Tag Archives: United States

Mining, Decolonization, and the Cold War: The Congo Crisis

60 years ago, the Republic of the Congo – one of the largest newly independent countries in Africa – was embroiled in a bitter struggle. Four domestic factions claimed either their right to rule the country or to secede from it. The struggle was completed by the international agents ensnared it ranging from the old colonial power Belgium over the superpowers to the United Nations who wanted to preserve their business interests, score points in the Cold War, or redefine their international role. We need to look at the Congo’s colonial past before we can understand the Congo Crisis and, following this, its bloody legacy. As always, board games will guide our way.

Continue reading

The Great Enfranchisement: Women’s Suffrage in the United States and the United Kingdom

The United States are on the eve of an election. In a democracy, this is when the people (so prominent a term in the founding documents of the United States) are called upon to have their say and decide the future of their country. Yet, for a long time in American history, only a very limited amount of Americans were called upon to cast their votes on a Tuesdays in November – because of their race, their class, and also because of their gender. 100 years ago, the 19th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States ended the latter practice and gave women equal suffrage rights with men. We’ll look upon the roots of that long struggle for equality and at the political machinations that led to the ratification of the 19th Amendment, drawing strongly on two soon-to-be published board games: The Vote (Tom Russell, Hollandspiele), to be released on November 3, and Votes for Women (Tory Brown, Fort Circle Games), to be released in April 2021. Of course, American women were not alone in their fight for voting rights, and the British suffragettes (more on that term later) were particularly influential with the style of their campaigns – and with the board games they published.

Continue reading

Unconditional Surrender! (USEAAR, #31)

This post is part of an after-action report of Unconditional Surrender! (Salvatore Vasta, GMT Games) . However, the document is not fictitious – this was the Act of Military Surrender signed by the German High Command at the end of the war. All I changed is the date and the some of the names of the Allied generals present and witnessing (to better reflect the developments on the fronts in this after-action report).

ACT OF MILITARY SURRENDER

  1. We the undersigned, acting by authority of the German High Command, hereby surrender unconditionally to the Supreme Commander, Allied Expeditionary Force and simultaneously to the Supreme High Command of the Red Army all forces on land, sea, and in the air who are at this date under German control.
  2. The German High Command will at once issue orders to all German military, naval and air authorities and to all forces under German control to cease active operations at 2301 hours Central European time on 12th July 1943, to remain in the positions occupied at that time and to disarm completely, handing over their weapons and equipment to the local allied commanders or officers designated by Representatives of the Allied Supreme Commands. No ship, vessel, or aircraft is to be scuttled, or any damage done to their hull, machinery or equipment, and also to machines of all kinds, armament, apparatus, and all the technical means of prosecution of war in general.
  3. The German High Command will at once issue to the appropriate commanders, and ensure the carrying out of any further orders issued by the Supreme Commander, Allied Expeditionary Force and by the Supreme High Command of the Red Army.
  4. This act of military surrender is without prejudice to, and will be superseded by any general instrument of surrender imposed by, or on behalf of the United Nations and applicable to GERMANY and the German armed forces as a whole.
  5. In the event of the German High Command or any of the forces under their control failing to act in accordance with this Act of Surrender, the Supreme Commander, Allied Expeditionary Force and the Supreme High Command of the Red Army will take such punitive or other action as they deem appropriate.
  6. This act is drawn up in the English, Russian and German languages. The English and Russian are the only authentic texts.

Signed at Berlin on the ⁠ 12th⁠ day of July, 1943

VON FRIEDEBURG              ⁠KEITEL ⁠           STUMPFF
On behalf of the German High Command

 

IN THE PRESENCE OF:

CARL SPAATZ
On behalf of the
⁠Supreme Commander
⁠Allied Expedtionary Force

KONSTANTIN ROKOSSOVSKY
On behalf of the
⁠Supreme High Command of the
⁠Red Army

⁠At the signing also were present as witnesses:

F. DE LATTRE-TASSIGNY
General Commanding in Chief
⁠First French Army

KENNETH ANDERSON
General Commanding in Chief
Eighth Army⁠, United Kingdom

You can see the current state of affairs in the game in the Twitter thread:

The Nuclear Bomb (End of World War II, #3)

World War II ended 75 years ago, and so does this miniseries on the matter. The two previous posts on the Great Power conferences and the meeting of Western and Soviet forces have focused on Europe. When the guns fell silent there, fighting still raged on in Asia and the Pacific, where the United States, China, and the British Commonwealth slowly retook the Japanese conquests. Before the Allies would attempt an invasion of the Japanese home islands, they brought their naval and aerial power to bear – including their newest weapon. After years of research and testing, the first nuclear bomb was ready to use. The Americans hoped it would shock the Japanese into accepting surrender. Since then, we live in a nuclear world – with all its implications on the ensuing Cold War, arms control, and board games until today. Continue reading

Decolonization in the Cold War (Decolonization, #3)

Sixty years ago, a whopping 17 former African colonies became independent nations. In commemoration, I’m doing a miniseries on decolonization on this blog. So far, you can read an overview over decolonization and a closer look at decolonization processes within a colony. Today, we’ll deal with decolonization in the international context of the Cold War. All too often, it is assumed that the anticolonial movements and newly independent states were mere pawns in the games of the superpowers. However, they had quite some agency of their own. As you rightly expect, we’ll look at how different board games deal with the complex relationship between the Cold War and decolonization. Continue reading

Report on the Three-Power Conference in Tehran (USEAAR, #25)

This post is part of an after-action report of Unconditional Surrender! (Salvatore Vasta, GMT Games) and therefore entirely fictitious.

Written by Salvatore Graniti, Counsellor of Legation in the Italian diplomatic service, posted at the Foreign Ministry in Rome

November 30, 1942

To his excellency the Foreign Minister of the Kingdom of Italy

Sir,
the following draft for a report on the three-power conference between the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the United States of America held in Tehran is most humbly submitted to you.
The three powers have made agreements regarding the conduct of the war in Europe and the Pacific as well concerning the future peace order for Europe. Continue reading

The Armies Converging (End of World War II, #2)

It’s been 75 years ago since the largest war in human history, World War II, ended. To commemorate this watershed, I’m doing a mini-series here on the blog. The first post has dealt with the conferences in Yalta and Potsdam that decided the post-war order. This one is about the final military campaigns in Europe.
The final act began in the west with the Allied landing in Normandy and the subsequent liberation of France, in the east with the annihilation of the German Army Group Center in Operation Bagration and the following Soviet advance through eastern Europe. In 1945, the Western Allies reached and crossed the Rhine against a disintegrating German army, whereas the Soviets made the final assault on Berlin. Obviously, I’ll discuss some board games along the way. As World War II is the most popular historical subject for board games, I had to pick very selectively. Let me know your favorite games on the end of World War II in Europe in the comments! Continue reading

The Treaty of Versailles (Century of German History, #10)

Friends of history, board games, and history in board games! Last year, I started a series called „Century of German History“ covering Germany’s turbulent 20th century. For every decade, I picked one crucial event (that happened in the year ending in a 9), placed it into the wider context, and illuminated it with exactly one board game. Now those of you who counted might have noticed that I didn’t finish this series in 2019. One event was missing – that of 1919. You might blame that on my laziness, but I swear, this time, that’s not true. The defining event of 1919 is the Treaty of Versailles to end World War I – and I wanted to cover that with the upcoming Versailles 1919 (Geoff Engelstein/Mark Herman, GMT Games). However, while I was ready for Versailles 1919, Versailles 1919 was not ready for me yet. Now, the game is about to go to the printers, and I can write about this intriguing design which made it to my list of most anticipated historical board games to be released this year. We’ll talk about the powers involved in the peacemaking at Versailles, the process of negotiations, and what became of it. Continue reading

Declaration of the Stavanger chapter of the (Norwegian) Labor Party (USEAAR, #21)

This post is part of an after-action report of Unconditional Surrender! (Salvatore Vasta, GMT Games) and therefore entirely fictitious.
Norwegians!
We have not come to war, and yet war has come to us. For the forthcoming fight, the Stavanger chapter of the Labor Party declares:
Continue reading

What Was Decolonization? (Decolonization, #1)

Some years ago, I was just about to finish my undergrad studies in history. I had taken an advanced class on decolonization and was writing my B.A. thesis on the decolonization crisis in Angola. As I was already quite keen on board games back then, I was wondering – was there any board game about decolonization? So, as the 21st century goes, I typed „decolonization board game“ into a search engine. What I found was not exactly an entire board game – just a single card of that title from Twilight Struggle (Ananda Gupta/Jason Matthews, GMT Games), a game of whose existence I had been heretofore only vaguely aware. Twilight Struggle fascinated me. I’d never seen a game which went so deep and meaningful into history. Also, it was about the Cold War, my main research interest. And so an idea ripened within me. Two years later, I began working on my M.A. thesis on the Cold War in board games.
Continue reading