08 February 2012

Schmidtennistan Files part 2: Inner Workings of the Reich

Seven decades ago my grandfather was a child in Nazi-Germany, playing war-games with a friend of his. These games were rather elaborate and involved not only toy soldiers but also diplomacy and even bureaucratic processes of the two countries involved. I found the files containing what my grandfather made up back then and here is the second part of my analysis of them. For the first part, go here.

Schmidtennistan is a military dictatorship. A protocoll about an answer to a diplomatic letter sent to their closest ally/constant enemy Dreessenistan casually remarks that it was replied by the Dreessenistani military dictatorship, which makes it seem like they view themselves as something different but just look at the names of the list of the Schmidtennistani government my grandfather meticulously created: Reichspräsident (president) General Duro, Reichskanzler (cancellor) General Duro [both the same person - just like Hitler at the time, which for my grandfather, born in the 1920s, was probably a synonym for government], Foreign Minister Oberleutnant Wallmar, Ministry of Interior Hauptmann (Captain) Feng and the list goes on. Every single member of government is apparently from a military background. It's your typical fascist junta, I guess.

The chapter about economy contains only two price-lists, one hand-written in (for me illegible) Sütterlin-handwriting as was fashionable at the time in Germany, one typed in Latin font. The latter claims to be state-ordered so it's obvious that the Schmidtennistani economy was a war-time or pre-war economy where the state had a hard say in what was worth how much. As Schmidtennistan appears to have been constantly either at war with Dreessenistan or recovering from such a war or preparing for the next one, this makes sense. Irritatingly there is a chapter called Trade right after the economy-chapter (which I would assume should have included trade-agreements and such, but it is empty. As is the next chapter, which is on traffic. Apparently, Lieutenant Busch, minister of traffic, didn't have too hard of a job or was very sloppy about documenting his work.

The three chapters that contain the most material by far are first and foremost the foreign-relations department, followed by the war-department and at last the ministry of interior. The interior-files include said list of ministers, which gives a glimpse of the priorities of Schmidtennistani government. There are ministries of interior and foreign relations, for finances and for justice, a ministry of the army, a ministry of economy, a different one for work, a ministry for postal services, one for traffic, one for all things naval and one for colonies. The grandeur of a colonial empire was, of course, a thought left over from World War I that in Nazi-Germany was having a resurgence at the time. The interesting thing about the interior files is that everything contained besides the list of ministers (signed and sealed by a Generalfeldmarschall who isn't named - an obvious stand-in for Hindenburg), it contains two letters, which upon closer inspection are apparently a conversation that my grandfather had with himself, as they are the bureaucratic back-and-forth of a diplomat requesting funds for renovating the embassy to Dreessenistan, arguing that the Dreessenistani public needs to be impressed by the building. What exactly this corresponds to in the real world is questionable. Were it a mere product of fantasy, I would expect it to contain descriptions of lavish furniture but it requests room for a bed and a table and a new window in the upper storey of the embassy, which makes me believe it was about something like maybe a tree-house in the Dreessen family-garden?

Whatever may be the case, every letter in here, even the one ordering the building of a travelling-trailer for the president are signed with different signatures that my grandfather apparently practiced for just this purpose. Can't say he wasn't an immersive player. A curious note is a 'public letter' dated 18th of April 1938 that proclaims a government edict dissolving the army, demolishing the weapons and fortresses and turning the countries single bomber into a passenger-plane. Strange but perhaps creating a timeline will help with this.

In the next installment of this series we shall take a look at the foreign relations with at least four other nations (Dreessenistan, Halleristan, Friedungshöh, Kühnistan). Diplomacy, betrayal and war seem to have been in constant shift between Schmidtennistan and its neighbours. There are treaties, contracts, declarations of war, demands of surrender and a very long speech about how war is the only option in there. And also lists of soldiers. So stay tuned!

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