Adolf von Hessler (b. 27 January 1879 d. 1951) was the German Emperor's prime assistant during the Second Great War. Because of his devotion to the war and unifying the Holy Roman Empire he was given the nickname of 'Adolf I'.
Eldest son of a highly decorated feldmarschall, Adolf von Hessler and his younger brother both graduated with honors from the same military academy as their illustrious father. Adolf was thought initially too frail for such, much to the family's dismay, but at an early age Adolf displayed the willpower that was to shape XXth century history. He pushed himself physically, eventually becoming a boxer of some repute. More, he was careful about his health. He never smoked, rarely drank, and although he had a tendency to gain weight in fact was extremely careful of his diet up until the end. At school, he showed the talents which would carry him far--a prodigious memory which resulted in an encyclopedic knowledge of history, politics and military science. One of his instructors noted that the young man was able to apply past knowledge with great skill, but faltered when faced with genuinely new situations. This proved prophetic.
Richard von Hessler (1881-1917), the younger brother, did better in terms of leadership and physical prowess. As the First Great War heated up, he joined the fledgeling Luftwaffe and by 1916 was an "Ace," having earned the famous "Blue Max" at age 27. When Richard was killed in a flying accident in 1917, the family was devastated. The brother of his fiancée, Ernst von Gehringer, was one of his pallbearers and became Adolf's best friend.
The future Chancellor spent much of the war in Berlin, chaffing for action in the field. He got it the same year his brother was killed, and in fact distinguished himself. Physical courage, focus on the situation and a strange charisma--not like the happy popularity of Richard but more akin (some said) to that of the Russian mystic Rasputin--won him success and promotion. More, it won him the recognition of the Kaiser, who wanted the relatively young officer with him at court.
When the Empire failed to achieve its war aims, Kaiser Wilhelm II blamed his advisers and looked for new ones. The Imperial Court was for some years an extremely volatile place. But ultimately, the one man who proved most in sync with the Kaiser, the man able to please and appease and encourage and soothe the tempestuous monarch was the man he made a feldmarschall like his father--Adolf von Hessler (later the title of Großfeldmarschall was created for him).
The Chancellor brought his considerable abilities to bear on a simple plan. One day, he said, there would be another war. The Holy Roman Empire must win it. To do that, the Empire must be dominated by Prussia, and must be prepared for war better than her enemies. At this point, in what was really his prime, Hessler showed real skill and foresight. Recognizing he himself did not understand many of the more modern aspects of war, he cultivated those who did--Kurt Doenitz and his U-boats, Guderian and his ideas of tank tactics, and of course his friend Gehringer.
All during the 1930s Hessler pursued two general goals with considerable success.
- He built up and improved the Wehrmacht, the Luftwaffe and the Kriegsmarine. This latter was tricky, but technically the Kaiser's navy was part of the Scandinavian Realm's fleet, but on the other hand the Empire was paying for it so who would object? Besides, he also copied a trick from the English prior to the First Great War. The Holy Roman Empire offered to build and sell battleships to other nations. This gave them income, practical experience building ships, and also gave them the opportunity to "seize" such ships due to irregularities of payment and/or the outbreak of hostilities. These last came in handy when war finally came.
- He also pursued a policy of bringing the entire HRE under the dominance of the Kaiser. Not surprisingly, Wilhelm II was very pleased as his choice of Chancellor proceeded to achieve this aim.
The Second Great War began in 1935 when the Empire attacked Helvetia. Helvetia wasn't exactly popular among the other countries of the world, because in the not-too-distant past it had been quite belligerent itself; apart from a few official protests, nobody interfered and Germany was allowed to do its thing there. Helvetia was conquered and incorporated in the beginning of 1939.
In March 1939 the Russian leader Vissarionov concluded a secret treaty with Germany, that become known later as the Lipov-Von Korff Treaty. Central and Eastern Europe were divided into two spheres of influence: a part where Germany could do whatever it wanted without Russian interference, and vice versa. Germany attacked Veneda on 1 September 1939, and slightly more than two weeks later, on 18 September, Russia invaded Lithuania. In response to these invasions, the Allied Powers (the Federated Kingdoms, France, the Italies) formally declared war on the Allianz, although initially it did not come to any fighting. This marks the official beginning of the Second Great War.
Initially, the Großartige Allianz proved successful. By 1941, it had most of Europe under its control. The FK seemed on the verge of signing a peace treaty, especially with Hessler's friend Sherrinford Bell as Foreign Secretary under Lord Halifax, who wanted no part of a second "War To End All Wars." Things did not turn out the way Hessler or the Kaiser would have wished, although Hessler himself pointed out that with Prussia firmly in control of so much of France, the Holy Roman Empire might well end up including much of the territory once ruled by Charlemagne--a sentiment that Wilhelm II found attractive.
Two factors would eventually determine the final defeat of the Allianz: mutual distrust between Russia and Germany that would cause a split in the Allianz and finally escalate into a war in 1943, and Germany's failed attack on Scandinavia.
Blinded by success, Hessler, who had become Germany's indisputed leader after the Emperor's death, made a capital mistake: in 1945, he launched an attack on Rygen, which was a Danish fief and thus an integral part of the Scandinavian Realm. From a geopolitical point of view this attack made sense; besides, Rygen had been annoying Hessler for a long time, because most people who managed to escape the country did so by crossing the border with Rygen, from where they took the boat to Denmark, Sweden, or other parts of the world. Indeed preparations for the attack had been made much earlier, but were never realized because of the war with Russia.
All his life Hessler had shown a tendency towards what we would call Manic Depression or bipolar personality disorder. As he found himself confronted with a war on three fronts, feeling his age, having lost his best (perhaps only) friend (Gehringer), his "dark days" (as those around him referred to them) got darker and more frequent. His temper, which he had spent his entire adult life keeping under control, began to appear more and more frequently. His patience frayed. Those close to him reported Hessler suffered from night terrors, which increased his anxieties as did the lack of sleep.
Germany's defeat seemed irreversible. In an act of utter desperation, Hessler ordered the deployment of a new weapon, the atomic bomb. There was only one prototype at that time, although the factory manufacturing heavy water was going nonstop. The scientists working on the project warned the Chancellor the weapon might not even work. He ordered the Luftwaffe to drop it on the city of Łódź, Veneda's second largest industrial city, where the Russian military headquarters were established, on 18 October 1948. Up until then, Hessler had shown some restraint in terms of what could be done. Although he could be a butcher in war, his preference was to be a surgeon. For example, he never sanctioned the use of gas warfare, although the temptation must have been great. But in the greatest secrecy, he had the Luftwaffe fly the bomb secretly into the city limits, since Veneda's skies were now under the control of the White Air Force. It didn't even have to be too close to the center of the city. Over 25,000 people were killed, and the city's entire historical centre was devastated. The nuking of Łódź was followed by a vast military offensive, which forced the Russian troops to retreat. However, this would only temporarily delay Germany's ultimate defeat.
More, it convinced the bulk of the officer corps that Hessler had gone too far. They also remembered mustard gas attacks from the First Great War and this reminded them all too clearly of that. Such might have been forgiven if it were followed up by military victories, even at the cost of more nuclear explosions. But a Russian airship destroyed the lone heavy water facility in a bombing raid, ironically enough the day before the bomb was detonated.
What followed was not quite a coup, but something very similar. Technically, Wilhelm III had the authority to dismiss the Chancellor, but he hadn't done so while Hessler commanded the military as well as the allegiance of the Prussian people. With the remarkable shift of public opinion in 1949, the Kaiser pushed forward a plan to ouster the Chancellor. Wilhelm with his core of dissidents prepared all necessary legal paperwork to remove Hessler from power under pretense of medical failings. Hessler was accosted outside his home by several Wehrmacht officers with medical personnel who had come to escort him to a hospital. After a brief altercation, Hessler was wrestled into a waiting truck, where he was sedated and delivered to the care of local hospitals.
He remained under the care of various doctors and in several hospitals for the next two and a half years, until his death. During this time he was heavily medicated, but did have moments of lucidity, wherein he raved about conspiracies against him, claiming the Masons were trying to break his will, that he was needed in Berlin to conduct the war, and he refused to believe the war had ended when contradicted.
An autopsy revealed the cause of death was a brain tumor. Some historians still speculate about its possible side effects on his actions.
Holy Roman Emperor
John Cowan suggested (March 21, 2004), in regards to the bombing of Łódź:
My idea is that since the Luftwaffe had by this stage been reduced to impotence, the A-bomb of Lodz was not dropped but rather smuggled in by a group of sacrificial fanatics, core Hessler loyalists.
But when Hessler announced this "heroic masterstroke in the War of Destiny" (his usual name for GW2), the public reaction was not at all what he expected. Instead, Germans were horrified by the destructive power of the bomb, as well as the fanaticism required to use it, and the decisive shift in public opinion that resulted brought the Hessler government to its fall and the war to its eventual end.
Cool. Germany could then lead way for atomic nonproliferation in the postwar world. Even if it is all scrambled up at the moment.
Jan I in turn replied:
Excellent! So it shall be. And I would also like to adopt Marc's suggestion: "it was an act of deperassion so Hessler probably dropped the prototype. Unfortunatly for him, in the few days following it, a raid on their hard water factory (by SK resistant in occupied territory) prevented the manufacture of any more bombs." I very much like the prototype idea. But instead of a raid of the resistence, I'd rather believe that it simply was a Russian bomb that destroyed the German A-bomb factory.
And in response to Hessler's fall:
Interesting. That would mean that Germany's capitulation was preceded by a shift of power. No Berlin bunker thing *there*. I hadn't thought of that, but it certainly make sense.