It is 1918, and the great German Empire loses the Great War. The victorious Entente reshapes the borders of Europe, dissolving the Empires of the Central Powers while imposing harsh treaty terms on the new German republic. It is now 1936, and the world has changed: Spain is in a brutal civil war, the United States suffers under The Great Depression, the Soviet Union grows more powerful each day, and a revanchist German Reich is preparing for another Great War, now under the iron fists of Führer Adam Dressler... wait, that's not what happened.
Führerreich: Legacy of the Great War is a Game Mod for Hearts of Iron IV and has an interesting premise: The mod is actually a Alternate History based in a fictional book in the world of Kaiserreich: Legacy of the Weltkrieg, already an Alternate History where Germany won World War 1, and, as such, many of the differences from our timeline comes not from a Point of Divergence (although there is one) but from the view that someone from Kaiserreich's universe would have. For example: in our timeline Italy was promised western parts of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, new colonies in Africa and parts of Turkey, however, in the Treaty of Versailles, the prominent school of thought was Woodrow Wilson's self-determination, which preferred giving each ethnicity a nation-state and without its promised colonies, Italy would later give rise to Fascism. Without Woodrow Wilson becoming prominent in the Kaiserreich universe, self-determination would never be a major matter of post-WW1 negotiations and Italy would preserve their kingdom, Führerreich is full of examples of Alternate History and Divergences that might make less sense for someone from our timeline but seem reasonable for someone from Kaiserreich's universe. Central to all of this is of course, the titular Führer Adam Dressler, a fully fictional character who leads a radically nationalist Germany under his own Valkist ideology.
This Game Mod provides examples of:
- Adaptational Heroism: In spades for Adam Dressler. In Kaiserreich, the book from which Führerreich takes inspiration depicts Dressler as having the racial views of Nazis from OTL, even wanting to commit genocide on "inferior" peoples. Here, however, he focuses on cultural supremacy rather than racial supremacy, and the worst he does with minorities is deport them. Dressler can even be played as pragmatically benevolent towards them in some cases.
- Adolf Hitler of all people. Because in the Kaiserreich timeline Hitler died in battle in 1920 during the German intervention in Russia, he's remembered either as a war hero or a common soldier, with no one knowing the evil he was capable of. As such, in this timeline Hitler is a German minister who, when asked about his stance on the jews, answers that he's fine with them as long as they're German. In-universe, whether he's sincere in these beliefs or is merely aligning himself with Dressler is unknown.
- Alternate History: An Alternate History inside an Alternate History.
- Alternate History Wank: Averted, as it mostly follows post-WW1 borders, two notable exceptions are Greece, which annexed western parts of Turkey, and Italy, which gained territories in Croatia, Slovenia, southern Turkey and Cameroon. France has a puppet on Rhineland, although it's mostly an expansion from the French military occupation that happened in OTL.
- Allohistorical Allusion: Zapadoslavia has some parallels with Yugoslavia. Formed by western slavs instead of southern slavs.
- A Nazi by Any Other Name:
- Adam Dressler and the Valkists are more or less this, given they are how a universe that never saw the existence Nazis would see them. However, the Valkists are quite different from OTL Nazis. Valkists are civic nationalist, not ethnonationalist like the Nazis; they resurrect pagan, mystical and occult aesthetics for the movement (although they're not overtly neo-pagan); they also are very focused in giving social benefits for its citizens; and they are anti-colonialists.
- Imported straight from Kaiserreich, the National Populists are militarist ultra-nationalists and this universe's equivalent of Fascism.
- Balkanize Me: Potentially taken Up to Eleven by India, which under the right circumstances can shatter into a dozen-or-so minor states.
- Canon Foreigner: Adam Dressler, the Valkist leader of Germany, is a completely fictional character (who uses the likeness of Konrad Henlein, a rather obscure Nazi politician in occupied Czechoslovakia) in a setting which otherwise uses historical-domain characters as country leaders.
- Civil War: At the start of the game, Spain is in a four-way Spanish Civil War between Monarchist Spain, Falangist Spain, Republican Spain, and the Spanish Popular Front.
- Double-Blind What-If:
- The entire setting is written as a reversal of the initial what-if of Kaiserreich ("What if Germany won World War One?"), asking, from within the perspective of the Kaiserreich setting, "What if the Entente won the Weltkrieg?" As a result of this perspective, while the "what if" is inverted, the circumstances are not, and thus, the world of Führerreich is only similar to our own in broad strokes.
- To go even deeper, within Führerreich, there is a global event where British author Ernest Raymond publishes the alternate history novel A Fourth Rome, describing a world where German Emperor Frederick III lives past 1888, leading to Britain joining the Central Powers and helping them win World War 1. France then falls into radical nationalism and militarism, and establishes a puppet government of identical ideology in Italy. A man named Marco Brescil rises in this new Italy and declares himself "Caesar", and Italy to be "Fourth Rome". The novel ends with a second world war about to happen between the German-led Central Powers and the French-led Entente d'Acier, while Fourth Rome prepares to take advantage of the new war. The reactions to the book is identical to the reactions to the Führerreich book in the original Kaiserreich, with Raymond defending his story by saying that it could've happened in another universe. ("What a childish fantasy.")
- In earlier versions, the book was named A New Caesar, with the very blatantly Führerreich-inspired name Caesarreich being said to be the book's name in Germany and Italy. In this version, Britain launched unrestricted submarine warfare in WW1, leading to America joining the Central Powers and defeating the Entente. However, Austria-Hungary falls to socialism and becomes a Danubian socialist federation, and Italy falls to ultranationalism led by Marco Brescil who proclaims himself Caesar. The novel ends with a three-sided second great war between the German-led Eintracht von Europa, Italy-led Patto di Sangue, and the Danubian-led Internationale.
- Another alt-history-novel-within-an-alt-history-novel is Eric Blair's Tides of Revolution, where America did not join WW1, leading to a drawn-out and bloody war that ends with a shaky peace arrangement as both sides teeter on the brink of collapse. After the war, the Entente intervenes in the Russian Civil War to ensure a white victory, while France falls into a civil war that sees Socialists coming out on top. Germany and Russia both fall to Nationalism, while Britain and Austria-Hungary reform into liberal democracies. A civil war occurs in the United States between Nationalists and Socialists, and the novel ends with a Second Great War between the French "P.R.I.", the "Russo-German Axis", and the "Freipakt". This book received the same reactions as Red Flood in Kaiserreich. ("Is he trying to make that Universe as bad as possible?")
- Historical Villain Downgrade:
- Valkism is this for the entire Nazi ideology in the real world. Despite featuring many OTL Nazis within its ranks, it's significantly less racist, focusing instead on civic nationalism over racial supremacy, and being socially progressive rather than reactionary.
- Huey Long, unlike his OTL and Kaiserreich counterparts, doesn't have dictatorial traits, but still maintains his progressive views and becomes a Social Democratic Presidential candidate from the Democratic Party.
- Adolf Hitler is nothing more than an economic minister for Germany who seeks fair trade deals with neighboring countries, instead of being at the helm of one of history's most notorious regimes.
- Oswald Mosley goes from the leader of the British fascist movement in our timeline and a potential chairman of a Stalinistic Britain in Kaiserreich to an economic minister and potential leader for the socialist, pacifist and democratic Independent Labour Party in Führerreich.
- Mexico Called; They Want Texas Back: Mexico entered in the First Grear War in the side with the objective of doing this: they failed miserably, had their entire country occupied and turned into a client state of the US, and lost Baja California. After the massive economical depression the US suffers causes them to loosen their political control over the rest of the Americas, Mexico has a Valkist takeover with the objective of not only taking Baja back but all the lost territories.
- Mythology Gag: The Double-Blind What-If novel Tides of Revolution imagines a world with some similarities to Kaiserreich. In other words, a spin-off based on a Double-Blind What-If includes a Double-Blind What-If paying homage to its progenitor.
- Point of Divergence: The point of divergence of Führerreich is Theodore Roosevelt winning the 1912 election, which means a more interventionist US, and, as a result, participation of the US on the side of the Entente in World War I.
- Shmuck Bait: Lenin has a focus tree for his rule in the game, only for him to die before the player can go forward with it.
- Spared By Adaptation: Vladimir Lenin is still alive by the start date of the mod, 1936, but is in poor health. He tends to die very quickly at the start of the game to kick off the Soviet story.
- State Sec: The Thuleschutztruppe is the Valkist version of the SS/SA. The player can shape the TST into an elite fighting force, a support unit, an internal Secret Police, or an anti-partisan force.