Max Bechtel

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Max Bechtel (14.5.1913 - 28.11.1982) was a communist politician and between 1955 and 1982 the Chairman of the Popular Council of the Socialist Republic of Leonstein. Also known for a number of important theoretical works in the area of Applied Socialism, Bechtel is generally accepted to have shaped the political arena of Leonstein for many years, and said to be the architect of both the First and the Second Leonsteiner War.


[edit] Childhood and early Campaigning

Born in 1913 into a fairly poor family of twelve, Bechtel surprised many with his intellect at a young age. His father, working in a steel mill, could not afford to provide his son with a quality education, but he managed to occasionally buy second-hand books.
First showing a keen interest in theology and philosophy, the young Max soon shifted his interest to Marxist critiques of Capitalism and the history of the Communist Movement. Fascinated by the Russian Revolution, the twenty-year old Bechtel left home for the USSR, where he got further education in methods and goals of the revolution.
Upon returning to Leonstein in 1947, he immediately set upon changing the political situation in the First Republic, first by inspiring various union movements and writing agitative scriptures, later by helping to start the People's Front for a Democratic Leonstein (PFDL). Started during a meeting of various dissenters and union leaders, this party made for a curious mix of Communists, Socialists and Ordoliberals. Nonetheless, the PFDL gained in strength, and soon became the driving force in the revolution.

[edit] Revolution and War

The Leonsteiner Revolution was primarily organised by the PFDL, and lasted until 1953, when the First Republic ended and the PDFL was meant to take over power. However, by then the differences between the two wings of the movement had become too strong, and Bechtel realised that it could no longer serve the creation of a Socialist Leonstein.
After the failure of the Ahlen Conference in early 1953, Bechtel led the first militia force of the First Leonsteiner War into the capital, and took it after a short and violent confrontation.
By then he had become the principal leader of the Left in the country, and his speeches and writings inspired thousands to join the PDA, the Popular Defense Army - a large militia, which over time split apart with its core forming the armed forces of the later Socialist Republic of Leonstein.
When the war ended in 1955, with enormous damage done to the nation and more than 700,000 dead, Bechtel was elected the Chairman of the Popular Council unanimously. His first project was to introduce a Soviet-style economic system with all industries being nationalised, and three-year plans forming the grounds for economic recovery. At the same time, he commissioned the creation of a new capital for the new nation, which he christened "Zentralia".

[edit] Leader of the SRL

The planned economy did wonders for economic recovery, with early famines paling in comparison to what the people had endured during the war. Industries were rebuilt, and Zentralia soon became the largest, most impressive metropolis in the nation.
Buoyed by these successes, voices began to call for a forced reunification with the North, which had enjoyed a slower recovery, and was often seen as a soft target. Further strengthened by Soviet support with military materials, Bechtel agreed to the plan to attack the North in 1961, and which was to be carried mainly by Armoured Forces.
However, the Second Leonsteiner War did not go well, and the early offensive was soon worn down by the North's airpower and stubborn resistance. For nearly four years the stalemate lasted, with neither side being able to break the lines. After the last Southern Offensive got stuck, Bechtel agreed to peace talks which resulted in the creation of a definite border between the two nations and a DMZ.
After the 1965 peace accord, the two nations cut all contact completely. Only occasionally would spies or reconaissance missions cross the borders, with propaganda on both sides leading to an increasing glorification of the horrible wars that had occured earlier, and rampant militarism. Even plans to obtain Nuclear Weapons were pondered, but lacking Soviet support, Bechtel could not create the funds and knowledge necessary.
However, the star of the SRL was sinking. Repeatedly falling ill, Bechtel began to lose control of his party, with different factions beginning to deviate on issues like foreign policy or freedom of speech. At the same time, the SRL's economy was breaking apart, with numerous new technologies transforming the North while the South's government was faced with more and more production bottlenecks and shortages. While initially protests were infrequent and of no major importance, by the early 1980s the population was restless.
After suffering a stroke in 1979, Max Bechtel was spending much of his time in bed, while party officials contradicted each other and did little to solve the grave issues facing the SRL.

[edit] The Summer Protest and Conspiracy Theories

In Summer 1982 nationwide protests spread, with voices calling for democratisation and the end of the Socialists' rule. During this time Max Bechtel did not act, a single Television appearance only serving to convince the public that his rule was over. Old and frail, even his loyal supporters could do little but pity him.
When the army finally cracked down on the protests, and an international scandal was only averted by the surprisingly low number of dead, the party leadership decided that change was needed. In October they asked Bechtel to step down, but he refused. Since the constitution did not provide for a mechanism to force him, there seemed little choice but to wait for Bechtel's death.
Surprisingly, Max Bechtel died in late November, less than three weeks after the last resignation offer was rejected. Only a week later, Günther von Hagen, a relative newcomer in the party leadership, was chosen as new Chairman.
There have been many theories regarding Bechtel's sudden death. Official accounts speak of liver- and kidney failure, but most Leonsteiners believe that he was poisoned. No such allegations could be proven, and understandably no records exist of such a plan. Nonetheless, with the autopsy record being officially stamped by the party headquarters, the exact circumstances of Max Bechtel's death remain shady.

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