29 July 2017

selenak: (Sternennacht - Lefaym)
You know, in recent weeks there was a lot of talk, usually in the context of how ill advised the “Game of Thrones” makers idea of a show called “Confederate”, an AU in which an undefeated South with slavery intact continues to the present, was, about how sick people were of “what if the Nazis won?” or “what of the Confederacy won?” Aus. And I’m so with you; I was already sick of “what if the Nazis won?” dystopias several decades ago.

However. The combination of the recent (July 20th) anniversary of the 1944 assassination attempt on Hitler and me reading Kerr’s Bernie Gunther series made me wonder if anyone ever attempted a scenario in which one of the various attempts on Hitler’s life (from Georg Elser’s 1939 one onwards) succeeded. Historical attempts, that is, not fictional ones (looking at you, Quentin Tarantino). Probably not, because anything I can come up with would neither be a happy ending nor the awfulness that unfolded in reality, but…complicated. Not good for “good versus evil” role playing, which, let’s face it, is the main attraction for any WWII scenario, historical or AU, for the majority of people.

For starters, one common factor (which is also why I’m such a hard sell on “what if the Nazis won?” scenarios): there was so much infighting and hatred between Hitler’s flunkies that I can’t imagine the system holding up. The Third Reich wasn’t North Korea where you can replace one Dear Beloved Leader with another. Not least because while many of the upper level Nazis had great power in varying degrees, they weren’t personally popular, and more often than not were indeed disliked by the population at large. (“Wenn das der Führer wüßte”, i.e. “if only the Leader knew” was a catchphrase based on the naïve belief that all negative apparations of the NS regime were due to everyone else.) You couldn’t have just transferred the leader cult from a dead Hitler to whoever emerged victorious in the inevitable succession blood bath. The most likely candidate to unite both an already existing power base and popular appeal – indeed the only one among the top level Nazis with popular appeal – would have been Göring, who could trade both on his WWI veteran (and pilot – aviators were always popular) reputation and his chummy, genial manner. But by the late 30s and through the 40s, Göring was addicted to morphine, and the connected daze and laziness would have had him at a disadvantage re: his rivals. (One reason why Göring surprised many people in Nuremberg with his sharpness was that the Americans had weaned him off morphine and thus he was alert and all there for the first time in years. Of course, the imminent death sentence presumably also helped with his focus.)

Another common, depressing factor: there’s no way another Dolchstoßlegende (backstabbing legend) wouldn’t have developed, i.e. the myth that Germany could have won the war, if not for those traitors, etc., and this would have poisoned or at least heavily burdened whichever kind of German state would have existed next. Taking all that as a given, here are some possibilities I could come up with:

1.) The Georg Elser November 1939 assassination attempt succeeds as intended. Advantages: this would have gotten rid not only of Hitler but of many of the upper Nazi hierarchy, since they were present at the Munich Bürgerbräu where Elser had planted his bomb. Disadvantages: Elser worked alone. Which meant no one would have been ready to deal with the rest of the Nazi system. Likely result: I’m betting on a military dictatorship and/or an uneasy alliance between some top generals and some middle level Nazis. They'd have insisted on carrying out the invasion of France, ditto all of Poland, but I don’t see the generals invading Russia. They’d likely have then tried to negotiate peace with Britain and not tried to expand further. Whether or not Churchill would have gone for it in the case of a Hitler-less Germany… no idea. Would the Holocaust have proceeded further? Can’t make up my mind on that one, since it would have depended on just how many top level Nazis made it out alive, and whether or not the top military brass thought killing everyone in the already existing “work” camps would rid them of future embarrassment/retaliation, or whether they’d thought closing the camps in a non lethal manner would make it all go away.

2.) The March 1943 attempts. Advantages: this being post Stalingrad, this time parts of of the military were already involved, and thus there were some plans of what to do next. Disadvantages: these plans weren’t very thought out yet, and only Hitler would have died, which meant Goebbels, Himmler & Co. remained at large and more likely than not would have retaken control of the situation the way they did in rl in 1944. Nazi infighting wouldn’t have started until after the conspirators were dealt with. However, whichever victor emerged post Stalingrad would presumably have tried to negotiate a truce/peace with the Western Allies, because, well, Stalingrad, and the realization that you can’t win a war in Russia. Would the Holocaust have continued? Depressingly, in such a scenario my money is on a “let’s just kill everyone in the camps to ensure no survivors get nasty stories out” scenario.

3.) July 1944 attempt: aka the one with the biggest chance at actual success. Meaning that Himmler, Goebbels & Co. get arrested simultaneously with Hitler’s assassination as planned, Goerdeler becomes Chancellor and, backed by a bunch of generals as well as Canaris, starts peace negotiations. I think at this point the Allies would have insisted on unconditional surrender whether or not Hitler was still alive, and because the war situation as already very bad for Germany, Goerdeler and the generals would have agreed. There would have been a variation of the Nuremberg trials and an occupation. And no more death camps, meaning the saving of all people who died between July 44 and May 45. However, there would also, see above, a new backstabbing legend, and the July 44 conspirators would have been hated and reviled by the majority of the population which would have taken even longer to accept they’d all been part of a murder state. At best, I think Germany would have dealt with its guilt the way the Soviets did with the Stalinist purges – i.e. denial for decades save for a minority of the population, and only very late acceptance something monstrous had occurred.

Any agreements or disagreements? Alternate scenarios?

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