With few exceptions, pretty much everyone agrees that the Nazis were very, very bad, what with the socio-political repression, the institutionalized racist policies, the wars of aggression against their neighbours, and the mass imprisonment and murder of dissidents and undesirables. So, how do you make Those Wacky Nazis even more intimidating? Why, by giving them powerarmor and alien allies, of course!
While no such thing would actually happen without serious alterations to the personalities of most of the German high commandnote their Air Ministry, the RLM, in particular had roughly the same attitude towards research projects that a magpie would have in a tinfoil factory, there is a bit of a historical precedent. Nazi Germany did achieve numerous technological firsts in warfare and progressed enough in rocketry to kill/injure almost 100,000 British people, and earned a number of German scientists (such as Wernher Von Braun) free passports to the US once the war was over (along with immunity from prosecution for various morally dubious wartime activities). Many late-war experimental weapons were actually touted as Wunderwaffen, wonder weapons that would enable the besieged Germans to defeat the Allies or at least earn a negotiated peace.
Despite this reputation for advanced technology, the reality was that most Nazi super-weapons were no more advanced than comparable Allied projects and in some cases were impractical, and behind the research curve.
Nonethless, if you have to pick one WWII power to give antigravity and a moonbase, the choice is obvious; after all, it's boring if the good guys have all the toys. Not to mention that Einstein (though a pacifist and a Jew, so hardly on Hitler's Christmas card list) was German (and there are a lot of rumours that the reason why America wanted nuclear power fast is because they thought Nazi Germany would develop it first), and Tesla, although actually Serbo-Croatian (a Slav, so a member of another of Hitler's exterminate-on-sight groups), is frequently confused with this due to the country being part of the Austrian Empire when he was born. Needless to say, the theme is played upon endlessly in pulp callbacks, B-movies, and modern occult works.
Contrast Nazis with Gnarly Weapons, which is about the weapons they had in Real Life. See also Ghostapo, where Nazis uses super-demonry rather than (or combined with) super-science; and Soviet Superscience, when it's the Dirty Commies showing up with giant robots and spaceships. Compare Historical Villain Upgrade.
Pleasedo not confuse withStupid Sexy Flanders. (Oops.)
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Anime & Manga
Spriggan, a shortlived manga here in North America/Europe was FULL of the Fourth Reich trying to use ancient superweapons.
Seikon No Qwaser: According to this series, Hitler's wife Eva Anna Paula Braun has the ability to control Mercury at will, AND has remained alive and young for decades by creating clones of herself and then absorbing them. Seems legit.
In JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, Stroheim is a severely maimed Nazi soldier who gets several cybernetic enhancements throughout Part 2, including a minigun with armor-piercing bullets in his chest and a laser eye. He is one of the good guys by the way. The Jojo of this generation receives a robotic hand from the Nazis as a parting gift after he loses his in battle.
Hellsing: while Millenium were primarily about using occult means to accomplish their goals during the war era (most notably the creation of a battalion of vampires) they also use advanced technology such as powerful, missile-shooting zeppelins, and microchip implants which can be used to remotely monitor (and incinerate) their soldiers.
Mazinger Z: Big Bad Dr. Hell started out as a weapons researcher for the Nazis (though he kept his best scientific breakthroughs and weaponry designs for himself. He claims -predictably- if he would handed them over to the Nazis, Germany would have won the war).
In the manga version of Space Adventure Cobra, it is eventually revealed that Salamander, the leader of the Pirate Guild, is actually Hitler.
In The Legend of Koizumi, it turns out that all the Nazis- including Menegle and Hitler- survived WWII up to the present day, and are now living on a moon base. They travel from Earth to the Moon in classic UFOs, and have a gigantic Meteor Cannon that can hit any point on Earth with the strength of a nuke. The only way to stop them? Mah-Jong.
Trope Namer: As noted in the page quote, this title comes from an issue of The All-New Atom when the eponymous character complains about a sub-microscopic energy life-form masquerading as Hitler with a jetpack.
Blackhawk in The DCU fought a lot of bizarre Nazi superscience (with bizarre Allied superscience). The most famous was the War-Wheel, a large spiked wheel with a centre like a tank from the First World War.
Top 10's Neopolis is an entire city designed by expat Nazi Mad Scientists, complete with flying castles, huge megastructures, and teleporters. In The Forty-Niners, some of them try using a time machine to alter the course of the war.
Hellboy: The eponymous character is the result of an occult version of this and he spends most of the comic smashing and/or shooting the results of other Nazi super weapon projects.
A crossover with The Savage Dragon revealed that the brain of Brainiape, an evil gorilla with mental powers, was actually Hitler.
Though that Nazi business got done to death and now he's the rightful king of England (as well as Hell) and stuff, and has been fighting mostly eldritch horrors, cosmic beings, legends, witches, zombie armies, and destiny for a while.
Parodied in Team Triumph, with Nazis explaining their plan: [quote] "Zum Teufel, Auf Wiedersehen, giant Nazi robots!" [end quote]
Captain Marvel Jr's archenemy Captain Nazi is the most obvious of several DCU supervillains created by Nazi technology. In his more recent appearances, though, he's been given a supernatural origin.
In Fables, the Nazis animated Frankenstein's Monster to serve them, only to be stopped by Bigby and a band of Allied soldiers.
A 90's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic had a Hitler's brain operated robot travel in time to save his past self so he could later serve in order to be saved for his brain transplant.
Superman at Earth's End is possibly the most literal example of this, not only with a mutant Gestapo armed with futuristic weapons, an army of half-human half-animal monsters, a giant evil Batman clone-monster, but with TWO clones of Hitler himself.
One storyline in the monthly Justice Society of America comic is all about a future Nazi Fourth Reich, complete with giant heavily armed war mechs, a means to neutralize all superheroes, and their own supervillains including Captain Nazi.
I should also point out that Spider-Man once beat this guy by simply dousing his costume in Raid. Then, years later, when Ben Reilly (Spider-Man's clone, who had temporarily taken over the job) encountered Swarm, the villain remembered the encounter with the original Spider-Man, and the bees were too scared to go near him. Seriously, this guy was a joke.
In the early Wolverine comics, you had Geist, a Nazi cyborg.
The Commando comic series was chock full of this. There was little common continuity between the stories in each issue, apart from taking place in wartime. In some of them the Nazis among other things had a nuclear bomb, a moonbase, a time machine, and naturally every time the Allied forces managed to overcome them with absolutely no secret weapons of their own.
I recall a 2000 AD Future Shock story in which it turned out that everyone in the Hitler Bunker was a time traveller there doing historical research on the last days of the Nazis...
And another where they built a time machine as the Allies were just outside Berlin. Hitler and Eva Braun escape using the time machine, but it's not been properly calibrated, so they wind up in Prehistoric times as the first man and woman.
Monster Plus runs afoul of Hitlerfist, the monster with Hitlers for hands, in his inaugural issue. Nothing can stand up to the Fists of Fuhrer. Hitlerfist is probably the Sensational Character Find of 2009.
The Kieron Gillen-penned Uber, published by Avatar Press, is a deliberate deconstruction of the idea that World War II would have been awesome if the Nazis had had superweapons. In the story, the Nazis develop Super Soldiers shortly before the end of the war, and although the story hasn't got very far yet, it's pretty clear that it will lead to the war and its aftermath being even more horrible than it was in real life.
Animated Polish feature Hardkor '44 (currently in production) pits the insurgents during Warsaw Uprising against a whole friggin' army of Nazi cyborgs. Click the middle icon on the film's webpage to download zipped concept art.
Films — Live-Action
Captain America: The First Avenger has HYDRA with all sorts of technology way ahead of their time. Although with the exception of the laser guns, all their cool equipment, including the rocket helicopter and cool plane at the end, were actually real life Wunderwaffen designs that were made usable and practical by the power of the cosmic cube.
Played with in that pretty much the moment HYDRA (up until then the Nazis' Weird Science division) figures out how to exploit the Cosmic Cube, they go rogue, so Hitler never gets the nice toys.
The Nazi propaganda cartoon shown inThe Rocketeer film has an entire army of jetpack Nazis. The movie itself is a subversion. It was explained despite the Nazis' numerous efforts to create a working jetpack, they were unable to, and the plot of the movie revolves around attempting to steal one from the Americans.
Sci-fi's Reign of the Gargoyles: After their bomber goes down, Allied forces must confront huge, stone gargoyles brought to life and controlled by, you guessed it, the Nazis.
An arguably even better Sci-fi Channel (pre-"Syfy") example: S.S. Doomtrooper, in which Allied forces must confront a huge, radioactive mutant Super Soldier brought to life and controlled (in a hit-or-miss way) by Nazi science.
Made fun of in The Great Dictator, where a No Celebrities Were Harmed version of Herman Goering is very enthusiastic about various inventions that all fail hilariously in ways that kills their inventors. Fuhrer Adenoid Hynkel is less enthusiastic and finally tells "Herring" to just stop, please.
The Nazi flying wing from Raiders of the Lost Ark never existed in real life. The Nazis did finally come up with a working flying wing towards the end of the war (eight years after the film takes place), but it had a different design than the one seen in Raiders so apparently it's an outright fictional aircraft instead of just an anachronism.
Robert A. Heinlein brought this trope into its modern form by creating Nazis with atomic spaceships on the Moon in Rocket Ship Galileo, written only a couple of years after WWII ended. For the readers of the time, the Nazis were probably the least fantastic part. Men on the Moon indeed!
Might this count as a subversion? Sure, the Nazis have spaceships, but the spaceships were legitimately bought in Detroit.
Himmler's War: after Hitler is killed in a bombing run the new Nazi leadership begins to fight a skilled war. A superweapon will be used in conjunction with diplomatic deals, withdrawal from useless territory, and attacks that undermine the Allied morale.
Lightning, by Dean Koontz has the Nazis in possession of a working Time Machine, which they intend to use to win WWII by finding out from our time just what went wrong for them when and changing it. Too bad their chrononaut fell in love with a 1980s novelist.....
Philip K. Dick's novel Man in the High Castle describes an alternate 1963 in which Germany and Japan won WWII. The Nazis have developed rockets into a substitute for airplanes and are sending manned rockets throughout the solar system. It is also mentioned that they have drained the Mediterranean Sea, an engineering task requiring advanced technology if ever there was one!
In the Axis of TimeAlternate History trilogy, thanks to Japan sending captured data, such as body armor and jet engines, to Nazi Germany, the Reich is now much more confident in winning the war. However, the Allies and the Soviets also have access to the technology brought from the future and the initial trilogy ends with Germany and Japan being nuked out of existence, with the Soviet Union in an even stronger position than it was at the end of the War in the real timeline.
Zach Parsons' book My Tank is Fight! uses and subverts this: it gives detailed statistics on various rejected inventions of WWII (mostly German ones), and then imagines what they would have been like in the field. Most of them fail spectacularly. With the exception of the nuclear bombing of New York, though it doesn't avert the defeat of Germany.
This is the plot of James Hogan's The Proteus Operation. In the untampered history, Hitler fell into obscurity after the Beer-Hall Putsch, ushering in a world of equality, prosperity, and peace, but corrupt future plutocrats attempted to establish an empire for themselves by engineering a Nazi victory, then traveling in time to rule the Nazi-conquered Earth. Due to their tampering, the Nazis won WWII in 1942 using nuclear bombs. The book involves time-travelers seeking to undo this. They only manage to partially succeed, resulting in what is heavily implied to be our actual history.
David Langford and John Grant's disaster novel parody Earthdoom features Adolf Hitler time-travelling to modern-day Britain, and subsequently cloning himself using a farmer's livestock cloning machine. (The multiple Hitlers then end up on board one of the alien spaceships orbiting Earth at the time, where the aliens deal with them by broadcasting the looped message 'Can you trust the person next to you? He looks a bit semitic to me...')
Danger Boy: Dragon Sword subverts this- a Nazi rocket scientist loudly declares "I am not INTERESTED in traveling through time or making contact with space aliens!"
Australian sci-fi author Sean McMullen inverts this trope in his short story The Devils of Langenhagen. In the last days of the Third Reich an Me262 interceptor squadron is visited by some strange and elegant guests — a couple of high-ranking pilots (and their wives) flying very advanced aircraft (a Horten 229 and a Japanese Shinden canard fighter). It turns out that they're time-travellers on an adventure tour.
An illustrated story based on Isaac Asimov's robot concepts involved the Nazis building a terrifying robot nicknamed the Iron Major. Since the robot was possessed by a mad scientist (and it ate human brains), they only succeeded in making one of it.
The novel 1945 tells of an alternate 1945 where the Nazis, unencumbered by American involvement in the European War, now patrol the skies of Fortress Europa with a fleet of stealth jet-bombers and rocket planes.
Charles Platt's Free Zone includes a visit to an alternate timeline where the Nazis won, took over Earth, Terraformed Mars and populated it with identical Aryan clones.
J.R. Dunn's short story "Crux Gammata", while mostly focused on the activities of an American rock band in The Seventies putting on a concert in a Nazis-won Alt!Europe, includes mention of Nazi moonbases and lunar aluminum factories.
The Faction Paradox novel "Warlords of Utopia" by Lance Parkin has multiple universes worth of allied Nazis working under a Cabal of Hitlers (including, oddly, the only one Hitler child August) who end up in a war against multiple universes of allied Romans (and other semi-mythic empires such as an Amazonian empire). They were all given their parallel universe jumping technology, but the Nazis had supersonic fighters by the end of the wars.
John Barnes' Patton's Spaceship had would-be conquerors from another timeline give the Nazis of 1932 copies of Nazi technology and plans from 1944-45. So the Nazis in that world startedWorld War II with the Me-262, as well as a Focke-Wulf fighter that totally outclassed the Spitfire, big heavy bombers, submarines that could communicate and coordinate with each other while submerged — and television-guided V-1s. They also did much better planning for their invasions of France, Scandinavia, and Russia, and they were probably behind the assassination of FDR in 1937.
The Atrocity Archive crosses this with Ghostapo since "magic" is really just applied higher mathematics and physics. Part of the reason for the Holocaust was to open a gateway to an alternate universe and bring an Eldritch Abomination (an infovore) through to destroy their enemies. Part of the action of the story takes place in an Alternate Timeline where the Nazis succeeded, then were destroyed by their own creation. After World War II the major powers signed an occult arms-control treaty since none of the parties involved ever wanted to see mass murder used as a strategic weapon again.
Deconstructed in The Big One which takes place in 1947 when Allied technology, esepcially in aircraft, has moved decisively ahead of that available to the Germans. This is actuallya factual representation of teh real development trends which show that by 1945 Allied jet engines (for example) were already more powerful and more reliable than their German equivalents. And, of course, the Allies have atomic bombs. Lots of them.
In The Man from U.N.C.L.E. episode "The Deadly Games Affair", Napoleon is chasing after a high ranking Nazi scientist who was known to have been working on a very secret project near the end of the war. However, when he catches up with the scientist, Napoleon finds a diabolical lab below the scientist's garage, complete with a cryogenically frozen Hitler, who will be awakened using the spy's rare blood type.
In The New Avengers episode "The Eagle's Nest", the Avengers prevent an attempt by an enclave of Nazis concealed in a British monastery to revive Hitler's preserved body.
The Tomorrow People storyline "Hitler's Last Secret" is chock full of evil Nazi super-sciencey goodness.
In the season three finale of Star Trek: Enterprise, the victorious Enterprise returns home to find that they are in the mid-twentieth century, where aliens have crashed landed and allied with the Nazis. However this turns out to be a subversion as the aliens have only been there for 2 years and were not going to give Hitler any weapons or technology until their time machine was finished. They did have control of the U.S East Coast and a good section of Russia but that was because some different aliens had traveled back in time and killed Lenin resulting in the Soviet Union never forming. The Nazis were already losing land to the Americans and Russians and were hoping the Alien technology would turn the tide back in their favor.
The Enterprise did fight Stukas with plasma cannons, which would have done very well against contemporary aircraft. However, they weren't much more than an annoyance to the Enterprise.
A lot of the evil organizations in the early shows are said to base their cyborg surgery on Nazi techniques. Three of the four original Big Bads, Colonel Zol, General Black, and Dr. Shinigami, were all ex-Nazis. Dr. Shinigami perfected the cyborg technology that nearly all following evil organizations would use by experimenting on Jews in concentration camps.
The Movie for Kamen Rider Decade took this a step closer with the spiritual successor of the above big bads, and upgrading the original mooks into Stupid Jet Boot Mooks.
According the producers, Ishinomori's original idea of Kamen Rider is that the original Kamen Rider was supposed to be a jetpack cyborg supersoldier of Shocker. Kamen Rider Fourze brings the original concept back to life
In the first episode of Battlestar Galactica 1980, after the Galactica arrived at Earth in 1980 one character wanted to use time travel to go back a few decades so that Earth could get a technological head start on building up defenses for the inevitable day when the Cylons arrived. After Adama et al rejected his idea out of hand he stole a timeship and tried to do it anyway... by giving advanced technological help to the Nazis in 1944. (Good idea, really poor implementation.) Our heroes foiled him, and then the series forgot about time-travel entirely.
The Timecop series has a similar episode with a hipster from the future bringing a laptop back to 1944 with all kinds of technological improvements in it. His first idea is to improve the V2 rocket to destroy Britain. Naturally, the hero stops him (after visiting the Bad Future where the Nazis won), and Hitler has the guy shot.
In Angel certain flashbacks tell that Hitler was planning on creating an army of mind-controlled vampires. This plan failed twice over, since first the submarine transporting the specimens was captured by the Allies, and then the restraints failed, releasing Spike and his Eastern European friends to wreak havoc over the new crew.
In Danger 5, the eponymous team is tasked with killing a Hitler who has endless bizarre Mooks from clone dinosaurs to Japanese mechanoid supersoldiers. At one point, Hitler himself duel-wields golden superweapons. It's a rather unusual action comedy series.
Occurs in Misfits where an elderly Jewish man with the abilty to time travel goes back to the Nazi Germany and kill Hitler. He botches it and leaves his mobile phone behind. The information gathered from the phone is enough to jump the Nazi technology up a few degrees.
Inverted in an episode of Doctor Who, when Winston Churchill gets to use advanced alien weaponry (which turn out to be Daleks) against the Nazis.
Played with in a much earlier story, where a Nazi in exile dreaming of establishing the Fourth Reich attempts to get his hands on an ancient Time Lord weapon. As does everyone else in the story.
Gackt's concerts and Ghost music video features a storyline about soldiers and war prisoners turned into Terminator-esque cyborgs by Nazis to be used as mindless weapons of war.
An elaborated version of the conspiracy explained away the computer thing by positing Stupid Jetpack Kaiser Wilhelm: the Nazis could invent CGI because the Great War German High Command had already created AIsnote That came from the AI of Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri loving to throw droves of artillery at you in droves, but never actually attacking anything.
Genius: The Transgression has the Thulians, Nazi mad scientists who live in the Hollow Earth. Yes, you read that correctly. And so many time travellers have tried to prevent World War Two that the Guardians of Forever have a Hitler Clone Farm, so that whenever he's assassinated they can replace him before any serious damage is done to the spacetime continuum.
In Hollow Earth Expedition you can have the Thule society pursuing you to the Lost World within the Earth, via Panzerkampfkruppen—basically Nazi AT-S Ts. Hopefully, you stole a jetpack or two from them on the way down.
One series of Doom mods based on Wolf3D is titled "Astrostein" - as the title indicates, it's Wolfenstein in the far future thanks to a portal the Nazis discovered. The third and final part ends with you infiltrating a bunker under the Bavarian Alps, where you finally find (and kill) Hitler, who at this point is nothing but a head attached to some sort of box that's kept him alive for centuries.
Dino D-Day is kind of an odd example. Rather than create supertechnology for combat, the created super-advanced cloning technology and resurrected Dinosaurs...then put giant guns on them.
City of Heroes has the 5th Column group: Nazi supersoldiers, robots, (artificial) vampires, and (artificial) werewolves. For a short period of time these were retooled into the Council who were less German Nazi and more Space Nazi with more diverse European roots. Then the 5th Column came back so now there are two groups that are practically identical.
A good point of differentiation between the two is that the 5th Column plans seem to have much more to do with time travel than the Council's aliens. So it's a difference between Space Nazis and Time Nazis at this point.
Persona 2: Innocent Sin had, among the many things that could possibly have made it unreleasable overseas, Nazi robots. (And Hitler. He and his robots were hiding in Antarctica. Except it's not really him. It's complicated... or is it?) No worries, the PSP rerelease gave him a pair of Cool Shades and a trenchcoat and now he goes by the name "The Fuhrer."
PC game Silent Storm starts off pretty innocuous, with an Allied special squad fighting against the evil Nazis and using a lot of historically accurate weaponry. Then you get powered armor suits.
That said, the Allies (which, thanks to that whole Hitler elimination thing, includes Germany) has plenty of superscience of their own (including jetpack troopers in Red Alert 2), much of it produced by a German scientist living in Germany.
The Secret Weapons of World War II expansion for Battlefield 1942 added in various "planned", but not implemented, World War II vehicles and gadgets including, you guessed it, jetpacks.
The LucasArts flight simulator Secret Weapons Of The Luftwaffe revolved around implementing German jet fighter planes during WW 2, which were really in production at the time but did not see much action. An expansion added the U.S. equivalent, P-80 Shooting Star.
Who could forget the bonus levels of Medal of Honor: Underground where you fight Nazis in knight armour (resplendent with their swastika shields), Nazi zombies (or aliens; this was the PS1 so it's hard to tell, although the level title "Rotten to the Corps" in which they reside could point to them being the reanimated dead), and, of course, Nazi Robot Super Soldiers! You even assemble your own Robot Buddy called Panzerknacker to help you take out the bad guys.
The bonus mode of Call of Duty: World At War, Nazi Zombies, in addition to the eponymous undead, includes quite a bit of this in downloadable maps, one of which is set in a factory with swastika-emblazoned teleporters, and features a Ray Gun (by name) and "Wunderwaffen" as weapons.
Nazi Zombies returns in Call of Duty: Black Ops. In addition to the Ray Gun and the teleporters,there is also the Thundergun, which fires a huge shock wave, and the Winter's Howl, a typical Freeze Ray.
Rocket Ranger had an unnamed hero, with a jetpack, facing off against Nazis armed with anti-gravity mind-controlling Green Rocks and a base on the Moon. Eventually, it is revealed that the Nazis are getting help from an alien "Intergalactic League of Fascists".
Partially invoked by the early PS2 release Ring Of Red, an alternate history where (among other things) Humongous Mecha were developed at the tail end of World War II. The game's intro is a well-done series of AFWs spliced into actual WWII footage.
This is the entire marketing campaign for War Front Turning Point. The three factions, Allies, Nazis and Soviets, each have their different superweapons. The Allies get the short end of the stick with a massive shield generator, the Soviets, in a nod to Red Alert, have freeze rays and atomic freeze bombs, and the Nazis get the best deal with three radically different superweapons: jetpacks, monstrous jet-powered zeppelins, and robotic exoskeletons.
Bionic Commando's final boss is "Master D", who looks exactly the same as Hitler and isn't fooling anyone. After waking up from a long nap, he proceeds to kill the leader of the entire bad guy army, call you a "damn fool", launch a doomsday weapon and get his head exploded by a missile.
Invoked by Zero Punctuation: "You would think that THE NAZIS were the most evil people ever, but apparently they weren't evil enough."
A variant in Just Cause 2: in one mission, you fly to an isolated island only to have your plane blown up by an EMP tower built by the Japanese during World War II. A good portion of the mission is destroying the tower so you can call in a helicopter for evac.
You'd think this would come up in The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, but no, they actually avert it: Hitler does in fact live on the moon — in Dracula's moonbase — but apparently just chills in the lounge, reading novels.
In Jesus Christ In The Name Of The Gun, Nazis capture Jesus and plan on using his blood to revive Hitler, who was shot in the head by a time traveling Ernest Hemingway. A chapter later we find out that Hitler was Not Quite Dead, a werewolf and probably a servant of the Devil, too and Nazis had created some kind of ogre-like beings on which they were going to use the blood to bring them to life.
Strange Aeons is a Diesel Punk comic where the Nazis use retro-futuristic technology, including an armored warship-zeppelin and some kind of Tesla gun.
One of the secondary authors of the Chakona Space got into this with "Wolves in the Snow", where it turned out that morphs were first developed nearly a hundred years earlier than previously thought.
An episode of Justice League has the Big Bad, Vandal Savage, send a laptop through time to himself in the 40's which contains mechanical schematics and Allied war plans, including the Normandy Invasion. The Nazis actually turn the tide of the war (with the War Wheels from the Blackhawk example) and very nearly destroy New York City with an atom bomb. Needless to say, the heroes stop him Just in Time. Oh, and Hitler has been frozen but is thawed out at the end to carry on to his appointed destiny.
An episode of Captain Planet played with this. It also revealed that Hitler's stare can kill Captain Planet. Because hate is a type of pollution. Seriously.
Although by far not as extreme as fictional examples, the Real LifeNazi Germany did have a limited technological edge on the Allies & Soviets, in some areas of equipment. The following examples show both the strengths and weaknesses of their design efforts.
The infamous V-1 (Fi-103) cruise missile and the V-2 (A-4) ballistic missile. The V stood for Vergeltungswaffe = "Vengeance weapon". Guided weapons such as the Fritz-X bomb also existed, but were very rare. The V-2 (aka A-4) was a ballistic missile, captured examples of which were used after the war by both America and the Soviet Union. Both countries actually built some A-4s and redesigned the missile so it would be easier to build and more capable. Also, Wernher von Braun, who designed it, went on to head the team that designed the Saturn family of rockets which allowed the US to win the Moon race. It is worth noting that the US had its own rocket teams and von Braun's group was only one of several design groups. They contributed to the Saturn program as much as von Braun.
Although rather inaccurate, quite a number of V-2s missed their target (London) due to British intelligence leaking claims of overshots for the early hits and having successful hits reported as "gas explosions", in response to which the German rocketeers recalibrated their rockets to account for this, though in reality it meant that most now fell short.
The Messerschmitt Me 262, which was barely edged out of being the first operational jet fighter by the Gloster Meteor. It was marginally the highest-performance fighter in the war. It was very fast, giving it a huge advantage in hit-and-run bomber interception, but had very poor acceleration. Its 30mm cannon armament was devastating if the guns actually hit anything but they were slow-firing and had poor ballistic performance due to low muzzle velocity and poorly-designed shells. It was slow to turn and lacked in maneuverability which, combined with its engine's tendency to flame out and die during tight maneuvers, resulted in it being an easy kill during intense dogfights (reportedly one was even shot down by a Russian P-39 Airacobra, a sluggish plane even by prop-driven standards). It exceeded early marks of the Meteor in performance although later Meteors reversed the situation and were much stabler and more powerful. Arguably, it could have been in service earlier if the engines hadn't been so appalingly unreliable. The Meteor's centrifugal-flow compression jet engines were "fatter" they were at least much more resilient and good at handling foreign object damage). The unavailability of titanium and suitable engines were the single most important reason why the Me-262 didn't enter full operational service until October 1944. The often-reported suggestion that it was delayed by Hitler wanting it to be used as a bomber has long been discredited. It ended up being too little too late and was usually grounded due to fuel shortages or logistical issues.
The Panzer V Panther tank, which was the last practical tank design the Nazis built, and was indeed Awesome yet Practical although it was marred with mechanical and conceptual flaws. Some of these flaws were rectified in the due course of time but the tank's basic unreliability remained a serious problem. The Panther was an advanced blend of survivability, firepower and mobility and was qualitatively superior to most Allied and Soviet tanks although it required an excessive number of man-hours to build. However, design and production efforts were not concentrated on building and improving the Panther, but were shifted to creating the unwieldy, overspecialized, overweight, expensive, extremely complex and impractical Tiger, Tiger 2 and Jagdtiger. These super-heavy tanks were such a counter-productive waste of resources that only the Nazi military used them in combat. The Allies stopped at the prototype and testing stages when they realized how useless they were. This trend was Dialed Up to Eleven with the Maus Supertank!...and even worse the Ratte and Monster!. In the final analysis though, logistical issues, incompatibility with the Tigers and other vehicles, and insufficient numbers did in the Panther. By 1945, new Allied tanks (centurion, M26, JS-3 and T-44) were appearing that more than matched its performance.
In fact, it could be argued that Panther was kinda-predecessor to modern MBT concept: heavily armored (though only frontally), fast and nimble tank with BFG. Tiger I would have been closer to MBT concept, as it was also fast (45 km∕h, lowered to 38 km∕h due to mechanical issues), with even-stronger BFG and overall better armored, but it was too unreliable and too heavy for most bridges.
Despite Panther's and Tiger's performance, Heinz Guderian considered smaller, lighter, cheaper and more reliable Panzer IV much better tank than any of Hitler's supertanks. Which agrees with the assessment made by the Allies.
The Type-XXI U-Boat, aka. the Elektroboote was an effort to design a submarine that could survive under attack from the Allies overwhelming air power. Previously, most submarines were surface vessels which were capable of going undersea for short bursts of time to launch an attack before having to surface again. The Type-XXI was capable of remaining under for a significantly longer time, and was stealthier and faster than previous U-boats. The Type XXI paid for this by losing its gun armament and much of its search capability making it a less efficient commerce destroyer. In effect, it traded off effectiveness in its primary role to gain a measure of survivability, Although 118 hulls were completed by the end of the war, only a pathetic 4 vessels made it to operational status - too few to make a difference. However, the Allies already had full performance specs on the Type XXI, had reconstructed two diesel-electric submarines to simulate its performance and had evolved the weapons and tactics needed to handle it. Type XXI would have meant the convoy battles would have restarted after a gap of two years but it was far from the war-winner it is usually projected as being. Post-war analysis showed that it was extremely complex and over-engineered and gained performance by using high-discharge, very short-life batteries. Allied submarines were able to get similar performance without the associated drawbacks by modifying existing designs.
The Wasserfall missile was the world's first guided ground-to-air missile, the problem being that it was wildly inaccurate and its guidance system was trivially easy to jam. In addition it lacked an effective proximity fuze and that made it virtually useless. Hitler thought the weapon was too "defensive" and relegated funds for it to the more "offensive" V2 rocket. Given the utter uselessness of Wasserfall, that was a remarkable case of doing the right thing for the wrong reasons. It would, of course, have been much better not to have wasted resources on building either missile.
The Messerschmitt Me 163 Komet, the world's first and, to date, only purely rocket-powered combat aircraft. Designed for the single purpose of intercepting and destroying Allied bombers in one-shot hit-&-run passes, it was (at best) marginally effective. Earlier marks were not so good, and the first model, basically a prototype that was sent into combat, had no undercarriage and took off with the aid of a wheeled trolley that had to be jettisoned once the plane was airborne. If it failed to detach, the plane would be practically unflyable and the pilot would have to bail out and hope for the best. If the trolley hit the ground at the wrong angle, it could rebound back into the plane and cause a fatal crash. Weight considerations limited the options when arming it, and the low muzzle velocity of the automatic cannon it was fitted with, coupled with the speed of its approach, meant that it rarely did enough damage to bring down any enemy bombers on a single attack run. Weight considerations also limited fuel and endurance, giving just 8 minutes of powered flight. The final analysis was that it actually killed more of its own pilots than those of the enemy, mainly due to its propellants being not only highly (and spontaneously) combustible, but also corrosive enough to dissolve the pilot. The pilot had a tank of this right behind him, and two more in the cockpit panels either side of him. By design, the propellant mixture was hypergolic (self-ignites immediately when combined), and hence nigh-on-impossible to extinguish if the propellants failed to stay separate. Like all the German aircraft developed later in the war, it never was deployed in large enough numbers to be effective, due to shortages of both strategic materials and trained pilots.
The Schwerer Gustav (="Heavy Gustav") and the Dora, two whopping 800mm railway guns which were, at best, of marginal value and devoured a huge amount of resources. Each gun was considered to be equivalent to a division in resource consumption and was commanded by a Major General.
The Karl Device◊ was a 24-inch tracked mortar - the largest self-propelled gun ever to see service, each shell◊ weighed over two tonnes. Each one needed a crane, a heavy transport trailer, and a group of modified tanks to carry the ammo. They were used to shell the Soviet forces holding out in the Brest Fortress - each shot ruptured eardrums and the concussive force could rupture the lungs of people sheltering underground. They were later used to destroy buildings during the Warsaw Uprising, and yes, those two tonne shells did a lot of damage◊.
There was also V-3 multi-charge cannon, which was intended for bombardment of London firing from batteries on the coast of France. The gun was a total, miserable failure. Every test gun burst and even today we can't get the basic idea to work properly (See Saddam Hussein's supergun designed by Gerald Bull who had more brains than the German scientific establishment put together (hyperbole there but Bull was very, very bright). Eventually a downsized and much-simplified version of the gun was built and used to shell Luxembourg. It fired 183 rounds, most of which hit the right country and killed ten Luxembourg civilians.
Small cheap wire-controlled vehicles for blowing up paths in minefields. Pretty mundane by modern standards, (think of them as the descendants of modern day bomb-disposal robots) but cutting edge and brilliant for the time. These were actually pretty good at their job and were one of the very few wunderwaffe concepts actually worth getting paper dirty over.
The MG 213. In WW 2 aircraft guns had three characteristics, shell weight (destructive power), rate of fire (the chance of getting a hit) and muzzle velocity (ease of aiming). Conventional wisdom when designing a gun was "pick any two". The Americans with the .50 went for rate of fire and muzzle velocity but sacrificed shell weight, the Germans either went for shell weight and muzzle velocity and sacrificed rate of fire or went for shell weight and rate of fire and sacrificed muzzle velocity. The British with their 20mm went for an average that settled for the best they could get in all three thus producing probably the best aircraft gun in WW 2. By 1944, the Germans were sick of their pilots complaining about their guns so they wanted a design that gave the best possible result in all three categories. The result was the MG 213 revolver cannon. In a normal cannon, there is one chamber into which the shell is inserted, fired, and withdrawn. That takes time. The Germans built a gun with three chamber that rotated past the barrel, like a Gatling gun. At any one time, one chamber is being loaded, one fired and the third cleared. Result, rate of fire tripled with no scarfice of shell weight or velocity. This was a genuine breakthrough and the design is still used in aircraft guns today (like the British ADEN, the French DEFA and the US Mark 12). The downside is that it was a heavy, complex gun and it burned a lot of ammunition very fast. That made it unsuitable for smaller aircraft and it was the 1950s before it was a really practical weapon. But, all in all, the MG 213 was probably the closest the Germans actually came to a real wunderwaffe.
Moving into the more unconventional realm, the Germans did develop highly potent chemical weapons (the infamous Zyklon B, along with the nerve gases Sarin and Tabun) and mass produced them in quite significant (if not large) quantities. These stocks, and a number of the scientists involved, ultimately fell into the hands of both the Soviets and the Western Allies at the end of the war. It would have been devastating if a Sarin-loaded V-1/V-2 was launched upon key Russian and British cities, but the weapons were never actually used for a number of reasons both practical and psychological. Hitler himself, having been temporarily blinded and heavily traumatized by World War I's overuse of chemical weapons, was very leery of them and refused to use them even when it was obvious that there was no hope of stopping the Red Army with conventional weapons. They were only used in secret for the systematic murdering/gassing of Jews.
For that matter Zyklon-B wasn't a chemical weapon, but rather a commercial pesticide - it was a household name amongst the pest exterminator industry during the interbellum, and one of I.G Farben's most profitable product lines. In fact, it is still manufactured and used today (under a new trade name Uragan D2) for these purposes. Its primary use - killing lice in clothing - required such high concentrations of the gas that it would be lethal for anyone stupid enough to inhale it, so they added an odorant, like with household gas, for this reasonnote One reason that it was so easy to convict the chemical's manufacturers for complacency was because the Nazis ordered a version that came without the odorant - thus making it patently obvious what they were using it for). The Nazis, who were already using Zyklon-B to de-louse clothing stolen from slave-laborers, realized that they could use it to kill Soviet POWs at Auchwitz as well, as the quantity of Zkylon-B needed to kill lice in clothing is far higher than what is needed to kill humansnote so if you ever encounter a Holocaust denier who claims that the concentration of ZB in Auschwitz was less than that needed to kill lice, let alone humans, you will know they are having you on. The first experiments with the gas were so successful, the Nazis decided to apply them on a wider scale - and the rest is history.
It should be noted that the Japanese also did significant research into both chemical and biological weapons with the infamous Unit 731 and may have even used some during the war in China.
The Germans were also working with radio navigation for night bombing, which worked well for a while until the British worked out how to defeat each system in turn, in the Battle of the Beams. The Allies utilised some similar systems later in the war.
Some conspiracy theories suggest Nazi Germany had developed UFO's. Some of these include the peculiar "Foo fighters" and flying saucers. However, there is no reliable evidence to prove that they actually existed.
A large fraction of top researchers in the Manhattan project were European minorities (especially Jews) who had left for America due to the increasing prejudice and oppression. As a result, despite serious concerns within Allied intelligence at the time, Germany never had the scientific know-how, much less the industrial capability and raw materials, to produce an atomic bomb in any reasonable time frame to win the war. The Nazi nuclear effort could best be described as highly uncoordinated, poor in subject knowledge, and the results it did deliver were all but ignored by those in charge.
The Allies had advanced weapons and projects of their own. They simply took the political decision that what they had was good enough and that changing over to the new design would disrupt logistics and make the war last longer than needed.
The M.52 supersonic aircraft under construction in 1943. Started as a result of a MPH/km∕h translation error. R&D was cut back when this was made clear, and later cancelled when it became obvious the Nazis weren't building anything comparable.
The Avro Lincoln bomber was a massive upgrade for the Lancaster, intended for the Pacific war. It was put into production too late to see service. The Lincoln was further developed into the Shackleton, some of which were still flying until about 1984 as maritime patrol aircraft and 1990 as AWACS aircraft.
The Meteor fighter. Early versions were not as good as the Me262, but later marks completely outperformed the German aircraft. It is still flying today because its simple centrifugal compression engine, while less streamlined, is at least much more resiliently built, more stable at handling large internal forces (unlike the Me-262 which is nearly-impossible to maneuver and often flamed out or blew up), and better at handling foreign object debris than more modern axial compression engines (which require lots of super-strong alloys made with expensive rare-earth metals such as titanium in order to be functional). The F35's ejector seat was tested out on this.
The atomic bomb, of course. Unlike all the rest of the weapons, it was actually relevant at the end of World War II, and has remained so through the present day, being the apex of More Dakka. The Manhattan Project and the V-2 rocket program were roughly equivalent in terms of economic cost devoted to superweapons. The difference being the United States could afford the Manhatten Project and finance a war. Germany couldn't afford to do either. And, of course the Manhattan Engineering District Program produced an exceptionally valuable weapon.
Another edge the Manhattan Project had over the Nazis was better organization and sound physics. The Nazi nuclear program, meanwhile, split into around nine separate and actively competing programs that frequently tried to undermine the others. Thus, what little materials the Nazis could devote to nuclear research was further split. They were also limited to using only approved "German Physics" that did not include any knowledge deemed "ideologically or racially unsound" — which, naturally, consisted of a lot of actual nuclear physics.
The British pushed radar development much further much faster than any other power, building an effective detection network by the time of the Battle of Britain. This was a guarded secret; the urban legend that carrots improve night vision was invented by the British government to suggest that their fighter pilots were amazingly observant instead of being vectored into night interceptions by radar.
The Americans also linked radar and guns with mechanical analog computers. Ship and anti-aircraft guns then became far more accurate. 90% of V-1 buzz bombs, and many manned bombers, were shot down.
Also an effective British secret weapon: signal intelligence (codebreaking). The British codebreaking operation at Bletchley Park was so good that it frequently outstripped its usefulness. Available intelligence on German operations could sometimes not be given to military commanders because the tactical benefit was outweighed by the strategic cost of revealing how good the codebreakers were. Also, the entire shebang was so heavily classified that the codebreakers didn't receive full recognition for their achievements for 50 years after the war.
Speaking of Bletchley Park , Colossus, the world's first programmable computer, was operational there. As with all Station X activities, the mere existence of Colossus was not declassified until many decades after the war.
Sonar is an interesting case in that the Axis and Allies both had functional systems that represented half of the technologies used today. The Germans had evolved a capable passive sonar system that was accurate enough to be used by submarines for fire control solutions. The Allies had developed effective active sonars that were good enough to provide surface ships with fire control solutions and, when combined with ahead-throwing anti-submarine mortars effectively doomed older diesel-electric submarine designs. Ciombining German passive and Allied active sonars pretty much put diesel-electric submarines out of business for thirty years.
The Allies also had BarnesWallis, who designed the bouncing bomb, the Grand Slam and Tallboy bombs (which played merry hell with those conrete U-boat pens), and aircraft that could still fly despite this kind of punishment◊.
A strong argument could be made that it was the Allies who had the technological advantages that counted. The Nazis had a lot of impressive, flashy stuff, but much of it either turned out not to be practically useful and/or too costly to produce on any practical level, and the development projects sucked away precious resources that might have served the Germans better if they had been devoted to conventional weapons. Not to mention their xenophobia drove many of the best of the best away from Europe, such as Albert Einstein. The Allies, on the other hand, were more pragmatic and had many small but critical advantages in areas (and times) that actually mattered. The superior range and maneuverability of the P-51 Mustang, the RAF's revolutionary air defense system in the Battle of Britain, the sloping armor of Soviet T-34 tanks (which deflects inertia instead of absorbing it as heavy German castle-like tanks do, thus less metal needed for individual armor and therefore more saved resources and therefore more T-34s to manufacture and therefore more Zerg Rush potential), etc. And particularly in the areas of radar and computers (code-breaking), the Allies had a HUGE edge, and these two technologies were arguably DECISIVELY critical.
In Germany's defense, by the latter half of the war, they had no hope of winning a conventional contest with conventional weapons, due to the disparity in manufacturing power, and they knew it. So gambling on superweapons was really their only hope of winning. However, that was (and always has been) a fool's gamble.
Arthur C. Clarke thematized this in his short story Superiority.
Perhaps one of the most important developments of the war was PLUTO, a system that would allow petrol to be pumped directly from refineries in England directly to the beachhead in France, insuring both a secure and continuous source of fuel for the vehicles, and one that didn't require a continuous line of ships, which allowed the ships to be used for other purposes. It also allowed, in the post-war period off-shore refineries to be set up, a feat previously unachievable.
Soviet T-43 tank was everything Panther was and then some, being explicitly developed in response to it, but never entered the production because doing so meant that the production of T-34 must be stopped to reequip and retool the production lines. Instead, most of its features that could be applied to T-34 without stopping its production, including the new turret with the 85-mm AA gun, were applied to the old chassis, resulting in T-34-85, a definitive model that invariably pops up now when the tank is discussed. Most WWI movies will also feature it, even the ones set in 1941, despite it being produced only since 1943, though it is justified by the fact that most of the early T-34-76 were destroyed in the war, and there are still T-34-85 available in mint condition.