Friday, February 26, 2010

DBTL 66: The Party's Over

This is the latest installment in the Drowned Baby Timeline, an alternate history where Adolf Hitler drowned at birth and where World War II never took place. The death of Josef Stalin in 1946 while the Soviet Union is at war with the Japanese Empire results in the rise to power of General Vasili Gordov, the Commander-in-Chief of the Red Army, with the Politburo and the rest of the Communist apparatchiks relegated to a junior role -- something the members of the Politburo are not happy about, and which they take steps to correct . . .

Moscow, USSR
1 July 1954

Werner Heisenberg stood behind a metal barricade on the edge of Red Square and watched as the Kremlin burned in the night. Beside him stood Defense Commissar Vasili Gordov and Foreign Commissar Andrei Gromyko. The field guns on their left had fallen silent, their work done. Gordov was, as usual, angry.

"My God! What the hell did those fools think they were doing?" he bellowed.

The question didn't really call for an answer, but Gromyko provided one anyway. "They were trying to save their jobs."

"And destroy the country while they were at it!" Gordov fumed. "Now what are we going to do?"

"You were planning to purge the Politburo," Gromyko pointed out. "This simply advances your timetable."

"But who can I replace them with?" said Gordov. "They lured thousands of apparatchiks into joining their treason. Were it not for the valiant stand made by the Comrade Director here at Nizhnevartovsk, they might have succeeded. The Politburo is gone, the Central Committee has been compromised, and the whole Party has been tainted by their actions. Now the Soviet Union is in an uproar, and it is all my troops can do to hold things together!"

"There is always the Supreme Soviet," Heisenberg suggested.

Gordov burst out laughing. "Those dummies?"

"With the Party organization in shreds," Heisenberg said, "those dummies are all you have left."

"But they're utterly worthless," Gordov insisted. "That's why they're on the Supreme Soviet to begin with."

"Then you'll have to replace them," said Heisenberg.


"Hold elections," Heisenberg suggested. "You were planning to make the Central Committee elective. Theoretically, the Supreme Soviet already is. Just announce new elections for the Soviet, and you'll have a new government ready to assume control in place of the Central Committee and the Politburo."

"Impossible," Gordov declared. "The Central Committee I was ready for, but it would take too long to choose the proper men for the Supreme Soviet."

"So don't choose them," said Heisenberg. "Let the people choose them."

Gordov stared at Heisenberg for a long time before he said, "You really mean that, don't you?"

"Comrade Commissar, I do."

"But they could elect anyone!" Gordov exclaimed. "Nationalists, monarchists, mimes, anyone! How could I be expected to maintain control of such a mob?"

"The way the leaders of other countries do," said Heisenberg. "Bribery, persuasion, and arm-twisting."

"Impossible," Gordov repeated.

"Comrade Commissar, we have to do something," said Gromyko.

"Andrei Andreievich, not you too!"

"We cannot rely on the Party," Gromyko insisted, "and your soldiers are trained to fight, not to govern. Who else is there?"

Gordov shook his head. "Things have reached a pretty pass when we're reduced to letting the government run the country!" He sighed. "It is true, there is no one else. But you mark my words, Andrei Andreievich, once the Supreme Soviet starts to run things, there'll be no controlling them!" After brooding in silence for a time, he added, "And I sure as hell won't be leaving those atom bombs in their hands. Comrade Director, I want men from your Commission running the plant at Nizhnevartovsk within the week. Them, at least, I don't have to worry about."

"Yes, Comrade Commissar."

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