Literature / Third Reich Victorious
wins World War II
. That's how Third Reich Victorious
, edited by Peter G. Tsouras, begins. In it are ten self-contained scenarios of variable but generally 'soft' (lesser) historical 'hardness' (possibility) in which Germany ends up winning against the Allies. A book focusing on Japan's fortunes, called Rising Sun Victorious
, was also published.
The stories contained are:
- "The Little Admiral": What if Hitler had joined the High Seas Fleet during World War I? As a result of naval training and discipline, Hitler becomes a well-versed naval tactician who puts a heavy emphasis on the Kriegsmarine once he comes to power. (Soft - does not account for Anglo-French strategic response to German naval buildup)
- "Disaster at Dunkirk": What if the Wehrmacht had pressed the attack on the British Expeditionary Force? Instead of halting, the Germans surround and assault the BEF, draining the British of their armies. (Soft - logistical constraints. The Germans did not 'halt', they ran out of ammunition and fuel)
- "The Battle of Britain": What if the Luftwaffe didn't switch targets during their bombing campaign? German fighters focus on hitting the RAF, thereby winning against the last stand of the British. (Soft - higher British production, ineffectiveness of strategic bombing in early-war period)
- "The Storm and the Whirlwind": What if the Soviets attacked first? Stalin's generals convince him to strike against the Wehrmacht in Eastern Europe, only to be subject to a devastating German counterattack. (Very Soft - inability to influence Stalin, grand-strategic rationale for further buildup of Soviet forces)
- "The Hinge": What if Rommel had won at the Battle of El Alamein? The brilliant maneuvers of Erwin Rommel and his Afrika Korps manage to outflank the British, leaving the road open for Cairo and the Middle East. (Very Soft - physical and logistical constraints, ability of British to pull forces from other theatres in a true emergency)
- "Into the Caucasus": What if Turkey joined the Axis? With a new ally on the Soviets' backdoor, the Germans advance and seize the oil rich fields of the Caucasus. (Soft - terrain, logistical, weather, strength problems note )
- "Known Allies and Forced Enemies": What if Hitler allowed operational freedom in the summer of 1943? The German generals counterattack in Sicily and defeat the Red Army at Kursk, despite the Allies' best attempts to turn the tide. (Very soft - grossly insufficient strengthnote )
- "Luftwaffe Triumphant": What if the Luftwaffe placed greater emphasis on home defense? With increased concentrations of flak guns and higher production of fighters, the Luftwaffe manages to wrestle away air superiority over Germany. (Medium - production of fighters seen as 'concession of initiative to the enemy'/'admission of defeat', German production capabilities)
- "Hitler's Bomb": What if German scientists built the atomic bomb first? With the war going poorly, Hitler uses the atomic bomb on London and Moscow in a last-ditch effort to win the war. (Very soft - lack of personnel, contempt for 'Jewish physics')
- "Rommel versus Zhukov": What if the plan to kill Hitler succeeded? Coupled with a stunning victory at Normandy, Rommel becomes chancellor of Germany, dismantles the Nazi war apparatus, makes peace with the West, and throws everything into a final battle against the Soviets. (Very soft - utterly hopeless odds and logistical impossibility note )
This Book Contains Examples Of:
- Alternate History: Ten of them.
- And Then What?: Operation Suvorov, executed in the spring of 1945, in "Rommel versus Zhukov." Nazi Germany destroys a large Soviet force in Poland... but the bulk of Soviet forces are still intact and the German economy is still down the toilet. Thankfully, the Western Allies step in to preserve Germany as a bulwark against Communism.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: "The Little Admiral." Not only does World War II start with the invasion of Poland, it begins with the Kriegsmarine trouncing the Royal Navy. It starts with a Pearl Harbor-style attack on Scapa Flow, followed by U-boat wolf packs decimating shipping, and soon after the Battle of France, a successful launch of Operation Sea Lion.
- Easy Logistics: Very. This is common among specialists in German military history, because German military thought of that era did not consider logistics important - German writings and memoirs of the time reflect that oversight.
- Face Death with Dignity: Professor Werner Heisenberg in "Hitler's Bomb." After successfully building the atomic bomb, and witnessing its use on London and Moscow, he has a major crisis of conscience until the Allies launch their invasion of France. He realizes what's about to happen and arranges to meet with Himmler. In the middle of Berlin, Heisenberg tells the Reichsführer that the Allies have their own atomic bombs now. Before Himmler can inquire further, a single American bomber appears over the city and drops its payload...
- Final Battle: Operation Suvorov, executed in the spring of 1945, in "Rommel versus Zhukov." After making peace with the Western Allies, the Germans withdraw from all occupied territories. This allows them to nearly double their combat strength on the Polish Front from 500 000 to over a million, 8000 artillery pieces, and 2000 tanks. The Soviets only have 2 million troops, 40 000 artillery pieces, and 7000 tanks and assault guns to stop them with. This results in a 'final' clash between the Wehrmacht and the Red Army over Poland, with the Wehrmacht using a Kursk-like defensive plan and destroying the Polish Front. This leaves the Red Army with just two million combat soldiers and 2000 tanks, and they won't be able to replace their losses for at least three months!
- For Want of a Nail: Each story involves one decision being different, spiraling into a completely different chain of events. For example, in "The Little Admiral," while on a train ride to Germany, where he intends to join the German Army for the Great War, Hitler happens to share a compartment with a German naval NCO, who then inspires him to accompany him to Kiel and the High Seas Fleet. The NCO then becomes a stern but fair father figure who shakes out Hitler's antisemitic beliefs and instead causes him to believe in something greater than himself. Hitler ends the war as a highly decorated, well-respected, and inspiring first officer aboard a U-boat.
- Four-Star Badass: Many of the German generals, but in particular, Erwin Rommel. The stories include him accepting the surrender of the BEF, plowing through the USSR, securing the Middle East, and, in the last story, becoming the leader of Germany and defeating the Soviets.
- Frontline General: Erwin Rommel, though Tsouras does not appreciate that greater distance from headquarters actually reduced a commander's ability to command in this period (given his greatly reduced ability to receive, process, and transmit information and orders). After becoming Chancellor in "Rommel versus Zhukov," he personally flies out to the Eastern Front to get a report from Field Marshal Model. His Ju52 transport plane is shot at by Soviet fighters and makes a forced landing. However, Rommel is completely unharmed and immediately asks to know from a subordinate where the nearest Soviets are. He then spends the rest of the day organizing delaying actions while the bulk of German forces retreat to more defensible positions.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Hitler of all people attempts one but survives in "The Little Admiral." While on a U-boat patrol during the last weeks of World War I, the boat is struck by depth charges and one of the engine pistons is dislodged, banging against the pressure hull. Hitler leaps in to cushion the piston with his own body, keeping the hull from cracking open and to not alert the surface ships looking for them. He survives, but suffers irreparable damage to his inner ear that affects his balance, ensuring he would never go to sea again.
- Historical-Domain Character: Many. "The Little Admiral" features Albert Einstein, who remains in Germany due to Hitler no longer being a raving anti-semite and works with Naval R&D into building an atomic weapon that eventually wins the war against the Soviets. It's noted that his niece is marrying the grandson of Erich Raeder, the Grand Admiral of the Kriegsmarine.
- History Repeats Itself: "Rommel versus Zhukov," which has a repeat of the final months of World War I (as noted by a railroad operator). The victory at Normandy, and the simultaneous assassination of Hitler and much of his inner circle, allows Rommel to become the Chancellor of Germany. He secures peace with the Western Allies, agreeing to a withdrawal of all German troops from occupied territories, along with a cessation of the bombing campaign over Germany. This allows the Wehrmacht to redeploy all their forces along a single front: the Polish Front. With the tactical genius that Allied propaganda lead Tsouras to believe that Rommel possessed, the Wehrmacht pulls a spectacular Operational victory against Rokossovsky and Konev in Poland.
- Instant-Win Condition: in "Rommel versus Zhukov" the Germans destroy half of the Red Army's combat elements in Europe, temporarily restoring numerical parity in that theatre. Rather than moving forces from the Far East or rebuilding the Red Army so he can take all of continental Europe for Communism, Stalin either panics or develops a humanitarian streak and sues for peace instead. Of course, Tsouras handwaves this by having America and Britain threaten to cut off food aid and refuse to sell them food (needed to feed a fifth of their population after Germany's scorched-earth strategy of 1943-5) if they continue because they want to preserve Nazi Germany as a bulwark against Communism.
- Know When To Fold Them: Rommel in "Hitler's Bomb." After Berlin is devastated by an atomic bomb, he immediately arranges a ceasefire with the Allies.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Field Marshal Rommel has this reaction in "Rommel versus Zhukov," when he and his staff tour the still active Dachau Concentration Camp. While he's not directly responsible, Rommel is horrified that such barbarity was permitted in Germany. He immediately starts to make things right by shooting the SS commandant and orders every SS camp staff member arrested, along with having army medical units dispatched at once to save as many prisoners as possible. Overnight, the concentration and death camps are shut down.
- Also Professor Heisenberg, after seeing the devastation his atomic bomb has brought on London and Moscow in "Hitler's Bomb."
- Nuke 'em: Quite a few stories involve the atomic bomb.
- In "The Little Admiral," Albert Einstein, and presumably other German-Jewish scientists and physicists, remain in Germany and work towards developing nuclear weapons. Germany invades the USSR in June 1943, against an enemy that is far more prepared, but eventually they drop an atomic bomb on Moscow which ultimately wins the war.
- In "Luftwaffe Triumphant," German efforts to retain air supremacy merely convinces the Allies to use the atomic bomb on Germany first. In 1946, the Allies end up dropping a maximum of twelve bombs on German cities, the entire complement that America had produced, before the Nazis finally surrender.
- "Hitler's Bomb." Obviously. Both London and Moscow, and then Berlin, are destroyed by nuclear weapons.
- Power Trio: In "The Little Admiral," Hitler, Erich Raeder, and Karl Dönitz form a triumvirate that reestablishes German naval power, with Hitler being the political head, Raeder the military head, and Dönitz the diplomatic head.
- Pyrrhic Victory: "Luftwaffe Triumphant" and "Hitler's Bomb." Both end with German efforts merely delaying the Allies long enough for the West to finish the atomic bomb and deciding to use it against Germany first.
- Sliding Scale of Alternate History Plausibility: Generally soft, given the premise of Axis Victory. Some, particularly the ones featuring the Soviets, are very soft. Granted, it is very difficult to be familiar with so many fields and at the time it was more difficult to find material on the Soviet-German war.
- Strategy Versus Tactics: poorly understood by the authors, who fall into the trap of treating Operations and Strategy as if they were simply 'big Tactics'. This conceptual problem plagued the actual German military officers of the time too.
- Stupid Jetpack Hitler: Averted except in "The Little Admiral" and "Hitler's Bomb." All the other stories have Germany winning the war with the non-logistical (i.e. train and truck) resources they had on hand, and with generally better production. In the former, Hitler puts greater emphasis on naval research and construction since the 1920s, resulting in multiple state-of-the-art aircraft carriers, battleships, and submarines that allow the Kriegsmarine to take on the Royal Navy in the North Sea with a fair chance of victory. The latter story has the Nazis completing the atomic bomb and using it on both London and Moscow. Unfortunately, the British and Soviets are not cowed into surrender and merely focus on recovery until the United States is able to complete its own weapon. Meanwhile, Heisenberg is able to delay further development of atomic weapons by having the obvious engineering problems of a V2 rocket with an atomic payload taking a lot of time to solve.
- Tranquil Fury: In "Rommel versus Zhukov," after his victory at Normandy and the deaths of Hitler and much of his inner circle, Field Marshal Rommel is persuaded by Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg to take a quick detour to the town of Dachau. Witnessing the horrors of the Nazi concentration camp firsthand, Rommel vomits before regaining his composure and shooting the SS Commandant on the spot.