Hypothetical Axis victory in World War II

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A hypothetical military victory of the Axis powers over the Allies of World War II (1939–1945) is a common topic in speculative literature. Works of alternative history (fiction) and of counterfactual history (non-fiction), including stories, novels, and plays, often explore speculative public and private life in lands conquered by the coalition, whose principal powers were Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan, and Fascist Italy.[1][2]

The first work to inspire the genre was Swastika Night (1937), by Katherine Burdekin, a British novel published before Nazi Germany launched the Second World War in 1939. Later novels of alternative history include: The Man in the High Castle (1962), by Philip K. Dick; SS-GB (1978), by Len Deighton; and Fatherland (1992), by Robert Harris. The stories deal with the politics, culture, and personalities who would have allowed the fascist victories against democracy, and with the psychology of quotidian life in totalitarian societies. The novels present stories of how ordinary citizens cope with the daily humiliations of fascist military occupation and with the resentments of being a people under colonial domination.[1][3][4]

The literature uses the Latin term Pax Germanica to describe such fictional post-war outcomes.[5] The term Pax Germanica was applied to the hypothetical Imperial German victory in the First World War (1914–1918), which usage derives from the term Peace of Westphalia used in the Latin-language documents that formally ended the Thirty Years' War (1618–1648).[6]

Academics, such as Gavriel David Rosenfeld in The World Hitler Never Made: Alternate History and the Memory of Nazism (2005), have researched the media representations of 'Nazi victory'.[7]

Depictions of the Axis Powers[edit]

Wochenspruch der NSDAP 26 January 1941 claims that "National Socialism is the guarantor of victory".

Themes[edit]

In the essay "Why are We Attracted to Nightmares of Nazi Victory? Wasn't the Actual Nazi History Bad Enough?", Helen White stated that a hypothetical world in which Nazi Germany won the Second World War is a harsher and grimmer place to live than the real world where Nazi Germany and the Axis Powers lost the War in 1945.[8] Speculative literature about hypothetical military victories by the Axis Powers has generally been English-language literary work from the British Commonwealth and the United States as such protagonists tend to experience events from the perspective of military defeat and foreign military occupation.[9] The literary tone of alternative history fiction presents the military victory of the Axis Powers as a melancholy background, against which the reader sees the unfolding of political plots in a socially strained atmosphere of foreign occupation and socio-economic domination.[1]

The Ultimate Solution (1973), by Eric Norden, shows the Nazified people and society of the US as a morally hopeless nation and state; a state of affairs that concludes with a nuclear war between Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. The social story of SS-GB (1978), by Len Deighton, concludes with a US commando raid into Nazi occupied Great Britain, to rescue British nuclear scientists, while the British Resistance remains hopeful of eventual military liberation by the US. In Clash of Eagles (1990), by Leo Rutman, the people of New York City rebel against the Nazi occupation of the US. In Fatherland (1992), by Robert Harris, the story concludes with the protagonists exposing the Holocaust to the American people, thereby thwarting Hitler's rapprochement with the US, meant to solve the continual economic crises of the Greater German Reich. Harry Turtledove's In the Presence of Mine Enemies (2003) presents the Nazi world two generations after their victory in WWII, in a time and place that allowed political liberalization and democratization.[10]

Early depictions[edit]

The novel Swastika Night (1937), by Katherine Burdekin, presents the post-war world born from the victory of the Axis Powers: A dictatorship characterized by much "violence and mindlessness", which are justified by "irrationality and superstition".[3] Published two years before Nazi Germany began the Second World War in 1939, Swastika Night is a work of future history and not a work of alternative history. The book reviewer Darragh McManus said that although the story and plot of the novel are “a huge leap of imagination, Swastika Night posits a terrifyingly coherent and plausible [world]”, that “considering when it was published, and how little of what we know of the Nazi régime today was then understood, the novel is eerily prophetic and perceptive about the nature of Nazism”.

The short story I, James Blunt (1941), by Henry Vollam Morton, is a work of war-time propaganda set in a fictional September 1944 when Great Britain is under Nazi rule. The story is told through the entries of a diary, which describe the social and economic consequences of military occupation, such as British workers sent to the shipyards of Nazi Germany and to Scottish shipyards to build warships to attack the U.S. The novel concludes with the diarist exhorting the readers of I, James Blunt to ensure that the story of the Nazi occupation of Great Britain remains as fiction.[11]

The novel We, Adolf I (1945), by Lászlo Gáspár, presents a Nazi victory in the Battle of Stalingrad (23 August 1942 – 2 February 1943) which allowed Hitler to crown himself emperor of the world. In Berlin, the Nazis build an imperial palace featuring architectural elements of the Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty. In the course of the story, the despot Hitler enters a dynastic marriage with the Japanese Imperial princess in effort to produce a Fascist heir to rule the world after Hitler.[1]

The Last Jew: A Novel (Ha-Yehudi Ha'Aharon, 1946) by Jacob Weinshall, tells the future history of a Nazi world ruled by the League of Dictators, wherein the last Jew to survive the Final Solution is discovered hiding in Madagascar. The League of Dictators plan the public execution of the last Jew as entertainment during the Olympic Games. Before they can realize the spectacular death of the last Jew, the Moon's excessive proximity to Earth, a negative consequence of Nazi lunar colonization, provokes a catastrophe that extinguishes life on planet Earth.[12] The novel should not be confused with Yoram Kaniuk's novel The Last Jew, which has been translated to English.[13]

The stage play Peace in Our Time (1947), by Noël Coward, explores the nature of fascist rule in London and examines the deleterious effects of military occupation upon the mental health of the common man and the common woman. As a playwright, Coward was included in the Gestapo's Black Book of enemies-of-the-state to be arrested upon completion of Operation Sea Lion, the Nazi conquest of Great Britain.[4]

The novel The Man in the High Castle (1962), by Philip K. Dick, presents an Axis victory after Franklin D. Roosevelt is assassinated in 1933, and the United States is divided between Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan.[1]

Later depictions[edit]

Additional notable depictions of Axis victory include:

Literature[edit]

Counterfactual scenarios are also written as a form of academic paper rather than necessarily as fiction and/or novel-length fiction:

The All About History Bookazine series came out with What if...Book of Alternate History (2019). Among the articles are What if...Germany had won the Battle of Britain? and What if...The Allies had lost the Battle of the Atlantic?

Film[edit]

Television[edit]

Comics[edit]

Video games[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Manheim, Noa. "Alternative History: What Might Have Been Had Hitler Won?". Haaretz. Archived from the original on 2017-08-17. Retrieved 2016-12-18.
  2. ^ Fred Bush (July 15, 2002). "The Time of the Other: Alternate History and the Conquest of America". Strange Horizons. Archived from the original on 3 January 2010. Retrieved 2 January 2009.
  3. ^ a b McManus, Darragh (12 November 2009). "Swastika Night: Nineteen Eighty-Four's lost twin". The Guardian.
  4. ^ a b Hardy, Michael (30 September 2014). "Review: Peace in Our Time is a Play for Our Time". Houstoni magazine. Retrieved 18 December 2016.
  5. ^ "Carl Tighe: Pax Germanica — The Future Historical. Journal of European Studies, Vol. 30, 2000". Archived from the original on 2020-04-04. Retrieved 2017-08-31.
  6. ^ "CAPUT LXVIII. Chronologia." Archived 2012-01-18 at the Wayback Machine in CAMENA. See for years 1648 et 1649.
  7. ^ Moorcock, Michael (July 2005). "If Hitler had won World War Two…".
  8. ^ Helen White, Round-up of New Essays in Twentieth History Popular Culture. Alan Wiedemann (Ed.).
  9. ^ Edwards, Sam (20 February 2017). "SS-GB: Why the Renewed Obsession with Alternative Nazi Histories?". The Conversation. Retrieved 2021-02-15.
  10. ^ Michael Kornfeld, "Face It, Sometimes There is Just No Happy Ending, None Whatsoever" in Round-up of New Essays in Twentieth History Popular Culture, Alan Wiedemann, Editor.
  11. ^ ""I, James Blunt", by Kenneth Fields". 18 January 2020.
  12. ^ Eshed, Eli. "Israeli Alternate Histories" (in Hebrew); Israeli Society for Science Fiction and Fantasy, 2 November 2000. [1]
  13. ^ Kaniuk, Yoram (2007-12-01). The Last Jew: A Novel. Grove/Atlantic, Inc. ISBN 978-1-55584-838-5.
  14. ^ "World War Two: The Rewrite". The Independent. April 23, 2006. Archived from the original on 2015-09-24. Retrieved 2009-06-26.
  15. ^ Hölbling, Walter; Heller, Arno (2004). What is American?: New Identities in U.S. Culture. LIT Verlag Münster. ISBN 9783825877347.
  16. ^ "Marvel Knights Captain America Vol. 4: Cap Lives". Marvel Masterworks.
  17. ^ A-Next #11-12

Further reading[edit]

  • Rosenfeld, Gavriel David. The World Hitler Never Made. Alternate History and the Memory of Nazism (2005).
  • Tighe, C., "Pax Germanica in the future-historical" in Amsterdamer Beiträge zur neueren Germanistik, pp. 451–467.
  • Tighe, Carl. "Pax Germanicus in the future-historical". In Travellers in Time and Space: The German Historical Novel (2001).
  • Winthrop-Young, Geoffrey. "The Third Reich in Alternate History: Aspects of a Genre-Specific Depiction of Nazism". In Journal of Popular Culture, vol. 39 no. 5 (October 2006).
  • Klaus-Michael Mallmann and Martin Cüppers. Nazi Palestine. The Plans for the Extermination of the Jews in Palestine, New York: Enigma Books with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 2010.
  • Stevens, Gordon (1991). And All The King's Men. Pan. ISBN 0-330-31534-X.