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The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (Part 1 – The Rise)

This Alternate History is dedicated to Susan Mcgann, who allowed me to work in her archive to gain experience and improve my résumé.  Inspirations come from many places, but I would like to acknowledge both Scott and David’s work as having some influence on this masterpiece (big headed aren’t I?).  Comments are wanted!!


Looking back from the end of the century, it’s hard to believe the success that Adolf Hitler and his followers had in creating their empire.  While it did not last for the time they claimed - a round thousand years – it lasted long enough to reshape the political and social background of the world.  Empires that had lasted for hundreds of years were crushed or subjected by it, people’s who failed the stringent tests of racial purity vanished from the face of the earth and the night sky was opened in the wake of the Reich.

Its easy, as many historians say, to believe that Hitler and his people were destined for their success, that in fact the opposition suffered from problems that made resistance impossible.  For the forty years since the Reich triumphed in the wars, that viewpoint and others, that owe more to Himmler’s fascination with the occult than science, have demonstrated that Hitler was intended to succeed, which of course he did. 

Recently, however, it has become possible for archivists like myself to read the documents we have been entrusted with and use them to form new and alternate views of the Third Reich.  We now know that our empire and our united Europe was based upon mass murder, cunning and insanity.  We now know the full story behind the foundation of the Greater German Reich. 

We are under no delusions.  We know that this work will be ill received in Germany.  Other nations, such as Britain and France, have also benefited from the ‘explanations’ for the Nazi victory that defeated them and crushed their empires.  Worst, the levels of guilt that appeared in the United States when rumours of the fate of millions leaked out will be vastly expanded by the truth, worse than any CIA report.  Without further ado, then, here is the true story of the Greater German Reich. 

Origins and the early war

In 1919, Germany was beaten by the allied coalition that had been fighting it for four years.  Despite being defeated in open battle, the Germans convinced themselves that they had made a truce with the promise of a just peace, inspired by the ideals of the American president Wilson[1].  Sadly for Germany and the world, Wilson was not the deciding voice at the conference and Germany was crushed, made to pay huge reparations, suffered crippling restrictions and was made to admit to having deliberately caused the war. 

The massive field of discontent in Germany proved a breeding ground for a small political party, led by the war hero Adolf Hitler.  Hitler proved to be a master politician and he built the nazi party up into a serious challenge to the established order.  Despite some setbacks, including a coup attempt that left him in jail for a few months, he soon managed to claw his way to the top of the German government, becoming the head of state in 1933. 

Hitler soon bent Germany to his will.   He made himself the ‘Furher’ (leader) of Germany, and all power was vested in him.  He used this time to begin a massive rearmouring program and to start a propaganda campaign against the powers that had crushed Germany.  Using their war guilt, Hitler was able to reoccupy the Rhineland, the first act that directly defied the hated treaty, and got away with it.

Other daring acts soon followed.  Hitler took over Austria and annexed it to Germany.  He then pressed claims on part of Czechoslovakia, although the British prime minister convinced him to moderate his demands, which rendered it helpless.  Hitler took over the rest of it in the following months and them targeted Poland.

This offered a new problem.  Britain and France had guaranteed Poland after the disaster in Czechoslovakia – attacking Poland would mean war with the two other big European powers.  Hitler knew that a long campaign in Poland would allow the west to march into Germany after they had exhausted themselves; therefore he cunningly acted to reduce allied time by forging a secret – and temporary – deal with the communist USSR, effectively dividing Poland between the two powers.  The Germans invaded Poland in 1939 and defeated it in two weeks.  The western allies did nothing to help the poles. 

Hitler had a fairly good idea what the allies would and would not do to Germany.  Part of their problem was reluctance to repeat World War One on a grand scale; other parts included the possibility of a communist take over in Germany, which would ruin their own power as well.  They waited, hoping that Hitler would be disposed or make a deal of some kind.

Hitler, however, had other plans.  Launching a lighting invasion of Norway and Denmark, Hitler stunned the allies, who started to have a major political crisis.  In the middle of their problems, Hitler launched an invasion of France, which was a brilliant success.  After a months hard campaigning, Hitler forced the French to abandon Britain, which vowed to fight on alone.  However, the war would continue in places that would be difficult for both parties to fight[2].

War in the Desert: Sideshow with consequences

The war in North Africa was a minor sideshow until 1942, so it will only be briefly discussed here.  The effects of the war, however, were vitally important to the German victory; therefore they will be studied in some detail.  In 1940, after France fell to Germany, Mussolini declared war on the allies.  It was perhaps the most stupid decision of the war[3], as Italy was completely unready for the conflict.  Indeed, the British managed to destroy much of the Italian empire in the first two months.

The important part, however, was in Libya.  The British had launched a campaign that was dazzlingly effective, pushing the Italians back hundreds of miles and taking the gloss off Mussolini’s glory.  In terror, Mussolini appealed to Hitler for help.  Hitler was willing to help out his fellow dictator, but he wanted numerous Italian concessions as a price for his help, although, once the war was won, he promised Italy a large Italian empire in Africa.  Hitler rapidly dispatched two German units to Africa, a small panzer force under General Rommel and the aerial assault force under General Student.  As the British had had little time to fortify Malta, Student’s force overwhelmed the defenders and captured the Island[4].  Meanwhile, Rommel launched a counterattack and forced the British back towards Egypt. 

The most important influences of the African war, however, were the formation of the Reich Economic Council and the Reich Military Council[5].  Hitler had discovered that the various German forces had come too close to defeat more than once in the war, and he was determined to alter that problem.  General Manstain, who had designed the plan to defeat France, was charged with a plan to defeat the USSR, while holding off Britain and supporting Italy.  Albert Speer would be put in charge of integrating the captive (and Italian) factories into the Reich war machine.  The German forces soon started to receive extra equipment and weapons, while the Germans also, thanks to an Italian development that had been held up, developed a system of aerial radar.  Until the British managed to duplicate the technology, Germany would enjoy a considerable advantage, which led to the sinking of several convoys in the Atlantic.  This led to the Germans speeding up plans for a long-range bomber, but those were unavailable until early 1942.

Hitler’s new military council swiftly designed a plan to destroy the USSR.  Reasoning that the soviet system only needed to be decapitated for it to be defeated, they planned a massive charge directly at Moscow.  The plan included massive contributions for their allies, including Romania, Finland and Hungary, who would be rewarded with parts of the USSR after victory. 

Mussolini was unhappy about his new position of dependence.  He worked to prepare an attack on Greece, but his German minders prevented it from going ahead.  The Duce was unhappy, but was mollified by the German training for the Italian forces and their improved combat performance.  Mussolini pressed Rommel to head for Cairo, but Rommel was working to build up the combined forces, while holding off frequent British attacks. 

War in the East

The Germans launched their attack on Russia on 17th may, 1941[6].  Hundreds of German, Italian, Hungarian, Romanian and Finnish divisions poured across the border, while the German air force destroyed much of the Red Air Force on the ground.  Thousands of Russian troops were killed or captured as the hordes advanced east, heading though Byelorussia to Russia and Moscow.  

For an emenry of communism, Churchill was more than willing to help communists out, particularly when he needed them.  The British tried hard to send supplies to Russia, but they had serious problems.  Not only had Rommel launched a minor offensive, which had been timed to coincide with the Russian attack, but also they were suffering from constant German attacks on their shipping.  The Germans had moved several large capital ships to Norway and launched several daring raids on Russia-bound convoys.  Desperately, Churchill forced Iran[7] to allow transhipment of supplies to Russia, but Iranian obstruction made that route unreliable. 

The Germans took five weeks to approach Moscow.  Stalin was worried about moving troops from the east to Moscow as the Japanese were looking at Siberia, but soon he realises that there was no real choice.  He pulls several of the best soviet divisions away from Siberia and sends them to defend Moscow.  However, the Germans are closer than the Siberians and they are better fighters. 

In early July, the Germans reach Moscow.  After a brief skirmish in the outskirts, the Germans encircle the city.  Stalin and most of the most important communist party officials head into the east, but most of the Russian buroughcrats who keep the Soviet Union working are stuck in Moscow.  The Germans take a week to seal the city off, then launch an attack into the city from several directions.  Moscow is sometimes defended stubbornly, but in other places the Russians surrender at once, while most of the population keeps their heads down.  The Germans clean out the city at the end of July. 

The Germans need a rest at this point, but they don’t get it.  The British have launched an embarrassing attack on the Italy/German positions in Egypt, which forces the Germans to send extra aircraft to the front.  The soviets are also launching counter attacks, although their ability to do that is rapidly collapsing.  The Germans send forces to help the Finns take Leningrad, which falls three weeks after Moscow, and then they help their allies mop of the remaining soviet forces in the Ukraine and Byelorussia. 

The fall of Moscow sets of a process of disintegration across the Soviet Union.  The ethnic minorities see a chance to overthrow their local communists and launch several revolts.  Nationalists appear all over the USSR, even a white Russian faction, although the Germans are cool towards most of them.  They do supply Muslim guerrillas in the Caucasus with weapons[8], both as a method of putting pressure on Turkey and as a method of impeding the Soviet/British/Iranian supply line. 

Stalin is not defeated yet, but he’s in real trouble.  Apart from the damage to his prestige, the soviets are having terrible supply difficulties, often having to build new factories from scratch and using inferior materials.  Guerrilla forces are damaging the soviet oil supply lines and the British can’t make up the shortfall themselves.  Worse, the Germans have captured plans of the soviet industrial system and know just where to bomb.  This does lead to some incidents when German planes bomb factories that don’t exist – because they’ve not been built.  Stalin, however, needs to play for time, so he orders secret communications to be opened up between the Germans and the Soviets. 

Hitler plays for time.  He wants nothing better than to wipe Stalin off the face of the earth, but the German forces are exhausted and winter is coming on.  Better, he reasons, to allow the soviets a truce.  It lets the Germans get dug in for winter and launch many anti-partisan operations.  Stalin plays along while working to build up his own forces. 

Come spring 1942, the Germans launch their next attack.  This one has two prongs.  The first one heads east to where Stalin is building his new factories.  The second one heads down towards the Caucasus and the oil wells there.  Hitler plans to capture the oil for the Speer machine and then head into Iran.  That, he gloats, will cause the British to sue for peace on German terms. 

Phase one bogs down after a spectacular start.  The soviets have learnt dozens of lessons and manage to sucker the Germans into house-to-house fighting in small villages.  The Germans, however, have started to use their new long-range bomber and manage to hamper the soviet industry.  Stalin is nearly killed by a coup attempt, which increases his paranoia, but the Germans are forced by Hitler not to take advantage of the disarray in the soviet forces, as Hitler switches forces south for the drive to the Caucasus.

The southern prong works well.  The Germans successful destroy much of the soviet army in the Caucasus and head towards Stalingrad.  They surround the city in may, but are reluctant to get into a house to house fight after their recent experiences, so they settle for sealing the city off and leaving everyone inside to starve.  German forces also arm rebels and use them to locate soviet forces and destroy them.  The Germans manage to capture most of the oil wells, although the soviets have demolished most of them before they were captured.  The soviets, however, have new problems, as new nations have entered the war.

New Friends, Old Foes

On December 12th, 1941, the Japanese nation committed slow suicide.  They launched a sneak attack against pearl harbour and severely damaged the US fleet, including one of the important carriers[9], and attacked many other places.  In the months that followed, Japan attacked Singapore, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Guam and Ceylon.  Despite brutal resistance, the Japanese managed a complete sweep of the allied territories and totally crushed the myth of white supremacy. 

Hitler, we now know, seriously considered declaring war on America or Japan.  However, he understood from Speer that the German economy needed time to absorb the new resources before any further foes could be added to Germany’s list.  Therefore, Hitler send his condolences to the American government, ranted about how dare the Japanese attack an Aryan race – and declared war on the empire of Japan[10]. 

FDR was unconvinced by the rhetoric.  He had wanted Hitler to declare war on America so the nazi peril could be stopped, however, Hitler had not obliged him.  Worse, he had taken steps (over the objections of Donitz) to avoid conflict, keeping the U-Boats out of the American coast and offering the services of a group of German volunteers.  FDR refused.  After much thought, FDR decided to send American troops to Australia and Burma, which would allow the British to move their troops back to Iran and Egypt to meet the forthcoming German offensive.  This nearly causes a breakdown in the Anglo-American alliance, as Churchill suspects the FDR does not have the interests of the British Empire at heart.  An embarrassing defeat for the Americans in Burma only reinforces that impression, particularly after many nasty Japanese broadcasts of captured GIs bemoaning how they suffered to keep the British Empire working.  

In a new mood with diplomacy and diplomatic relations, Hitler also launched two charm/ice offensives.  He contacts Franco and informs him that Germany has practically beaten Russia and is about to cut the British Empire in two.  He tells Franco that he has two choices; 1) declare war on Britain and attack Gibraltar, or 2) face German sanctions and perhaps an invasion.  Franco talks tough and forces some concessions – at the expense of the French - from Germany, but, knowing that Britain is in no state to help, reluctantly declares war on Britain and lays siege to Gibraltar.  After a valiant defence, the garrison surrenders. 

The second target for Hitler’s charm offensive is Turkey.  Hitler sums up the situation; Turkey is surrounded by German forces or Germany’s puppets.  If the Turks join the war, the Germans will help them to regain territory lost after World War One.  If they don’t, Hitler will cut off trade (ruining the Turkish economy), arm and support Arab forces that will be anti-Turkish and possibly invade.  The Turks try to stall for a month, but FDR is unable to guarantee the Turkish state and the British can no longer send ships though the Mediterranean, so the Turks reluctantly agree to support the Germans.  They are rather half-hearted about it, through, and state that they are unwilling to launch any attacks until the Germans send them more aircraft and tanks.  The Germans respond to the best of their ability. 

In June 1942, the Germans cut through the Caucasus and advance into Iran.  The Shah, who is very unhappy with the British interference, orders the Iranian forces to offer no resistance.   The British forces fight desperately, but are forced to retreat towards India and set up defences there.  They have other problems, as Rommel has finally launched his big offensive (the German high command having held him back for two years from anything really big) and he swiftly defeats the British forces in Egypt.  The Egyptian army revolts and the British barely manage to move most of their forces across the Suez Canal.  Mussolini gets a parade through the streets of Cairo, while he has other reasons to be happy; Italian forces have performed much better and are even matching the Germans in places[11]. 

Rommel now has a problem.  The British have moved most of their forces into Palestine, but there are small British forces in Lower Egypt, the Sudan and the other African colonies that need dealing with.  The Italian forces can do most of that, but he needs some of them to help him cross the Suez.  He launches that attack a month later and the Germans cross the canal, break out and head for Iraq.  The British are then attack in Syria by the Turks and the forces in Iran swing round and hit the British back.  The battle degenerates into a confused melee, but the Germans come out ahead, on paper.  Practically, the battle keeps them from considering any form of offensive action until later, as many tanks have been knocked out and they need to mop up small colonial forces.

Winding up the wars

The wars ended, not with a bang, but with a whimper.  Britain was the first nation to leave the war as its economy and government collapsed.  The British Empire was disintegrating, as South Africa had already declared its intention to seek a separate peace, while India had collapsed into anarchy, as British troops were defeated in numerous fronts.  In disgrace, the Churchill government collapsed.  Its replacement, a coalition, had a mandate to seek peace at any price. 

The German peace terms were light.  Britain lost Malta, Egypt, Iran, Palestine and Iraq.  India was a lost cause, but the British could fight to keep it if they wanted.  Britain also had to acknowledge Germany’s supremacy in Europe, allow them good trade deals, and restrict the size of their army, while not allowing any foreign troops to be stationed in Britain. 

This must have affected the nerves of some Russians.  There was another coup aimed at Stalin, which succeeded this time.  The new government began to negocate with Germany, which succeeded as Hitler was already considering new conquests in the east and wanted to end the war before FDR found some pretext to intervene.  The soviets lost all of the territory their lost to Germany, while they needed to fight hard against anti-soviet forces in the other SSRs. 

The Americans were the only allied nation to win their part of the war.  Japanese forces finally engaged a superior American force in the battle of Australia in 1943, a battle that the Americans won handily.  The Americans then launched a campaign to clear out the other islands that Japan had occupied, while supporting native attempts in Indochina, China and Burma.  Ho Cho Minh and other like him end up American-backed as the colonial forces have other problems.  Vichy lodges a protest, but FDR is reluctant to allow a nation that is effectively a German ally to have further influence in the Far East and refuses to allow them to ship troops, while disarming the troops that were in place.  China manages to defeat several Japanese forces, although the Japanese manage to do vast damage into 1947.

The Japanese refuse to surrender in 1944, when the war is clearly hopeless.  Instead, they evacuate thousands of people to Manchuria and attempt to set up a separate nation.  The Americans are forced to invade Japan, which they do in early 1945.  Resistance is determined at first, but the starvation has taken its toll and the Japanese people want no more war.  The Japanese government either flees to Manchuria or commits suicide when the Americans attack Tokyo.  Japan never formally surrenders, but, when resistance ends, the Americans consider the war won.  FDR decides to leave Chieng and Mao the task of defeating the Japanese in Manchuria, a task that takes them three more years. 

Next:  The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, Part Two: Pax Germanica

[1] Just how much of a role this did play depends on whom you believe.  Germany was defeated militarily, so Wilson may not have had that big an influence. 

[2] So far, everything’s pretty much OTL.  That’s about to change. 

[3] With the possible exception of pearl harbour

[4] This is pretty much the first change in history

[5] This is probably the most glaring flaw with Hitler’s military machine

[6] Earlier because of no Greek Campaign

[7] If the soviets are in worse trouble, an invasion of Iran is probably impossible. 

[8] This happened in OTL

[9] Butterflies

[10] I still think that this was the best thing Hitler could have done. 

[11] Towards the end of OTL, the Italians did get much better, but the problems after Op. Torch kept that hidden. 

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