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Hypothetical Axis victory in World War II

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This map of Europe details a victorious German Reich in 1964 as described in Robert Harris' Fatherland. Although fictional, many of the named regions were real or planned names for parts of the Nazi lebensraum effort.

A hypothetical Axis victory in World War II is a common concept of alternative history and counterfactual history. Such writings express ideas of what the world would be like had the Axis powers of Germany, Italy and Japan won World War II. Numerous examples exist in several languages worldwide.[1][2]

The term Pax Germanica, Latin for "German peace", is sometimes used for this theoretical period.[3] This is an analogy to similar terms for peaceful historical periods. In some cases, this term is used for a hypothetical Imperial German victory in World War I as well, having a historical precedent in Latin texts referring to the Peace of Westphalia.[4]

The subject of Axis supremacy as a fictional dramatic device began in the English-speaking world before the start of the war, with Katharine Burdekin's novel Swastika Night coming out in 1937. A post-war example is the play Peace In Our Time (1946), that explored a fascist-dominated London and was authored by English playwright Noël Coward, whose name had appeared on a 1940 Nazi SS "most-wanted list" in the event of a German invasion of the UK.[5]

The enduring interest in the "what-ifs" of an Axis powers victory is viewed by some as the result of the resonance of related themes, for example, how ordinary individuals deal with the humiliation and anger of being dominated.[6][1][7]

Contents

Depiction of Axis victory in fictionEdit

Central themes and motifsEdit

Dystopian toneEdit

In terms of tone, the concept of a victory usually creates a background of depressing melancholy, audiences seeing plots unformed in a dark, strained atmosphere. Examples of writers using this device include Philip K. Dick, Stephen Fry, Robert Harris, and Philip Roth among many others.[1] Counterfactual scenarios have been developed in a wide variety of publications ranging from short stories to full novels to stage dramas and more. Themes of friendship, gender, ideology, race, and other matters of personal identity often come into play.

In some of these scenarios, hope on the part of Allied supporters and/or anti-fascist resistance groups exists due to various opportunities. For example, in the aforementioned In the Presence of Mine Enemies, a victorious Nazi regime eventually undergoes reforms analogous to Perestroika, a process of governmental opening with increased freedom done in the communist bloc at the tail end of the Cold War.

Other works take an intensely bleak view. In both the novels Swastika Night and The Sound of His Horn, the Nazi empire has existed for several centuries and put a deep socio-cultural stamp on the European psyche. Furthermore, in the works The Man in the High Castle and The Ultimate Solution, complex German versus Japanese tensions going on for several decades duration face the risk of escalating into nuclear war between the two former partners, the stalemate being highly analogous to the post-WWII divides between the former Allies.

World conquestEdit

In the majority of cases, the Nazis and the Empire of Japan have conquered most or all of the world, and no major powers remain to confront them in any significant sense due to the core strength of the Allies faltering.[citation needed]

CollaborationEdit

Some writers depict British and American individuals going as far as to actively collaborate with Nazi occupation and even facilitating the extension of the Holocaust. Questions of disloyalty are explored in the books and films It Happened Here, Collaborator, SS-GB, Dominion and The Ultimate Solution in particular.

An uprising and overthrow of the Nazi regime may be depicted; one specific example is Clash of Eagles.

Japanese victoryEdit

Some books, such as The Man in the High Castle, concentrate on the Imperial Japanese rather than the Nazis.

Early depictionsEdit

Swastika Night, authored by Katherine Burdekin under the pseudonym "Murray Constantine" in 1937, is a distinct case given that it came out before World War II began. Thus it strictly deserves to be considered a novel of future history rather than "alternative" one - as at the time of writing, it did not depict a "might have been" but a potential future actually facing the writer and readers. Writing in 2009 for The Guardian, journalist Darragh McManus remarked that "[t]hough a huge leap of imagination, Swastika Night posits a terrifyingly coherent and plausible" story-line. He also wrote, "And considering when it was published, and how little of what we know of the Nazi regime today was then understood, the novel is eerily prophetic and perceptive about the nature of Nazism". The journalist particularly noted the "violence and mindlessness" as well as the "irrationality and superstition" found in the post-victory dictatorship.[6]

The first Nazi-victory 'alternate history' as such, in any language, was published in 1945 months after Hitler's suicide and written by the Hungarian author Laszlo Gaspar.[1] Titled We, Adolf I, the novel envisions German success after fighting in Stalingrad eventually leading to the victorious Hitler crowning himself a new modern 'Emperor'. Erecting in Berlin a huge Imperial Palace incorporating elements of the French Eiffel Tower and the U.S. Statue of Liberty among other spectacles, the narcissistic despot prepares a dynastic marriage with a Japanese princess in order to produce an heir who would rule the whole world.

Often known in English by the title The Last Jew, the Hebrew work Ha-Yehudi Ha'Aharon (היהודי האחרון) by the Revisionist Zionist physician and political activist Jacob Weinshall came out in Tel Aviv 1946. In it, hundreds of years in the future, a completely Nazi-dominated world ruled by a "League of Dictators" discovers a last surviving Jew hiding in Madagascar. The Nazi rulers plan to publicly execute this last Jew during the forthcoming Olympic Games. However, before this can take place, the Moon moves close to the Earth as a result of the Nazis' misguided attempt to colonize it. The catastrophe causing the end of human civilization and thus of Nazi rule. Weinshall's Hebrew text, as of 2000, has never received a full, formal translation into other languages.[8] The novel should not be confused with Yoram Kaniuk's novel The Last Jew, which has been translated to English.[9]

The work Peace in Our Time explored a fascist-dominated London and the deleterious effects of occupation on regular people. English playwright Noël Coward, whose name appeared on a Gestapo 'death list' in the event of a ground invasion of the UK, authored the drama, and it received its stage debut in 1947. Although facing a muted response at first, lingering interest in Coward's work as well as the specific themes of Peace in Our Time have meant that subsequent productions have gone on, even into the 21st century.[7]

Later depictionsEdit

Additional notable depictions of Axis victory include:

LiteratureEdit

Germany wins World War IEdit

Some of these literary works are based on the premise that Imperial Germany won the First World War (or even started an earlier, wholly fictionally war) and imposed a Pax Germanica on the world. Others have a similar war with a different outcome.

Counterfactual scenarios are also written as a form of academic paper rather than necessarily as fiction and/or novel-length fiction. For example, Greenhill's Alternate Decisions is an entire series written by military historians, academics, and officers without any pretense at the novelistic suspension-of-disbelief.

MoviesEdit

TVEdit

 
This map depicts the occupied U.S. described in the television series The Man in the High Castle.

ComicsEdit

  • "Blitzkrieg 1972", issue 155 of The Incredible Hulk (September 1972), takes place in a battle-torn New York City, where German Nazi forces, from their headquarters on Wall Street, are increasingly defeating the outnumbered US Army forces desperately defending the city - until the Hulk comes to take a hand in the fighting and confront the super-Nazi Captain Axis.
  • In DC Comics, Earth 2 or Earth X is known to be the alternative dimension of Earth in which the Nazi's won World War II, and this topic explores the events that happen when nazi influenced heroes from 'Earth X' fight heroes from our contemporary time period.
  • In the 2003-2004 Captain America story arc "Cap Lives" (Captain America Vol. 4, issues 17-20), Captain America awakens from suspended animation in 1964 to find that Nazi Germany has won WWII and conquered much of the world, including the United States. After dropping a nuclear bomb on the US, Nazi Germany took control of North America, renaming New York City as "New Berlin" and declaring New Berlin the capital of Nazi America. The Red Skull has become the Fuhrer of the so-called "New Reich" and seeks to create an army of blonde, Aryan supermen or super soldiers based on Captain America's DNA. Alongside American resistance fighters that include Bucky Barnes, Nick Fury and his Howling Commandos, Peter Parker, Ben Grimm, Johnny Storm, Sue Storm, Reed Richards, Hank Pym, Bruce Banner, Luke Cage, Frank Castle, and Stephen Strange, Captain America fights against the New Reich.[11][12]

Video gamesEdit

Cultural studiesEdit

Academics, such as Gavriel David Rosenfeld in The World Hitler Never Made: Alternate History and the Memory of Nazism (2005), have begun the research of this subgenre and its various implications as a subject of full-scale academic research.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d "Alternative History: What Might Have Been Had Hitler Won?" – via Haaretz. 
  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. ^ Carl Tighe: Pax Germanica -- the Future Historical. Journal of European Studies, Vol. 30, 2000.
  4. ^ [1] "CAPUT LXVIII. Chronologia." in CAMENA. See for years 1648 et 1649.
  5. ^ Hoare, Philip (2013-05-21). Noel Coward: A Biography of Noel Coward. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 9781476737492. 
  6. ^ a b McManus, Darragh (12 November 2009). "Swastika Night: Nineteen Eighty-Four's lost twin" – via The Guardian. 
  7. ^ a b Hardy, Michael (September 30, 2014). "Review: Peace in Our Time Is a Play For Our Time". Houstonia. Retrieved December 18, 2016. 
  8. ^ Eli Eshed, "Israeli Alternate Histories" (in Hebrew) published by the Israeli Society for Science Fiction and Fantasy, November 2, 2000 [2]
  9. ^ Kaniuk, Yoram (2007-12-01). The Last Jew: A Novel. Grove/Atlantic, Inc. ISBN 9781555848385. 
  10. ^ "World War Two: The Rewrite". The Independent. April 23, 2006. Retrieved 2009-06-26. 
  11. ^ Hölbling, Walter; Heller, Arno (2004). What is American?: New Identities in U.S. Culture. LIT Verlag Münster. 
  12. ^ "Marvel Knights Captain America Vol. 4: Cap Lives". Marvel Masterworks. 

Further readingEdit

  • 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.
  • Tirghe, 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).