of the city’s population.

The situation in the Vogtland posed a similar danger. There was no question that Kresse’s movement had the support and allegiance of most people in the region who were opposed to the Elector’s rule. Unfortunately, from what Gretchen and the other national CoC leaders could determine, Kresse had a tendency to see political problems through a military lens. That was perhaps inevitable, given the origins of the movement and the conditions in southwestern Saxony. But while that sort of almost-exclusively military approach might work well enough in the mountains of the Vogtland, it was an insufficient basis for establishing a new political regime in the region as a whole.

Saxony was not the Vogtland. Dresden and Leipzig were major cities, cultural as well as population centers. The university at Leipzig, in fact, was the second-oldest in the Germanies. It had been founded in 1409 and was still very prominent, especially in law.

There was simply no way that a movement based in the Vogtland, and one whose approach was almost entirely military, was going to provide the basis for replacing the rule of the Elector with a Saxon republic. On their own, Kresse and his people didn’t even have the military strength to overthrow John George. They certainly didn’t have the political experience and acumen to handle the situation that would be produced in Saxony if — as Gretchen and all the CoC leaders assumed was going to happen — Gustav Adolf crushed the Saxon army in the coming war.

What then? The same guerrilla tactics that worked well enough against a general like Holk would not work against the sort of military administration the Swedes would set up in Saxony. Gustav Adolf did not rule like John George — and, perhaps more directly to the point, would not try to suppress the Vogtland using the methods of Heinrich Holk. Dealing with him was like dealing with Fredrik Hendrik, the Prince of Orange in the Low Countries — or the new Spanish king, for that matter. Such men were not brutes, and they were willing to make accommodations when necessary. Sometimes they were even allies.

On the other hand…

There would be no way to move forward in Saxony in direct opposition to Kresse and his people, either. Nor would it be correct to do so. Whatever their flaws and limitations, their unyielding struggle against dynasticism and aristocratic rule deserved support and respect.

Anna Piesel had been scrutinizing her since Gretchen entered the room. She’d barely glanced at Tata. Now she spoke abruptly.

“So, what’s your answer? Will you come to Dresden?”

As they’d pre-arranged, Spartacus answered that question.

“She can’t, Anna. From everything we’ve been able to determine, Wilhelm Wettin is planning to force a drastic reactionary program onto the USE. When that happens, there’ll be an explosion — and it’ll be centered here in Magdeburg. There’s simply no way we could allow such a central leader as Gretchen to leave the capital right now.”

Piesel got a pinched look on her face, her eyes narrow. Now Gretchen spoke, gesturing with her hand toward Tata.

“But here’s what we can do. We’ll send a team of organizers into Dresden with Tata here in charge.”

Piesel shifted her narrow gaze to Tata. “And who’s she?”

Tata looked uncomfortable. Spartacus’s eyes widened and his lips tightened, as if distressed that anyone could be so ignorant but too polite to say so.

Gunther Achterhof just chuckled. “We figure if she can persuade a duke to turn over an entire duchy, she can handle the aftermath of the Elector’s defeat well enough.”

Piesel’s eyes got wide also. Obviously, although the name hadn’t registered, she’d heard the story.

“Oh,” she said, after a couple of seconds. Then she gave Tata a shy smile. “Well. I guess that would be okay.”

****

After Piesel left, Tata turned to Gretchen. “This is crazy. I don’t have enough experience. And that story’s silly and you know it.”

Achterhof waved his hand. “Stop worrying, girl. We really are sending a team of good organizers, headed by Joachim Kappel. You’ll do fine. Just listen to Joachim.”

“Why don’t you put him in charge, then?”

“Nobody except us has ever heard of him,” said Spartacus. “You’re famous.”

“It’s a silly story,” she insisted.

Gunther shrugged. “Most stories are. But people still like to listen to them.”

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8 Responses to 1635: The Eastern Front — Snippet 19

  1. laclongquan says:

    Wise move! A political figurehead will attract public attentions and detract notice to the group of organizers behind her. People ‘on the know’ will dismiss the girl as an empty-headed girl.

    Of course, the comment of “sweettalk a duke out of his duchy” is not without merits. People ‘in the know’ also are in for a rude awakening. And they need it, badly.

  2. Mike says:

    So does this set up a possible dismemberment of Saxony? Vogtland going one way, other pieces another? Say perhaps, Lusatia going to Wallenstein for any efforts on his part? Wallenstein and Pappenheim might want to go after Holk due to his prior actions. Lusatia is “Saxon” per the 1634 poster sized-map. Maybe that long salient would go to SoTF?

  3. Peter says:

    I would bet on the SOTF biting off at least a few bits of Saxony, even if only on a temporary administrative basis.

  4. robert says:

    @2 Where can one find the map yo which you refer, please?

  5. Mike says:

    @4 – The map was a promo through the Grantville Gazette website. Looks like it still is: http://www.grantvillegazette.com/amember/signup.php You need to join at a certain level of membership.

    Even so, if you look at the maps in the front of most of the books, you can more or less see the area that is Lusatia as being part of Saxony. (Under Saxon administration since 1620 as the price to buy off Saxon Elector to fight against Winter King) In OTL, it didn’t officilly become Saxon until 1635 Peace of Prague, but I bet Saxony claimed it when the CPE was formed.

    Most of the 1634 books that have a map of the USE show the long trailing salient of Saxony that goes pretty deep into the Thuringian portion of the SoTF. Given that the SoTF and the Upper Palatinate discussed a deal to swap exclave territories (at least, discussed by Keith Pilcher and the Wettin sibling administrator) it wouldn’t be a big surprise for SoTF to annex that piece.

  6. ET1swaw says:

    @2 AFAIK the reason Lusatia is “Saxon” on the map is it was ADMINISTRATIVELY given in 1620 to Saxony by HRE. OTL it wasn’t OFFICIALLY turned over until 1635. That being so, it could be said that Lusatia (with exception of Cottbus and environs that belong to Branndenburg-Prussia) already belong to Wallenstein and are contiguous with Bohemia and Silesia (both already belonging to him)!
    IMO additon of Vogtland rebels is an ingathering of OTL historical figures as reinforcement. 163x-verse stories (including GG and Baen’s Bar) are very specific and prolific in use of OTL historical figures. It is often said that the bar is an education and I heartily agree.

  7. Mike says:

    @4 – the map is from the Grantville Gazette per a certain level of subscription.

    @5 – While Lusatia is indeed in the status of administratively not officially in OTL, in this timeline, it likely is official as of 1632 with formation of CPE. Lusatia being colored as part of Saxony seems to imply that it is not part of Wallenstein’s domain. (For that matter, Silesia is a different color than Bohemia & Moravia) Since Wallenstein didn’t rebel until after CPE formed but prior to USE, it’s not as if Lusatia could be given over. It’s still Saxon at the above point in 1635: EF. Don’t know if Wallenstein would really want it anyway as it goes opposite direction from his force-line projection in Anaconda Plan.

  8. laclongquan says:

    A medieval lord that turn his nose at additional lands? The mind boggles!

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